The world has watched with wide eyes as the Deepwater Horizon oil well has spilled millions of barrels of crude oil in the Gulf of Mexico for the last 75 days. News reports of threatened wildlife, coastal destruction, media blackouts and the end of fisherfolk communities have plagued the news feeds of many concerned residents and citizens. Deciding this situation, with its saturation of misinformation, was a call to action, Dave Troy and Nate Mook decided it was time to organize an event that would bring together the eyes, the ears and the minds of people involved. On June 28th, TEDx Oil Spill took place in Washington, DC.
Organized in just 28 days this event, licensed under the global TED brand, encouraged people to get involved by either speaking, attending or creating their own TEDx Oil Spill meetup on the same day to watch the livestream. Packed in the stunning Wooly Mammoth theatre in Washington, DC, TEDx Oil Spill brought together some of the best minds involved around this oil disaster and energy policy. This event was the initial inspiration for the TEDx Oil Spill Expedition, which included photographer Kris Krüg and photo editor Danielle Sipple.
The very full day was split into four themed sections: Observation, Oil Science, Conservation and the Future of Energy.
The first section of the day, themed Observation, really delved into first hand accounts of the situation down in the Gulf. Whether it was marine scientist Philippe Cousteau detailing his time in the Gulf to Casey DeMoss Roberts explaining her work with the Gulf Restoration Network to Duncan Davidson and Darron Collins recounting their time spent on the TEDx Oil Spill Expedition, these speakers were coming from a true place of bearing witness. The immensity of this situation is catastrophic which can be, at times, very hard to grasp from tiny snippets of media and close framed photographs.
The second section of the day gave the audience insight into what consists of oil science. Lisa Margonelli gave an impressive outline of a world that was converted to less oil dependency, which extends into the social side of the oil science. Microbiologist Ron Atlas went into the physical side of oil science and spoke about his work on the Exxon Valdez oil spill. A big announcement came during Dave Gallo's presentation when he brought Francis Beland on stage and presented the X Prize. This particular X prize is a large award given to someone who engineers a viable working solution to stopping the leaking Deepwater Horizon well.
Energized by lunch the third section, themed Conservation, was one of the more emotional structured sections. Each of the presenters in this section really showed how their love of the ocean had given them the motivation to accept their call to action about this oil spill. From National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Sylvia Earle studying the Gulf of Mexico her entire life, to John Francis' 17 year silence to marine scientist Carl Safina's honest tears on stage, each presenter knew that something had to be done.
The heaviness of the day was paused for moment by when Leroy Stick hit the stage. Powered by loud music and flashing lights, this comedian brought to life his character 'Terry' who is the voice behind the BPGlobalPR twitter account. Started off in jest of the large corporation, this twitter account has picked up momentum and followers. Each tweet is a powerful satirical stab at every action that has come forth from British Petroleum, since the oil leak. Leroy Stick was a perfect example of how a single person can answer the call to action during this often heart wrenching situation.
The final section of the conference day was a like minded ended towards the Future of Energy. Dancing with ideas of wind power and ocean provided energy, this section was a glimpse into the thinkers of the future. The most standout presenter of this section was Mike Mendez, a scientist worked with alternative fuel from algae. His presentation showed how algae is a renewable alternative source of energy that would allow for less dependency on oil. He spoke about multiple test flights by major airlines that used nothing by algae jet fuel for cross country journeys.
It was truly a blessing to have awesome musical bookends as a take off and landing for this very intense day. Viola musician Christen Lien lent her musical artistry to our ears and hearts. Playing a three different pieces, including one that was inspired by her journey to the Gulf of Mexico last month, Lien gave us musical wings of inspiration to carry on with. Her music often paints vivid portraits of the world around us which was a perfect complimentary aid on this day.
Overall this event was success and carried a strong message. Providing a viable platform for the discussion of cross-study knowledge sharing, TEDx Oil Spill opened the hearts and minds of many people involved in the situation happening in the Gulf.
Here are some more highlights from TEDx Oil Spill in Washington, DC:
Speciality Color Services was a sponsor of TEDx Oil Spill and donated over 600 prints to the event. Each attendee of the event got two select prints from the three photographers on the TEDx Oil Spill Expedition team, Kris Krüg, Duncan Davidson and Pinar Ozger.
Philippe Cousteau addressing the TEDx Oil Spill audience in Washington, DC.
Farai Chideya was the awesome MC of the whole TEDx Oil Spill event.
TEDx Oil Spill organizers Dave Troy and Nate Mook; complete sets of donated photographs from Specialty Color Services.
'Dear New Orleans' is a photo-based project where people use their bodies to write messages to the beloved city. Robert X. Fogarty, founder of the project, photographs LaTosha Brown at the TEDx Oil Spill event.
Mike Mendez, Lisa Margonelli and Wolcott Henry.
Thanking the volunteers of the event!
TEDx Oil Spill badges
This event was really for the youth of the world and the ones in the audience as well. One of these youth is Sam Atkin, an 11 year old shark scientist who runs Shark Scientist Magazine.
The whole TEDx Oil Spill event was available to the public through a live stream.
Audience at TEDx Oil Spill in Washington, DC
Google Demo at TEDx Oil Spill
A hugging moment
Christen Lien gives a smile to the balcony.
The TEDx Oil Spill Expedition team
For more information about the TEDx Oil Spill event: