The Wisdom of Brain Scientists and Beauty Experts

Corrie (left) and Loti Woods spent a year putting together Tryon’s initial TedX event. Photo by Tim Robison

Corrie (left) and Loti Woods spent a year putting together Tryon’s initial TedX event.
Photo by Tim Robison

Tryon first TEDx event doesn’t happen until September 12. But organizers say they’ve already reached their goal before a single speaker steps on stage.

TED (technology, entertainment, and design), which began in 1984, is a nonprofit organized to spread ideas around the globe, usually in the form of short but intense talks by an expert in the field. TED organizers believe in the power of ideas to change attitudes, belief systems and how the world works. TEDx are independently run events covering much the same ground, albiet at a grassroots level.

And Tryon is taking TEDx centerstage in this month.

According to co-founders and sisters Loti and Corrie Woods, TEDx is at the vanguard of Carolina Foothills area residents making new, important connections. “We have over 30 volunteers,” Corrie says, “an amazing group of volunteers, some of whom have never stepped up to participate in anything, but this is so exciting to them.”

The sisters hatched the idea after e-mailing TED talks to each other for at least a year. They decided to consult a few friends in the area to discuss hosting a local version of the international speaking circuit. Thumbs up or thumbs down?

“I think one response was not ‘Yes’ but ‘Hell, yes,’” Loti says.

Volunteers and speakers have, literally, come out of the woods. “We asked our speakers, ‘What is your one idea worth sharing?’” Corrie says.

The siblings have lined up 12 local speakers. There’ll be internationally known Celtic fiddle player Jamie Laval, proposing the idea that one fiddle tune can change the world; brain scientist Ann Herrmann-Nehdi, who will reveal the one thing you need to know about your brain that will change your life (unfortunately, no spoilers were offered); and beauty maven Tanisha Akinloye, a former hairstylist who will speak about the transformational power of looking good, and the physical nurturing of beautification that is a natural part of that healing process.

“When they hear the talk, they should walk away and see beauty in a whole new way. In reality, beauty is love,” says Akinloye, a native of Tryon. Her Connecticut-based foundation, Empowering Through Beauty, offers workshops and beauty services to improve the confidence and self-sufficiency of disadvantaged women who are overcoming self-esteem and employment obstacles. The local event excited her from the first day she read about it in The Tryon Daily Bulletin.

“I said, ‘Oh my goodness. Is this happening at home? I’m just overjoyed, as you can tell.”

Only 100 ticketholders will see the event live, a size restriction for first-time TEDx events. However, all the speakers will be professionally taped by local videographer Erik Olsen, and the results will be posted on the TED talk website before the end of the year.

The Woods sisters received almost 40 applications for a slim dozen speaking slots, so it was a big task to winnow down the pack. But the inaugural group fell together and represents a diverse and eclectic day of talk, from scientific to inspirational. A minister, a high-school student, an aging expert — they’ve been talking like mad since the selection process. A speaking coach and other TEDx participants in the Foothills group are critiquing and honing each presentation to avoid stage jitters.

“That first group coaching session, we were just in a big circle and it was a very collaborative effort. Number one, the speakers were inspired by each other and got great ideas from each other,” Corrie says. “And they saw how hard it was, too.”

Neither Loti or Corrie Woods will give a talk. It’s a rule in the 100-page TEDx manual that no organizers can give presentations. That’s okay. They’re ready to sit back, enjoy the show, and imagine what might come next.

TEDx Tryon happens on Saturday, September 12, 9am-4:30pm at the Tryon Fine Arts Center (34 Melrose Ave.). For more information, see www.tedxtryon.com or call 828-713-6586. (At press time, the event was sold out but there is a waiting list. Videos of the talks will also be posted on the TED website by the end of the year)

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