x = independently organized TED event

Theme: Alchemy

This event occurred on
October 7, 2017
8:00am - 5:00pm PDT
(UTC -7hrs)
Portland, Oregon
United States


a seemingly magical process of transformation, creation, or combination.
the process of taking something ordinary and turning it into something extraordinary, sometimes in a way that cannot be explained.

Every moment of our lives has the potential for transformation. And deep within every one of us there lives an inner alchemist, who holds the power and secret knowledge to unlock that potential and bring about positive change.

Alchemy is commonly known as the ancient quest to turn lead into gold, or to discover the elixir of eternal life. Today the alchemic tradition lives on in every endeavor to make something out of nothing, or to take the seemingly mundane – and even utterly tragic – events of our lives and turn them into something remarkable. It lives on in the understanding that our lives matter to more than just ourselves, and that our actions can have impacts that outlast our physical existence on this planet. And it lives on in the discovery that we all can be more powerful than we know.

Modern-day alchemists come in all shapes and sizes, can be found in all walks of life, and work miracles great and small. Some may have spent years perfecting their craft, while others are just awakening to the fact that they are agents of change. Their motives and methods may be spiritual or scientific; artistic or mechanical; personal, professional, or societal; or a special combination of various elements. Above all, alchemists understand that the two elements that are crucial to alchemic transformation are inspiration and action, and they know how to harness the unique chemical reaction set off when the two are combined.

Habitual practitioners of alchemy are the people who refuse to be the victims of life’s circumstances, and constantly seek the lessons in every situation. They overcome obstacles, subjective in size, but not in the act of overcoming them, with the understanding that we often cannot change situations, but that we can change how we respond to them.

They may seem clairvoyant, not because they can actually see the future, but because they recognize beauty in the ordinary, and potential where others don’t, and work to reveal that beauty and potential to the world.

They are the catalysts that drive social evolution: the activists, educators, and innovators who see the possibility of a better world and devote their lives to the pursuit of that vision, and whose collective contribution throughout history has reshaped our societies.

In a world of complacency, alchemists are the change-makers. But they will only be truly successful alchemists if we let them, through the example of their actions, transform our understanding of ourselves, and awaken us to the knowledge that we all can be – that we all ARE – alchemists, too.

Alchemy is the theme of TEDxMtHood this year. On October 7, we will explore all the components of alchemy, with speakers sharing their own stories of how they have learned how to harness its transformative power and use it to bring about awesome changes in their own lives and in those of others. Come join us for a day of seemingly magical transformation and creation!

Roosevelt High School
6941 N Central St
Portland, Oregon, 97203
United States
Event type:
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Speakers may not be confirmed. Check event website for more information.


Musical Performance
We Are Sacred Beings of Light on a Journey to help others ground as we ground ourselves through Musical Vibrations using our bodies as tools to perform an ethereal landscape of Cello and Voice in the meditative light frequency of 432z... Please join us!

Adam Nicholas Phillips

Pastor and Social Justice Advocate
Adam is founding pastor of Christ Church: Portland, an open, active and inclusive faith community established in 2014. In February 2015, Adam and his faith community were kicked out by their evangelical denomination for the inclusion of LGBTQ folks at all levels of church membership, leadership and participation. After a picture of Adam and his wife at their first Portland Pride parade went viral, he was featured in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, Christian Science Monitor, NPR, and elsewhere, where their story shed light on the growing movement within evangelical congregations in support of full inclusion and marriage equality. Recently, Adam launched a monthly event at Century Bar called “Public Theology," where they discuss spiritual topics and current events from a progressive angle. Adam and his wife, Sarah, a leader in education reform, welcomed their first child, Desmond, in July.

Adrienne Nelson

Servant Leader
Adrienne, a Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge, is the second Black female judge in Oregon’s history. She is a sought-after speaker on a variety of topics including diversity, inclusion, equity, community engagement, leadership and professional development. Throughout her career, Adrienne has been involved in many national, state, local, and specialty bar associations, often serving in a leadership capacity. In the Portland community, she sits on the Reed College Board of Trustees and the Oregon Community Foundation Portland Leadership Council where she chairs the Outreach to the Black Community committee. She also chairs the Girl Scouts Beyond the Bars Advisory Board and the Self-Enhancement, Inc. Board of Directors. In addition, she serves as a mentor to many people. She is often recognized by a wide variety of community and professional organizations for her service and mentorship to others. Adrienne is a tireless encourager, helping people succeed by living their best lives.

Bri Pruett

Comedian and Writer
Bri is a Portland-born comedian and writer, currently based in Los Angeles. She was recently featured on Comedy Central's Roast Battle and Fox's Laughs. In the last 5 years, Bri has appeared on numerous podcasts and radio shows including Doug Benson's Doug Loves Movies, Dan Savage's Savage Lovecast and NPR's Think Out Loud. She has been a regular writer and performer on NPR's LiveWire! and also performs at various comedy festivals, such as Bridgetown, Riot LA, SF Sketchfest, Bumbershoot and more. called Bri a "comedian to watch." In 2016, Bri wrote and mounted her first solo show, Stellar, which received high praise. One reviewer described it as "...body positive, pro self-love and pro female sexuality. Stellar is both overtly feminist and feel good." Bri continues to share stories and jokes on stage in an effort to liberate audiences from body shame and self-hate.

Chad "Fez" Gaetz

Chad 'Fez' Gaetz is a Portland, Oregon-based artist best known for his large scale interactive works. He has created his own niche designing sculptures and environments which amplify natural forms. His favorite media include steel, lumber, fabric, rigging and LED illumination. During his years as an expedition leader in Antarctica, he developed an awe for the natural form which shapes his artistic instincts to the present. As the son of a builder and a florist, and student of ice forms in polar regions, it is only natural that he became a builder of giant flower sculptures as big as icebergs. As the founder of Alchemy Arts Collective, Fez and his creative team are recognized internationally. His sculptures have been featured at Arts, Music, and Cultural Festivals including Bumbershoot, Electric Daisy Carnival, and the Bioneers Conference. He is also regularly commissioned to collaborate with other international artists to design and build stage & recreational environments.

