Poster Project for TEDxUofM Against the Grain Pt. 3

In the final installment of the 2014 Poster Project, we have beautiful works from Meggie Ramm, Sarah Brennan, Tarah Douglas, and Taylor Ross. 

- Meggie Ramm

- Sarah Brennan

- Tarah Douglas

- Taylor Ross

Tomorrow, we will have a link to the live stream for this years conference TEDxUofM Against the Grain.  Please tune in around 9:30 AM for a day of interesting talks and performances.  

Entertain Me Friday: Keeping the Audience on their Paws

By: Virginia Easthope

Meet Carrie - the Merengue dancing dog.

Known in her home Chile as “La Perrita Bailarina,” Carrie has been hopping around on her hind legs since she was a puppy. At a young age, her energy and strength were channeled into cha cha’s and dips by photographer José Fuentes, who only intended to teach his adorable golden retriever an entertaining, party trick. But now, Carrie sweeps stages worldwide with not only the rhythms of Merengue, but also “Cumbia” and “Cueca,” the national dance of Chile. In an interview with the Los Angeles Salsa Conference Fuentes stated that Carrie’s training never felt like work, but rather organic and playful. Each precise and measured sway of her hips enchants and mesmerizes audiences while she flawlessly executes complicated choreography. Animal Planet deemed Carrie, “most talented animal in the world” and she has landed multiple international commercials.

So feast your eyes, eat your heart out, and dance along with the sauciest dog to ever hit the dance floor.

Poster Project for TEDxUofM Against the Grain Pt. 2

Today we present part two of our poster project, with works from Leah Whiteman, Madalyn Hochendoner, Margaret Hitch, and Mary Clare Harrington. 

- Leah Whiteman

- Madalyn Hochendoner

- Margaret Hitch

- Mary Clare Harrington

2 DAY COUNTDOWN: Let’s Look Back

Kelsey Rhodes

We’re so close to the conference we can TASTE it. In celebration and in solidarity with our excitement, let’s take a look at some of the other incredible talks from our first four conferences. 

TEDxUofM 2013 - Mike Barwis on Physical Potential

TEDxUofM 2012 - Libby Ashton on Education Reform

TEDxUofM 2011 - Jameson Toole on Big Data

And from our very first conference, 

TEDxUofM 2010 - Daniel Ferris on the Science of Iron Man

Poster Project for TEDxUofM Against the Grain

We are pleased to introduce our 2014 Poster Project for this year’s conference.  We had twelve outstanding artists contribute to the collection, and will be releasing four each day in the lead up to the conference this Saturday. Today, you can enjoy works from Cori Lewis, Dave Eppig, Ellen Wolbert, and Leah Backo. 

- Cori Lewis

- Dave Eppig

- Ellen Wolbert 

- Leah Backo

Education: Candy Chang’s School of the Future

By: Sarah Angileri

Here at TEDxUofM, we continue to inquire about the future of education both at large and at the University of Michigan (see: Campus of the Future for details on our April 3rd event). Will classroom sizes grow or shrink? Will they become more experiential or continue to be lecture-based? Will professors direct their discourse towards practical vocations or merely…pontification? Perhaps the physical classroom will be obsolete entirely; our increasingly digital world creating enclaves for education made up of pixels, not people. An online education that’s accessible by many but taken seriously by few.


Candy Chang, the artist responsible for famed Before I Die installations across the globe, has embarked on yet another mission of communal introspection: School of the Future explores the power a different educational structure can have in creating agents capable of change, influence and ultimately, progress. Chang’s 2013 exhibit was intentionally located only a few blocks from Barton Academy, the first public school in Alabama and the focal point of her work (the fuzzy photo at the forefront of the space is a distorted image of Barton). The school, which had laid vacant until 2007, is scheduled to reopen as an international academy the fall of 2016. The academy will revolve around hands-on, arts-based pedagogy, with a strong focus on multilingualism.


Chang’s exhibit is a reflection of her own ideals, but also a proposition for integrating art and play into mainstream education: the red balls symbolize an antithesis to traditional models of “banking education” by encouraging individuals to engage with the exhibit actively, rather than absorb it passively. On the desk lies a notebook which also prompts visitors to reflect on what they wish they has learned in school. Some responses are abstract (“how to be yourself”); others, less so (“how to change a tire”), but all point to fractures in an educational system that remains somewhat disconnected from that abyss we must all enter into post-graduation: the real world.


Tech Tuesday: Recycling Plastic

By: Adie Dolan

Only about 5% of the world’s plastic—a material, as we know, that is highly demanded and carelessly discarded—is recycled. The majority of plastic waste floats around the world as undegradable refuse, piling up for someone else to deal with.

Someone other than who produced it.
Someone other than who consumed it.

