x = independently organized TED event

Theme: Becoming Extraordinary

This event occurred on
March 31, 2012
8:00am - 6:00pm PDT
(UTC -7hrs)
Portland, OR
United States

TEDxConcordiaUPortland is an independently organized TED event. A team of diverse individuals have volunteered to bring together some of Portland's (or surrounding area) most innovative and inspiring minds. In 2012, we’re bringing the vision of TED back to Portland for the second time, to educate, inspire and connect great minds. On Saturday, March 31, 2012, TEDxConcordiaUPorland will host its second annual event titled "Becoming Extraordinary" at Concordia University, Portland, Oregon.

Every extraordinary action in the world stemmed from an ordinary person. This year's theme is designed to bring out each individual's own extraordinariness. Through this year's TEDx Talks, attendees will be inspired by real life examples of ordinary individuals who have been, done, or found their own extraordinariness to impact their world.

George R White Library and Learning Center
Concordia University
2811 NE Holman St.
Portland, OR, 97211
United States
Event type:
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Speakers may not be confirmed. Check event website for more information.

Anis Mojgani

You might not believe it, but Anis Mogjani has never been to a barber shop. And he has really long arms. Oh yeah, and he’s also a two time National Poetry Slam Champion, winner of the International World Cup Poetry Slam, and a National Book Award Nominee along with various other extraordinary accomplishments. He is a talented and creative artist, who has long been fascinated with the extraordinary process of being human. Everyone, he believes, is “invested with nobility,” and this is an idea that he constantly carries with him. His beliefs shape him, and he says that his parents helped shape his beliefs. They gave him, as he says, “The permission to be oneself, acceptance of who one is.” If he were able to harness the power of our 2012 attendees, he says he’d want to send everyone out into the world with homemade inventions to make the world a better and more interesting place. One invention he’d like to see? Levitating shoes. He’d love to own a pair someday. He’d also like to open a bookstore, start a soda pop shop with his wife, and establish “an organization that brought to fruition the creative wanderings of people that do not liken themselves to being creative individuals.” We should probably mention—it might already be clear—that he doesn’t believe there’s ever one place that we arrive at; there’s no end point, so there’s no opportunity to rest on one’s laurels. His goal in life is to simply continue, something that he says is actually quite difficult. Continuing takes patience and it’s often a process of balancing being selfish and selfless. We’re excited to see him continue on the TEDxConcordiaUPortland stage, where his slam talents and creativity will be welcomed with open arms.

Goodnight Billygoat

There’s an air of modesty to David Klein’s description of what his performance art group Goodnight Billygoat does: “Think of the old silent films where someone’s playing a piano and there’s a film above showing a narrative. But there’s a little more equipment, and there’s color.” Audiences often encounter much more. Think of being transported into an old silent movie theater like Klein mentions and quickly realizing that you’re actually in a dream; what you see on the stage is mesmerizing and mysterious and beautiful, and you find yourself contemplating the cosmos as you listen to a live band shape their music to the scenes. Klein began Billygoat as a solo project in 2006, combining stop-motion animation and ambient music. Nick Wooley joined soon after to help with production and the soundtrack, and they’ve been developing new films and live shows ever since. In creating his stop-motion animation pieces, Klein thinks about Johanes Kepler’s belief that geometry existed before and served as a model for the creation of the universe. He’s fascinated by space (he’s planning a trip to Joshua Tree in April to see Saturn’s opposition), as well as the fundamental principles of math and science. Though he admits he struggled with geometry growing up, “it’s vital for planning and timing the work I do.” Expect Goodnight Billygoat’s performance at TEDxConcordiaUPortland to be a fantastically cerebral experience, though expect it to also be incredibly entertaining. Their art is something to get lost in, to enjoy, and to feel good about.

