By Lily Sanchez, Chattanooga, Tenn. — The Fine Arts Center held UTC’s first independently organized TEDx event Oct. 25 with the theme of “now what?” to inspire Chattanooga citizens to consider what the city needs to take the next step towards greatness.

The Honors College led the event with the help of SGA students and various volunteers from the University.

TEDx is a conference of speakers and videos that aims to provoke thought and discussion among people. The ‘x’ means that the event is independently organized outside of the main TED community.

SGA President Robert Fisher
SGA President Robert Fisher

The 12 speakers who delivered talks were various members of Chattanooga’s community, two of which were UTC undergraduate students. Talks were divided into three sessions throughout the day and topics varied from focused activism to general insight of the human condition.

Session one included River City Company CEO and President Kim White, UTC Robert M. Davenport Professor in Biology Dr. Hill Craddock, poet Nathan Adams and Cleveland, Tenn. junior Jackson Stone. Stone discussed Chattanooga’s potential as a city. Craddock informed the audience on the history of the American Chestnut tree. Adams used spoken word to stress the importance of words and meanings behind them.

For session two, entrepreneur James Chapman, CEO of OnPoint Lesley Scearce, artist and head of the McCallie Walls Project Kevin Bate, and UTC anthropology professor Dr. Lyn Miles delivered their respective talks about the act of selflessness, reconsidering the mindset of today’s youth, the community effects of urban art, and a recount of the first orangutan person.

The last session included English instructor Victoria Bryan, spoken word artist Marcus Ellsworth, UTC SGA President Robert Fisher and speaker and entertainer Jason Michaels. Bryan informed the audience on the structural issues of prison education systems, Ellsworth inspired activism through art. Fisher encouraged the idea of enforcing equity in Chattanooga, and Michaels proved that the impossible is indeed possible.

Many speakers left the audience with words that continued to resonate during the two breaks and after the event.

When discussing the need to change the structure of education in prison systems, Bryan said, “Education can rehabilitate and education can free.”

Ellsworth used his craft to urge the audience to “go out and tell your truth, and do so unapologetically.”

Alyssa Ison was one of many to express her thoughts throughout the day on Twitter using the designated event hashtag #TEDxUTChatt. “Kevin Bate’s talk at #TEDxUTChatt reminded me how important art really is [and] how imperative it is to fight for arts is schools [and] communities.”

TEDxUTChattanooga is one of four TEDx events that have been held in the city, the others having been hosted as TEDxFrazierAve and TEDxHighlandParkSalon.



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