Tag Archives: TEDxDesMoines

Talks from TEDxDesMoinesWomen are live

I’m excited to share the talks from our December TEDxDesMoinesWomen event!

That's me at our lunchtime screening sesh

That’s me at our lunchtime screening sesh

The evening live talks were all fabulous people who I’m so glad I had the pleasure of meeting. TEDxDesMoines is a completely volunteer thing, and I’m always amazed at the preparation and poise our speakers possess.

Renee Cramer, Drake University professor of Law, Politics, and Society, explores our cultural fascination with the celebrity baby bump, and how cheeky media headlines actually hint at a surveillance of womens’ bodies with darker implications. (Renee had a huge Drake student fan club turn out. She’s probably one of the most popular faculty members on campus. It’s obvious why.)
Iowa State University Computer Science major Cassidy Williams was often the only girl in the room. She shares her story of pursuing her passion as a model for encouraging women in STEM. (Cassidy is an incredible go-getter. I want to show her talk to all high school seniors as a model for being proactive about pursuing a career. I feel like we’re going to see her on the cover of Forbes someday.)
Author and baker Beth Howard explains how a simple slice of homemade pie can serve as a catalyst for healing. After suffering a personal tragedy, Howard discovered a new sense of purpose and hope with her elbows deep in flour. For her, giving away pie is a metaphor for giving of yourself. (Beth is as sweet and thoughtful as the pies she bakes up in he American Gothic House. She has a new cookbook you can pre-order, too!)
Lacy Howard’s career as a magazine professional positions her as an expert on the trend toward handmade and personalized projects. Howard takes us beyond the glossy pages to show that real-life creativity is messy and caution women against getting caught up in Pinterest-inspired “vignette living.” (Lacey collaborates professionally with lots of my friends, and her talk probably hit home the most for me. I’m guilty of getting caught up in striving for Pinterest-style perfection and only showing the bright side on this blog.)

Check out the talks:

Click on the “Playlist” tab in the upper left of the talk to see all four.

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Saturday does it again

Longtime readers might know I’m a bit of a Saturday Mfg. fan girl. The Des Moines-based marketing agency does some great work, including the branding for the 80/35 music fest and our friends at Thelma’s Treats.

Each holiday season, they put together a package for their friends and clients that has some witty take on tradition. I totally include their office party signage set in our Christmas decorations box. This year it was a Santasfaction Audit Toolkit, which Brian shared with me when I saw him at the “other office,” as Mars Cafe seems to be for half of Des Moines’ creative community.

Saturday Mfg holiday toolkit

Genius. Am I the only one who thinks they should open up a little web shop for their clever packages?

Saturday Mfg holiday kit

Saturday Mfg. is a generous sponsor of TEDxDesMoines, too!

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Ladies, unite!

No offense to the guys, but sometimes a girl has to kick back with her ladyfriends. I had an awesome time last Friday getting together with my new book club. It took us an hour of chatting and munching on appetizers before we even sat down to discuss the book (“The Age of Miracles”). Once we did, the conversation swung between smart commentary and good laughs. Plus, there was pizza and homemade apple hand pies. Our next book is Elizabeth Gilbert’s “The Signature of All Things” in case you’d like to read along! (I wanted to read “My Notorious Life,” and hopefully I’ll have time over the holidays to dig into that next.)


If I didn’t feel so guilty about always leaving Joe and Emmett to go to various meetings and whatnot, I would totally sign up for knitXmidwest. Hopefully there will be a next year! The awesome women behind Hill Vintage & Knits and the totally rad Jen Geigley of makeXdo are putting on this two-day knitting and crochet retreat.

Screen Shot 2013-10-24 at 8.40.31 PM

If I were to go, I might try to have someone walk me through making some ridiculous baby head gear. My friend Gina sent me a link to this Cabbage Patch Kids inspired hat and as a child of the late ’80s, I got a good laugh out of it.


Emmett might need a baby beard beanie.

Last ladything: The TEDxDesMoines TEDxWomen event is on December 5! We’ve got some fun speakers lined up. I’ll leak two of them here:

Beth Howard, the pie ambassador who also lives in the American Gothic House, will give a talk. It sounds like she might also do a pie-prep demo, too!


