Richmond holds first TEDxRVA conference

Samantha Foster
Spectrum Editor

A sold-out audience gathered at The Power Plant near the James River last Friday to see creative and inspirational speeches at Richmond’s first ever TEDxRVA conference.

VCU students Rob Gibson (left) and Eric Stanley (right) performed a spoken-word poem called “Untitled Visions,” and a self-composed violin piece at TEDxRVA. Photo courtesy of TEDxRVA
VCU students Rob Gibson (left) and Eric Stanley (right) performed a spoken-word poem called “Untitled Visions,” and a self-composed violin piece at TEDxRVA. Photo courtesy of TEDxRVA

The event included speeches from 25 innovators in their respective fields, including undergraduate students Rob Gibson and Eric Stanley, graduate student in graphic design Jim Walker and Frank Gupton, the director for the VCU Institute for Engineering in Medicine.

TEDx is part of the larger organization TED, which stands for technology, entertainment and design, that hosts conferences and speeches worldwide to spread ideas and arguments for new ways of thinking. Speakers at TEDx events must tell a story or argue for an idea that will change people’s way of thinking.

“When you bring such a large group of people into a room who are all willing to listen and discuss openly, you are bound to meet someone or hear something that makes you think differently,” Walker said. “I hope, as a result of this talk, people have found that and are now creating great things.”

TEDx events are held locally by cities and communities that express an interest and have been held in over 130 countries worldwide. TEDx conferences are all taped and streamed online. TEDxRVA was available on a live stream online and was shown in the Commons Underground by the VCU SGA.

Gibson and Stanley were nominated through the TEDxRVA website and performed a poem paired with Stanley’s original piece on a violin. Gibson’s poem was titled “Untitled Visions” and was inspired by Gibson performing for Saul Williams in 2011.

“I think TEDxRVA is an example that Richmond’s creative community can come together to host a successful small-scale event with world-class quality,” Gibson said. “This is proof that Richmond has the organizers and talent to affect the world in the same way New York City or Los Angeles can, just friendlier.”

Speakers at TEDxRVA covered multiple topics, many of which were concerning the the topic of TEDxRVA, “Create.”

Poet John Blake inspired the audience with his personal story of being a heroin addict saved by poetry. Other speakers focused their speeches on science and technology.

Walker was asked to be part of TEDxRVA after giving a small speech for a committee. Walker’s TEDxRVA speech was concerning a project he began in 2011 called Dead Bicycles, which covered bikes that had been left out and had parts stolen from them in a dark fabric.

“It was an effort to memorialize abandoned bicycles by shrouding them and bring about awareness to the problems of abandonment and theft of bicycles in Richmond,” Walker said.

TEDxRVA will now be appealing to the TED organization for them to decide whether Richmond can hold another TEDxRVA conference in the future. Walker was impressed by the speeches given at this year’s TEDxRVA.

“(We were) blown away by rock piano, fascinated by illuminated bacteria or moved by an ex-junkies poem. Everyone allowed themselves to be inspired by the diverse group of presenters,” Walker said.

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