Dig Baton Rouge

Call to Action

By Claire Salinas

Banana parachutes falling from the ceiling, smashed vases and some serious calls to action for Louisiana citizens highlighted the 2014 TEDxLSU talks held Saturday.

TED talks are known around the world as talks about “Ideas worth spreading,” and speakers for the talks have ranged from Bill Gates to Sheryl Sandberg.  TED hosts talks in famous cities around the world, but for those who can’t attend, TED offers charters to cities who want to host their own TED talks.

Each speaker at the event had a connection to Baton Rouge and spoke about issues related to this year’s theme, “Enact.”

The speakers at TEDxLSU varied in age and experience, but Marybeth Lima has earned her stripes in the field of public service.  She serves as the Director of the LSU Center for Community Engagement, Learning, and Leadership and as a professor in LSU’s Department of Biological and Agricultural Engineering. Lima has designed 40 playgrounds and worked with her engineering students to build almost 30.

Lima gave several tips on life-long service. Lima advised the audience to find ways to listen with their heart and ears to “feel the soul of their community. “

“Some people walk in with all the answers when they don’t even know the questions,” she said.

Lima found a way to leave the soul of one elementary school intact by allowing a gate from the old playground to remain part of the new one.

The gate served as a beacon of hope for the kids when there was no playground. Teachers would take them out to the gate and tell them they could go anywhere they wanted when they walked through the gate. The gate was thus dubbed as the “gate to anywhere,” and was left to commemorate the time when it was the only piece of equipment the children had to enjoy.

Jacqueline Stephens, the Director of Basic Research at the Pennington Biomedical Research Center, and a biological sciences professor at LSU, talked about the importance of basic science to Louisiana’s economy.

Stephens compared the conducting of basic research to building a cathedral. Although one piece of research may not change lives the next day, all parts of science work together to build what the world needs to solve its problems.

One issue that seeps through every part of today’s society is the issue of body image in women. LSU junior psychology student, Courtney Brandabur, faces these issue head on through the organization she founded, Girl Warrior.

Brandabur told the audience the story of growing up with her own doubts and fears about her body that were shared by her friends and peers.

“Self-esteem was a blurb in health class,” she said, but had no real impact on the girls who were throwing up to shrink their stomachs or cutting themselves to feel better. Brandabur shared how she was finally pushed over the line to do something about both here and her peers’ insecurities when she discovered her younger sister in tears one afternoon.  The tears were the result of the body criticism she had received throughout middle and high school that eventually caused her to hate her own body.  Brandabur founded Girl Warrior as “a community of love that is dedicated to empowering women.”

“Silky Slim” Reed was a young boy who became involved in crime by the age of twelve in order to provide for himself and his younger brother and avoid being placed in foster care.

Reed’s history included him co-founding two gangs in Baton Rouge and being in prison for a span of 20 years between Louisiana and California.  Reed got the wake up call he needed when he was the lone survivor of a car accident.  He decided to make a change and went on to found Stop the Killing Inc., which is a nonprofit that reaches out to stop violence and assist at-risk youth.

“If we were to see everyone as members of the human race,” he said, “it might make us care more about a population that is dying.”



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