OUR VIEW: Community needs to get behind TEDx

TEDx logo

As Douglasville and Douglas County's leaders look for ways to make our community an even better place to live, work and play, we want to applaud two college students who are products of the Douglas County School System for doing their part.

Mahdi Al Husseini and Joshua Barnett, Douglas County High School graduates who are now attending Georgia Tech, hosted the second TEDxDouglasville on Saturday.

If you don't know what TED is, we encourage you to go to ted.com and tedxdouglasville.com. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design, and TEDx events like the ones held in Douglasville the past two years are devoted to spreading ideas in the form of short, powerful talks.

Videos of the TED Talks are put online after the event and it's interesting to note that the talk Rory Vaden gave at TEDxDouglasville 2015 on "How to Multiply Your Time" has more than 500,000 views on YouTube.

The theme for this year's event, "Laying the Tracks," paid homage to Douglasville's history as a New South railroad town. And Al Husseini and Barnett brought in another impressive group of speakers for TEDxDouglasville 2016.

Astrophysicist Laura Cadonati, biologist Brian Hammer, Harvard lecturer Pedro De Abreu, University of West Georgia President Emeritus Beheruz Sethna, filmmaker Brandon McCormick and industrial designer Raja Schaar all gave TED Talks Saturday.

Cadonati was one of the scientists who discovered gravitational waves -- which Al Husseini said is considered "the biggest physics discovery in the past 100 years."

And she was right here in Douglasville, letting TEDx attendees hear the sound of the waves of two black holes merging 1.3 billion years ago.

The other speakers were just as inspirational. Schaar talked about watching movies and TV shows growing up and how that made her want to become an engineer. De Abreu, a social psychologist, told an emotional story about being stereotyped as a troublemaker as a young boy and then gave attendees insight into how people can overcome negative identity issues.

It's hard to overstate what a great thing we believe TEDx is for Douglasville. This is the type of event we should want in our community. TEDx shows that our town is invested in knowledge and ideas, which helps bring the types of quality development most of us want for Douglas County.

More business leaders, government officials and community leaders should be embracing TEDx and other similar events. Likewise, the community should be coming out en masse to experience TEDx each year.

Douglas County has a population of nearly 140,000 people and the city of Douglasville has a population of nearly 35,000. Yet just 100 people showed up for TEDxDouglasville 2015 and only 140 came to this year's event. We can and should do better than that as a community.

We applaud Douglasville City Councilman Richard Segal for attending Saturday. He was the only elected official in the audience. Former school board chairwoman Janet Kelley, who remains heavily involved in the community, was also there and is to be commended for supporting the event with her presence. And we commend downtown Douglasville coffee shop Cabin Fever Roasters, Comfort Cars, Logos Atlanta, Coins for Anything, Chick-fil-A, Davina Grace Hill, Abeer Alokdah, Manal Alokdah, Kai Ouyang, John O'Leary and Chuya Guo for sponsoring TEDx.

Al Husseini said he's not sure if there will be a TEDxDouglasville 2017. We hope he'll keep it going another year, and that once he's done with his studies at Georgia Tech, someone else will take the mantle.

For that to happen, the community needs to get more involved with TEDx and other events that encourage the sharing of knowledge and ideas, especially in the science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) disciplines. We encourage business leaders, government officials and other citizens who care about the future of Douglasville and Douglas County to support TEDx by partnering with Al Husseini and the other organizers and by attending what we hope will be TEDxDouglasville 2017.

The Douglas County Sentinel