Drake Professor Renee Cramer will give a talk that addresses the celebrity baby bump in a way US Weekly never would. You can read her thoughtful convocation address from this fall here. There are some good thoughts about striving to impress and intentions that are meaningful for non-students, too.


We haven’t made ticketing live or anything, but will soon! This is just a sneak peek because I like you all best. Hop over to “like” the TEDxDesMoines page to stay up to date on everything!


Filed under Books, Getting crafty, I love Des Moines

TEDxDesMoines 2013 recap

What an exhilarating and exhausting weekend. This year’s TEDxDesMoines was a blast.

catchingherbertI learned about a crazy array of topics, from crowdsourced design solutions to critical materials supply chain shortages, tried on Google Glass and got shot by Stefen’s quadcopter, Herbert. I sat in the front seat of a sweet electric car*, plus met some really cool people — including a first year Drake University student who is German but went to high school in Taiwan and came to Iowa because she saw Drake at a college fair and everyone was really nice. Totally roping her into the TEDxWomen team.

Watch the complete playlist of 2013 TEDxDesMoines Talks.


I’ve helped my friend/TEDxDesMoines curator Alexander Grgurich plan and execute events for a few years now, especially last year after we traveled to the TEDxSummit in Qatar, when I realized what a massive undertaking putting a TEDx together can be. I can’t claim much credit for how amazing this year’s event was, and I’m super-impressed Alexander was able to pull everything off without keeling over. (Though we did have some strategy sessions at Mars Cafe where it looked like maybe he hadn’t slept in awhile.)

Sharing the TEDxDesMoines energy, I want to find a way to help Nabil realize his dream. He wants to drive (well, “burn out”) his supersweet electric car on the Grand Concourse at the Iowa State Fair to show how awesome they can be. Wouldn’t it be a fun drag race? This is his daily ride!


Anybody have connections with the State Fair folks? Can we at least get him in the parade?

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Why Houses Matter

Last Friday, we went to the opening for “Why Houses Matter,” an art show curated by Rachel Buse. Rachel says the only thing she loves more than art is houses, so the theme of this show makes total sense. Her first job was as an AmeriCorps volunteer with the nonprofit Rebuilding Together, which rehabilitates the homes of low-income owners, and the organization came in as a sponsor for the show.


Rachel’s own aesthetic seems to embrace imperfection —  things with a certain lumpiness or a kooky-charming crookedness about them. (Sometimes even an ugliness that she manages to make appear endearing, by virtue of her enthusiasm for the subject shining through.)


The show features works from five different artists: Holly Wist, Julia Franklin, Tiffany Sinnott, Tatiana Klusak and Ramona Muse.

Rachel called in and shared a little bit about it on Talk of Iowa the other day.



I think Rachel is one of the most genuine, creative people in Des Moines, and I had fun helping her hone her talk “The Moment Before Making” for TEDxDesMoines last year.

The 2013 TEDxDesMoines is coming up soon – Sept. 8. Get tickets here. (If you really want to go, but can’t afford a ticket, let me know and I might be able to help work something out.)

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Filed under I love Des Moines, movies/art, What I'm into

TEDxDesMoinesWomen is coming!

Hey loyal readerfriends!

Next stop on the TEDxDesMoines train is a TEDxDesMoinesWomen event, which will happen December 2 at the lovely Sticks Studio event space. (That was our dream venue for this event, because it’s woman-owned and a unique spot outside the city.) I’m so excited.

Featured speakers for the event are respected pollster J. Ann Selzer and up-and-coming Latina leader Esperanza Pintor Martinez. Plus, we’ll be streaming session six from the national TEDxWomen event. Read all about it and buy your $12 ticket here.

If I see you there, I will probably hug you. And dudes are welcome, too!

Also, Alice from Beaverdale Books will be there with a table selling some awesome titles. I’ve given her a shortlist of items. Any must-reads you’d recommend?

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Into for August

No class for a few weeks in August means I’m soaking up the last of summer nights and reading for fun.

Wednesday night we enjoyed a book club discussion of “The Art of Fielding” with an amazing view from the roof of the AP Lofts. (I loved the book and it got unanimously high ratings from the rest of the group.)

