Typically, the individuals chosen to speak at TED talks are long-standing pioneers in their respective fields whose ideas, discoveries, messages, and practices have led to some form of influential change or revolutionary impact—we’re talking people like Microsoft founder Bill Gates, former US President Bill Clinton, and writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichi just to name a few. TEDx talks operate in a similar fashion yet on an independent community-based scale and in this case, TEDxFenway sought out those individuals with the leading edge in medical, cultural, entrepreneurial, and social innovation that possessed Grit— “that against-the-grain quality of fortitude and endurance”—right in the heart of Boston.
“GOT GRIT? Open call for video submissions for PreXFenway…”
Eleven speakers were initially chosen for TEDxFenway—Steven Miller, Executive Director of the Healthy Weight Initiative at Harvard School of Public Health, Eric Schwarz, Co-founder and CEO of Citizen Schools, Jhana Senxian, Founder of Sustainability Guild International, Mamud Jafri, CEO of Dover Rug and Home, Will Ahmed, Founder and CEO of WHOOP, Sam Aquillano, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Design Museum Boston, David France, Musician and Executive Director of Revolution of Hope, Daniel Souza, Senior Editor at Cooks Illustrated and Test Cook at America’s Test Kitchen, Evelyn Berde, Fenway-area artist, Dr. Retsina Meyer, Neuroscience Ph.D. at MIT, and Dr. Annie Brewster, Internist at Massachusetts General Hospital and Founder of SharingClinic—but this year was about true grit, about the underdog. There is always an untold story, a new idea that has not been shared or a voice crying out that needs be heard. So, for the first time in TEDxFenway history, ten lucky individuals were chosen from hundreds of video entries to compete live at PreXFenway with hopes of securing one of two “wild card” prizes.
Beautifully set at the Isabelle Stewart Gardner Museum, PreXFenway was quite the enchanting evening and the two wild card winners—Run Bimma, Social Media Manager for Saucony, Designer for Saucony Originals, and creator of the “Claim Your Journey” movement, and Bob Sansone, Disciple of Diversity and Founder of Sneakers to Beakers—shared storied filled with grit and inspiration, ultimately securing their places at TEDxFenway.
We’re going to the House of Blues!
As a special “thank you” to the members and corporate partners of the Fenway Alliance, and to welcome and honor the TEDxFenway speakers, we hosted VIPxFenway at the House of Blues steps away from Fenway Park. The atmosphere of the Foundation Room was warm, tempting, and exotic—the perfect setting to mix and mingle.
The night was magical and although I took a back seat to the action of the evening, it was extremely comforting to see a room full people all supporting the same cause: the community.
TEDxFenway: Grit of Boston
This day was a non-stop surge of positive energy, intrigue, information, emotion, education, reflection, and ultimately, satisfaction at a job well done. The venue was absolutely breathtaking; the entire 9th floor of the historic Landmark Center was transformed into a colorful world of exploration—featuring Hydra, a stunning experimental kinetic installation by designer Kim Polloquin and her team at SHIFTboston, which utilizes a self-transforming membrane to actively respond to the transmittance of natural light.
With regards to the talks, each speaker possessed a thorough understanding of his/her respective topic and imparted that knowledge in a succinct, engaging, interactive, and thought-provoking manner, as expected from a TED talk, but what most amazed me was the passion and conviction in their voices.
Hearing Dr. Retsina Meyer explain the role the hormone grehlin and feeling the hope in words as she explained how its reduction could potentially reverse and eradicate the effects of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder was more than powerful, it was revolutionary.
When someone who has endured the death of a child, the destruction of a family, the demolition of a neighborhood, and the deformity of a body—the story of brilliant artist Evelyn Berde—can still genuinely say, “I see you, I don’t care what’s under your clothes—I see you,” and create beauty while living with Multiple Sclerosis, you cannot help but be inspired. This is the Grit of Boston; this is what TED is all about: sharing experiences and spreading ideas within a culture devoted to just that.
Interning with the Fenway Alliance over the past few months has been such an eye-opening and rewarding experience—especially ending with TEDxFenway. At the start of this internship, I never would have imagined that my efforts, big or small, would have had such a direct impact on the work of the Alliance and on that of the community as well. I had a voice here. I was an intern whose opinion mattered and often times, I was a deciding factor making decisions on behalf of the Alliance. Diving head first into the arts community here in Boston, handling the social media, marketing, and public relations affairs for the Alliance, meeting all of the dedicated and driven Alliance members and affiliates, and most importantly, knowing that my efforts were actually able to make a difference in the lives of the many individuals with whom I had the pleasure of interacting made all of my work worthwhile. The team at the Fenway Alliance made coming into the office exciting and fun—to my fabulous bosses, Director Kelly Brilliant and Assistant Director Mina Kim, I cannot thank you enough for this experience; you guys are fireworks who know how to make things happen.
TEDxFewnway was an unforgettable experience and I can’t wait to see what they have in store for next year.Monté Reed Public Relations, Media, and Marketing Intern The Fenway Alliance