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America feels more divided than ever, with people gridlocked over everything from social issues and race to gender and the economy. This year, TEDx Cape May is hoping to bridge some of the gaps through a series of talks with the theme “Common Ground,” hosted on Oct. 14. 

This year’s TEDx Cape May Common Ground theme also has local significance, since it partly draws from the Shore town’s own history, says organizer Norris Clark. 

“During the Civil War, Cape May was a place where people could come together to talk about issues relating to the North and South. Cape May was also a key place for the Underground Railroad and Harriet Tubman,” says Clark. “We’re picking up on the historical, and we’re realizing our country right now, politically and socially, is very divided.” 

Since its inception, TED Talks have exploded to include more than 100 languages and have been viewed more than 1 billion times. Locally, Cape May’s videos – which have included the likes of Wyclef Jean and other powerful figures – have garnered more than a million views, says Clark. As the event grows with each passing year, more influential speakers are making their way to the stage in this small Shore town.  

“Every year, someone who sat in the audience volunteers to help. Every year it gets better,” says Clark. “TED is all about making your mind a better place, one idea at a time.” 

This year’s lineup includes: 

Dee Wallace: The Common Ground of Self 

Teacher-turned actress Dee Wallace (who you may remember as the mom from Steven Spielberg’s “ET: The Extra-Terrestrial”) struggled as an aspiring actress in New York City. Through perseverance, the actress has since gone on to make 130 films and author five books, and now she brings her inspiring story to the TEDx stage.  

 

Debjani Biswas: Common Ground on Gender Bias 

The #MeToo movement launched a massive social media movement, and now best-selling author Debjani Biswas is working to highlight #UsToo. In her latest book of the same title, Biswas, an executive coach who regularly appears on CBS, ESPN and iHeart Radio, talks about gender biases and how we can work together to destroy them.  

 

Richard Crossley: Our Common Ground in Nature 

Internationally acclaimed bird-watcher, author and photographer Richard Crossley understands just how minimal our differences with other animals are – despite what society believes – and advocates connecting with nature to rediscover our common ground.  

 

 

Mark Rahdert: Our Constitution as Common Ground 

As a faculty member of Temple University’s Beasley School of Law, Mark Rahdert is well-versed in constitutional law, torts and comparative constitutional law. The award-winning author and Yale Law graduate will bring his expertise to the stage to discuss how our Constitution is meant to bring us together. 

 

Paul Jaffe: Common Ground from Space 

What if we could harness the sun’s power from space and beam it back to Earth? It’s not a sci-fi plot – it’s the basis of Paul Jaffe’s talk about how technology could make this possible one day. Jaffe, who has held major positions in dozens of space missions, shares ideas about implementing a space-based solar program that could result in clean, constant global energy.

 

James Mtume: Our Common Ground in Music 

James Mtume’s name means “messenger” in Swahili, which is fitting for this Grammy Award-winning musician. The prolific songwriter and activist shares how he’s used his platform to promote the role of music in defining a generation and advancing social progression, one song at a time. 

 

Jenn Graham: Finding Common Ground Over Food & Conversation 

Jenn Graham believes the dinner table can be the starting point for important discussions ranging from racial equity to early childhood education. She shares how her award-winning Civic Dinners have brought diverse voices together for food and conversations that matter. 

 

Katya Simonsen: Art is Therapy 

The president of the junior class at Lower Cape May Regional High School, Katya Simonsen is an honor student and three-season athlete, as well as an entrepreneur who sells her own paintings. Breaking down millennial stereotypes, Simonsen comes to the stage to share how business and art have the power to connect.

 

We’re giving away two tickets to TEDx Cape May! Click here to enter.

September 2018
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