Blacksburg community members gathered at the Lyric Theatre Thursday for the first installment of “TED — Being the Change,” a free monthly series that is intended to inspire an open communication of ideas.
TED Talks are presentations that showcase people’s passions and thoughts. TED is an acronym for technology, education, design. The TED Talks website says, “We believe passionately in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world.”
The Lyric committee plans to show one relevant TED Talk each month and encourage community dialogue about the issues raised in the presentation.
“The origin of the idea kind of came from students at Virginia Tech who were working on the TED talks happening on campus,” said Executive Director of the Lyric Theatre, Susan Mattingly.
“There seemed to be a desire to broaden the opportunities for dialogue about issues that impacted both the town and gown community,” she said.
Mattingly said that the Lyric is positioned to be a bridge organization, and that she feels the Lyric is the go-to place for community dialogue.
“It gets you thinking, and that’s really the whole point,” she said. “We want to bring people together and have a conversation about things that affect our community.”
The Lyric plans to keep the TED talks going for several months after Tech’s fall semester starts.
“We hope there is a good reception,” Mattingly said.
Thursday’s talk was titled “How to Build a Better Block” and was presented by Jason Roberts, who founded the Better Block project. Roberts’ project demonstrates the potential of creative collaboration as community members take the initiative to rapidly transform their areas.
“If you’re passionate about something, you’re probably going to be a leader,” Roberts said.
He said that everyone has skills to offer, and he provided a list of four steps to facilitate change: show up, give it a name, set a date and publish it.
Following the screening, a panelist of community members who are passionate about change in Blacksburg discussed their projects. The audience was invited to join the dialogue after.
Beth Loman of the New River Bicycle Association was one of the panelists. Loman explained why community was integral to the NRVBA’s motto, “Building community through bicycling.”
“The word community was really important to us because it meant different things to different people. It meant partnership, it meant interaction, introduction, social engagement, synergy on projects, so those are the types of things we are trying to convey,” Loman said.
John Bush of the Blacksburg Town Council was also a panelist. He said one cannot evoke change without the help of others.
“You can’t do anything by yourself, you certainly need lots of help and assistance, and I’ve certainly had that,” Bush said. “I think we are going to see in the next year or two, some really amazing things happen in our town.”
Founding Chair of the Lyric Council Lindsay West, also a panelist, described how the Lyric began as a volunteer effort with no money and became a cornerstone of downtown Blacksburg. West emphasized that a strong core of committed people was the cause of the Lyric’s success.
She said that people want to see something happen, and she wants the community to keep growing, not only in population but also in vibrancy.
“We have a lot to be proud of, but you only keep that momentum going if you keep working at it, keep looking at what you can do a little bit better,” Mattingly said.
Two community members that are striving to make the area better are Janine Kniola and Paula Bolte. They said they are committed to establishing a Children’s Museum in Blacksburg.
The Children’s Museum is a non-profit organization that focuses on hands-on learning through play. Kniola said it would be a wonderful kind of education and a place for kids to grow.
The next Blacksburg TED Talk at the Lyric will be August 9.