Building a Legacy: TEDxUF 2019

The past, present and future — all things that build and shape a legacy. A legacy is what people remember after someone is gone and what irrevocably marks a community.

TEDxUF has done just that and left its mark on the Gainesville community for the past ten years. The TEDxUF 2019 conference on April 6 marked the organization’s tenth anniversary. The theme was “Legacy.”

Founded ten years ago, TEDxUF was one of the first TEDx events to get its license and start having conferences. Curator and license holder of TEDxUF Laura Uribe believes that people who are drawn to the TED and TEDx community are a different form of people.

“We’re driven by this passion and curiosity about the world around us,” Uribe said. “We’re like sponges; We want to soak up everything.”

Last year, Uribe was the speaker director, so she oversaw the speaker team and performances for the conference. As a speaker coach, she had two speakers she mentored for the conference. This year as curator, she oversaw a team of 36 people and chose the speakers for the event after interviews to make sure they aligned with the TEDxUF brand.

“It’s honestly probably the most meaningful experience I’ve ever been a part of,” Uribe said.

This year, the conference featured 10 speakers. Talks were divided into three phases, with performances in between from groups like Vertax Diabolo, Belly Gators, the Gainesville Circus Center and brass band Sooza. Between phases, attendees were invited to try out interactive labs from various organizations from UF and Gainesville.

Alexander Kane, the labs coordinator for TEDxUF, had high aspirations for the labs at this year’s conference.

“We have more labs this year than last year, and I wanted to have the most interactive labs as possible for our attendees,” Kane said.

This year, people had the opportunity to make a sculpture out of dodecahedrons with the Cade Museum, have a quick portrait drawn from local artist and student Ros Fiol (@fosriol on Instagram) and more. There were also labs from speakers themselves, such as the lab from Dr. Laurie Mintz.

Mintz’s talk, called “A New Sexual Revolution for Orgasm Equality,” confronted a taboo topic in a heteronormative society: the female orgasm.

“I invite each and every one of you to join me in creating a new sexual revolution for pleasure equality — because for people with clits, the revolution is coming,” Mintz said during the end of her talk.

Attendees could purchase her books “Becoming Cliterate” and “A Tired Woman’s Guide to Passionate Sex” and have them signed during Mintz’s lab.

This year’s conference also featured members of the Gainesville community, such Maria Eugenia Zelaya, a Spanish teacher from Eastside High School. In her classes, she teaches that languages are the tools for peacebuilding. In her talk, “How We Can Build Peace in Everyday Life,” attendees learned how to incorporate this peacebuilding in their daily routines to impact the world. Zelaya also spoke on the effects of peacebuilding efforts will now have on the future.

“It was a lot of responsibility to be on that stage to share those messages,” Zelaya said.

Current UF students, like Joey McGinn, were among the lineup as well. McGinn, fourth year political science student, spoke about LGBTQ+ representation in fiction today in his talk aptly named “Breaking Down Barriers: LGBTQ+ in Science Fiction More Than Just ‘The Other’”. McGinn stressed the importance of having LGBTQ+ characters in media who could bring hope to LGBTQ+ viewers. The viewers can relate to these characters and feel comfort, especially in a society that does not accept them.

“These characters cry out through their stories because they just want to be loved,” McGinn said. “In the end, isn’t that what we all want?”

The impact of this conference was to leave a lasting impact on attendees, forming a legacy of actively accepting new information and seeking it. It allowed a confluence of knowledge to happen.

"TEDxUF gives a space for people to learn new ideas that can hopefully change their perspectives,” Mintz said.