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Best of TEDxPhilly: Tough Talks and Origami

On a busy election day, Mayor Michael Nutter took time to come to Temple Performing Arts Center to welcome and thank the large group of innovators, challenge-takers, and obstacle jumpers that packed the old hall on the campus of Temple University for the second TEDxPhilly conference.

Nutter's message of inspiration and gratitude last Tuesday (Nov. 8) was quickly turned on its head by William Way Center Executive Director Chris Bartlett, the consummate host and ringmaster -- it's impossible not to smile when he's onstage -- who pointed out how far the city had come since Frank Rizzo. That prompted Nutter to return to the stage, but only for a moment to make sure he didn't slip into a time-travel nightmare.

The light-hearted moment was meant to demonstrate how far Philly has come -- and that there is still work to be done, which was the underlying theme of his victory address at a the Radisson-Warwick Hotel later that night.

Here's a quick look at the daylong conference, our Best of TEDxPhilly, followed by a video from our time in The iFractal Fractory downstairs in the center, where folks came to mingle, eat free granola bars, and try some origami courtesy of Flying Kite.

Best Indication of Well-Spent Grant Money: Donna Frisby-Greenwood, the program director for the Knight Arts Challenge, spoke briefly prior to the start of the talks and reminded the audience that several Knight grant recipients were part of TEDxPhilly, most notably the building it was held in, Dutch artists Haas and Hahn, and the Philly Youth Poetry Movement.

Best in Show: Maybe because it was election day, the buzz was working in Keya Dannenbaum's favor. It probably had to do with her clear and smart presentation on "Know nothings," or the one-third or so of Phialdelphians who don't know their local legislators. Admittedly one herself before helping found ElectNext, an eHarmony of sorts for voters, Dannenbaum stressed involvement in local elections.

Best Child Advocate: Nijmie Dzurinko of Philadelphia Student Union spoke up loud and proud. Noting that future prison populations are often based upon third-grade reading scores, Dzurinko challenged the audience to think of apathy, violence and unwillingness to learn as "products of the oppression of young people."

Best Use of Technology: Jen Pahlka of Code for America, who has been a part of the national program's work on aligning government and technology to improve the city, says "Cities are getting better," and attributes it to an increased focus on local government. "Cities are an operating system," she says.

Best Doctor in the House: Dr. Jeffrey Brenner of Camden talked fast -- a lot like a busy family physician might as he bounces from room to room -- but everyone remembered these sad words: "In healthcare, it doesn't pay to talk. Hospitals make far more money from cutting, zapping or hospitalizing." His work with data on healthcare costs in some of Camden's most challenging neighborhoods could lead to far better outcomes there and beyond.

Best Stat: 100 percent of the Philadelphia Youth Poetry Movement's seniors went to college. Enough said. But the Femme-Ninjas' spoken word performance also said it well, "We come to attack misogyny in the streets," and "We stalk 10 year-old girls wearing make-up with baby-wipes." The female duo "Never sleep, we meditate and levitate" and their "armpits smell like victory."



JOE PETRUCCI is managing editor of Flying Kite. Send feedback here.

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