. October 12, 2017.

Community is a huge part of every city. Without community, we can’t relate to one another, sympathize with each other and we can’t make our city grow to its potential. TED Talks are about empowering and educating people and Toledo had its own TEDx Talk to help us become a better community.


Will Lucas, photo: Timothy Marshall

Will Lucas, curator of TEDxToledo and entrepreneur owner of business Creadio, explained that TEDx brings to life “the level of conversation and to inspire the community to think bigger and make some of these ideas real.”

Sam Riojas

“I love TED Talks. I’m a social work major and I think social work starts from the ground up and involves empowerment, which I think TED Talks represent,” said Sam Riojas, an Aldi employee.

Photo: Timothy Marshall

Early in the program, Derick Gant spoke of the importance of finances in relationships. “Have the money talk right after the sex talk with your kid,” he said. Gant went on to explain that talking about money in your inner circle, and getting the conversation about finances started will spread and start to eliminate fear.


Derick Gant, photo: Timothy Marshall

“I told you the number one cause for divorce is money…not true, it’s lack of communication…about money,” Gant said. The crowd laughed.

Speaker Lindsey Self spoke on the topic of women empowerment. Self talked about raising daughters in our society and how we can help them grow up to know they are just as capable as their male counterparts. “Allow your daughter to fail while simultaneously reminding her that she’s capable of succeeding,” Self said. “Being a mother to a daughter has resulted in a lot of self-reflection, both personally and professionally.”

Self explained that all of this preparation for her daughter made her think: when was the last time she told herself that she was strong, smart or capable? And when was the last time she told other women around her these things? Women empowerment begins with the self, and in doing so, we can teach our daughters the same, she said.

“What if I told you that in our community, we live and interact with superheroes everyday?” began Alex Catchings, member of the Alzheimer’s Association. “As a matter of fact,” he went on, “there’s many heroes in this room.”

Catchings highlighted the invisible superheroes of our community: caregivers. He focused on caregivers having to do with Alzheimer’s. “I myself am a caregiver, and unlike a parent who is taking care of someone who is progressing in life, I am taking care of someone who is digressing.” Catchings explained that Alzheimer’s disease takes away what makes us unique. He wanted to bring caregivers to light and showcase their love and dedication because there are over 43.5 million caregivers that provide unpaid care.


Alex Catchings

“Change begins on the local level,” Catchings said, adding that TEDxToledo was important because “it represents at the core what the community has to offer. We have many bright minds that can take this city to the next level.”

Rita Mansour spoke on the highly discussed topic of refugees.

“What’s a hijab?” she began. She pulled her hijab atop her head, “This is a hijab. It’s nothing weird. Just an Arabic word that means veil or headcover.” Mansour explained that not all Muslim women wear hijabs; she doesn’t, and her mother didn’t until 2000. “Prior to that, she looked like any other typical American mother,” she said, “but my mother was also a refugee.”

Mansour told the crowd that the hijab changed the way that people treated her mother. She told a story of when her and her mother were getting ready to board a plane, and the man in charge was screaming at her mother. “‘Why are you screaming at my mother?’ I said. The man said, ‘I told her we’re only boarding first-class passengers.’ I told him, ‘She does have a first-class ticket,’ but he wasn’t hearing her; he was too busy hearing her hijab.” Despite interactions like this, Mansour’s mother didn’t change her mind. “The hijab brought her back to her roots,” said Mansour.


Rita Mansour, photo: Timothy Marshall

Mansour explained that she wanted to help people like her mother, refugees who are just trying to make a better life for themselves and their families. She began going on mission trips to the Middle East to do volunteer work, and there her and her mission trip group met children who had hearing problems from living in war-torn countries. “We were there to help them restore their hearing,” she said. The children would get their ears examined and cleaned, leading them to their “Hearing Smile.” The Hearing Smile occurred once the children could finally hear their own voice again, and in their excitement, bright smiles graced their faces.

“While it’s important for those children to hear, it’s important to be heard as well,” said Mansour.

TEDxToledo brought many faces of the community together.


Anita Graham

“I’m here because I like the diversity of the information shared, as well as being a proud sponsor who supports diversity and education,” said Anita Graham, employee at Spring Arbor University.


Paul (retired architect) and Pam (storyteller) Hollenbeck

Pam and Paul Hollenbeck shared why they attended the event, “The ideas are cool,” said Pam. “It showcases the good side of Toledo,” said Paul.

Events like TEDxToledo are essential to our community. The diversity of our city bringing thoughts and ideas to life is what can make Toledo grow to its full potential.