Since she was three years old, Sharon Dowell knew that she wanted to be an artist. It seemed like an odd choice for the daughter of a safety chemical engineer. But she’s built an amazing career that she loves and deeply enjoys. But there’s a shadow side to Dowell’s success. “I’ve been dealing with anxiety my whole life,” confessed Dowell. “It’s my secret.” Quoting Winston Churchill, Dowell said the panic attacks are like a black dog that attacks suddenly out of the blue. According to studies, 15-20% of the U.S. population are HSPs (highly sensitive persons), and Dowell is herself an HSP. Sometimes things areRead More →

Fresh off winning the McColl Award, CarlosAlexis Cruz stepped onto the stage in a white jumpsuit, looking like a gardener or a house painter. “I’m your typical Mexican gangster,” said Cruz. “I can play any of those typical Latino characters. ‘Salsa dancer to the left.’” (laughter) “I’ve worked for Telemundo!” (more laughter) “That is not just who I am.” “I am not your gardener. I’m also an actor. I’m a director. A stage producer. I founded my own company. I’m an artist.” He’s also a circus performer! Cruz created a contemporary circus show that got funding and toured the West Coast. He’s since produced otherRead More →

Title:¬†Hope for the Oceans: Getting Fishing Right Kicking things off for TEDxCharlotte 2014: Renewal,¬†Douglas Rader, the Chief Oceans Scientist for the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), admitted, “Because I’m a serious scientist, they wouldn’t let me up here unless I promised not to bore you to death with endless charts and graphs.” He lied. There was one chart. One Rader colorfully called “the death spiral to hell for fish.” How’s that for not boring? But the vision Rader laid out for renewing our ocean fishing systems through implementing “catch shares” was inspiring and hopeful. “Most people view the oceans as boundless,” said Rader. “Most scientists viewRead More →

“I think this was a setup,” began Karla Williams, addressing the emerging theme of this year’s TEDxCharlotte. “Holy cow! If I were your age, and I was sitting in this audience, whatever age you are, I’d be thinking ‘This is a very big world, how am I going to find that place, if I haven’t found it by now?’” The theme is action for social change. And for Williams, the big idea is higher civic engagement in the non-profit sector of the Charlotte community. Williams is a passionate champion for the non-profit world. According to Williams, there are 1.5 million non-profits in the United States,Read More →

The theme of big ideas and big dreams continued with Dale Mullennix, from Urban Ministry Center of Charlotte, who described his dream to end homelessness. But Mullennix decided to take it one step further: “How about how to end homelessness and heal your own soul at the same time.” Most people don’t want to talk about homelessness or do anything about it, Mullennix said, because they just can’t imagine how what they have to offer intersects with this tremendous social problem. Apathy combined with the feeling of being overwhelmed is a deadly combination. But Mullennix crafted his talk around author Frederick Buechner’s famous quote, “VocationRead More →

Emcee Mike Watson introduced Valaida Fullwood and Charles Thomas by saying, “They are both just gifts to our community.” “Reframing Portraits of Philanthropy — that was my big idea six years ago,” began Valaida. The book, published in October 2011, shares the stories and profiles of 200 black philanthropists. As Valaida explained, “For some time, I’ve been unsettled by prevailing stories of philanthropy and who’s qualified to be a philanthropist. The conventional frame is narrowly set.” The literal translation of philanthropy from the Greek is “love of humankind” or “love of humanity.” And Valaida said, “When love enters the picture, everything changes. And that shiftRead More →

What unlimits you? “When we choose to see life as a gift given by a good giver, all of it is unlimiting. There is endless potential. When we choose to see ourselves as the receivers of good gifts, it follows that we are here to give them back to the whole wide world. When we use our gifts to make the world a better place, life is unlimitless.” —Christina Britt Lewis Christina Britt Lewis was living a very comfortable life in a very comfortable home in New Hampshire when she and her husband, Timothy Dean Lewis, chose to start life over. They believe that eachRead More →