Palo Alto College host its first-ever TEDx

By LeAnne Noguess
Pulse Staff Reporter

Rey Saldaña speaks at the first TEDx at Palo Alto College. Photo by Ryn Ibarra, courtesy of Palo Alto College

Everyone in attendance at Palo Alto’s first TEDx event on Sep. 15, 2018, had to battle unfriendly weather to hear the lively music that welcomed them in as if they were coming home.  A mariachi band playing and singing music was the first sound a person heard as soon as they walked into the college’s Performing Arts Center.

This sound carried throughout the building as people looked onto display containers filled with plastic bottles. It was clear throughout the event that the theme “Breakthrough” meant more than battling your own issues, but also raising awareness of issues from around the world.

Karen Mahaffy Ake, professor of Art, lead Fine Arts faculty in the department of Fine & Performing Arts/Speech Communication and creator of the display’s said, “The viewer of these “future artifacts” can hopefully jump to an imagined future where they, along with the future archaeologists who collected and displayed these items, live in a time when plastics are only a distant memory. The manufactured and disposable nature of these objects would hopefully seem archaic and strange but, their display as historical objects would also communicate a clear understanding of the impact that our daily choices of convenience have on the environment and for our legacy as a culture. In short, we need to recognize that we are remembered only by what we leave behind.”

TEDx is an independent, local and self-organized event based on TED, which stands for technology/entertainment/design, that combines speakers to inspire deep discussions and connections.

“San Antonio and my community, like the communities of millions of others across the country, is the type of community that struggles with history, has a reputation,” said Rey Saldaña, San Antonio City Councilmember of District 4. “That history is one of neglect, of being overlooked…statistics tell me this: they tell me that it is more likely that you’ll find many of my family members, my friends, and residents caught in the cycle of poverty or caught in jail than in a college classroom.”

Saldaña was one of 12 speakers from around the world who participated at the event. The other speakers covered a variety of topics, ranging from sexual trauma in men, changing lower-end communities into powerful ones, art in science, how art can change the world, spirituality and religion.

Most of the speeches had a meaningful or significant effect on the listeners, leading to standing ovations from the audience.

Before the first session of speakers, Lee Wong, a Slam poet, recited a poem on stage about breaking through, which prepared the audience for the powerful messages that they were about to receive. TEDx’s schedule included a 15-minute break between each session of three speakers. Each session had a title that gave a brief overview of what breakthrough the speakers would explore.

The first session was called “Into the Deep,” which covered the topics of grief; male trauma; and bullying. The second session was titled “Be the Change,” covering the topics of changing the world, not the women; sharing; and inequities in the art world. Then the third session was titled “Make it Happen,” which covered how it is never too late to change careers; changing communities into powerful ones; and how to connect through disasters. The final session was “Flip the Script,” with the topics of church; giving others attention; and engineering going artsy, which concluded the event.

TEDx was a public event that anyone could attend. Tickets were $15 for students, $25 for military and senior citizens, and $30 for non-students.

Tony Longoria, lead instructor of Speech Communication and lead organizer for TEDxPAC, said that he hoped that the audience’s lives and communities will be improved from this event. Longoria and his team are hoping to have another TEDx event next year.