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In My Opinion
What I Learned Last Weekend...
Wednesday, October 16, 2013 • Posted October 17, 2013

The TEDx San Antonio gathering last Saturday was even better than I could have imagined. As I posted on facebook, one of the most important lessons I learned during the day was that the only way to actually learn anything is to stop talking, start listening, and respect that not everyone will feel the same way you do. How you use the things that you've learned are entirely up to you.

I think the best way to summarize the things that I learned, personally, is to simply tell you who was there and what they talked about during their short presentations.

The moderators were Victor Landa (journalist) and Molly Cox (Chief of Engagement for SA2020). They kept the momentum going all day and helped ease transitions from one speaker to the next.

Andres Andujar - CEO of Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation. Explained how great cities have great downtowns, and how San Antonio can use their Hemisfair space to build a park that is truly representative of the city it has become.

Martha Atkins - CEO of Atkinsosity, LLC. Explained that there is more to dying than meets the eye. The passage often involves help from deceased relatives, friends, angels, music and other phenomena.

Roman Baca - Iraqi War Veteran, U.S. Marine. Told how he used his prior training as a ballet dancer to return to Iraq and teach music and dance to Iraqi children. Taught choreography to the Iraqis to enable them to tell their stories through art.

Cary Clack - District Director, Office of U.S. Congressman Joaquin Castro. Related his early life working at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center in Atlanta, Georgia, and how he learned that embracing non-violence can be a long and difficult journey.

Ryan Cox - Attorney, Cox Smith Matthews, Inc. Asked the question, "What can we learn from the world's 'most humane' prison?" The answer means rethinking what our prison system really hopes to accomplish and what we have learned from the results we have thus far.

Kristina Durante - Professor of Marketing, UTSA College of Business. Explained how women compete with other women, in business and in life, on a very primal level to obtain the best fathers for their children. Unfortunately, the cues they've learned to use often attract the wrong men and turn away the ones who could have been better for all concerned.

Jason Fischer, MA, LPC, Psychotherapist, Founder & Clinical Director, Plumeria Counseling Center. Told the attendees that the most dangerous word is "need." By classifying everything as a need, we take away our ability to identify what we want, what we must have, and what does not matter to us at all.

Eric Fletcher - Chief Marketing Officer, Perspective. Classified as legally blind since childhood, Fletcher as0serts that we have begun relying on identifiable metrics to make decisions rather than focussing on how we can move beyond expectations that are placed upon us by others.

Doug Frantz - Associate Professor of Chemistry, The University of Texas at San Antonio. Though not a biologist, Frantz explained how chemistry can manipulate stem cells so that we avoid the ethical hurdles of embryonic stem cells, the physical limitations of adult stem cells, and the swirl of controversy surrounding all of them.

Nelson Guda - Photographer, . Guda has traveled to Kenya, South Sudan, Rwanda, India and Kashmir documenting horrific situations; but, more importantly, finding forgiveness and solutions in the midst of the very worst of humanity.

Faith Harper - Counselor, Educator. Discussed shame, sex and silence, the trinity of dangerous topics for discussion. She asserts that we all talk about sex; but, none of us have really learned to TALK about sex in a healthy way.

Brantley Hightower - Architect, HiWorks. Has been photographing the courthouses of Texas and examining their real relationships with the communities where they exist. Why do they look the way they do? Why are they located in a particular town? What message do the buildings send to the people?

Karl Klose - Professor of Microbiology, South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases, UTSA. Antibiotic resistant bacteria are paving the way for catastrophic plagues in our future. We must carefully use our existing weapons, and always be on the search for new weapons for our disease fighting arsenal.

Julia Langenberg - Aerialist. Provided the lunch time crowd with a breathtaking display of dancing in the air using only strands of cloth.

Liza Long - Writer, "I am Adam Lanza's Mother" blogger. Though not the actual mother of Lanza, Ms. Long courageously spoke of her own son's mental illness and the lack of tools, support or understanding for the families of such children. She advocates that if we reach out to the children now, we will not have to see them in news reports in the future.

Nick Longo - Co-Founder/Director, Geekdom. Discussed how collaboration and discussion can be just an effective a tool as outright competition in developing new technology, new tools and new ideas. We just have to learn to trust that we can all work together and not demand ownership of every situation.

Anastasia McKenna - Children's Book Storyteller, The Twig Book Shop. Explained that stories aren't just for bedtime anymore, and urged parents to stop putting their children in front of tablets, televisions and computers. She suggested actually reading stories to children and making those stories uniquely your own.

Myric Polhemus - Director of Human Resources, H-E-B Grocery Company. Told attendees that always trying to hire people that "fit" your company culture can be the worst position in business. Without the misfits and the outcasts, new ideas never occur and growth turns into stagnation.

Tom Tunstall - Research Director, UTSA Institute for Economic Development. Openly worried about the economic impact of the Eagle Ford and other gas/oil booms on the communities that initially embrace the sudden influx of money to their own cities and counties. Boom in Texas is frequently followed by bust, and if we do not make plans based on that assumption, we will be in worse shape in the future.

Samuel Ximenes - Space Architect, XArc Exploration Architecture Corporation. Discussing not only the idea of building on the lunar surface, Ximenes proffered that South Texas could be the hub of a new space economy if they start planning for it now.

These talks will be available online at in the next few weeks, so feel free to experience them for yourself.

It’s all just my opinion.

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