Photo by Leah Hammond

John Perrine played improvised musical accompaniment on his saxophone to the montage of photos in the presentation.


November 3, 2016

TedxCSU brings 13 notable speakers to campus

Fred Bidwell, local entrepreneur, philanthropist and art collector urged the audience at TedxClevelandStateUniversity Friday, Oct. 21 to “scrap your plan; follow your passion.”

Bidwell was one of 13 speakers and performers who appeared at TedxCSU, and set the tone for this year’s theme of “Reality Shifts – Are You Ready?”

He described his wife and his personal journey to becoming established entrepreneurs in Cleveland, which, he said, was never in the “grand plan.” Rather, he explained, they followed their passion and now own the Transformer Station, an arts and exhibition space in Ohio City, where one project at a time is transforming the neighborhood.

TED, which stands for technology, entertainment and design, is a nonprofit organization that develops short seminars discussing inspiring and interesting ideas on many subjects from technological to economical to self-reflective perspectives.

TEDx is a program developed by TED that allows educational institutions like Cleveland State to organize and produce their own events. This year’s Cleveland State event featured inspiring individuals who overcame the odds against them to turn many no’s into one yes.

Cleveland State chose “Reality Shifts” as this year’s theme, according to University President Ronald M. Berkman, to inspire, encourage and empower attendees to be the change needed in society.

Honey Bell-Bey, founder and director of “The Distinguished Gentlemen of Spoken Word,” received a standing ovation for her powerful poetic performance and speech. 

“The Distinguished Gentlemen of Spoken Word” is a local performance troupe for adolescent males who recently traveled to Paris to deliver their character-based messages at various iconic locations despite the odds against them being able to fund their trip.

Miss Honey, as she referred herself, and a member of the Distinguished Gentlemen closed with a motivational poem about the power of resiliency, which left the audience visibly moved.

Another example of overcoming the odds is Thomas Maridada, president and CEO of the BRIGHT New Leaders for Ohio Schools, an effort to recruit and train leaders from varied professions to work in high poverty public schools struggling with low achievement.

Maridada told a story about one of his teachers who inspired him as well as changed a fellow student’s life. He concluded that every child in this country deserves a chance to attend a high performance school, and he advocated community mobilization to ensure each child in every community is career and college ready.
“We all have the ability to make a difference,” Maridada said. “Maybe the change you are looking for or want to happen is waiting on you to be the change.”

Courage demands that a person act, Maridada said, stressing an individual has to be willing to stand on 100 no’s for one yes.

Local Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and journalist Connie Shultz who also spoke, reiterated the common theme of overcoming the odds by sharing her story as a woman who took on a career in journalism later in life.

Shultz described her experience as a divorced mother of two who followed her dream of becoming a newspaper columnist despite being older.

She showed the audience a picture of herself working on a Plain Dealer deadline holding her 10-month-old daughter in her arms and said if she could give “Mommy Connie” some advice it would be “You’ve got time to do all the things you want to do … As long as you don’t listen to that voice of no in your head, you’re going to surprise yourself.”

“Do not wait to be invited to make a difference in the world … As long as you wake up every morning with a renewed sense of curiosity and you’ve got your own tribe of champions, you’re going to be fine.”

While all the speakers had a different story to tell, the common message attempted to encourage the audience to overcome the odds and be the change for the future as reality shifts.


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TedxCSU brings 13 notable speakers to campus


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