Many developing countries have been burdened with the e-waste of developed countries. Workers usually sort through the durable waste for metals, or commonly burn plastics in buildings known as “burn-houses” to get to metal waste. Many don’t attempt to sort plastic. However, citizens confounded by e-waste in the slums of Mumbai, India have tried categorizing plastics using a “burn-and-sniff” technique; workers burn chunks of plastic, inhale its toxic fumes and pile it based on smell. However, none of these recycling methods are good for environmental health, personal health, or produce sustainable products.

Until recently, the only way to reuse plastic has been through down cycling: “the process of converting useless products into new products of lesser quality and reduced functionality.” While down cycling is better than no cycling, it still is not the most efficient way to deal with the amount of plastic waste that our world has produced.

Mike Biddle, aka the Garbage Man, attacked this problem. While it turns out that recycling plastic materials is much more difficult than recycling other materials this did not deter him. Biddle has concocted a recycling process, combining methods from miners to those working in developing slums, to “close-the-loop.” Through his technique, he is able to reproduce plastic 99% true to its “virgin form.”

But, according to Popular Science reporter, Paul Kvinta, Biddle insists on keeping his process a secret. Biddle started working from his garage and has invested $150 million to research and develop his technique. Currently his process is employed in three major branches around the globe. While he has invented quite a miraculous procedure that has won him over a handful of awards, should he keep this methodology to himself?

Does he plan to conquer the world’s trash alone?

Or could he patent his method? Should he?

Whatever his plan, he has done some really dirty work and has created a process worth sharing.

Read about his story, in this article from Popular Science here,
and learn more about his plastic sorting process in his TED talk here.

Dont miss Ann Arbor’s ideas worth spreading! Catch the live stream feed of TEDxUofM’s 2014 “Against the Grain” Conference this Saturday at 9:30 am!

Music for Ideas Vol. IV

The Music for Ideas compilation began as a joint effort between Ghostly International and TEDxUofM. It is meant to awaken the creative flow, the tenet on which TEDxUofM is based.

This compilation is the fourth installment of a series of albums celebrating artists from the Ann Arbor community.

We’d like to thank all of the musicians who contributed & encourage you to support their work.

download the fourth installment (2014) :: x 

the first installment (2011) :: x
the second installment (2012) :: x 
the third installment (2013) :: x


The Willo Collective x Shells x Trees x Simon Alexander-Adams x Flandy x Sephari x Jonah Baseball x MAN VS. INDIAN MAN x Theodore Carl x Known Moons x MedicineHat x


Walk More, Live More

Jeff Speck helps us shift from urban sprawl to the walkable city

By Abhilash Gazula  

As students, most of us walk everywhere, every day the majority of our year and we think nothing of it, whether it is 5o or 50o outside.  However to most Americans, it is not a common lifestyle, with automobiles and public transportation the way the majority of Americans get around.  To be honest, most of us undoubtedly revert to such a lifestyle the moment we go home. 

The problem is, a driving-based community comes with invisible costs to both our economy and our health.  In his enlightening TED talk, Jeff Speck highlights the benefits of redesigning our cities and communities to be focused on people instead of cars.

Speck describes how by designing our cities to be walkable, we can not only improve our health, but we can save money and create long term benefits to our communities.  Cities such as Portland have decided to invest in a walkable urban plan over the past couple of decades instead of the urban sprawl common in most cities, with some positive results: more locations for leisure per capita than the national average, higher increases in the college educated millennial population than the national average, and more local investing than many other areas in the US. 


Now while Ann Arbor is fairly walkable, it is nowhere near as great as it could be.  How often do you take the bus or drive up to North Campus?  How often would you walk if there were half-way decent walk paths up? The fact is that even areas that may be considered “walkable” still have some room for improvement. 

How important is driving to you?  How important is it when you take in the costs to your health and local economy?

Making cities walkable and reducing our miles driven is no longer about environmentalism, but about making tangible improvements to our lives and communities.

Because I’m Happy?

By Josh Brill


For some people, music serves as an escape.  Music can make us happy, sad, feel intoxicated, or even give us an uncontrollable need to move.  The neurologist Oliver Sacks has even likened music’s effects to those of psychedelic drugs as he discussed in his NPR interview about his newest book Hallucinations.  It turns out, however, that some people may not be able to sense joy from music at all.  New research from the University of Barcelona suggests that some people don’t “feel” music.  No joy, no sadness, nothing.  In fact, when tested against students who did experience strong emotions while listening to music, those with a lack of musical temperament failed to show any physical changes when exposed to popular music.  Most college students showed heightened heart rates as well as perspiration but those that said they received no joy from music were simply indifferent.  What brings us joy or what we find entertaining is obviously not universal, as we do not necessarily expect the music of J. Roddy Waltson and The Business to appeal to those that enjoy the more tranquil Amos Lee.  The concept of lacking an ability to enjoy anything from that genre however seems hard to grasp.  Maybe its time to reconsider your friends who said they just doesn’t like Beyoncé.