x = independently organized TED event

Theme: Mind Blender

This event occurred on
September 24, 2011
10:00am - 3:00pm EDT
(UTC -4hrs)
Phoenixville, PA
United States

The organizing committee playfully labeled the 2011 conference MindBlender, reflecting their interest in exploring how the brain and the mind work via the arts, science and technology; and how a lively mixture of ideas and people can lead to inspiration and innovation.

The Colonial Theatre
227 Bridge Street
Phoenixville, PA, 19460
United States
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Speakers may not be confirmed. Check event website for more information.

Stacey Cruise

Stacey Cruise is the Chief Executive Officer of American Paradigm Schools and one of the founders of the First Philadelphia Charter School for Literacy and Tacony Academy Charter School. Prior to working as the Lead Executive for APS, Cruise had a noteworthy career piloting primary education initiatives. She served as Deputy Chief Executive Officer for New Foundations Charter School in Philadelphia, Director of Program Expansion for Foundations, Inc. in Mount Laurel, New Jersey and was Founder and Director of Literacy 1st, Inc. in Baltimore and Philadelphia. Cruise has worked to build inclusive and safe schools for staff and students. Her management style focuses on productive change and school improvement which ensures obtainment of No Child Left Behind mandates. She has a longstanding commitment to expanding quality educational experiences for every student and leads her staff in monitoring the success of students’ achievements on national, state, and local assessments.

Kyo Daiko

Founded in 2005, Kyo Daiko is a community-based group, which is the result of a collaboration between Settlement Music School and Shofuso Japanese House and Garden in Fairmount Park. The group is led by instructor Kristopher Rudzinski, who is a member of the Settlement Music School percussion faculty. Mr. Rudzinski has performed with the group Taikoza, as well as studying with Taikoza’s founder, Mr. Marco Lienhard. Kyo Daiko performs regularly at schools and community events, and has performed at the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington D.C., the Phillies pre-game show and the Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA).

Albert Maysles

Albert Maysles is a pioneer of Direct Cinema who, with his brother David were the first to make nonfiction feature films (GIMME SHELTER, SALESMAN, GREY GARDENS) where the drama of life unfolds as is without scripts, sets, interviews or narration. His first film, PSYCHIATRY IN RUSSIA (1955) he made in transition from psychologist to documentary filmmaker. In 1960 he served as co-filmmaker of PRIMARY. His 36 films include WHAT''S HAPPENING? THE BEATLES IN THE USA (1964), five film of the projects of Christo and Jeanne-Claude (1972 to 1995), and a sixth, THE GATES (2007), MEET MARLON BRANDO (1965) and three documentaries for HBO. He received a Guggenheim Fellowship (1965), a Peabody, an Emmy, five Lifetime Achievement Awards, the award for best cinematography at Sundance (2002) for LALEE'S KIN which was also nominated in 2001 for an Academy Award and the Columbia Dupont Award (2004). In 1999 Eastman Kodak saluted him as one of the 100 world’s finest cinematographers.

Josh McLane

During his undergraduate studies as an Environmental Economics major at Colgate University Josh gained an appreciation for the disproportionate burden of social, environmental, and economic issues that plague Sub-Saharan Africa. Inspired to give something back to the world prior to embarking on a professional career he made a direct connection to the locally owned Kao La Amani orphanage in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania and set off shortly after graduation. Beyond the friendships that he established with the orphanage family, Josh was able to leave an impact by starting a pig farming project that will give the orphanage the financial means to provide for themselves.

