By Doug Hare EBS Staff
BIG SKY – The evening of Jan. 26 was an intellectually stimulating, emotionally uplifting evening for those in the audience at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center during the third annual TEDxBigSky.
“TEDx got at the soul of our relationships with ourselves, our environment and the spirit it takes to embrace it all,” said Lander Bachert, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Gallatin Valley. “The presenters were at once emotional, funny and heartfelt.”
“In just three years we have had over 20 amazing people share the stage—global thought leaders, innovators, producers, musicians, activists—it is incredibly humbling,” said Ersin Ozer, curator of the event since its inception. “They come from across the world but their stories hit home at a local level.”
Eight speakers from eclectic backgrounds gave wide-ranging talks centered around the concept of “flow”—the state of consciousness when a person is so consumed in an activity that they lose track of time and self-awareness.
Longtime Senior Wildlife Biologist in Yellowstone National Park, Doug Smith, spoke about the history of wolves in the park and the dangers of commodifying nature from an overly anthropomorphic vantagepoint. Lynne Dale, a decorated journalist, recounted how her daughter’s cancer diagnosis and subsequent chemotherapy were catalysts for her daughter’s discover that selflessness and altruism are the true key to happiness.
The neuroscientist Jay Sanguinetti discussed how non-invasive brain stimulation might provide a “technoboost” for more effective meditation, opening up new frontiers for helping those with depression or chronic pain. Big Sky’s Twila Moon took a sober look at the ramifications of climate change and how we can all do our own part to mitigate the negative effects.
The multi-talented Daryl Davis spoke about how he confronts racism head on, even befriending Ku Klux Klan members along the way even as an African American activist. Cord McCoy talked about how much he learned traveling the world as a three-time contestant on CBS’s hit reality show “The Amazing Race,” after a long career as a rodeo star and rancher from middle America.
TEDxBigSky came to close with the storytelling and musical performance by Jamie McLean that had the crowd clapping in unison. “It was an honor for me to be asked to give a TEDx talk. I really consider it a highlight of my career,” McLean said. “I was definitely out of my comfort zone, but in the best possible way. I like pushing myself and I could feel the crowd get into the flow with me when I started playing. Big Sky always brings it.”
For the first time, TEDxBigSky was bookended with ancillary events around town that marked the first ever Big Sky Ideas Festival. On Thursday, Jan. 24, Bozeman-based writer Todd Wilkinson kicked off the event with a fireside presentation at Lone Mountain Ranch that delved into the life of celebrated grizzly bear 399 and how her life offers deep insight in the ecology of Greater Yellowstone region.
The next night, the Jamie McLean Band put on a concert in the Moonlight Lodge as stuffed mountain goats watched from their perches on the chimney and revelers danced to New Orleans-soul-inspired rock ‘n’ roll.
On Sunday, Jay Sanguinetti allowed attendees to Santosha Wellness Center to try his low-level light stimulation device while meditating. That evening saw Ulla Suokko, a world-renowned flutist, who also spoke during the TEDx event, closed out the Big Sky Ideas Festival with an evening of music, stories and poetry at WMPAC called “The Flute of the Infinite.”
“I think the time and effort the speakers put into creating and practicing their talks really showed and led to success on the stage,” said Lori Addicks, a speaker coach for the event. “There was a nice variety to their talks, yet all were aligned to the theme of ‘flow.’”
“I am grateful for all of the sponsors who helped underwrite this year’s event as well as our team of organizers and Outlaws who flowed together to make the 2019 TEDxBigSky event a success,” Ozer said. “I look forward to next year already.”