TEDxCharleston returns April 1 with reworked approach following 2019 criticisms

Cascades of knowledge


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Last year, following accusations of censorship and racist comments, TEDxCharleston leaders said they planned to make changes to their program ahead of the 2020 event.

Last May, Kylon Middleton of Mt. Zion AME and 2019 TEDxCharleston presenter, told City Paper that he was helping Charleston's TEDx chapter with creating a more diverse lineup and leadership. "They recognized that in their organizational leadership structure, speaker coaches, etc., that there was a lack of diversity," he said.

As for the issue of censorship, TEDxCharleston representative Claire Monahan said that while 2019's speakers "pushed the barriers" with topics like youth homelessness in the LGBTQ community and pornography's effect on teenagers, speeches still needed work to fall within TEDx guidelines.

In an effort to be clearer about speech requirements (TEDx asks speakers to refrain from religious proselytizing, political agendas, and pseudoscience), TEDxCharleston reworked their application after the 2019 season so that speakers submit exactly what they're going to be talking about.
This week, TEDxCharleston announces their lineup of 17 presenters and performers for this year's event, taking place on Wed. April 1 at the Charleston Music Hall. This year's theme is "cascades," which "embodies the spirit that triggers great force and movement within the Charleston community and beyond."

Here's the lineup:

Stephanie Armstrong is an instructor at MUSC's School of Nursing. She is interested in research involving vulnerable populations and is especially concerned about victims of sex trafficking.

Jody Bell, a CofC freshman, is the founder of I.C.O.D. (In Case of Deportation), an organization that gives people resources and support to prepare for emergency deportation situations.

Jared Bramblett is an engineer and expert on issues relating to flood mitigation. He's also a talented photographer who has, in the past, sold his photos to benefit hurricane relief.

Austin Fitzhenry is a wildlife biologist who "hopes to advance [our] species towards a biologically-sound lifestyle that will optimize biodiversity." He's also a cellist with the Coastal Chamber Musicians.

Jacquelyn Nagel is a mechanical engineer who specializes in biologically-inspired design and manufacturing automation. She believes that we can find realistic and feasible solutions by looking to nature.

Sam Norton is a budding entrepreneur and creator of Heron Farms, a local company growing sea beans, turning sea level rise into food.

Licensed Independent Social Worker Karen Perlmutter specializes in the treatment of substance abuse and mental illness. She's got ideas about how to combat addiction through more than just treating the addict.

Director of Charleston County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, Kristy Pierce-Danford sees how diminishing resources and inadequate prisons and jails present challenges on the horizon.

Russell Reagan is the owner/operator of Old Hickory Landscaping. He focuses on low—maintenance gardening and sustainability.

John Rhodes, an MUSC cardiologist, overcame dyslexia and ADD to become a doctor.

MUSC researcher, Steven Rosenzweig, will discuss how happy accidents in the lab can lead to advances in the treatment of cancer and dementia.

Landon Sanford is the founder of SageSeekers, a platform for senior citizens to share their wisdom and regrets.

The only formerly incarcerated member of Charleston County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council, Keith Smalls, learned from his years in prison which methods of rehabilitation work — and which ones don't.

Naval officer Anthony Waite mentors young men with no positive male influence.

In addition to these 14 presenters, TEDxCharleston 2020 features three performances from: the Charleston Symphony, Zandrina Dunning and Stephen Washington, and sister act Gracie & Lacy.

LB Adams emcees and Jonathan Rypkema serves as this year's artist.

This year's event takes place during a half-day timeframe, 12:30-5 p.m. at the Music Hall, followed by an after party at the Charleston Museum. Tickets are $57.50 and can be purchased online.  

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