TEDxPhilly 2011: “Cities are the most complex man-made artifacts of our time” [STORIFY]

Urban communities should be seen as complex computing programs that can operate efficiently and smartly, offering the infrastructure for innovation and entrepreneurship

A display at a TEDx event. (Photo by Flickr user TEDxOaklandUniversity, used under a Creative Commons license)
[Full Disclosure: Technically Philly was a TEDx media sponsor]

Urban communities should be seen as complex computing programs that can operate efficiently and smartly, offering the infrastructure for innovation and entrepreneurship, said Temple University Fox School of Business Professor Youngjin Yoo.
That assessment of smarter, leaner cities, owned and operated by the people to make the world a better place, was the central message from the second TEDxPhilly, which boasted a theme of ‘The City.’ The event was first held in Philadelphia at the Kimmel Center last November, bringing some 600 attendees.
“Cities are the most complex man-made artifacts of our time,” said Yoo, who is leading the university’s new Urban Apps and Maps Studio
Held at Temple’s newly renovated eponymous Baptist Temple, the local iteration of the popular, innovative lecture series, organized here by designer Roz Duffy and dozens of volunteers, drew some 200 people for the high-price, high value day-long conference Tuesday.
Below, find Technically Philly’s notes from the two dozen speakers and a Storify of the Twitter chatter.

  1. Chris Bartlett: Again, the William Way Community Center Executive Director played the role of emcee and time-limit enforcer, slinking on stage to give speakers the hint that their time was expired. He kept the event moving.
  2. Jen Pahlka: The celebrated, Oakland-based Executive Director of Code for America spoke about how cities are getting better and local governments are best poised to have the biggest impact on our communities.
  3. Nijmie Dzurinko: The Executive Director of the Philadelphia Student Union addressed the need for more children to be told “you are good.” She said: “young people’s bad behaviors come from feeling oppressed, they are an oppressed people.”
  4. Keya Dannenbaum: The founder and CEO of ElectNext, the social network for candidates as Technically Philly covered Tuesday, spoke with precision about her globe-trotting to find social action, only to realize local government is the surest way to do that.
  5. Dr. Jeffrey Brenner: The Executive Director of the Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers spoke about his data-driven approach to making more sense out of primary healthcare in beleaguered Camden, N.J.
  6. Gregory Corbin and Denice Frohman: The Philly Youth Poetry Movement’s Executive Director and Direct of Programs spoke about their growing program for engaging Philadelphia high school students, and had three of their poets show off their work.
  7. Stanford Thompson: The founding Director of Plan On Philly repeated his performance at the last TEDx by sharing his vision of growing his grade school orchestra initiative to 10 programs by 2020 and beyond. Then, 32 of his more than 100 active musicians played a movement from Beethoven’s 9th Symphony.
  8. Youngjin Yoo: As noted above, the Director of the Center for Design and Innovation at Temple addressed the need to invest and re-envision the role cities have in building communities.
  9. Haas and Hahn: The Dutch muralist duo shared the story of how they painted a notorious slum in Rio with the community’s buy-in, and shared that they had been commissioned by the Mural Arts program to do projects in Manayunk, Center City and a larger project along the Germantown Avenue corridor near Lehigh Avenue North Philadelphia.
  10. Yael Lehmann: The Executive Director of the Food Trust spoke about her path, the urban local food movement and why it’s so important to the future of our country.
  11. Inga Saffron: Noted Inquirer architecture critic spoke about why Americans should give up on the obsession with the 20th century notion of growing a skyline and focus more on building smarter, denser, more efficient and practical cities, leading with “the grand adjustment, not the grand vision” of the past. “Companies are cutting staff, not growing them, so there’s less of a need for office space, not more,” she said. “We need to let go of the skyscraper fantasies.”
  12. Rich Medina: The DJ spoke about the community of musicians in Philadelphia and how his journey went from Ivy League basketball star to corporate executive to spinning records. “This city nurtured my craft,” he said.
  13. Tracy Broyles: The Spiral Q Puppet Theater Executive Director spoke about her organization’s 15 year mission to use art and “imagination to experiment with ideas.” Then, her team performed a short version of their signature, over-the-top puppetry-style performances.
  14. Amy Hillier: The noted University of Pennsylvania spatial statistical analyst showed how data can make our life choices smarter, by identifying strengths, like visualizing the experiences of her three-year-old son Isaac.
  15. Michael Zaleski: SEPTA’s emerging technologies director gave the audience a photo tour of the transit agency’s command center.
  16. Diana Lind: The former executive director of Next American Cities called attention to the hope for greater envisioning of the next generation of I-95, particularly the three mile stretch between the Ben Franklin and the Walt Whitman bridges.
  17. Janet Echelman: The visual artist is a leading part of the Dilworth Plaza renovation and discussed her inspiration. She then inteviewed Susan K. Weiler, a landscape architect from the Olin firm, which is leading the renovation plan.
  18. R Eric Thomas: The dancer and storyteller spoke about just going for it.
  19. Ethan Nguyen: The Penn health researcher shared his path from Olney to Vassar and how he took his brothers and their friends with him.
  20. Marisa McClellan: The blogger talks about canning.
  21. Glen J. Abrams: The city Water Department executive highlighted a 25-year $2.4 billion program to reinvent urban stormwater management.
  22. Jon Foy: The first time documentary filmmaker encouraged the audience to embrace what they don’t know as an advantage for doing things differently.
Coverage from Geekadelphia here, the Philadelphia Business Journal here and Hidden City here.

Check out below a Storify of the event or find it here.
View the story “#TEDxPhilly 2011” on Storify]

Companies: TED / Kimmel Center

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