x = independently organized TED event

Theme: What Now?

This event occurred on
May 10, 2012
9:00am - 9:30pm EDT
(UTC -4hrs)
Grand Rapids, MI
United States

In 2012, TEDxGrandRapids explores the theme, “What now?” The open-ended question is an invitation to participants to reflect on the ideas that matter most in our world, right now.

Grand Rapids Civic Theatre
30 N Division Avenue
Grand Rapids, MI, 49503
United States
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Speakers may not be confirmed. Check event website for more information.

Andrew Dent, Ph.D.

Material Scientist- By sharing insights about materials, Dr. Andrew H. Dent has fostered product innovation in the world’s largest and most interesting companies. He takes us on a personal and professional journey that shows how great leaps in product innovation can actually come from sustainability thinking and cross-industry pollination, and takes a look at game-changing technologies and materials to look for in the near future.

Bill Sabram

Game Designer - Bill Sabram is a game designer trained as an industrial designer who has bridged the gaps between design, programming, research and marketing. He has also jumped from salaried employment to contract work to the start-up world and continues to advocate the end-user’s experience.His board games are collectible (Buffy, Pokémon Coins and Cosmic Encounter.) His electronic games are ground-breaking (Talking Mr. Potato Head predated Leap Frog as the first preschool hand held, and The Lord of the Rings Plug ‘n’ Play TV Game incorporated a wireless sword long before anyone saw the Wii on shelves.)In recent years, his work has become increasingly meaningful as he focused on games as a way to teach, motivate and improve our collective health and well-being.Bill attended a Games for Healthcare summit at The White House in February, shared his work on an MVP Fitness Device at the Game Developers Conference in San Francisco in March (project code-named: Hot Sauce) and spoke in support of “gamification” at PAX East, a massive game conference in Boston that was held in April. It seems that everywhere you look, there is interest in increasing user engagement with the power of play. Now is the best time to be a designer working on games for health!Mr. Sabram is the lead game designer of MeYou Health, a Boston-based start-up dedicated to creating web and mobile apps that harness the power of frequent small actions. Their flagship product, Daily Challenge, blends game mechanics, science and social support in a direct to consumer approach. Each MeYou health product is built upon the foundation that employees are healthier when they engage in genuine, immediate, realistic and convenient social interactions with family, friends and coworkers in the pursuit of improved health and well-being.

Carla Atwood Hartman

Preservationist - Carla Atwood Hartman, granddaughter of Charles and Ray Eames, enjoyed sixteen years of museum experience in architecture, design and graphics at the Denver Art Museum before becoming the Director of Education for the Eames Office in 2004. She collaborates with museums, schools, and the public to extend the creative legacy of Charles and Ray Eames through interactive programming, exhibitions, publications, and product development. While much of her current work focuses on the Eames family, she uses chairs—a singular collecting passion—as teaching tools in her Design Camps for adults and children alike.Hartman also serves as a board member of the Eames Foundation assisting with the preservation of the Eames House and the expansion of public engagement with this National Historic Landmark located in Pacific Palisades, California.

Dance in the Annex

Artistry and Technique. Creativity and Collaboration. Amy Wilson is the co-founder and Artistic Director of Dance In the Annex or DITA [pronounced DEEtuh]. Dance In The Annex takes its name from the Wealthy Theatre Annex, where DITA classes and rehearsals take place. As a contemporary dance collective, DITA offers master classes and performance opportunities for regional, professional dancers and choreographers. DITA’s mission: to foster and enhance an appreciation of contemporary dance as an art form. In addition to performing at every ArtPrize, Dance In The Annex performs by request at TEDxGrand Rapids, Site:Lab, Urban Institute for Contemporary Arts, Division Avenue Arts Collective, Regional Alternative Dance Festival and many other local and regional galleries and alternative spaces. The Dance In The Annex collective produces two annual performances – each in its third year – at Community Media Center’s Wealthy Theatre: Salmagundi in the Fall and Trip The Light on May 12, 2012. These concerts, also made possible by ArtPeers, have embraced a groundbreaking ethos of collaboration across multiple genres, including musicians, photographers, painters, videographers, lighting designers, choreographers, dramatists, actors, and more. All live, all original, all local.