Right now, I’m reading “A Hologram for the King,” Dave Eggers’ new book.

It’s good, a really fast read, and having traveled to the Middle East this spring, I feel like I get the context a little bit more. It’s not as exhilarating as Eggers other books (the main character is a middle aged depressed consultant); I’ve read a review that described it like a modern “Death of a Salesman” and I can see that.

Our Book Club chose “Gone Girl,” which Amber posted about the other day. The fact that our club is made up of a bunch of married couples might make this discussion particularly interesting!

Here’s a video from TEDxDesMoines to get you creating this weekend on all of your weekend projects. I think Rachel is awesome and am really impressed with what she’s been doing on the collaborative Art Beacon Des Moines.

Rachel was super nervous to do this talk, but she was one of my absolute favorites. I love her slides, too! I consider myself a creative person/maker and I could totally relate to what she was saying! I’m working on a quilt right now for Arin’s baby boy, and I’ll post some photos of that this weekend. Almost done!


Filed under Books, I love Des Moines

Finding closure — or not?

We’re in the process of uploading some of the videos from TEDxDesMoines, and I wanted to make sure to share this talk, “Beyond Closure,” from Nancy Berns:

I first learned of Nancy’s work with closure last year, when I still worked in the Drake University marketing department, where she is a professor of sociology. Her publisher sent me an advance copy of her book, and I remember thinking about what an important topic that space between grief and joy is in our society. As someone who has felt deeply at both extremes and struggled with how people I’m around have treated me in my periods of grief, I found it personally fascinating.

In helping Alexander curate our July event around the theme “The Space Between,” I remembered Nancy’s message and thought it would resonate with any audience. Who among us hasn’t either struggled with grief or watched someone we care about experience the sadness of loss? I feel like Berns’ talk is one that our audience will return to, and share, when they or someone they know needs it. It’s a great reminder that oftentimes the best thing we can do for someone is to ask them to tell their stories and recall the joy.

Especially as we work through national tragedies like the recent mass shootings, and as we await sentencing for the perpetrators, this is an interesting idea worth spreading.

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So, Sunday was awesome

Three hundred interesting and interested people at the Science Center of Iowa. Ten live speakers. A selection of streamed videos from TED.com. Fellow organizers from three other Midwestern cities. A photo booth, into which VPs of The Greater Des Moines Partnership crammed with a RAYGUN T-shirt-wearing former Lt. Governor of Ohio. A pop-up coffee shop and bookstore (Mars Cafe & Beaverdale Books, natch). Legos. Play-dough. An amazing post-event dinner at Baru 66. Great conversation. Brilliant ideas. What more could a girl ask for?

I cannot WAIT to share the videos from our TEDxDesMoines speakers with you, but until then, have you watched this TED.com one on Tesla? We showed it at our event.

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The Space Between

As many of you know, I’ve been working for the past few months to help plan TEDxDesMoines. I can’t believe it’s just 10 days away! From coming up with this year’s theme: The Space Between, to helping select speakers and mapping out how our attendees will interact and experience the day, it’s been a big adventure. (Not to mention our trip to Qatar to meet and workshop with other organizers.) When I left journalism, a big reason was to get to be one of the people who was actually doing things to strengthen our community. Planning TEDxDesMoines has been completely volunteer, and it’s kept me pretty busy. But when I think about the opportunity to bring together people from different backgrounds to listen and then react to paradigm-shifting ideas, it’s definitely worth it.

We have a few tickets remaining, so if you’re interested in going on July 15, don’t forget to register soon. If the $40 registration fee is too steep, shoot me a message and I might be able to work something out through a few volunteer slots we have open. The day will feature three different sessions with a wide range of speakers. We planned this conference so that you don’t have to be a tech person, or work in a creative field to fit in. Hopefully everyone will come away from the day having made a new connection: to a concept they’d never considered, or a person they’ve never met.

Here’s one of my favorite TED talks, “If I should have a daughter” from spoken word poet Sarah K:

If I Should Have a Daughter

P.S. I got to write a guest post “X Marks the Spot” for Silicon Prairie News last week. It was fun!


Filed under I love Des Moines