Cheryl Strayed

The writing of award-winning author Cheryl Strayed has been described as courageous, gritty, elegant, precise, smart, funny, and sublime. She’s a writer of both fiction and non-fiction, having written the critically acclaimed novel Torch, as well as articles for The New York Times Magazine, The Washington Post Magazine, Allure, Self, and many others. Most recently, however, she’s been in the spotlight for her upcoming memoir, Wild, which is about her 1,100 mile solo journey along the Pacific Crest Trail. She walked the trail seeking forgiveness and hoping to find her “innocent self” again, yet what began as an “idea, vague and outlandish and full of promise,” became something much greater. Through this journey, she found transcendence, hope, and healing. She confronted the wild and she confronted herself, ultimately finding the extraordinary in those things that we so often take for granted. Cheryl currently lives in Portland, Oregon where even indoors she continues to find meaning. Like her mother before her, she seems to “bring magic into every day.” For instance, when we asked her what she believes is the most extraordinary place in the world, she had this to say: “My bed at six-thirty in the morning, after my two children have crammed themselves in beside me and my husband and our cat, Gulla. Because real, live, wild love is there. And what’s more extraordinary than that?” Wild comes out in March 2012, and beyond that Cheryl plans to continue growing as an artist. Her hope is that her next book “always reaches further, dives deeper, and risks bolder than the one that came before it.”

Rev. Renee Ward

So often people guard themselves, masking who they are, and the Reverend Renee Ward strives to take these masks off. “Be honest,” she says, “and dismiss the pretense that everyone will like you or agree with you.” This sounds simple enough. Take the mask off and open yourself for a moment to those things that unite us—love, family, food, music. But what if you’re asked to keep the mask off? To keep your guard down? For many years, Ward has successfully done just this. She’s courageously championed causes close to her heart without worrying about what people think or whether they agree with her. In 1998, following the death of her husband from an AIDS-related illness, Renee founded Chrysalis Ministries, a faith-based nonprofit agency. Since then she has been featured in a 30-minute documentary entitled, “Who Will Speak for Me?” which profiled African Americans of the Pacific Northwest whose lives had been impacted in some way by HIV/AIDS. She has also established two programs to educate, advocate, and empower those struggling with breast health and cancer. Lately she’s been working on four separate books which she plans to release in 2012. All of Ward’s actions are informed by her beliefs. “I’m blessed and I am not ashamed to tell the world how good God has been to me.” she says. She also believes in fighting against the injustice of social and economic disparities, and she believes in the love of her family, friends, and the community. She takes inspiration from so many people in her life, both allies and adversaries. Together they’ve taught her to believe in the “power to make the impossible possible, to fight and stand up for justice even when life tries to keep you down, and to keep on truckin’ even if you have a flat along the way to your destination.”

Jenn Cohen

If you’ve ever seen a circus, you know that the body is a strong and pliant thing. Performers push themselves to do things that stretch the limits of possibility until you’re left to wonder whether what you’ve seen was actually magic. Starting at a young age, Jenn Cohen, director and founder of the Circus Project, was fascinated with this magic. She’s studied the art of circus and has been a circus performer and coach for over 20 years. What she loves most is the potential of circus, that it’s an open form. “Circus is about embracing the totality of who we are and bringing it forward in a way that makes it beautiful and magical and celebrates it” she said recently. Cohen began the Circus Project in Portland in 2008 as a way to harness this magic and potential so she could share it with the community, especially homeless and at-risk youth. She has a master’s degree in Process Oriented Psychology and through circus, counseling, personal-development, work study, and very high expectations, the lives of these youths end up transformed. Like many big cities, Portland has a large homeless population, many of whom are young adults and teens. They exist on the fringes of society, but that’s exactly why the circus makes sense. People have always run away to join the circus and what they find is a family of like-minded individuals on the margins. They end up finding each other, but they also end up finding themselves. Cohen describes herself as a big dreamer who’s always looking to be more present in her life. She’s grateful that she’s been able to do work that’s so close to her heart. “My hope is to continue on the path I’m on but with more presence, more patience, more love. More and more, I realize it’s not what I do, but how I do things that’s important.” We’re enchanted with the knowledge that her path will cross ours on March 31st

