HollyWorld

The journey continues: journalism, writing, and the cultural landscape

TEDxKC 2015: An event worthy of an August full moon in Kansas City

Posted by Holly Edgell on August 30, 2015

11898628_10103360405188020_6643094118092667147_n

Explaining TED and TEDx to the uninitiated can be a challenge. If you say, “It’s about great, important ideas,” the whole thing sounds more highbrow that it really is. To say, “It’s inspiring,” makes it sound vaguely religious. “Talks by cool people about cool things?” Well, you get the idea.

Still confused? More about TED here. Click here for TEDx, its awesome offspring. I recommend listening to The TED Radio Hour to sample the talks.

August 29, 2015 was the night of TEDxKC’s “Reimagine” event. TEDxKC is the largest TEDx event in the United States, and among the largest in the world. While smaller TEDx endeavors may focus on local speakers and entertainers, the Kansas City version brings in names from around the country and even the world. One local “Challenge” speaker, chosen through a video submission process, joined the lineup.

SHOUTOUTS: I got involved with TEDx when I connected with the great folks at TEDxCincinnati in 2013. And, to my delight, there’s now a TEDxBelmopan in Belize!

As a TEDxKC volunteer, I helped hand out T-shirts and swag bags before the show and earned a free ticket to the simulcast. Both it and the the live show (both at Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts) were sold out.

TED

My 5 favorite moments:

  1. Opening act: The Louisville Leopard Percussionists. This is a group of pre-teens who know they way around xylophones and drums!
  2. Terri Trespicio: She used to work for Martha Stewart. Now she’s a branding strategist with her own podcast, Solopreneur. Favorite quote from TEDxKC: “You don’t follow your passion. Your passion follows you.” Her message was about how waiting around for passion to strike can mean a host of missed opportunities.
  3. Martin Pistorius: He rolled onto the stage in wheelchair, with a laptop balanced on his knees. The freelance web developer (originally from South Africa, living in London) spent more than a decade trapped in a world only he knew existed–unable to communicate, but able to see, hear and understand everything around him. It took an aromatherapist to alert family and medical experts that Pistorius was ready for the world. His book is Ghost Boy. Favorite quote from TEDxKC: “We are told actions speak louder than words, but I wonder: do they?” In the end, it was his words that made the difference.
  4. Scott Hamilton. Yes, that Scott Hamilton! The Olympic figure skater, a cancer survivor, is now a leading proponent of a cancer treatment I’d never heard of. It promises to beat cancer without the toll chemo and traditional radiation can take. Favorite quote for TEDxKC: “There’s a new kid in town and it’s called proton therapy.” I learned that proton therapy is offered in only about a dozen places around the country, it is currently very expensive, and that major insurance companies won’t cover it–even through Medicaid and Medicare do and it’s FDA-approved. There is center planned for Kansas City, Hamilton said at TEDxKC.
  5. Chaz Ebert. She is the woman who married Roger Ebert, the film critic. Now she runs a foundation that aims to bring empathy to the filmmaking. Sounds like a tall order! Still, if anyone can do it, Ebert can. Favorite quote from TEDxKC: “When we empathize with others, it turns out to be in our best interest as well.”

MORE:

Here are three of my favorite recent TED Talks (all from TED Women 2015):

  1. Margaret Heffernan: Why it’s time to forget the pecking order at work
  2. Roxane Gay: Confessions of a bad feminist (Ms. Gay is awesome to follow on Twitter @rgay)
  3. Rich Benjamin: My road trip through the whitest towns in America

11892135_10103359966477200_1195232866463892689_n

Posted in culture | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

This tranquil haven of democracy: Voting for a standard bearer in Belize

Posted by Holly Edgell on August 10, 2015

On Sunday, Aug. 9, voters from around the Stann Creek District converged on the village of Independence to cast their ballots at a United Democratic Party (UDP) convention. It was a three-way race to represent the Stann Creek West electoral division as standard bearer in the next General Election (date as yet to be determined).

Heading across the lagoon from Placencia to Malacate. From there, we rode in a van to Independence.

Heading across the lagoon from Placencia to Malacate. From there, we rode in a van to Independence.

We boarded a boat for Independence on the lagoon side of Placencia at 10 a.m. on Sunday. It was one of several flying a United Democratic Party flag bearing the name, “Walter.” Of the dozen or so people on board, about half wore red t-shirts emblazoned with UDP slogans or pro-Walter wording in white lettering.

