EDMONDS — In an era of Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter, when social media seems to have supplanted conversation, it was a day dedicated to the simple, intensive act of listening.
About 800 people filled the Edmonds Center for the Arts Friday at the second annual TEDxSnoIsleLibraries event. With this year’s theme of “Transformations,” 17 speakers shared stories of hurt, hope and — as measured by standing ovations from the audience — inspiration.
The day began with Seattle hip hop artist Xola Malik, singing “I Fall, I Rise.”
Radhika Dalal, a senior at Kamiak High School in Mukilteo, was one of two area high school students to speak. Joining an international Facebook group of 400 writers is just an example of how technology “allows us to know what’s going on around the world instantly,” she said.
It allows the millennial generation “to be globally conscious,” Dalal said.
A survey found that more than half of millennials would take a pay cut to find a job that matches their values, she said. “Success is not just a paycheck but making a difference.”
Sriharshita “Harshu” Musunuri, a junior at Everett’s Henry M. Jackson High school, spoke on the interconnectedness of knowledge, as illuminated in the work of the artist Leonardo da Vinci. It enabled him to build a bridge between the arts and sciences, she said.
One example of how that could be applied would be a classroom where students are allowed to study the history of the Leaning Tower of Pisa while learning about the physics that keeps it from falling down, she said.
Jeff Lynass, who teaches at Lake Stevens’ Cavelero Mid High School, told of how students locally and internationally are joining VEX Robotics teams. There are now some 20,000 such teams around the world, he said.
Lake Stevens students often dedicate four hours a week to their projects, Lynass said. They come in before and after school, and only locking the doors to the engineering lab will keep them away.
One of the most emotional presentations came from Karla Hawley, a music therapist for the Snohomish County Music Project. She told of her sexual abuse, which began at age 6.
At age 7 she said she yelled “No,” and slapped the face of the man who was trying to assault her. “What you are doing is wrong and you know it, ” she remembers telling him. “Don’t touch me again.”
Even so, the abuse continued for years, until she was 19, she said. One day she sat down at the piano and began playing a song. That allowed her to begin expressing her feelings for all she had been through.
Desperation and despair began to fade, she said. “My song had saved me. I could now be alive and safely express myself in the music. Suicide was no longer the option.
“We don’t have to endure life-long suffering,” Hawley said. “May music be with you always.”
People who couldn’t attend Friday’s event could still watch in groups. There were 17 public viewing sites, including 13 libraries in Snohomish and Island counties as well as the Snohomish County PUD auditorium, at Everett and Edmonds community colleges, and the University of Washington Bothell.
The event was livestreamed, so people could watch the conference on smartphones, tablets or computers. Some 1,400 people were viewing the event online, in 140 cities and 19 countries, said Julie Titone, a Sno-Isle Libraries spokeswoman.
Sharon Gray made the four-and-a-half hour journey from Twisp to be at Friday’s event. She said one of the messages she heard from speaker Seconde Nimenya was what she could do to combat the nation’s current divisiveness.
Lori Hittle, of Arlington, came to the event both to listen to speakers and as a volunteer for First Washington, an organization that promotes student participation in robotics.
Lynnwood High School’s Royal Robotic team had one of its projects on display in an annex to the arts center called The Idea Lab.
The Everett School District now has 30 robotic teams, Hittle said, growing from just one in 2008.
Marcia Albert, of Arlington, a social worker, said that when she and her peers work with clients on motivation, they sometimes use videotaped TEDx talks in those sessions. With a TEDx session so close, they wanted to attend.
Cole Cordell, a student at Shoreline Community College, said he came because he’s always been interested in TED talks. “It’s always been a plus for me,” he said. “I really enjoy it.”
Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486; firstname.lastname@example.org.