And while the inspiration came from a variety of experiences including being embraced by a Puma to almost being arrested for breaking and entering a church, there was a common lasting effect they all contributed to.
1. We were reminded of the joy of the spoken word. Whether you are waiting in a doctor’s office or sitting in a coffee shop, look around and you’ll see that the majority of people have their eyes on their phones. They are interacting through cyberspace, with strangers and friends and celebrities, all from the comfortable distance of the Internet. But yesterday in that auditorium, the audience was connecting with the speakers through the spoken word and we were reminded of how beguiling it can be. Lakeridge sophomore Claire Fennell compared following the status quo to following a GPS, encouraging us to trust our gut instincts more. Although she is a writer by aspiration, she is also on the Speech and Debate Team and showed that she can wield the spoken word as mightily as a pen.
2. We were reminded of the joy of thinking about ideas for just the exercise of contemplation, not argumentation. In today’s political climate, it’s hard to discuss ideas without battle lines being drawn and people feeling the need to prove they are right and others are wrong. It was refreshing to just sit and listen to people introduce us to new ideas like “investing local” (thank you Amy Pearl with Hatch Innovation), or “In livable cities is the preservation of the wild” (thank you Mike Houck with the Urban Greenspaces Institute. We didn’t have to take sides, we didn’t have to vote…instead, we could just get introduced to a new idea, walk around it a bit with our guide and then let it settle in.
3. We were reminded that everyone has a story and that knowing that story creates a connection and a better understanding that we didn’t have before. Tricia Hasbrook shot down some of the misconceptions we hold about autism from a very real place—her oldest son is autistic and was the inspiration behind her co-founding Victory Academy, Oregon’s only school dedicated to serving children and teens with Autism. Oregonian columnist Steve Duin admitted to raging hormones and impulsive thinking that found him and his college girlfriend sneaking though an opened window in a locked Methodist Church to find a sanctuary where they could kiss…that is before the cops showed up and threatened them with breaking and entering. The mercy of the minister who chose not to judge them too harshly or press charges endures as Duin reminded us of the lessons buried in the adventures or misadventures that frame us.
I’d like to give a shout-out to Lake Oswego’s Youth Leadership Council who organized this event. TED curators would have been impressed. The speakers presented ideas worth spreading and true to TED style, they spoke for 18 minutes or less. When it comes around again, I encourage you to attend!