Charles McGee

Racial Equity Activist
In 2006, Charles McGee and Johnell Bell co-founded the Black Parent Initiative (BPI) where Charles continues to serve as Executive Director. BPI works to help Black parents achieve financial, educational, and spiritual success. Charles is actively engaged in state-wide advocacy for laws that support communities of color, encourage police reform, and assist educational equality. As vice-chair for the Black Investment Corporation for Economic Progress, he advocates for economic prosperity without racial barriers. As a founding member of Just Portland, Charles rallies support for political candidates seeking local elected office. Recently, Charles was instrumental in successfully passing The African American Student Success Plan state legislation which mandates the development and implementation of a plan to close the Black student educational achievement gap within ten years. Charles, his wife, and two children live in NE Portland very close to his childhood home.

Damien Fair

Behavioral Neuroscientist
Damien is an Associate Professor in the Behavioral Neuroscience Department at OHSU where his laboratory focuses on mechanisms and principles that underlie the developing brain. The majority of this work uses functional MRI to assess typical and atypical populations, including children with ADHD and Autism. His current focus and the subject of his TEDx talk is how we examine ongoing spontaneous brain activity in the brain, and what it means with regard to brain development. In addition, Damien is strongly committed to both teaching and public outreach. He serves as Director of OHSU President’s Fellowship for Diversity and Inclusion in Research.

Derenda Schubert

Intergenerational Community Leader
A licensed psychologist with extensive professional experience in counseling children and families, Derenda has found herself creating, managing, and evaluating foster care and mental health programs in Chicago and Portland. Her passion is discovering intergenerational solutions to complex social challenges. To that end, Derenda now serves as Executive Director of Bridge Meadows, a unique, multigenerational community. At Bridge Meadows, adoptive parents, foster children, and seniors share a home built with love and in a vision of a better tomorrow. Under her leadership, Bridge Meadows has received recognition by the National Home Builders Association and the 2014 award for Intergenerational Excellence by the Eisner Foundation. Derenda’s passion for making the world a better place for children, families, and elders is inspired by her own children and the love of her grandmothers. Bridge Meadows shows how advancing the power of community can be transformative in the real world.

Gregory McKelvey

Community Organizer
Gregory earned a Political Science degree from Oregon State University and a law degree from Lewis and Clark Law School. In Portland, Gregory is easily recognized as the face and voice of Portland Resistance. This 23-year-old spokesman has been a key figure in local street activism since 2014. In the fall of 2016, he appeared regularly in the media as the organizer of the resistance protests downtown. His message is delivered as part protest and part community activism, with a healthy dose of street theatre mixed in as well with the goal of changing the nature of civil rights activism. Gregory’s message is focused and sophisticated. Many of the issues he has tackled have become community talking points. He helped raise awareness of issues related to Portland’s policing, brought attention to questions related to the City’s contract with the police union, and advocates with Portland Tenants United. At the 2016 Democratic National Convention, he was a representative for Bernie Sanders.

Luz Elena Mendoza

Frontwoman & Musician
Luz's music brings themes of searching, metamorphosis, shared humanity and for a faith that is greater than just religion. Born in San Francisco, she spent her childhood summers playing in the orchards of California’s San Joaquin Valley with her cousins, and it was there that she soaked up the melodies and stories that were being told through traditional folk songs with three-part harmonies. Songs that are conversations that been sweeping, in a playful and vulnerable way in its ripe with both musical and personal discovery. From the intimate, contemplative verses of the Spanish-language to the revelations delivered over the loping beats of her sounds remaining emotionally raw. These are songs built to soundtrack coming to grips, not just with one’s own mortality, but with the fragility of the world. She says, “I am thankful for all of my hardships,they have guided me to find rest in my soul, time after time. Over and over again.”

Rachel Harry

Tony Award Winning High School Teacher
Rachel believes teaching should be student-driven and wants students to explore and to reach and to fail, because all of those things — especially failure - will lead to new avenues of learning. She began her career as an English and Theatre teacher at a small high school in Hood River, Oregon. Building on a single introductory-level drama class, she now leads a four-year program in which students can receive both high school and college credit. For her visionary leadership, Rachel Harry was honored with the 2017 Tony Award for Excellence in Theatre Education. Rachel is currently faculty at Hood River Valley High School and Columbia Gorge Community College. She also directs several productions a year, and performs as both an actress and a dancer. Sixteen years ago Rachel founded the Commedia dell’Arte troupe, “Phoenix Theatre” which performs in a wide variety of venues—from farmer’s markets to “The Bite of the Gorge” to the Oregon School Board Association annual convention.

Vineet Edupuganti

Teen Scientist and Innovator
In December, 2016, at age 16, Vineet Edupuganti was named the national winner of the Siemens Competition in Math, Science & Technology. His winning project was the development and modeling of a high-performance, low-cost biodegradable battery. This technology, which dissolves after a period of useful operation, can be used to power ingestible medical devices, environmental sensors, and other applications where dissolvable power sources are necessary or desirable. A recent graduate of Oregon Episcopal School, Vineet is now attending Stanford University, where he is studying Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. Outside of school, he enjoys tennis, playing the piano, and cheering on his hometown NBA team, the Portland Trailblazers. Vineet hopes to become a full time entrepreneur, bringing his research to reality as his new technologies give rise to real world applications.

Organizing team


Portland, OR, United States
  • Annie Galen
    Team member