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Skidmore College

Skidmore TEDx addresses change

November 9, 2016

A third TEDx Skidmore College took place last week, this one focused on themes of change, touching everything from food to gender to politics to music. 

First, Jaye McBride of "Planet Funny Radio" and the Albany Times Union's comedy blog, spoke about changing gender. Her "life after transition" talk discussed facts and fictions about being transgender and the discrimination faced by many trans people, not just in "bathroom laws" but in not-so-comedic areas such as unemployment and poverty, murder, and especially suicide rates.

Bryn Sarner '18, who changed from a meat-eater to a vegan, discussed links between feminism and animal rights. Growing up, she saw the commodification of sentient, sensitive farm animals as similar to the objectification of women: "Cows are not simply meat or leather," she said, "just as women are not sex objects." Voiceless animals cannot consent to the forced breedings that farmers impose, and she drew parallels to the way humans' rape culture ignores women’s voices. She soon decided "to unsubscribe from the largest mass killing in history" and stop eating meat.

Minita Sanghvi, who teaches marketing, ticked off milestones like 1848, when America's women's suffrage movement began; 1924, when women first voted; and 2016, when the first female presidential candidate was nominated. One key reason that women are still so underrepresented in government, she said, is that "popular media influence women not to think they should run and men not to take them seriously"—for example, news about female candidates addresses clothes and hair and children, while news about males contains more policy coverage. Sanghvi urged the female students in the audience to consider running for office one day.

sunny tran at tedx
TEDx talker Sunny Tran '18 

Next Sunny Tran '18 presented "Inhale Love, Exhale Gratitude." She asked the audience to close their eyes, breathe deeply, and imagine the smile of a loved one. Mindful gratitude for the loves and benefits in one's life, she said, can be life-changing, and she reported on research to prove it: When people kept journals about positive occurrences in their lives, or about negative ones, or about what they're grateful for, the gratitude journalers were happier and more successful. Tran recommended that everyone "practice gratitude like you practice in a gym, every day." 

Physics faculty member Jill Linz proposed that waveforms change the way we can "see sound" and "hear art." As a children's book author, she created cartoon characters for basic chemicals, which each emit colored light waves when energized—for example, hydrogen glows lavender. As a pianist, she also ascribed sound waves to the chemicals and rearranged a periodic table of the elements to list musically compatible atoms near each other. Now she imagines them in various ensembles (sodium and chloride, say, could join hydrogen and oxygen in a salt-water band), and she synthesizes the music they might make: for the audience, she played a cool, jazzy riff and a slightly eerie symphonic piece.

With that, organizer-emcees Tammy Liang '18 and Savannah Lansing '19 said thank-yous—especially citing mentor Cathy Hill, Skidmore's Harder Professor of Business Administration—and the rapt and appreciative audience filed out.

Videos of the presentations will be posted on Facebook’s TEDx Skidmore page.

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