Ebony Davis

Local Poet - A native of Muskegon, MI, Gemini DaPoet has been writing poetry for over a decade. She feels that poetry is her God-given talent and uses it to inspire and motivate others. She speaks on current events and everyday situations that tend to be swept under the rug. She takes part in community events speaking specifically to the youth and “the lost souls,” encouraging them to follow their dreams and to overcome past mistakes and determine their own future fate.She is currently enrolled in college full-time studying to be a Computer Service Technician/Computer Networking Microsoft. She is very active in her community going into schools, prisons, and youth events spreading encouraging words that are in the form of poetry. Her motto is “If I can touch at least one, then I’m doing my part.”

Edwin David Martinez

Coffee Entrepreneur - Edwin Martinez, 36, is a Licensed Q Grader and placed 7th in the World Cup Tasting Championship in Copenhagen 2008.Edwin grew up in Guatemala and is a third generation coffee grower and owner of the award winning Finca Vista Hermosa located in the Highlands of the Huehuetenango region. FVH coffee has placed in the Cup of Excellence and has been selected by the National Guatemalan Coffee Growers Association 4 years in a row to represent the region’s terroir to the world.Out of over 90,000 growers in Guatemala only a few dozen controled all exports for decades and in 2002 Edwin developed a process that paved the way for over 10,000 small producers to begin exporting and selling direct in the global marketplace.Edwin is author of “Diaries of a Grower” series in Roast Magazin and is the lead representative to the press for the specialty coffee industry for the Burke Museums Coffee exhibit and traveling museum from Jan 2009 – July 2012. He is also founder of ONYX COFFEE – a seed to cup consulting firm located in Bellingham, Washington USA.

Edye Evans Hyde

Vocalist - 2011 West Michigan Jazz Society Musician of the Year, Edye Evans Hyde has been singing jazz, blues and pop music for over 30 years in West Michigan, Los Angeles, Asia and Europe. Edye has just been voted “2012 Best Regional Artists by the fans of WEMU radio.Edye has shared the stage with world-renowned blues singer Linda Hopkins, pop singer Michael Bolton, vocalist Maria Muldaur, actress Connie Stevens, the late Ray Charles, and Cuban trumpet player Arturo Sandoval.Edye also appears with The Grand Rapids Symphony as a narrator for the Symphony Lollipops and sang with The West Shore Symphony performing songs from her acclaimed albums Girl Talk and Lady with a song. She recently released her newest album, Magic In His Eyes.Currently, you can see Edye on the children’s DVD series Come on Over, the webseries Backstage Drama, and other stage, film, and television productions. You can find her recordings and future performance dates on

Joan Borysenko, Ph.D.

Medical Pioneer - Joan Borysenko, Ph.D. is a Harvard Medical School trained cancer cell biologist. a licensed psychologist, and a spiritual educator. A pioneer in mind-body medicine and psychoneuroimmunology she is the founder of Mind-Body Health Sciences, LLC in Boulder, CO and a New York Times bestselling author of 15 books. Her most recent book, recipient of the 2012 Nautilus Book Award Silver Medal, is Fried: Why You Burn Out and How to Revive. Joan has also created a series of audio programs for stress management, meditation and mindfulness, healing and resilience training.She is a perennially popular international speaker known for her gracious presence and world-class ability to entertain, amuse, and impart well-researched information and practical skills. She is also a radio personality and blogger for the Huffington Post and other websites including and shortly Joan’s work has appeared in newspapers ranging from The Washington Post to the Wall Street Journal. You can find out more about her at or join the lively conversation daily at

Kristin M. Tolle, Ph.D.

