Coconut Grove

Fourth annual TEDxCoconutGrove celebrates and inspires attendees to follow their dreams

Dre Baldwin, Youtube star and motivational speaker, talks about confidence and dreams during the first session of the 2016 TEDxCoconutGrove event.
Dre Baldwin, Youtube star and motivational speaker, talks about confidence and dreams during the first session of the 2016 TEDxCoconutGrove event. cbalzano@miamiherald.com

Andrew Cuthbert is a marine veteran who dreams of seeing a world with post-traumatic growth, in which all communities can unite as one and heal.

On Friday evening, Cuthbert and three more veterans — known as the Combat Hippies — performed at the TEDxCoconutGrove event, where the main topic was dreams and how to follow them.

The Combat Hippies did a 17-minute skit in front of thousands of people. With dance moves, poems and verses, they painted the picture of what difficulties soldiers face after war. With that, they looked to bring awareness about the high rate of veteran suicide, which is 22 people per day, according to the performers.

“We want to bridge the gap between veterans and non-veterans,” said Cuthbert, who along with his group of activists, looks to use platforms such as the TEDx event to bring the awareness. “If Americans really did understand that we’ve been at war for 15 years, and we want to raise awareness to all that and also encourage others to take action.”

TEDxCoconutGrove came from the TEDx program, which was created by TED, an annual conference that takes place in Vancouver, British Columbia. TEDx, is a local, independently organized event in which attendees join together and share ideas in a TED-style experience.

At TEDxCoconutGrove, people see what it is like at a TED conference, in which attendees share their perspective on the specific topic and idea of that year’s event through TEDtalks, videos and live speakers.

“The objective was to recreate the atmosphere of TED here in Coconut Grove,” said John King, member of the TEDxCoconutGrove steering committee. “

This year, TEDxCoconutGrove hosted its fourth annual conference on Friday, Feb. 5. The topic was dreams.

Ten speakers took to the stage of the Lewis Family Auditorium at Ransom Everglades School, each with a speech and visuals that challenged the audience to consider the meaning of their dreams and how to follow them.

Participants apply by submitting their ideas and what they look to contribute to the conference. Then they go through a process of elimination, as per the steering committee.

Miami Theater Center co-founder Stephanie Ansin; YouTube star and motivational coach Dre Baldwin; Lonesome George & Company founder Eduardo Balarezo; and Tanya Villanueva Tepper, senior advisor for the nonprofit organization Project Rebirth, were among the presenters who took the stage on Friday, covering diverse discussions such as imagination, persistence, perspective and confidence.

The audience also enjoyed performances by pianist Eric Lewis and the Grammy-nominated Latin group Tiempo Libre.

The conference began at 2 p.m. and ended at 7:30 p.m., with two breaks between sessions, where people mingled and enjoyed Kind snacks and fruits.

“We didn’t want to focus on dream as ‘dreaming at night,’ but we wanted to focus on people’s dreams, over a long-term and the short-term; diverse lines of dreams on all different angles,” said Ahan Malhotra, a senior at Ransom Everglades School, who is also a member of the conference’s steering committee. “We are [not only] hoping to inspire the young generation of people who are seeing this, but also the older generation. I think they can also be inspired.”

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