Educate. TEDxLansing And CCFF April 13, 2012

Educators. We regulate the stealing of ignorance. We damn good, too. But you can’t be any geek off the street*. Gotta be handy with the learnin’. You know what I mean? Earn your keep…

You know you’ve felt it. That moment when something in your brain just clicks. You get goosebumps, you’re flooded with adrenalin, and you just can’t keep the smile off your face. If you haven’t felt that? Go learn something. Right now. YouTube will do. Anything. What are you interested in? What don’t you know? Because you know there’s something you don’t know. Go learn it, then come back here and tell me how it felt. If you said, “Dude, it was lame and I didn’t feel anything,” I’ll know you’re lying. Or that you searched for something you’re not passionate about. Because, really, that’s what learning is about. Passion. And, as you’ll read in the article that follows, Kleenex.

Interestingly enough, that’s also what TEDxLansing is about. (See what I did there?) I’m one of the luckiest girls in the world. Three years ago, I was sitting at Lansing Give Camp with Jen Middlin and Betsy Weber talking about all the cool stuff we wanted to do. As a huge fan of TED, when Jen said “Let’s do this TEDx thing” I jumped up and down and squealed, and realized I looked stupid, put on my best Fonz cool face and said “Sure. sounds fun.” I had no idea.

The first year, 2010. I only cried once. I was a champion. Now, I’m not exactly a ball of touchy-feely emotions, so when I cry you know something pretty significant has happened. That pretty significant something was this TEDxLansing talk by Betsy Miner-Swartz about how organ donors can save so many lives, despite having tragically given their own. It was snot town up in my seat. But if you’re at work you might want to give your officemates a heads up. (like I just had to, because I’m tearing up like a chump just writing about it).

Photo by Daniel J Hogan

The second year? I cried twice. Yeah. Twice. The first was Sharon Emery’s talk about living with a stutter and all the “disabled listeners” she encounters every day. Every. Single. Day. To think about how people have made her feel, how there was a good chance I’d made her feel that way myself just that day without realizing, how so many people every day have to watch as people write them off simply because the (often eloquent) words just won’t come out turned me into a twitchy, weeping ball of emotion. The only thing to pull me out of it was Jen demanding my shirt because she’d spilled coffee on hers and needed to do an interview. So, Jen? Thanks for being there in my time of need. I’ll never forget that, buddy.

Photo by Daniel J Hogan

The second installment in the series “Jess is a hot mess of emotion, and not in a pretty way” came from this poem by Rose Cooper. When she stood on that stage, and said with palpable pride “Michigan? MY Michigan? We may be down, but we are NEVER out” I kept it together for about thirty seconds. Kleenex, aisle one. And bring a mop. And maybe a change of clothes, because this girl is grossing me right out.

Here’s the thing. While it may sound like it? This article isn’t about me at all. Nor is it about my snot or my obvious need for a therapist of some sort. It’s about the power we all have as people to move one another. Seriously. We all have stories to tell. We all have that one big idea. And those ideas have the power to move others to action or to tears … or to laughter.

We’re about to start announcing the TEDxLansing 2012 lineup. We’ve reduced the audience numbers to give those speakers the opportunity to feel a connection with each and every person in attendance. And vice versa. The greatest thing about planning TEDxLansing is scouring the area to find these stories, these big ideas, and these moments. We want to make you feel feelings. Happy, sad, inspired… anything but nauseous really. This year we teamed up with the Capital City Film Festival to give you a whole weekend of feelings.

Come on and join us for what’s guaranteed to be an epic weekend. I’ll bring the Kleenex (the fancy kind with lotion and menthol and everything), and I’ll probably even share. And the first one of you to make me cry, speaker or not, gets a beer on me.* ** Or a Faygo. You choose. In the meantime, keep your eyes peeled on the TEDxLansing Facebook page, Twitter, or website for speaker announcements and other fabulous information. Join us April 13 at the Lansing Public Media Center and tell us: what’s YOUR big idea?

*     Yes, you can. That’s a lie.
**   Punching, kicking, physical harm and name calling don’t count, cheaters.
*** I mean I’ll buy you a beer, not that you get to dump one on me.