All three candidates used boats and buses to bring their supporters to the polls. Upon arrival at Independence Primary School, voters navigated a genial gauntlet of die-hard boosters at the school yard gate who encouraged undecideds to pick their candidates. I had the feeling there were not very many undecideds.

In addition to bringing people to the polls, each candidate provided supporters with a full rice-and-beans meal at midday.

Glen Eiley sports his "Por la unidad" shirt on convention day.

Glen Eiley sports his “Por la unidad” shirt on convention day.

There are two electoral divisions in the Stann Creek District: The principal town of Dangriga and the rest of the district, known as Stann Creek West. MORE

The three candidates:

  1. Walter Garbutt, retired teacher
  2. Nathan Young, UDP constituency chairperson
  3. Ivan Williams, Labour Commissioner of Belize

According to Belizebreakingnews.com, UDP party chairman “Alberto August described Sunday’s turnout as the biggest convention held by the United Democratic Party (UDP) in the division of Stann Creek West.” Walter Garbutt won with about 50 percent of the 3,100 votes cast.

My Aunt Martha greets candidate Walter Garbutt, a retired teacher.

My Aunt Martha greets candidate Walter Garbutt, a retired teacher.

I am not registered to vote in Belize (although, as a citizen and homeowner, I think I could be), so I attended the convention as an observer. 

Independence Primary School’s ground floor classrooms each served as polling places, based on alphabetical order. One room was reserved for the party Secretariat: UDP Secretary General Pearl Stuart and a team of party workers collected the paper ballots here, ensured their validity and stowed them away in a series of plastic bags. There were UDP staffers on hand to answer questions from voters about the process, but not about the candidates.

My aunt remembers a time when verifying voter eligibility was based on facial recognition: If a poll worker recognized you as living in the precinct where you said you lived, you could vote. Now, voters must be properly registered ahead of time and bring their photo IDs to the polls. Workers then check their list of registered voters to ensure you are eligible.

In Belize, where ballots are counted by hand, each voter dips an index finger into red ink to show he or she has already cast a ballot. Afterward, many people lingered in the school yard chatting with friends, meeting the candidates themselves or simply taking in the scene.

FullSizeRenderHon. Anthony “Boots” Martinez, Minister of Human Development, Social Transformation and Poverty Alleviation, mingled among the voters–shaking hands and thanking people for turning out.

Also on hand, the man whose departure from the party precipitated the convention: Melvin Hulse, former division standard bearer, came out to cast his ballot. In June, Hulse stepped down after a scandal involving tape recordings–recordings on which he reportedly slammed his party leader, Prime Minister Dean Barrow. Despite being in disgrace with party leadership, Hulse seems to remain popular with many voters, who greeted him with familiarity and affection. No doubt, Hulse voted for Nathan Young, whom he endorsed upon resigning from the party and his government post.

Overall, the atmosphere was peaceful and even festive. The stream of voters throughout the morning was steady and orderly. Still, the atmosphere, however easy-going, carried with it an urgency: This is important; we can vote, and we will vote.

Posted in Belize, politics | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

How to slow down in 10 steps

Posted by Holly Edgell on August 5, 2015

1. Fly to somewhere that makes you feel serene. Pick a place where internet connections are slow (and there are few places with free wifi) and  “roaming” on your mobile phone will be really expensive.  

 2. Arrive. This may happen after a very long travel day, after which you are exhausted but still in non-vacation mode: tense, cranky & pessimistic. 

3. Have your favorite drink while looking out over a beautiful scene (e.g. The Caribbean Sea).

4. Eat something delicious.

5. Go to bed early.

6. Wake up early the next day.

7. Have your coffee outside looking at a beautiful scene (e.g. Boats in a marina, coconut trees & a lagoon)

8. Sit.

9. Update your blog to rid yourself of the residual urge to do something.

10. Unpack

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

Everybody hurts: 10 reasons journalists can have morale problems

Posted by Holly Edgell on July 19, 2015

Non-journalists are often surprised to learn that working in journalism is not all excitement, fun and a deep sense of fulfillment.  Working in television and digital news as I do, I find myself explaining that one of the biggest issues facing leaders is morale–and it’s one that often gets short shrift in the fast-paced, intense daily flow of work.

career-memes-journalis-main

As many corporations have learned, a workforce of frustrated, frightened and angry employees is bad for productivity. There’s a reason new companies place a high premium on workplace amenities, generous benefits and opportunities for training and growth.

So why are so many journalists bummed out?

