TEDxBirmingham Delivers with Thought-Provoking Speakers, Vision for Future
Regions sponsors event that brought bright minds together for a day-long sharing of ideas to “Rediscover the Magic.”
MARCH 4, 2014 - Victoria Hollis moved to Birmingham, Ala., and quickly became enamored with all it had to offer. Now, she’s leading an effort to make sure what it has to offer is available to everyone.
“We cannot continue to ignore the fact that the health of our school system is intrinsically tied to the health of the city,” said Hollis, the program manager of the Birmingham Education Foundation, challenging the audience to take an active role in Birmingham City Schools during TEDxBirmingham: Rediscover the Magic on March 1.
TEDxBirmingham is an independently organized event in the spirit of the TED conferences featuring speakers on a variety of topics, from technology to entertainment to design. Regions Bank was the organizing sponsor of the day-long gathering in Birmingham.
“We got involved in TEDx because I saw it as a way to help continue the momentum we're seeing in Birmingham,” said Rick Swagler, head of External Affairs at Regions. “There are a lot of people working hard, and we already support organizations that are doing great things. Our goal was to bring as many of those people together as possible to make connections and maybe to provide some inspiration for new ways to move forward.
“I'm a Birmingham native, and I've never been more optimistic about the future of our city than I was at the end of that event.”
TEDxBirmingham co-organizer Matthew Hamilton said Regions’ involvement was critical to success. In addition to corporate sponsorship, 25 Regions associates contributed as event volunteers.
“Our sponsors were absolutely essential,” Hamilton said. “A lot of people don’t realize the level of effort needed to put the event on, both from a financial and volunteer standpoint. With the role Regions plays in the community as the only Fortune 500 company headquartered in Birmingham, it was important to have Regions involved symbolically. The trust Regions gave us made us legitimate to others.”
The day featured speakers who covered a wide array of talents and topics. Perhaps none evoked a stronger response than 12-year-old concert cellist Malik Kofi. Recently dubbed the “Little Music Manchild” by Music Times, Kofi mesmerized the crowd with his words and his music, a selection ranging from classical to jazz that brought the crowd to its feet twice.
He told the crowd how he was inspired to take up music by his family, especially two older brothers he idolized. There was an initial setback, although one that worked out rather well: He opted for the cello because he wasn’t big enough for a stand-up bass at age 4.
Former journalist Glenny Brock, who led the fundraising efforts to save the Lyric Theatre, one of the South’s leading vaudeville venues of the 1920s, urged preservation of Birmingham’s historical landmarks.
UAB graduate Larry Lawal spoke on the loss of medical research funding and future solutions.
Nationally known cyber-crime expert Gary Warner, director of computer forensics at UAB and co-founder of Malcovery Security, admitted his frustration that cyber crimes aren’t treated by law enforcement the same as physical crimes. His goal is to change that.
Warner also noted that while the Internet has increased risks, consumers should be cautious, but not panicked.
“You’re more likely to be a victim of identity threat for turning over your credit card than by using online banking,” Warner said.
By day’s end, Hamilton felt those in attendance – either live or watching a livestream broadcast – came away energized about visions for the future.
“We definitely accomplished the inspiration factor,” Hamilton said. “We helped recommit people to the city, to organizations and to things that need to be done throughout the entire metro area. This helped give people a renewed sense of hope and optimism.”