Amy Ellis Nutt

Amy Ellis Nutt is an enterprise writer at The Star-Ledger where she has worked for the past 13 years. Among her numerous national honors, she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in feature writing last month. Nutt is a 1977 graduate of Smith College and has Masterss degrees from M.I.T. (Philosophy) and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. Before becoming a writer, first at Sports Illustrated and then at The Star-Ledger, Nutt taught philosophy at Tufts University. She was selected to be a Nieman Fellow in Journalism at Harvard University in 2004-2005, and recently published a new book "Shadows Bright as Glass: The Remarkable Story of One Man's Journey from Brain Trauma to Artistic Triumph," which received starred reviews from Kirkus and Booklist. On a personal level, Nutt was born on Staten Island and grew up the middle of five children in Scotch Plains, New Jersey. Unbeknownst to her parents, she lost 80 percent of her hearing as an infant. At the age of five her deafness was discovered by a doctor and she underwent a simple operation to restore her hearing. The newness of sounds inspired a life-long fascination with, and love of, language.

Amy Walker

Amy Walker is an artist of many media. Her online videos have garnered over 20 million views on YouTube and beyond, from the viral "21 Accents", to memorable characters, songs, stories, and musings on being human. She recently collaborated with Jack White and Third Man Records, to produce the single “A Discourse on Accents”, available from iTunes and Third Man Records. The success of her one-woman shows and videos landed her on the TODAY Show, NPR, Inside Edition... and inspired the film Connected, which is being produced by the global community at As a director and teacher, Amy has tapped the truth in artists all over the world, from productions to workshops and private coaching. She is insatiably interested in the unique juice that fuels the human spirit, and dedicates her life to awakening the full potential within herself and others.

The Wittchen Initiative

The Wittchen Initiative debuted in early 2008, almost a year after the three Wittchen women put their heads together and brainstormed how they might all be able to perform together. After a friend suggested they perform at his bi-annual winter party, the ladies quickly added Dan Nosheny, aka TubaDan, to their roster and began arranging tunes that run the gamut from jazz standards to country to pop and hard rock. After the solid success of their private performances in the Spring of 2008, the band gave their first public performance in September 2008 to an enthusiastic crowd at the Old Moravian Chapel in Bethlehem, PA. Since then, they have performed at a variety of venues throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania. In March 2010, they headlined at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Harp Conference in Alexandria, VA. The band’s mission is to surprise audiences by the harp’s versatility beyond traditional music genres. To that end, they have created arrangements of an eclectic mix of tunes that run the gamut from jazz standards to country, pop, Broadway and hard rock.


Team DARwIn aims to develop the most advanced humanoid robot in its class. The team is advised by Prof. Dennis Hong at Virginia Tech and Prof. Daniel Lee at the University of Pennsylvania, and their robot, the DARwIn-OP, is a 18 inch tall, fully autonomous humanoid robot. The initial goal of Team DARwin is to compete in the RoboCup competition, a tournament where teams from all around the world engineer kid-sized humanoids to play 3 on 3 soccer matches, autonomously without any human intervention. This past summer, Team DARwIn took the world by storm in the international competition in Istanbul by winning the tournament with a combined 74-7 goal differential. Bringing this incredible technology back home, the researchers on the team are both improving their technology and expanding to a larger range of applications. In the future, these robots will take care of some of the tasks that humans don’t want to do - be that dangerous, dull or dirty. Two of these researchers are Stephen McGill and Seung-Joon Yi. Stephen McGill is now a second year PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania studying intelligent human robot interaction. Seung-Joon Yi is a visiting PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania from Seoul National University in Korea examining reliable bipedal locomotion.

Organizing team

Van Vlandren

Phoenixville, PA, United States
  • Todd Palmer
    Creative Director of Virtual Farm Creative and TEDxPhoenixville Organizing Committee
  • Tyler Donald
    TEDxPhoenixville Organizing Committee
  • Jay Brown
    TEDxPhoenixville Organizing Committee
  • Julian Romano
    Student member of TEDxPhoenixville Organizing Committee
  • Christopher Borai
    Artist and TEDxPhoenixville Organizing Committee
  • Helene Calci
    Graphic Designer and TEDxPhoenixville Organizing Committee
  • Nicole Wolf
    Graphic Designer and TEDxPhoenixville Organizing Committee
  • Kelly Sharadin
    Graphic Designer and TEDxPhoenixville Organizing Committee