Our School - Occupy Education

Last fall “We are the 99%” became the rallying cry of the Occupy Movement. What began with Occupy Wall Street soon spread to cities nationwide, including our very own Portland. The movement has been at once praised and criticized for its organizational methods and its goals of fighting social and economic inequality. Some didn’t know what to make of a movement where anybody who wants to participate has a voice and there are no set leaders. Others saw in it a new vision of democracy and the power people still have to enact change. The story of Occupy Portland has been chronicled by both local and national media. Coverage of the police confrontations, the downtown camp, and the protests throughout town have provided the public with a glimpse of this movement. Many people still have a limited view of why the protests took place and what the movement has accomplished. Along these lines, we’re pleased to welcome Liam Doherty-Nicholson, Hilary Boyd, Mark Nerys, and Elmira Rodriguez from Our School-Occupy Education to our stage. Together they’ll discuss Occupy’s past, present, and future. They’ll speak about phase two of the movement, which involves discussion with the community, community improvement projects, and free education through the “Our School” program. By no means do their views reflect the entire Occupy Portland movement. They’re all individuals who believe in unique ideas—One believes that people should talk to their neighbors face-to-face and engage in compassionate communication. Another believes in bringing oneself closer to truth to find the distinctions between arbitrary cultural programming and genuine reflection. Another believes in what Frank Zappa says: “Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible.” And another believes that wherever awareness takes hold, ideas form and actions are taken to bring forth something extraordinary—yet they’ve come together in support of a common cause.

Colleen Wainwright

Strokes of genius happen to normal people too. In fact, no one becomes extraordinary without having first been rather ordinary. This little known fact may be part of what makes Colleen Wainwright so successfully accessible. A self proclaimed “communicatrix,” Colleen used her social media and attention attracting talents to raise $50,000 in just 50 days for the LosAngeles based non-profit for high school girls, Writegirl. Colleen is honored to be among the extraordinary as a featured speaker at TEDxConcordiaUPortland, but that’s not to say that she’s jumping at the prospect of veneration. “I am extremely uncomfortable with being described as ‘extraordinary.’ I am absolutely a regular, normal person who was able to accomplish one extraordinary thing—and with the help of a lot of other people.”That’s not to say she’s not honored. In fact, she says she’s grateful to be in the company of so many speakers who she thinks are rather extraordinary. Wit and humor are the most praised weapons in her arsenal and they’ve been sharpened by ten years of writing award-winning TV copy for brands like Wheaties©, Gatorade© and Jell-O©. After another ten years of acting in ads, Colleen decided to channel her creative talents into helping other blossoming talent come to full-fledged fruition. Those who’ve become extraordinary, even those who’ve done it with the help of many other people, know they are never actually finished; it’s a semi-complete state of unending goal tweaking. The uncannily self aware Colleen recognizes a need for future endeavors, not just to publish hilarious Broadway musicals that “raise public awareness about chronic health conditions”, butalso to “get the sum total of her life’s lessons down in some portable, easy-to-consume (i.e., funny and useful) form so that what I’ve learned can be passed on.”As an overarching life goal, she’d like “to erase fear in myself and hopefully, replace it with love”–and I don’t think there is a better formula for acceptance. On March 31st TEDxsters will all have the chance to admire and follow such a radiant example of connectivity.

Linda K. Johnson

It’s often said that it’s unfair for any one person to determine the quality of art. That’s why critics hold a dubious position in society, as the arbiters of what they think is lacking and what is praise worthy. The one advantage critics have on the rest of us is a trained eye, and Linda K. Johnson is no stranger to having that eye trained on her. In fact, as a dance-artist performer, Linda has received serious critical reviews from many venues including Metropolis Magazine, NPR, Dance Magazine and Landscape Architecture. In an age of specialization and focus, Linda’s creative, interdisciplinary approach to dance has led her to infuse her passions of social and environmental justice in unconventional ways. Linda deeply regards the creative process as a sacred and integral aspect of producing the best quality work that one can. “For me, the most extraordinary place in the world is right where I am in each moment,” says Johnson, “Anything else is a distraction from fully showing up wherever I happen to be.” Completely present minds are hard to find, and Linda’s work as a dancer requires a rich focus that’s only afforded by a significant period of self reflection. When asked what she would ask TEDxsters to do if she had their full attention and their sincere will to cooperate, she said, “I would ask each individual to carve out a one hour block of time each day for 3 months just for themselves.” Rather than plant a great idea in your head, Linda would have you think reflect on your life and take time for yourself so that your great ideas may bud and flourish. Linda is a prime example of what change can be facilitated when someone combines their great ideas they naturally have with the self awareness it takes to ignite a driving, forceful passion. “The kind of inner quietude and self-knowing that this kind of time encourages is really what our civilization needs. Currently, we have too much activity and too little self-reflection.” Reflect on that until you’re here in person to see her perform on March 31st.

Nathan Schmitt

What is the purpose of an education? This is a question Nathan Schmitt has spent a lot of time pondering. If it is to learn to think for yourself and approach the world with a questioning attitude, he’s well on his way. Schmitt was homeschooled by his mother through high school and she taught him how to think critically about the world and how to make a difference in society. He’s now a student at Concordia University, but lately he wonders what our current academic culture is preparing us for. ”The information taught in schools and read by an individual person is basically incomplete knowledge if what they read is not followed by hands-on action.” Ambitious and competitive, Nathan is a driven and successful student; however, he knows that this isn’t enough. He thinks more time should be spent acquiring situational knowledge. Though they provide a meaningful foundation, he thinks there’s only so much you can learn from books and theories. Instead, students should be getting “real, tangible experience” so they can gain experience and build industry relationship. He’d like to see theory and praxis balanced in education, and he’s crafted a 50/50 rule that speaks to this idea worth spreading. Nathan is in the midst of building his own business and he plans to write a book. Ideally he’d like to get involved in the leadership of his community and country. Come see him discuss his ideas for change on March 31st.

Mark Powers

Drum roll, please. And hold…for twelve hours! Mark Powers, percussion artist, teacher, and writer, once co-held the Guinness Book of World Records title for longest continuous drum roll (2003-2005). He admits that it’s a silly claim to fame, but it does show this adventurous world-traveling musician’s devotion to rhythm. “Percussion has held such an integral role in cultures around the globe for centuries and rhythm is something that each one of us possesses within. My goal is to harness its power and potential, using it for community building, wellness and personal growth.” Knowing early in life that he loved percussion, Mark began studying drumset performance at age 16 after an accelerated high school graduation. Over the years, he’s studied with countless percussion luminaries in the U.S. and abroad. He’s performed and absorbed the rhythms from Puerto Rico, Cuba, China, Thailand, Canada, Ghana and Uganda. Through it all, he’s met, performed, and recorded with a variety of people. He finds that his ever-widening circle of friends constantly inspires him. “I am continually aware of many people doing so many great things for themselves and others. I can’t help but see their ideas and actions and ask myself, “’hmm . . . how could a drummer apply that?’” When he’s not traveling or performing, Mark teaches private lessons, classes, and workshops. In teaching people the rhythms he’s mastered, he uses music to touch people’s lives. In some cases, it even helps to heal—he teaches at Riverfront Wellness Center and he presents percussion-based Correctional Education programs in adult and juvenile facilities. Soon after Mark shares his passion for percussion on the stage at TEDxConcordiaUPortland, he’s travelling to Kuwait City, where he’ll be artist in residence for two weeks at an international school. Then he’s off to the South Pacific to perform for four months. Catch him while he’s still here and prepare to be moved by his rhythmic expertise!

Ethan Knight

Ethan Knight, executive director and founder of Carpe Diem, would gladly admit that college wasn’t for him—at first. During his freshman year, he realized that he wasn’t being fulfilled in a meaningful way. This wouldn’t do. A self-professed “meaning-junkie,” he needed the type of visceral, real-live, heartfelt interactions that couldn’t be found in the classroom. So he decided instead to take a “gap year.” He traveled and trekked through India, Nepal, Tibet and Thailand; he meditated, volunteered, and found his passion while wringing all of the meaning out of this transformative experience. When he returned, school made sense. He graduated with a dual degree in English and Philosophy and a minor in Environmental Science. Inspired by his own experiential education and all that he learned from it, he began working for programs that helped high school students experience “gap years” of their own. In 2007, Ethan founded Carpe Diem, a non-profit company whose mission is to help students experience a “gap year” of their own. The company has grown to include programs all over the world, and they’ve also partnered with Portland State University so students can earn college credit during their experiences. In 2009 Ethan founded International Carpe Diem Foundation, which helps students from low-income families with scholarships for experiential education. Right now, he’s in the midst of forming an Association for Gap Year providers, “something that will further empower the students we work with to get information, collect data, and of course create a set of standards that the entire industry can benefit from.” Ethan believes in the power of education (given the time and money, he’d even go back to school—to study astrophysics!), but he also believes that it’s meaningless without passion. “Passion is a better predictor of success than IQ will ever be.”

Taylor Adam Swift

Let’s get one thing straight. Taylor Swift is not a pop star. He’s not even a singer, at least not professionally. In fact, Taylor wouldn’t even go so far as to say that he’s extraordinary, though he’s had plenty of extraordinary opportunities. As is the case with these things, one such opportunity came about entirely by chance. After a bad auto accident landed Taylor in physical therapy, he found that he couldn’t pursue his calling as a photographer. What drew him to photography were the stories that he could tell, but he soon heard another story that captured his interest. A friend told him about Invisible Children, a non-profit organization that grew out of a documentary film about child soldiers in Africa. They had one spot left to fill. Taylor applied, interviewed, and in less than a week was working as a “roadie,” giving presentations in Texas, Lousiana and the Pacific Northwest. In the span of one year he presented over 170 times to crowds that ranged from 15 to 2000. The experience was incredible, but what struck him most was how Invisible Children’s stories forced people to stand up for justice and to stand up for people who lived on the other side of the world. He realized that you have to see the world from a different perspective in order to do this, and you have to believe in more than just yourself. At some point along the way, Taylor returned to photography and he hopes to use his skills to help conserve our public lands. He also remains open to new experiences and new extraordinary opportunities like the ones he’s had. He knows there are still stories to tell, and he wants to help tell them.

kin trio

At this year’s event we’re jazzed to be partnering with kin trio. They will provide mood music throughout the day that will accompany and harmonize with the all of the wonderful thoughts and ideas being shared. Eugene Lee, artist and founder of kin trio, writes below about the group: i formed kin trio in 2011 with the idea to combine two of my favorite things: bebop and minimalism. musically, i come from a bebop background and will always have a soft spot for it, no matter how experimental my projects become. recently, largely through my path of becoming a natural doctor, i’ve begun appreciating meditation, silence, nature. the idea of this group is to use the context of bebop, one that is normally frenetic and freewheeling, to portray these experiences of tranquility and inward focus. most of the compositions are jazz standards that have re-written melodies that are spacious and sparse, full of silences and held tones. originally in kin trio i played upright bass while noah bernstein played alto sax and tim duroche played drums. then, when noah went on tour with the tune-yards and became an international celebrity for months on end, i took over the saxophone role and andre st. james joined on bass. both tim and andre are mainstays in the portland music scene and have an impressive set of life experiences and musical associations. tim’s bio and work can be found here. whenever i ask him about his work i am confronted with a flurry of sentences involving art and culture: it’s difficult for me to piece together because what he does almost defies categorization. he is an important role in the portland community in general, tying together social activists, writers, musicians, public figures, and the general public. in addition to all this, he is a fantastic, sensitive drummer who gigs regularly with some of portland’s most cutting edge jazz and experimental groups. he also has a weekly radio show featuring experimental jazz music. andre st. james is another pillar in the kin trio as well as in the portland musician / artist community. he’s been active on the scene for quite some time now and has made a name for himself playing with the likes of andrew hill, sonny rollins, dewey redman– and the list of luminaries goes on and on. (see more at his website) his ubiquity is not without cause: with playing that is consistently solid, inventive, and responsive to group dynamics in a way that allows creativity to blossom. the name kin trio, although first chosen without a specific meaning in mind, has come to imply a level of kinship between the three of us which i believe is evident when we are playing. i go to natural medicine school, tim is a longtime meditator, andre practices qigong daily; all of us try to maintain some consciousness about physical and spiritual health and thus are on the same wavelength when it comes to the mission statement of kin trio: simply put as “minimalist bebop”. we reject the bombast and ADHD which is normally associated with bebop and instead try and weave textures that allows the listeners, as well as ourselves, to sink deeper inward. like all worthwhile endeavors, it is a tall order and we are just at the beginning stages but like other journeys it is one that is possible through persistent cultivation.

Crystal Schenk

The rhetoric artists use when they talk about their creative processes is well-worn. We know about the ingredients of inspiration, imagination, expression, skill, emotion, and representation; we’ve heard about the muses (sometimes real and sometimes imagined), and we know that at some point the creative process involves sitting down and doing something until it becomes art. We know that what artists consider work is more like a state of being; they lose themselves to what it is they’re doing, surrendering to what positive psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi calls “flow.” All of this points to what’s mysterious and ethereal about art, but none really captures that strange and magical way in which an idea or feeling is transformed into something tangible. Forming the backdrop of this year’s TEDxConcordiaUPortland stage will be a work of art that stems from our theme of “Becoming Extraordinary.” Award-winning artist Crystal Schenk has designed a sculpture that will resemble the Aurora Borealis, which this year is expected to be in peak form due to the magnetic influence of the eleven-year solar cycle. “It is remarkable and poetic that the magnetic fields and solar storms of the sun have such a beautiful impact on our planet’s atmosphere. I wanted to create something that both references extraordinary natural beauty but was also relevant to our time.” One of nature’s great mysteries, the extraordinary glowing patterns of the Aurora have long captured the imagination of those who’ve witnessed them. The sense of wonder that arises in the viewer soon gives way to the sense that there is still a lot to know and discover out there. If they hold onto this wonder and bring it down to earth, there’s a chance that it might be changed into some else entirely, an idea worth spreading. In creating this piece, Crystal followed a familiar process. “Often my work starts as a lingering feeling or impression that defies words and imagery. I spend a long time meditating on this sentiment, turning it over and over in my mind like a worry stone. It is important for me to hunt down the perfect metaphors and representations until I find one that resonates.” As all of our speakers give the talk of their lives, their ideas will be illuminated by the shifting and shimmering lights of Crystal’s work. The magic of their stories will be enhanced and we’ll see how ideas can be created, stretched out, reached towards, and grasped.

R.P. Joe Smith

R. P. Joe Smith served as a District Attorney in Umatilla County and nearly won a race for Oregon Attorney General without taking a single contribution over $99.99. He is a former chair of the Oregon Democratic Party and is active with several local nonprofits.

Gov. Barbara Roberts

A native of the state, she served as the 34th Governor of Oregon from 1991 to 1995. She is the first and, to date, only woman to be elected to that office. A Democrat, Roberts was also the first woman to serve as majority leader in the Oregon House of Representatives. She also won two terms as Oregon Secretary of State and served in local and county government in Portland. Roberts was married to Oregon State Senator Frank L. Roberts. Since February 2011, she has served on the council of Metro, the regional government in the Portland metropolitan area.

Nichole Maher

Energetic, vibrant, dedicate, and inspiring, Nichole Maher is executive director of the Native American Youth and Family Center. Under her leadership, NAYA works to enrich the lives of our Native youth and families through education, community involvement, and culturally specific programming. For more than 30 years, NAYA has provided educational services, cultural arts programming, and direct support to reduce poverty to the Portland metropolitan area’s American Indian and Alaska Native community.

Caitlin Baggott

One of the dozen volunteers who launched the Bus into action in 2002, Caitlin brings backgrounds in experiential education, journalism, and design to her leadership of the state-based democracy non-profit. She serves on the boards of The Mother PAC, Oregon Voice, and the Creative Advocacy Network, and has published articles on next generation politics, civic engagement and, and community identity in local and national journals and magazines.

Rock and Roll Camp for Girls

The Rock ’n’ Roll Camp for Girls, a 501(c)3 non-profit, builds girls self-esteem through music creation and performance. Providing workshops and technical training, we create leadership opportunities, cultivate a supportive community of peers and mentors, and encourage social change and the development of life skills.

Mark Frohnmayer

Mark graduated from UC Berkeley in 1996 with a degree in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. After 11 years in the computer games industry and a successful exit from his first startup, GarageGames, Mark has turned his entrepreneurial energy towards sustainable business development in Oregon. His current endeavor, Arcimoto was founded in October 2007 to bring quality, affordable, sustainable vehicles to the masses and aims to be a major player in the new green transportation space. Mark served on the Oregon governor's Alternate Fuel Vehicle Infrastructure Working Group in 2009 and was peer selected as one of the Pacific Northwest's clean technology Pivotal Leaders.

Jesse Laird

When asked what he’d do if he could harness the energy of all today’s attendees, Jesse Laird immediately knew the answer. “Easy. I would have them create a massive free university whose sole purpose would be (will be? is already?) to facilitate the intellectual, spiritual, and psychic liberation of all human beings, by and for their own power, to live meaningfully in harmonious community with all living creatures throughout the Universe.” Jesse Laird knows education, and he also knows about change. He teaches Humanities at Concordia University and is a doctoral candidate in Human Rights Education at the University of San Francisco. Since 2002, he has marched-on, taught-in, walked-out, blockaded, occupied, obstructed, and strategized in dozens of nonviolent campaigns. At Concordia, he teaches Peace Studies, Global Diversity, Speech, and Ethics. Jesse facilitates regular workshops in strategic nonviolent action through Our School, a Portland activist education collective. His publications include case studies of nonviolent social movements and he has recently lectured and presented on activist themes at numerous universities and organizations in California and Oregon. He says that he would someday like to become more balanced. For some people, this might not be a concern; however, for someone who’s devoted his time to studying the balance and imbalance of power in governments and institutions, the idea of achieving that ideal state of equality and equilibrium is probably one that is ever-present.

Organizing team


Portland, OR, United States
  • Amanda Wheaton
    Production design coordinator
  • Sean Whaeton
  • Janet Denman
    Webmaster and Storytelling coordinator
  • Paige Reitz
    Production design coordinator
  • Brittany Duncan
    Speaker liaison
  • Mike Dickman
    Speaker liaison
  • Krista Reynolds
    Budget mistress and Registration mistress
  • Tess Smith
    Registration mistress
  • Katarina Krouse
    Event day program designer
  • Linda Church
    Food and beverage coordinator
  • John Petri
    Volunteer coordinator and all around graphic designer
  • Jackie Hendrickson
    On-stage host and on stage host coordinator
  • Ira LaFontaine
    Helper of all things needed especially social media
  • Dick Hill
    Idea generator and conversation break coordinator
  • Hunter Brookshier
  • James Gaynor
  • Jolie Griffin
    Gift bag and partnerships coordinator
  • Mari Addy
    Food truck handler and co-coordinator
  • Jefferson Smith
    Guest Curator
  • Prashant Kakad
    On-stage host
  • Andrea Bailey
    Marketing and outreach coordinator
  • Louisa Mariki
    Nametag designer
  • Brian Mariki
    Tech guru
  • Steven Quirk
    Tech guru
  • Steven Harper
    Indigo Design - lighting and stage design
  • Wes & Tera Wages
    Armosa Studios - media team
  • Randy Sommers
    Tech Audio - sound engineer