1. We are constantly finding out disturbing information about human nature.

2. That ever-present, sneaking feeling that you just missed a very important story/scoop.

3. Highly competitive. Journalists are constantly sizing themselves up against the news operation “across the street” as well as against their own co-workers. This is a losing game, but we can’t resist playing it.

lionel

4. Change. New technology, new platforms, new economic realities. It’s all scary.

5. With great responsibility and public presence come outsized egos. And, the flip-side is deep insecurity.

6. One minute you’re winning, the next you are down in the cellar.

A recent study looked at how constantly monitoring performance via metrics affects newsroom morale. No surprise, it found that simply checking how individual digital stories performed–or looking at daily television ratings–can be either be a huge downer or a massive upper–and both outcomes offer distortion that can feed into insecurity and frustration. MORE Study: Metrics have ‘powerful influence’ on journalists’ morale

7. Work-life balance. Say what?

8. Money. Unless you are a network anchor who writes a best-seller and marries money, you are unlikely to be rich. You will work very hard for long hours.

9. Love and hate from the public. When we give voice to the voiceless, expose the baddies and hold the powerful accountable we are heroes. When mess up, everyone knows and won’t let us forget it.

10. Bosses who just don’t get it.

Believe it or not, journalists are not always the best leaders! We tend to be impatient, cynical, skeptical and highly motivated by individual achievement. The qualities that make a reporter, producer or other newsie great at news gathering can make us terrible as managers. Recommended: What Great Bosses Know (podcasts)

As a newsroom leader myself, I find one of the toughest challenges is distinguishing between individual and organizational angst: There are people who have personal or professional problems unique to them, no matter where they happen to be working. Then are also low morale themes that permeate and fester. Tackling morale problems effectively requires leaders to correctly diagnose before taking action.

So why to we do it?

Remember that excitement, fun and a deep sense of fulfillment I mentioned earlier? It does exist! Also, we love being in the know and on the front lines of life.

There is no formula for all of this. But, we know listening and hearing are vital. We know that walking the talk speaks volumes.  Suggestions welcome!

journalists

Posted in Career, Journalism, social media, television | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Lately, I’ve been watching a lot of documentaries.

Posted by Holly Edgell on June 28, 2015

Is it another sign of maturity, or just a rather twisted and voyeuristic streak? Lately, it’s hard for me to sit through a fictional television program; it has to be about depravity, murder, secrets and/or lies to really hold me (True Detective, Season One). Similarly, I used to love to read fiction; now, magazines like Harper’s and the New Yorker hold my attention, as can biographies–especially revolving around themes of race.

Exception Alert: “The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” a comedy, is the bomb. Not suprisingly, it comes from the twisted and awesome mind of Tina Fey.

sdm

Thanks to the podcast “Death, Sex & Money,” I have a great resource for discovering documentaries I might not know about otherwise. There is a link to a Google spreadsheet on the show’s website, and it’s being populated by fans of the the podcast.

Go here to check it out: Summer Documentary List

I was moved to add three docs of my own choosing:

  • “The Galapagos Affair: Satan Came to Eden”
  • “Open Secret”
  • “Little White Lie”

The list reminded me I’d not yet seen “Grey Gardens,” which omission I rectified this weekend. Other docs I’ve watched this summer (pre-list) include “There’s Something Wrong With Aunt Diane,” and “The 9/11 Faker.” Also, “The Vivian Maier Mystery,” “Savage Memory,” and “Love & Terror On The Howling Plains of Nowhere.”

Get the picture? Sensing a theme?

Documentaries allow me to feel things I don’t normally tap into on a regular basis. They remind me that life is large, that time is short, and that there are really more important things than x, y or z.

Human beings are so improbable. How do we ever get anything done? How do we find and then lose ourselves and each other?

More documentary recommendations always welcome! (Remember my favorite themes, please).

Posted in culture | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »

4 + 4: A tweet that says a lot about how to live and be a decent person

Posted by Holly Edgell on June 27, 2015

Photo Jun 13, 3 13 07 PM

To step outside oneself in attempt to take stock is as important as it is difficult. If you’re like me, the result of self-examination is black and white and may depend on one’s mood.

Good mood: “You, you’re awesome! Look at all you’ve accomplished, the places you’ve been and the people you have in your life.”

Bad mood: “(Sigh) Well, at least you’re not incarcerated.”

I spotted this Tweet earlier this morning and found it heartening. It’s as good a piece of advice for a good life as any I’ve seen.

Screen Shot 2015-06-27 at 7.37.31 AM

Posted in culture | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Warning, this blog is personal: Last night I wept at the Tears for Fears concert in Kansas City

Posted by Holly Edgell on June 16, 2015

You’ve seen this: Concert footage in which fans are crying. I never understood it. Sure, the music is great and the band members are (sometimes) good looking, but weeping at a concert?

