Technology. Entertainment. Design. TEDxMaui-style! The sold-out, independently organized event held at the Maui Arts & Cultural Center (MACC) on Sunday, Jan. 22, drew some of Maui's finest thinkers-distinguished guests who spoke about their important work and inspired a wide-eyed island audience.
Spearheaded by local co-producers Katie McMillan and Sara Tekula, this masterful daylong event was comprised of a group of eclectic panelists who were all talk-and even more action. Participants included scientists, artists, writers, activists and educators who presented their innovative ideas with a level of passion that enlightened the receptive audience in attendance as well as those watching via the live stream online.
Co-hosts Leslie Wilcox and Kainoa Horcajo kept the program running smoothly with enthusiastic style and grace.
Wilcox is the esteemed president and CEO of PBS Hawai'i and Maui's Horcajo, who serves as an advisory board member of Maui Tomorrow, is also a partner in Hana Pono, which provides cultural studies and impact assessments.
The Maui Taiko drummers pounded out the rhythm for the powerful day with an energetic performance that set the stage for the upbeat intellectualism that ensued.
Hokulani Holt-Padilla, the cultural programs director for the MACC, appropriately opened the ceremony, representing Maui with over 35 years as kumu kula for Pa'u O Hi'iaka.
Spearheaded by local co-producers Katie McMillan and Sara Tekula, TEDxMaui, which was held on Sunday, Jan. 22, showcased a group of eclectic panelists including scientists, artists, writers, activists and educators who presented their innovative ideas with a level of passion that enlightened the receptive audience in attendance as well as those watching via the live stream online. (Above) Paula Fuga, Mike Love (center) and Sam Ites entertain at the evening’s opening reception. Photo: Peter Liu Photography
Program participants included United Nations Visionary Award recipient and former Miss Hawai'i Dr. Elizabeth Kapu'uwailani Lindsey, who spoke eloquently about cultural intelligence and her work in intercultural engagement and understanding.
Dr. Arthur Medeiros shared information about his commendable work, which involves developing science- and community-based forest restoration projects on Maui with a meeting of the minds between public and private landowners.
Self-proclaimed "Professional Hacker" Jeremiah Grossman, founder and chief technology officer of WhiteHat Security, relayed to "TEDsters" the importance of hacking themselves in order to better protect themselves. Helping to secure major corporations of the likes of Google, Grossman identifies weaknesses in security issues before real hackers take advantage of them.
Carolyn Raffensperger, an environmental lawyer, spoke about "ecological medicine" and the need for protection and restoration of public health and the environment through serious changes in law and policy.
A journalist and the author of "Locavesting: The Revolution in Local Investing and How to Profit From It," Amy Cortese introduced the idea of the "MAUI 25" as our community's answer to London's "FTSE 250."
An environmental pioneer and director of Strategic Energy Initiatives at UC San Diego, Byron Washom drew upon his experiences from growing up on Midway Atoll and O'ahu, encouraging the audience to "go beyond the reef" in the pursuit of the unknown.
Charles Hambleton, associate producer of the Academy Award-winning documentary "The Cove," discussed how he's utilized cutting-edge technology such as thermal imaging to achieve covert shots for his work in film. He then pleased the crowd by proudly revealing two original pieces of art he made using this same technology.
Soulful Hawaiian songbird Paula Fuga leant her soaring voice as an exhilarating speaker and as the evening reception's entertainment with her own original divine music.
Humanitarian photographer Lisa Kristine poignantly discussed her timeless images with "Free the Slaves" and her experience documenting modern-day slavery of indigenous people in some of the most remote places on the planet. Her striking body of work, projected behind her as she spoke with conviction, moved many in the audience to tears.
UH Institute for Astronomy's Dr. Jeff Kuhn impressed the audience with his work, unveiling unknown enigmas of the sun and sharing his efforts to bring the world's most powerful optical instrument, the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope (ATST), to Haleakala.
The high-energy Vincent Mina presented the audience with a comical, high-energy talk about his family-run business, Kahanu 'Aina Greens, the largest urban compost-grown sprout operation in Hawai'i. He is also the founder of the nonprofit Maui Aloha 'Aina Association.
Mother and daughter team Lani Medina Weigert and Pomai Weigert of Ali'i Kula Lavender honored their recently departed friend and business partner, Ali'i Chang. The two continue to breathe new life into the Maui landmark, ensuring agri-tourism as a business for future generations.
Dr. Gary Greenberg, a Maui-based scientist, inventor and artist, wowed the audience with his patented, microscopic, 3D images of flowers, food and sand-including moon sand collected by NASA's Apollo missions.
U.S. Poet Laureate and two-time Pulitzer Prize-winning writer W.S. Merwin was a crowd favorite. He spoke about connectedness, reading two poems, one of which he lovingly dedicated to his wife, Paula, who was in attendance.
Editor-in-chief of "O, the Oprah Magazine," and the former editor of "Outside Magazine," Susan Casey is also a "New York Times" bestselling author. As musician David Haines strummed his guitar, Casey inspired newfound respect for our ocean's waves as she illustrated her death-defying work at sea capturing some of the world's best big-wave surfers conquering nature and shedding new light on previously unproved theories.
Honoring the memory of his father, Ed Lindsey, Edwin Lindsey presented a moving speech about his work as president of Maui Cultural Lands, helping to protect and preserve Hawaiian cultural resources for generations to come. "The land is chief and we are its servants," he said.
President of the International Society for the Study of Subtle Energies and Energy Medicine, Dr. Jacob Liberman captivated the audience with his work in the fields of light, vision and consciousness.
Last, but certainly not least, the lovable Dr. Pualani Kanaka'ole Kanahele put the "x" in TEDxMaui. She charmed TEDsters, not only with her distinctive traditional chants, but also with her now signature move-crossing her arms and legs to form a human "x" in tribute to the event in which she was so thrilled to participate. Pua lives, breathes and promotes cultural knowledge as president of the Edith Kanakayole Foundation.
The island eagerly awaits next year's installment of ideas!
If you missed TEDxMaui, click on one of the videos in the right-hand column for a sample viewing. For a complete selection of videos of speakers and entertainers, go to www.tedxmaui.com/video/.