Research Director - Kristin M. Tolle, MS, Ph.D. is the Director of Natural Interactions in the Microsoft Research Connections team and a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Washington (College of Medicine). Since joining Microsoft, Dr. Tolle has acquired numerous patents and worked for several product teams including the Natural Language Group, Visual Studio, and the Microsoft Office Excel Team. Prior to joining Microsoft, Tolle was an Oak Ridge Science and Engineering Research Fellow for the National Library of Medicine and a Research Associate at the University of Arizona Artificial Intelligence Lab managing the group on medical information retrieval and natural language processing. She earned her Ph.D. in Management of Information Systems with a minor in Computational Linguistics. Her research interests include ubiquitous computing, global public health, contextual computing, natural language processing and machine translation, mobile computing, user intent modeling and information extraction from large heterogeneous data sources.

Lesley Carmichael, Ph.D.

Technological Linguist - Lesley Carmichael, Ph.D. is a Senior Program Manager Lead at Microsoft, focused on language expansion scalability. Her team is responsible for delivering the tools and technology to efficiently expand speech recognition (SR) and text-to-speech synthesis (TTS) development across dozens of languages in multiple products and scenarios. Lesley joined Microsoft in 2006, and has shipped speech components in multiple Microsoft products including Windows, Exchange, XBOX Kinect, and Windows Phone 7.Lesley holds a Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Washington, and she has applied her expertise in linguistics, phonetics and prosody to Microsoft’s SR and TTS development and human-computer communication research.Lesley values the diversity of Microsoft’s global team; she enjoys working closely with her colleagues around the world, and she is passionate about nurturing a thriving, collaborative team culture. She has also been an active member of women’s group steering committees for several years, where she co-creates training and networking opportunities for women in the organization. In her free time, Lesley enjoys collaborating with friends to create participatory art experiences, practicing yoga, and occasionally jumping out of airplanes.

Linda Chorney

Singer-Songwriter - Linda Chorney was born before the war. She started singing as a fetus. She received a standing ovation in the delivery room and has been singing ever since. In 2011, Chorney was the first person in history to get nominated for a Grammy for “Best Americana Album” (Emotional Jukebox), by using social media for her campaign, as a virtually unknown, unsigned artist. Her nomination received worldwide press. She is currently writing a book about her experience to be released in 2012.Chorney quips, “I’m not even an indy, I’m an outie.” As the owner of her own label, Dance More Less War Records, she has released and self-produced all of her albums. Linda has recorded six CDs and three cassettes and won zero Grammys. She has performed on all seven continents, but only one planet. Her goal is to get one Grammy and sing on two planets. Highlights in her career thus far have been breaking the Top 40 Adult Contemporary Charts and singing for Nelson Mandela, in front of a crowd of 250,000 in Boston. And of course playing in sports bars where no one is listening.On April 21, 2012, Linda’s lifetime dream of singing the U.S. national anthem at Fenway Park became a reality. She started it low so she could nail the big notes. Chorney quotes, “Just because it happened to you, doesn’t make it interesting, but sometimes, putting it to music does.”

LInda Ragsdale

Peace Master - Linda Ragsdale has intermittently worn the milliner’s inventory in her life: mother, entrepreneur, award-winning designer, author, illustrator, storyteller, speaker, antemythologist and volunteer. After a life-changing experience–one moment in India in 2008, all these hats refashioned themselves into one dragon-sized hat: a peace dragon hat.Using the arts as the key to crafting peace in the world, Linda travels the globe to help children and adults embrace the artistry of their lives to create a better world. She has been to Canada, Peru, the Philippines, and revisited India with an art exchange, connecting over one thousand students through the present of a peace dragon. To draw a peace dragon, one must drop the myths of the dragon and come to understand what peace is to them. She has drawn over 10,000 peace dragons since the spring of 2009 and continues to do so in every free moment.Her current mission includes teaching and speaking about the Peace Master Class, a “living” curriculum for elementary, middle and high school students which employs experiential exercises to integrate the tenets of conflict management with the goal of instilling peaceful resolution as the default response to any conflict. Complemented by an international collection of stories and activities, personal contemplation can be further explored by each student.