Last night I wept at the Tears for Fears concert in Kansas City. On and off, from the first strains of “Everybody Wants To Rule The World,” through the encore “Woman in Chains” and “Shout.”

Tears for Fears played the Uptown Theater in Kansas City, Missouri on June 15, 2015.

Tears for Fears played the Uptown Theater in Kansas City, Missouri on June 15, 2015.

There was something in those familiar, loved songs–rendered even better and new again live–that hit me in the heart. Hearing Roland Orzabal (best voice in pop music) got right in amongst me. Also, the band seemed to see the fans as a mass audience of old friends, with warm smiles and genuine enjoyment of the crowd.

The years–with all the good and bad they have held–rolled over me again and again.

And there’s another, very important thing. For a variety of reasons, I have never settled down in a geographic place. A sense of only partially belonging here or there is something I am now used to, and most of the time I don’t even think about it.

MORE: Holly’s Tears for Fears Spotify playlist (You haven’t lived until you’ve heard Orzabal cover “Creep” by Radiohead)

Last night, I think I was moved, in part, because I remembered that I belong to a generation and I (finally) understood something about what that means. In a hall full of singing, dancing and cheering strangers (average age around 42, I’d guess), I felt connected. Music carries us through time. So, I suppose I will always have a “place.”

Artwork on the shirt I bought at the concert on June 15, 2015.

Artwork on the shirt I bought at the concert on June 15, 2015.

Posted in culture | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Stay-cation or vacation? 3 things to consider before making your decision

Posted by Holly Edgell on June 7, 2015

shuttle

Say you take a few days off: Just enough to take a trip somewhere nearby and affordable. OR, you could use that travel time to take naps, putter around your garden and explore the place where you live.

3 tips to making the decision

1 – Exhaustion factor. If you are really beat, the stay-cation may be the best way to recuperate. If you have kids or pets, however, staying home could add to your exhaustion factor.
plaza

2 – If you did not already live where you do, is it a place you’d want to visit? For mid-size to large cities, the answer could well be “Yes.” However, if you’ve lived there most of your life, getting away is probably the more refreshing option.

NOTE: If you are new to town (like yours truly in Kansas City), the stay-cation can be great. Perfect for hitting up markets, museums, or just taking a walk around your new community. Plus, you’ve already got a place to stay.

3 – Weather. If it’s more to your liking where you are than anywhere else you can get to and/or afford, staying put is going to make you happier.
mug

Posted in culture | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Happy Earth Day, Mother Earth

Posted by Holly Edgell on April 22, 2015

All hail the Tree of Wisdom! Placencia, Belize. 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a Comment »

RIP Anne Tkach: I hardly knew you, but now I know you were amazing

Posted by Holly Edgell on April 19, 2015

Here’s how I knew Anne Tkach: As Adam Hesed’s girlfriend, who came with him to family gatherings throughout the year: Thanksgiving, birthdays, Christmas. She was warm and kind, but we never really had a deep conversation; now I wish we had.

Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 8.40.46 AM Screen Shot 2015-04-19 at 8.45.13 AM

It’s a little complicated: Adam Hesed is a member of my sister-in-law Emily Edgell’s (nee Shavers) family: a clan that includes blood ties as well as family by choice. Because Emily and my brother Randy have the biggest house and yard, we tend to do the major occasions there.

I knew that Anne and Adam were involved with music–I did not know that Anne was a big deal on the St. Louis music scene, playing in bands and supporting her fellow musicians in all kinds of ways.

On April 9, Anne died in a house fire. She was 48 years old. You can read about what happened here.

My mother told me the news; she had just seen Anne at Easter Sunday festivities, which I missed–driving back to Kansas City, where I live.

Checking Anne’s Facebook profile, I learned just how much she impacted the community in life–and about the shockwaves and despair her death left in its wake.

READ: This tribute in The Riverfront Times

On April 18, I attended Anne’s funeral in Webster Groves; Emmanuel Episcopal Church was packed–standing room only, This is where I learned a great deal more about Anne; that she was deeply loved by a lot of people–because she was generous, humble, and loved to knit. That she also loved to wear overalls I already knew. Also, that she loved Adam Hesed.

The sadness I felt was mostly for the living: Adam, Anne’s father Peter, Emily, the Hesed family. But, I also wished I had known Anne better.

Posted in culture | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 5,892 other followers

%d bloggers like this: