x = independently organized TED event

Theme: Pure Imagination

This event occurred on
March 12, 2016
Birmingham, Alabama
United States

pure, adj., 1. complete; utter, 2. free from discordant qualities

imagination, n., 1. the ability to form mental images of things that are not present to the senses or not considered to be real, 2. the ability to confront and deal with reality by using the creative power of the mind

The world is the way that it is. Or is it? Sometimes, when the realities of the world seem most unchangeable, is exacly the time when they are ripe for change. It takes being able to dream of what could be and harnessing creativite destruction to change the world.

Come with us into a world of pure imagination.

Sometimes we just want things to be different, but need that creative spark to begin imagining all the possibilities in front of us. TEDxBirmingham is an opportunity to come together with others in our community to hear about their dreams and share yours. Participants come from all walks of life - business, non-profits, art, education, technology, and more - so you never know who you'll meet. TEDxBirmingham promises to have something to surprise and delight you.

UAB's Alys Stephens Center
1200 10th Ave S
Birmingham, Alabama, 35205
United States
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Speakers may not be confirmed. Check event website for more information.

AROVA Contemporary Ballet

Based in Birmingham, Alabama, AROVA Contemporary Ballet aims to make a home for artists who desire to create and present a deeper expression of what dance means in Alabama. AROVA was named in memory of Dame Sonia Arova, an acclaimed Bulgarian born ballerina, teacher, and former Founding Artistic Director of the Alabama Ballet. The ACB Company seeks to continue her legacy of dance excellence in Alabama. Since the inception of the company, thousands of young students have witnessed the artistry, passion, and daringness behind the name AROVA. The Company is indeed proud to have an impact on future generations of Alabama dancers, and to have proven that multiple professional level dance companies can thrive together in Birmingham.

War Jacket

War Jacket is a Southern gothic quartet from Birmingham, Alabama. War Jacket’s communal sound taps into the sense of place you get in such a city as Birmingham – a haunted past, fatigued and tattering, a steely movement from day to day. But War Jacket’s songs don’t buckle under the black-blue themes. They are warm, tender, and resonant, nostalgic battle cries that balance out the somber. Founded by baritone ukulelist Caleb Chancey in 2010, the band has evolved through its early music, from a stripped- down, solo EP to soulful incantations with cellist Lori Cheng, electric guitar player Joel Madison Blount, and percussionist Alex Hinson. Also accompanied by Brad Lyons on bass, Kyle Carpenter on keyboard, Meg Ford on violin, Norrell Ausman on French horn, Lauren Nowak on clarinet, and Lauren Starnes on vocals.

Ahmad Ward

Ahmad Ward challenges younger generations to change the dynamic of race and class in America to get the nation closer to a post-racial experience. A North Carolina native, Ahmad is the Head of Education and Exhibitions at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute, where his responsibilities include public programming, teacher workshops, and training sessions.

Al Elliott

A 5th grade literacy teacher, Al Elliott uses contemporary rap to help students articulate their truths with both written and spoken word. Al won the 2010 Sidewalk Film Festival’s ScrambleJam with "Glue, Glitter, Glove"and contributed music to the Emmy Award Winning Documentary, “Mr. Dial has Something To Say.” Elliot writes inspired hip hop music, is currently writing his first book, and is a frequent storyteller at Arc Stories.

Amy Bickers

Amy Bickers writes frankly and often humorously about such topics as grief, post-traumatic stress, and the antics of contestants on The Bachelor. A former newspaper journalist and associate editor at Southern Living, Amy Bickers is the author of "The Geography of You and Me," her debut memoir about suicide loss. The memoir's publication was funded through a successful Kickstarter campaign.

Chris Davis

Chris Davis envies Howard Stern's self- proclaimed rank of King of All Media but would gladly settle, in a pinch, for Archduke of All Media. Chris is a native son of Birmingham. He studied at Lawson State Community College and is a graduate of the Savannah College of Art and Design with a bachelor's degree in graphic design. In 2000 Chris co-founded Torrential Downplay, Birmingham's first improv sketch comedy troupe. He was later a member of the comedy group The Feminist Debutante Guild. He now performs in and hosts Fresh Ground Comics, a monthly showcase of stand-up comics.

Deb Warnat

Deb Warnat strives to bring beautiful writing of the past into the modern era. An artist and calligraphy teacher, Deb combines her love of watercolor and calligraphy. Her calligraphy work is seen in Nashville, New York and Los Angeles celebrity circles, as well as in Birmingham and throughout Alabama.

Donna Dukes

Donna Duke’s life goal is simple: to help critically at-risk youth and adults turn their lives around and become productive members of society. An educator with a calling, Donna is the Founder and Executive Director of the Maranathan Academy, whose mission is to help critically at-risk youth and adults graduate from high school. She is a firm believer in the importance of education, service, and academic achievement. Donna is also a filmmaker, and has made the award-winning documentary "Stand! Untold Stories from the Civil Rights Movement," in which civil rights leaders talk about the Selective Buying Campaign of 1962, and how members of Birmingham’s white community supported and helped their efforts.

Garrison Linn

As a researcher at the University of Alabama at Birmingham's Quantum Materials Lab, Garrison Linn is diving into the theories of quantum mechanics and relativity. His discoveries in physics and materials science will undoubtedly have an impact on everyone's lives. A graduate of Birmingham-Southern College, Garrison is now a graduate student and Research Assistant who will be pursuing a PhD in the Department of Physics in UAB’s College of Arts and Sciences.

Jim McClintock

Jim McClintock is among the world’s leading authorities on Antarctic marine chemical ecology and drug discovery. A world-recognized professor of polar & marine biology in the University of Alabama at Birmingham's College of Arts and Sciences, Jim has published over 250 scientific papers. His studies led to an award-winning educational outreach website, UAB in Antarctica. Jim and his work have been honored with a piece of land in Antarctica named after him – McClintock Point located in McMurdo Sound. His most recent book, "A Naturalist Goes Fishing," combines elements of the triumph between fisher and fish, humor and wit, and a passionate concern for the natural environment.

Jonathan Owen

Jonathan Owen has worked with children for over fifteen years and has a powerful desire to learn and share their stories. A graduate of Southeastern Bible College, Jonathan is a children’s and youth minister at Shades Mountain Independent Church in Birmingham, Alabama. He also serves as the director at Camp Straight Street, a nine-week summer day camp for over 800 kids. The camp was voted “Best Day Camp” by the readers of Birmingham Magazine in 2014.

Keiani Taylor

Keiani Taylor’s gift of words and poetry inspire any ear in range to listen. With God as her King, Queen Keiani seeks to exemplify characteristics of Christ. If you're listening closely, you'll be sure to hear traces of her faith throughout her poetry.

Lindy Cleveland

Lindy Cleveland imagines a world where adults with developmental disabilities are not seen through the lens of their disability, but rather through what they offer their community. A 2014 Samford University graduate, Lindy is an advocate for adults with developmental disabilities. While in school, she organized the outreach event Dance for Downs. Following graduation, she took a leap of faith and founded the nonprofit school Unless U where she serves as Executive Director. Lindy is passionate about serving her students and their families through continuing education, creating an environment that promotes independence.

Lonnie Hannon

Lonnie Hannon believes that student development and service to the community are critically important to the future of the United States. An Associate Professor of Sociology at Tuskegee University, Lonnie ensures that each student receives the care and personal development needed to function at the highest level. He also passionately serves as a mentor to students and neighborhood youth with the goal of helping them achieve their most positive selves.

Olivia Affuso

Olivia Affuso’s passion is using her field of research to help women and young girls live the life of their dreams without being held back from negative thinking. An Associate Professor in the Department of Epidemiology at UAB’s School of Public Health, Olivia has written several scientific publications in relation to physical activity, nutrition, and obesity in her career as an epidemiologist. She is a member of UAB’s Nutrition Obesity Research Center and Center for Exercise Medicine. Her current research projects include the development of a novel method for measuring body composition, several meta-analytic studies for use in the development of effective childhood obesity interventions, and design issues in obesity randomized trials.

Randi Pink

Randi Pink's writing is an exploration of identity and cultural inclusivity. Randi is a writer and graduate student of creative writing. While working on an assignment for a children’s literature course, she conceived the idea for her debut young adult novel. Her debut novel, "Into White" (fall 2016), is the story of a sixteen-year-old black girl who attends a mostly white high school in the Bible Belt. In a moment of desperation, she prays for the power to change her race and wakes up white.

Renee Keene

An artist who prefers to work in reclaimed wood, Renee Keene believes everything old can be reclaimed and made new again for everyone to enjoy. Her work has been featured in galleries and cultural venues throughout Birmingham and beyond in Nashville and Atlanta. When it comes to what to work on next, she sees possibilities in what some will see as unexpected places. Most of the things she creates are due to hours of rummaging through warehouses or garage sales.

Rubin Pillay

Rubin Pillay’s work focuses on the role of creativity, innovation and entrepreneurship in the transformation of health and healthcare. Rubin holds a dual-appointment at the University of Alabama at Birmingham as a Professor of Healthcare Innovation and Entrepreneurship at the Collat School of Business and the Assistant Dean for Global Health Innovation at the School of Medicine. Rubin is a family physician and clinical pharmacologist who has extensive international teaching and consulting experience and has published widely in the field of strategic health leadership.

Steven Austad

Steven Austad has authored more than 150 scientific articles studying the effects of diet and nutrition on aging. A professor of biology in UAB's College of Arts and Sciences, Steven is the author of "Why We Age: What Science Is Discovering about the Body’s Journey Through Life." He currently writes a biweekly column for on various topics related to science and aging. Before getting in to academia, Steven got his start training large African lions for the movie business in Hollywood. He enjoys nothing more than communicating how science works to the general public.

Tammy Harper

As a mother of two, Tammy Harper struggled with how to address her kids' daily screen time allowances. A mom who was herself skeptical and cynical whenever she heard about families who cut back drastically on screen time, she begrudgingly took the plunge and wrote about her lessons in "Living Restfully: A Skeptic's Guide to Raising Children Screen-Free." A graduate of Birmingham-Southern College with a BA in music, Tammy teaches private music lessons out of her home and general music at Crestwood Day School. She is also an accompanist at the Children's Dance Foundation.

Terry Strickland

Using the human figure and still life objects that are considered intangibles, Terry Strickland challenges herself to capture small nuances in relationships, life, death, and love. Much of her work is about transitions, whether it is a midlife juncture or coming of age as a universal truth. Her Incognito Project asked 25 subjects to “play dress up” and imagine what their lives would be like if they were someone else. A graduate of the University of Central Florida with a BFA in Graphic Design, Terry has had an interesting and varied art career, working in the imprinted sportswear, gaming, and publishing industries as well as courtroom sketch artist. Since devoting herself to painting full time in 2005, her work has won numerous awards and been widely published and collected.

Organizing team




Birmingham, AL, United States
  • Rebecca Dobrinski
    Operations Director
  • Kathleen Hamrick
    Production Director
  • Lindey Scott
    Marketing Director
  • Dylan Ferniany
    K-12 Education Liaison
  • Austin Sensemen
    Accounting Manager
  • Katie Burton
    Speaker Manager