LZ Granderson

Sports Columnist - LZ Granderson is a columnist and senior writer for ESPN the Magazine and, as well as a regular CNN contributor. In 2011 he was named Journalist of the Year by the National Lesbian Gay Journalist Association, was an Online Journalism Award finalist for commentary and Facebook listed two of his pieces among its top 30 most popular of the year. A three-time GLAAD Award nominee and the 2009 winner for online journalism, Mr. Granderson started his career as an education reporter and was a Columbia University Hechinger Institute Fellow. He can be followed on Twitter @locs_n_laughs.

Michael Dowd

Evidential Mystic - Rev. Michael Dowd is a religious naturalist, an evidential mystic, and a big history evangelist. He is the author of the bestselling book, Thank God for Evolution: How the Marriage of Science and Religion Will Transform Your Life and Our World (Plume 2009), which was endorsed by 6 Nobel laureates and other science luminaries, including noted skeptics, and by religious leaders across the spectrum. Since April 2002 Michael and his wife, Connie Barlow, an acclaimed science writer, have criss-crossed North America addressing more than 1,600 religious and secular groups. Their passion is sharing the inspiring, soulful side of science in ways that offer practical tools for living and realistic hope for the future.

Nathan Waterhouse

Human-centered Designer - Nathan Waterhouse co-leads OpenIDEO, IDEO’s digital platform that enables a global community to help design human-centered solutions to social and environmental problems. The site currently has over 30,000 users from 170 countries and has won multiple accolades including a 2011 Webby in the community category. Nathan is an “Aspen First Mover Fellow” which recognizes leaders who aim to unite business growth with a sustainable society. Nathan previously co-led the organizational design practice for IDEO Europe. During his tenure, he worked with companies in diverse industries (from financial services to health care) to help them build more innovative cultures and capabilities.Nathan has always been fascinated by how technology can be used to encourage collaboration within groups of people, from professionals employed by the same company to colleagues connected by online social networks. His innovative work in this area has been featured by the BBC and MTV and has appeared in more than a dozen major art exhibitions, from Touch Me at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London to the International Furniture Fair in Milan, Italy.Prior to joining IDEO, Nathan worked for Vodafone, where he managed the concept innovation team and developed a pioneering approach to involving users in the development process. Before that, Nathan contributed to the creative agencies Small Back Room and Livewire. He also ran his own design consultancy, which specialized in digital services. His work for clients such as Coca-Cola, Pfizer, and the Science Museum ranged from developing tools that enabled internal change to creating interactive experiences for consumers.

The Ragbirds

Performers - The Ragbirds music is diverse and foreign, yet somehow familiar. With a brand new album in 2012 (Travelin’ Machine), this up-and-coming Michigan band has been traveling the country with their “infectious global groove” gathering a passionate grassroots fan base of all ages.Named Homegrown Music Network’s #1 selling album for their 2007 release, The Ragbirds have gone on to top the charts in Osaka (#1 for the single Book of Matches) and to surpass 10,000 albums sold in 2010. Festival favorites, they have performed at Rothbury, 10,000 Lakes, CMJ Music Marathon, Summer Camp, Electric Forest, Wheatland, Blissfest and many more. They have shared the stage with Rusted Root, Matisyahu, Railroad Earth, John Butler Trio, Toubab Krewe, Cornmeal, Greensky Bluegrass, Hot Buttered Rum, Jeff Daniels, The Everyone Orchestra, The Duhks, and many others.The Ragbirds’ albums have received local and national praise, hailed “Highly impressive!” by USA Today and touted as “Astounding international eclecticism” by Reveal Arts. In just six years the band has performed in over forty states to the tune of 150+ shows a year. You can find show dates, venues and more at

Organizing team


Grand Haven, MI, United States
  • Jennifer Jurgens
    Speaker coordinator - TEDxSummit Liaison
  • Grant Carmichael
  • Sara Molina
  • Keith Oberfeld
  • Mark Petz
  • Eric Kuhn
  • Amelia Murphy
  • Bill Hollsinger-Robinson
  • Gayle Debruyn
  • Kurt Nahikian
    Educator's Livestream