For a moment, set aside the challenging choices and drama unfolding in Lansing. The most hopeful news in the state today came from Detroit. No, I am not talking about the first ever global electric vehicle conference – although that too is hopeful news. I am talking about the diverse mix of curious people with big ideas that met today for TEDxDetroit, an independently organized local version of the acclaimed TED conference.
In summing up the problem that has faced Michigan, Matt Dugener quoted John Maynard Keynes, who said “Most men love money and security more, and creation and construction less, as they get older.” In other words, Michigan got too comfortable and lost its desire to take risks and build new things.
Well, the situation today flips that on its head. We do not have the prosperity or the security any more and thus we need to create, build, and take risks again. And, we will begin to do this because for many people, they have little to lose by doing so.
The time is ripe and the lineup of local entrepreneurs and thinkers at the conferences gives reason to believe this is already happening and is happening in a spirit of collective renewal versus individual gain. To highlight just a few of the speakers who shared their visions in their 15 minute TED-style talk:
- Dawn Wells of Accio Energy has 30 patents to design a way to produce wind energy without the drawbacks of large spinning blades.
- Aaron Crumm of Adaptive Materials has created a portable fuel cell generator that produces 5x the energy of a battery of the same weight.
- Chaz Miller at Public ArtWorkz is using murals to soften hearts, open minds, and inspire change throughout downtown Detroit.
- Issue Media Group, the publishers of Metromode, Concentrate, Capital Gains, among others, is creating a successful media empire by highlighting the positive stories of growth, investment, and the interesting people behind it.
- Dan Izzo of Bizdom U is not only putting entrepreneurs through an intense 4-month program, they are also funding them with up to 100K in seed money – the only catch is that the business needs to be based in downtown Detroit.
If we are going to turn Michigan around, we need to celebrate the people who are actually taking steps to create and construct the future. TEDxDetroit did that today.