On The Red Carpet: TedxBirmingham Salon

Ripples. Small disturbances in the status quo that grow larger. At TEDxBirminghamSalon, we’ll hear from several live speakers who will start the ripple of an idea. It’s up to you to connect with others in this intimate setting and see how far those ripples can spread. -TedxBirmingham


Salon (noun)- A gathering of people who meet to converse on intellectual, social, political, or artistic topics

On Monday, I had the pleasure of attending my first TedxBirmingham event at Trim Tab Brewery.  Trim Tab, which is usually closed on Mondays, set up shop specifically to host the event.

Founded in 1984, TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design, is a nonprofit devoted to the spreading of ideas in the form of short, powerful talks on almost all topics. TED is an organization on a global scale, and uses independent, locally run events, known as TEDx, to begin the spreading of ideas through communities. All TED and TEDx Talks are recorded which furthers the promotion of ideas all around the world. Here’s a quick video that explains it all…

Attending and giving a TED Talk were both on my list of things to do before I die. At least, I can scratch one of them off. If you have never heard of a TED Talk, STOP READING THIS POST (well read the rest of the paragraph, follow the directions, and then come back and read this post) .  Click on one of the links below and pick a TED Talk to watch. WARNING YOU MAY BECOME ADDICTED.

My personal favorite TED Talk: Every Kid Needs a Champion by Rita Pierson

TedxBirmingham held their first large event in May of this year, and has many more on the way. Monday’s salon featured 8 speakers who  each gave a 4-5 minute talk. Attendees were asked to select two of their favorites. The survey data will help select speakers for the larger event on February, 28th. “This is like a test run,” says Jami Armbrester a volunteer staff member and the Associate Director of Career and Professional Development at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Let me just say that I applaud every speaker for having the courage and brilliance to get up and share their personal thoughts with a group of strangers. Here’s a quick rundown of the speakers, and a quote from their talk that stood out to me.

 Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 12.21.01 AM“Your voice is your power”

Taylor was a favorite. He spoke on the transformative power of the arts. He advocated for investment in alternative programs to bring about meaningful change in the lives of youth. He pushed for the destruction of the idea that a child should be seen and not heard. He challenged us to not think outside the box, but realize there is no box. He created a ripple.

Taylor is the founder of Real Life Poets, Incorporated. The nonprofit organization was founded in 2006 to use spoken word and poetry as a mentorship tool for youth and young adults. For more information about Real Life Poets, Inc.  and their programs visit  reallifepoets.org.

“MScreen Shot 2014-09-16 at 12.21.16 AMy eyes have been opened and my mind has been changed all because I traveled. Traveling Changes you.”

Toland’s talk was my other favorite, because he convinced me that traveling makes you a better person. He sited research to show that people who just think about traveling are more creative than people who don’t. He shamed me with a statistic comparing the amount of people in the USA with passports (only 30 %) to those with passports in the United Kingdom (70%).  Toland’s idea actually created a ripple. I left determined to travel more, but also wondering how to make travel  a more accessible opportunity. How can we provide more opportunities to travel for youth and low-income families?

Toland’s upcoming event Toland Travels Live  will be held on September 20th at Urban Standard. The event is free and features live story telling of the travels from local writers. For more information about Toland, his travels, and upcoming events visit his website tolandtravels.com.

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 12.20.14 AM“You have a choice to make. Each day you must choose. Will I give up or be resilient?…Be Resilient.”

Brown under went a traumatic experience when she and her two children were held captive and abused for two years. She says that resiliency is the ability to overcome even the worsts situations. She now works to motivate others as an advocate for domestic violence awareness. This sister was powerful.

Learn more about Brown on here website here.

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 12.21.23 AM“In all likelihood, the job we will retire from doesn’t exist yet.”

Watson spoke about what makes millennials tick and why cities need to attract us if they want to survive. He identified the type of work that attracts millennial talent. The work we want is meaningful and allows for a work life balance. As a millennial, I identified strongly with his talk.


“There’s more tScreen Shot 2014-09-16 at 12.20.22 AMo our story.”

Bruce performed a spoken word piece that encouraged us to understand the power of vulnerability. In other words, just keep it real y’all.



Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 12.20.04 AMSports have power, therefore we need to teach sports… Our world get’s wider when sports enter the equation.”

Billings spoke on the lessons that can be taught through the foundations of sports. He spoke on how sports create a platform to discuss history, race, homosexuality, domestic violence, and other issues.  I enjoyed his talk, because he approached a familiar topic for Alabamians in a totally different way.

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 12.20.52 AM
“I’m a recovering perfectionist”    

McGraw spoke about how she’s overcoming fear and self-doubt.   McGraw’s talk served as my reminder to breathe a little.

Screen Shot 2014-09-16 at 12.20.30 AM“We all need to get naked”

He called upon laders to build authentic community by being vulnerable and allowing others to do the same. Carpizo is currently a community organizer with Greater Birmingham Ministries.  To learn more about his work with immigration reform visit gbm.org.


Does this sound like an event you would like to attend or participate in? TedxBirmingham has two upcoming events this year.

October 28th Salon- Video Only. During Design Week Birmingham, they will host a viewing a selected TED talks.

December 8th Live Salon @ Trim Tab Brewery. Participants will speak on issues related to poverty. Tickets are $10 and go on sale at noon two weeks before the event. Be on the lookout, because tickets go fast. (really, really, really fast)

For more information about TedxBirmingham and upcoming events visit www.tedxbirmingham.org

Oh… Participants speak while standing on a red circle carpet. Hence, the title. I loved this event and I look forward to more. It is yet another way Birmingham is building a diverse community. However, if you don’t know about it,  you can’t come. And if you don’t come no one can build it.

Well… I’ve done my job

Happy building Birmingham!

-A City Girl





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