"In order to live in the world I had to live in the community."
Dr. Marta Vega
I got off the subway at 116th street, picked up a green tea, checked my afro in the church mirror and entered the amazing Riverside Church for TEDxHarlem. It was a sight to see. All the shades of Harlem gathered in numbers to discuss the progress and the sustainability of this neighborhood that is on the rise through the lenses of entertainment, technology, and community.
"Creating Waves," the topic of TEDxHarlem, did just that. The day was split into movements. In "Movement One: Global Future," Robin Chase, Founder and CEO of Buzzcar, a peer-to-peer car sharing service, spoke of the differences between capitalism and collaborative economy. First Corinthian Baptist Church Pastor Michael Walrond, spoke of how Harlem is an "ever evolving community of visionaries and dreamers, commissioned to serve with a passion for the possible."
In "Movement Two: Application of Ideas," Scott Belsky of Behance reminded us of the importance of sharing our ideas with friends and colleagues. He espoused the fearless sharing and transparency of ideas because it is hard to actually manifest an idea. Belsky also told us, when working in a group, it is best to fight your way to the breakthrough instead of apathetically bowing out. Teenage actor and poet Khadim Diop spoke eloquently about how we must make every moment count and we need to wake up and put our happiness on like our clothes.
In "Movement Three: Innovation and Triumph," Thelma Golden, Curator of the Studio Museum in Harlem spoke of the difference from being "in Harlem" and being "of Harlem." Red Rooster Chef Marcus Samuelson, supported by a jazz singer, saxophonist, painter, and hip hop dancer, passionately pointed out the diversity in Harlem and how life above 96th St. does not have to be barren of good food and fun.
In "Movement Four: Actionable Moments," there was a lively performance from the cast of Mama I Want to Sing led by Vy Higgensen. This movement ended strong with a performance by Blitz the Ambassador, an artist who fuses Afrobeat and hip hop to create a powerful message of hope and love.
It was electric. I felt so honored to be in the presence of such innovative thinkers. While walking back to the train all I could think about was the bright artistic future ahead for Harlem. No matter how desolate we think our conditions are as creators, as long as there is a group of people willing to think of the person next to them, the world will continue to give us as we give to it. Harlem is Amazing. Go visit. Don't forget to check your afro in the mirror.