Photo by Madison Lomas

Chris Ramsey, a K9 professional, works with his partner Snickers preparing him to find a tennis ball hidden in the audience.


October 26, 2015

TEDxCSU inspires audience through stories of life-changing experiences

By Madison Lomas

What do a dog whisperer, tree hugger, grandson, BMX star, and a woman pronounced dead at birth have in common?

There were all individuals who spoke at the TEDxCSU talk titled “Made you look — beyond perception.” The event was held in the Waetjen Auditorium Friday, Oct. 16 from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m.

TED, Technology, Entertainment and Design, is a nonprofit organization devoted to developing short seminars discussing inspiring and interesting ideas through every kind of subject matter, from science to sports.

TEDx is a program developed by TED, where educational institutions like Cleveland State can organize and produce their own events. This year’s event featured a number of individuals who overcame adversity to change their lives and those around them.

Cleveland State chose this year’s theme as a way to promote positive change in attendees’ everyday lives and Cleveland as a whole.

A reoccurring topic among various speakers was poverty and violence in the city and what can be done to diminish these problems.

Crowd favorite and spoken word artist Chris Webb received a standing ovation for his performance, which touched on prevalent topics like “Black Lives Matter” and the recent Cleveland shootings that have killed several young children.

Webb, who travels giving insight on the struggles of global violence, poverty, and oppression, offered attendees a speech with a uniquely honest approach to culturally relevant issues.

Meanwhile, Timothy Tramble, a Cleveland State alumnus who is now executive director of Burton, Bell, Carr Development Inc., spoke about his efforts to improve the nation’s economically struggling cities.

During the 15-minute talk, Tramble shared how his creative approach – which uses a city’s best features to attract positive attention – affected a friend who moved from Los Angeles to Cleveland.

According to the speaker, after his friend traded in a car for a bike and made the decision to move to Cleveland, he got back more than 300 hours of his life simply by not having to sit in L.A. traffic.

Webb and Tramble were only two among many whose events could be easily described as “inspiring.” The TEDxCleveland State University speakers either overcame extreme adversities, or discovered new ways to look at the world.

Jason Perz, founder of “Thriller BMX” — a group of professional BMX teams that travel the world performing shows, touched on the adversities he overcame. These included his adopted mother dying of muscular dystrophy and his personal struggles with heroin. According to Perz, BMX became a way to get away from his problems, changing his life for the better by giving it meaning. After the talks concluded, “Thriller BMX” performed outside the auditorium.

“Use your failures as an advantage over the rest of his world,” Perz said.

Mary Fletcher is another example of someone with struggles who used them to her advantage. Although wheelchair bound, Fletcher did not let it stop her from becoming a professional dancer and starting her own dance company, Dancing Wheels, which focuses on dancers with disabilities.

Her talk was based on the idea that nothing should stop people from pursuing their dreams, which her mother had raised her to believe regardless of disability.

“If you don’t know that you can’t, you will,” Fletcher said.

Audience members had the chance to see the idea of dancing in wheelchairs in action as Fletcher and her dance company performed following her talk, receiving a standing ovation.

To end the event, professional K9 specialist Chris Ramsay and his dog, Snickers showed how humans should communicate with dogs — by focusing more on body language rather than vocals.

He showed the audience how Snickers could find a ball that Ramsay hid in the audience, just by observing body language of the people, and using scent as well.

Following the program, food trucks and events waited for audience members outside of the auditorium, including photo booth and a performance by “Thriller BMX.”

While these people are very unique and do not have a lot in common, all of them see the world in a different perspective, and used their unique lifestyles to inspire audience members to lead a successful life by looking at the world differently.

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