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The Times
  • TEDxUtica gives inspiration for community growth, change

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  • When Veronika Freeman found out she was selected to be one of the 100 guests at TEDxUtica Wednesday night, she was honored.
    “I’ve been watching the TED videos online for three or four years. It’s been really inspiring,” said the 50-year-old Utica entrepreneur.
    The owner of dotcalm, a design therapist who helps other entrepreneurs make their ideas a reality, Freeman was really excited to network and “be among the accomplished of Utica,” she said.
    The event was a local version of the famous TED Talks, dedicated to sharing world-changing ideas about technology, entertainment and design.
    The first in the area, it brought local business owners, community leaders, students and anyone wanting to see change together to network, share ideas and brainstorm new ones.
    “It’s about getting like-minded people together in one room and seeing what happens,” said organizer Geoff Storm. The coordinators tried to select as diverse a crowd as possible, he said.
    Speakers spoke about everything from paying it forward to the importance of posture for better health, taking shortfalls and making them strengths to how to creating a network of trust to keep entrepreneurs in the area and connect them with the talent the community has to offer.
    Speaker Renee Heitmann, a singer, performer and voice teacher in New York City, spoke about Single Girl Cookies, a sort of community service she started.
    Heitmann bakes cookies and practices “bake it forward,” giving them to anyone and everyone, she said.
    “It takes one single person to make a difference,” she said. “Ask, ‘What can I do for my neighbor and what can I give back to my community?’”
    “Let’s be the change that we wish to see in our world,” Heitmann said.
    Though the main event took place at the Dorothy Smith Center for Advocacy at the Resource Center for Independent Living, Catalyst, the young professionals group through the Mohawk Valley Chamber of Commerce, had a live feed of the event at Mohawk Valley Community College.
    “It’s so important,” said Pam DelMedico, chair of Catalyst, the young professionals group through the Mohawk Valley Chamber of Commerce. “Everybody loves this area and we’re so excited to see how it’s going to grow and change.”
    Tina Kulesa, 40, of Newport, and her son Tyler, 19, both students at MVCC were excited to take advantage of the simulcast.
    “I’m interested in what can be done to make this a place that people don’t leave,” Tina Kulesa said. “I’m looking for ideas and inspiration.”
    Page 2 of 2 - “It’s cool to see Utica have the main event and that people actually care about keeping stuff local,” Tyler said.
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