I got an extended vacation of 2 months this summer. I spent a lot of time outside playing with my various animals, painting furniture, and swimming in rivers. Being away from my computer most days, I didn’t see the email accepting my TEDx application for a week. Luckily, instead of allowing my lack of response to forfeit my claim to the TEDx stage, they called me and left a voicemail.
When I listened to that voicemail, I ran through my house screaming, 3 large dogs at my heels. I was, I am, thrilled at the opportunity. I was (am) also a touch alarmed.
Doing a TEDx talk had never been on my to-do list. I honestly never thought to apply until one day, I received an email from a state senator recommending I throw my hat in the ring for the upcoming TEDx on climate change. I thanked her for the nudge, but ignored it.
A month later, my boss sent me the same link telling me to apply. The day after that, my mother asked me if I had seen that TEDx is doing an “environmental thing.” I finally decided to apply because I figured it couldn’t hurt. I decided it was safe to choose the topic of my work and passion- racism in the white environmental movement. When applying I had to take years of work, continued study, and pieces of my own experience and boil them down to 500 characters (not WORDS, characters). My “big idea,” as the TEDx application put it, is that the environmental movement continues to be racist, and therefore continues to be white dominated, and therefore continues to fail to reach our collective climate goals. It follows that to address climate change, the environmental movement must dismantle its racist practices. I didn’t actually expect to say that on the TEDx stage, so that’s why I reacted with some nerves.
Since that original phone call, I have gotten to practice my talk with TEDx coaches and friends. This time spent distilling my thoughts has allowed the scope of my work on environmental racism to grow.
The TEDx commitment is more than I thought it would be, it pushes me, but it is also a friendly and supportive process. I’m excited to see how else both my idea and I will be shaped before we hit the stage on October 10th.