Saturday marked the thirteenth annual TEDxBerkeley Conference, which provided a platform for speakers who gave talks on a wide variety of subjects all centered around the theme “Channel X.”
This year’s theme was inspired by the idea of flipping through TV channels and the “endless streams of ideas, thoughts, and opinions” viewers are inundated with that provide a “glimpse into another life.”
TEDxBerkeley 2023: Channel X highlights the increasingly digital age we are living in and calls on the audience to tune into the many opportunities and pitfalls they may face as a result.
TEDxBerkeley is the world’s largest student-run TEDx event and attracts thousands of attendees and even more eyes through online viewership. The event’s recording, aired on YouTube, has already amassed 2,700 views.
The conference featured 14 guest speakers in Zellerbach Hall. The event was divided into three blocks: “pilot,” high definition” and “finale.”
While some speakers hailed from far beyond the Bay, the beginning of each section anchored the audience back to the Bay Area and the UC Berkeley community with a live musical performance.
Natya, UC Berkeley’s Premier classical dance team, Five Armed Sloth, a band that won UC Berkeley’s inaugural battle of the bands in Nov. and Cal Jazz Choir provided the audience with some musical reprieve.
To kick off the speaker lineup, Frans Lanting, acclaimed as one of the great natural life photographers of this generation, spoke about his career dedicated to seeing the world through the eyes of the wild animals he has captured for numerous magazine covers. As he has watched these animals become increasingly “hemmed in” by humans over his multi-year career, he urged the audience to ask themselves whether humankind has learned enough from our mistakes and achievements to be able to “ride the shockwaves of change that we will be faced with during the next 50 years.”
Niema Jordan, a graduate of UC Berkeley’s Journalism School, shared the lessons she has learned from working in media. In a deeply personal talk, Jordan encouraged the audience those in power to ask themselves who they could invite into that space where networking could make a significant impact on the life of someone just starting out in an industry.
Steven Zapata, illustrator and teacher, was next on the stage to warn the audience about web-produced art which poses a serious threat to the creative community at large. Zapta cautioned against prioritizing the betterment of technology over the appreciation of creative work.
“We are going to do untold damage to the vigor and energy that people have for their work,” Zapata said. “This is a suffocating atmosphere to ask artists to live in.”
Cian Moore stepped onto the stage to define a new term he uses to describe himself and the work he produces – “photo designer” – as opposed to “photographer.” He hoped to “trade influence for inspiration” and in doing so, motivate others to pursue their own crafts.
Dr. Bree Rosenblum, professor of Global Change Biology at UC Berkeley, called on the audience to rebuild their relationship and sense of duty to the natural world in her talk. She urged us to live like active verbs, constantly seeking the ever-renewing process of connection that will always tie us to the planet.
As the first speaker of the “high definition” portion, singer-songwriter and activist mxmtoon highlighted the “passive consumption” that has plagued the relationship modern-day artists have with their listeners.
“We all have to create a landscape where art can thrive, and it starts with just taking a second to listen,” mxmtoon said.
Charlene C. Nijmeh is the chairwoman of the Muwekma Ohlone Tribe, and took her place on the stage with one goal in mind: visibility.
Nijmeh ended her talk with a powerful call to action:
“[This generation of politicians] wants us to be quiet…to go quietly into the night. Instead, we will force them, loudly, into the light,” Nijmeh said. “We will not be silenced…We will reclaim our dignity even if it means the struggle continues. We march forward together. Always together. Surviving together. That’s what it means to be a community.”
After 7 hours of speakers and performances, the 2023 TEDxBerkeley Conference came to a close. The core organizational team of fourteen students were all ushered onto stage and given a standing ovation for their herculean efforts over the last eight months.