March 8, 2012 Leave a comment
What city in the United States is second only to New York in the number of artists per capita? Unless you live there you probably would not guess that it would be Somerville, Massachusetts. That statistic along with its proximity next door to Cambridge, one of the country’s centers of innovation and technology development, made Somerville a natural choice for a TEDx event. Historically Somerville encompassed many railway and industrial lands and was home to the birth of Marshmallow Fluff, the Bertucci’s restaurant chain and the chain that would become Stop & Shop. Today Somerville is a wonderful mix of students, artists, working class people and demographically it is a mix of long-time Irish-, Italian- and Portuguese- American residents and newer immigrant populations from Brazil, Haiti, El Salvador, India, South Korea and Nepal.
The day-long independent TED event brought more than 25 presenters and at least five different musical acts to the stage at the Arts at the Armory facility, a repurposed armory that now is home to a wide range of visual arts, dance, theater and musical performances. The presenters at TEDxSomerville ranged from the mayor of Somerville, Joseph A. Curtatone, to Joe Grafton, the Director of Somerville Local First, a key player in the advancement of the local movement in Somerville, to Brian Whitman, a co-founder of EchoNest, a music Discovery platform to Monica Poole, one of the organizers of Occupy Boston, to Alex Feldman, performer and comedian who specializes in non-verbal communication methods. The presentation of the concept of “Community Supported Manufacturing” from Chris Templeman was particularly interesting. He talked about a great concept for a community funded cooperative to make every day appliances be much nicer constructions.
The music included contemplative folk from Jenee Halstead, old-school analog experimental synth from Keith Fullerton Whitman, and energetic sounds from both Grooversity and Emperor Norton’s Stationary Marching Band. The “house band” that played between the sessions was the Michael J. Epstein Memorial Library, who wrote an entirely new set of songs, each one themed with the material from the presenters. Sheer brilliance!
The truly eclectic nature of the presenters, the art installations and delicious food from local restaurants (the Chocolate from Taza and the Ethiopian food from Fasika was particularly delicious) made this event a perfect TED experience.og