Putting a Positive Spin on Community

Saturday is just a day away and I am so excited!

Because it’s the weekend? You ask.

Partly. More specifically though on Saturday morning I am going to an event in Rockford, Illinois. The first of its kind in our little Midwestern slice of the world, as a matter of fact. It is called TEDxRockford, Building a Sustainable Community.

What is TEDxRockford? I am so glad you asked. First, let’s back up a bit. TEDx is the brain-child of the nonprofit entity known as TED which stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. The TED mission is to share “Ideas Worth Spreading”. Since 1984 they have been bringing together some of the world’s most intriguing thinkers and doers and challenging them to share some of their most profound ideas and discoveries in front of a live audience in 18 minutes or less. Each of these presentations is filmed and available for viewing, free of charge, on their website, TED.com. There are over 1300 videos on a multitude of fascinating topics on their website.

The TEDx program was created by TED to give communities and groups an opportunity to have a TED-like experience, one in which ideas, insights, and innovative thinking could be shared, on a local level.

Around mid-summer, I discovered that my home town of Rockford, Illinois was hosting a TEDx event and they were accepting application to be a part of the audience. Needless to say, since I am a BIG fan of TED.com, I jumped at the chance. As the rules of organizing a TEDx event require that no more than 100 bodies inhabit the event space, each interested party had to fill out an application telling a little about themselves and their ties to the community. After filling out my application, I anxiously waited to hear if I had been chosen to attend. One week passed, two weeks passed, perhaps even three weeks passed, actually it was like eight days. Maybe they didn’t get my application I thought, so even though the deadline for applying had not passed yet I Facebooked them, “Just wondering if you’ve sent out any confirmation emails yet.” They politely commented that all applicants would be notified a few weeks AFTER the deadline. DANG! I wanna know now!! Okay, I’ll be patient then.

So, why am I so eager to attend the TEDxRockford event? Because it is a positive initiative for our community. Rockford has been the butt of jokes, overlooked, and beaten up in various national magazine city rankings for almost as long as I have lived here. Enough is enough. I love Rockford! Sure it has taken a beating over the years with the loss of thousands of manufacturing jobs, divisive school district issues, and rising crime rates but Rockford is a beautiful community, both its landscape and its people. Rockford has so much potential that we can’t let it go to waste. We have to fight for it and we have to stand up to all the negative naysayers and show them that there are a lot of wonderful things going on in our town, like Pablo Korona is doing with his website Our City, Our Story.

I am excited to be a part of something that has been created to build Rockford up not to tear it down. I am hoping to meet and mingle with people who have an optimistic vision for our community and a plan for implementing positive changes within our town. Speakers will be announced tomorrow and I plan to post my impressions after the event so stay tuned.

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