A diverse range of speakers, thinkers and artists with a Kentucky-based voice gathered Tuesday at the premiere of TEDxTylerPark, an offshoot of the worldwide organization TED. The event was organized with the theme “fusion” in mind, and each speaker hinted at an evolving culture in Louisville.
TEDxTylerPark was organized by community activists Jabril Goodner and Eric Gurevich. Originally it was intended to be held at Tyler Park in the Highlands, but due to the heat, it was moved into the new AC Hotel in NuLu.
TEDx allows for independent productions all around the world, giving a voice to individual communities — like Louisville. Since the introduction of TEDx in 2009, there have been 1 billion views and 100,000 talks. Goodner warned the sizable crowd to expect more events within the next six months.
“This is a catalyst for a culture shift in Louisville,” Goodner said.
Co-director and producer Gurevich said he was motivated by IdeaFestival, which was canceled by organizers this year, and wanted to create a platform for the innovative voices in Louisville.
“I want the audience to leave a little more curious,” Gurevich said.
As the program began, Gurevich said he was pleased to see a large and diverse group in attendance, which he believed reflected the inclusivity of TED.
Jevonda Keith, wife of speaker Shimar Keith, said she has been a fan of TED Talks for a while because of the ability to bring different ideas together. She explained that her husband, a pastor, had the unique ability to shine light on passages people may have read their entire lives and propose a new way of looking at them.
“I’m interested to learn about new things I can think about,” she said before the talks began. She added she was particularly interested to hear the first speaker, Yamilca Rodriguez, talk about empathy, which she considered a topic hard to come by.
Louisville resident Quincy Nelson said he was hoping to become inspired by the speakers and find the energy to “start moving.” When asked if he had any specific ideas, Nelson said he was unsure but knew he was going to do something big and hoped hearing from successful people who had already done the work would energize him.
Nelson said he believes TEDx will build and empower a community within Louisville through sharing stories, ideas and motivation. He said there’s already a lot of potential in the city.
“People start to realize other people have ideas and work together,” he said.
With the theme of “fusion,” each speaker interpreted that word in a different way — from Kevlen “The Illest-Strator” Goodner, an illustrator who imbeds ideas from hip-hop culture, to Clay Cook, a photographer who transformed a creative outlet into a voice for the voiceless.
One speaker who demonstrated fusion in a quite literal way was Jecorey “1200” Arthur, a performer, composer, educator and activist. During his 18-minute window, Arthur performed a marimba piece called “Mozart, Migos, and Me,” which combined the styles of classical and hip-hop music with his own.
“If you ever ride in my car, I’m either listening to classical music or trap music,” Arthur joked with the crowd. “Very different juxtapositions.”
During a Q&A session, Arthur said hip-hop artists tend to focus on finding the right words or lyrics, while classical music is more like not knowing what words to say or not needing words to express an idea. The musician said that while growing up, he tried to hide his interest in classical music. But after studying and learning to appreciate both genres in college, he realized he could combine both interests.
“I either had to choose or I had to fuse,” Arthur explained.
After the performance, Arthur said programs such as TEDx are important to Louisville. And although it may seem like a small city, there are still a lot of communities and individuals for people to learn from or meet.
Speaker duo Colleen Reilly and Scott Koloms discussed the current image of Kentucky from a national perspective and brought up ways to transform that image with “good” business.
They encouraged the audience to be cautious and informed when making purchases and suggested ways of encouraging socially aware companies to move here.
“We need to make Kentucky the place to be for a social entrepreneur,” said Reilly, the operations manager at Canopy and a board member of New Roots.