Karen Bouris is the Program Director for TEDxMaui. She has curated this year’s event, in collaboration with the TEDxMaui team. In her other life, Karen is the Executive Director at The Merwin Conservancy and also a producer at Spirituality & Health Media.
Q: What were the criteria for choosing the TEDxMaui speakers?
A: We felt that everyone needed to intersect with Hawaii, either personally or topically. So for example, Jeremiah Grossman, one of the global leaders on Internet security and a dynamic and compelling guy, graduated from Maui High. Then there is the awe-inspiring Lisa Kristine, a humanitarian photographer who has spent decades photographing indigenous people. Her images are world renown for capturing the diversity and dignity of remote indigenous people.
Q: How many speakers are from Hawaii?
More than half of our 19 speakers or performers are from Maui or Hawaii. We hope that TEDxMaui will elevate the vital work happening locally—for example, by Jeff Kuhn at Maui’s Institute for Astronomy or the Weigert family’s sustainable aloha practices at Ali’I Kula Lavender farm. TEDxMaui has the potential to introduce these folks to a global audience. We have cutting edge ideas coming to fruition here, such as Byron Washom’s electric car initiative with UHMC. What an exciting opportunity for us to learn about and support innovation in our own backyard, and perhaps it can inform others around the world.
Similarly, we’re bringing in speakers we hope will energize and mobilize us. Amy Cortese, an award-winning journalist and author of Locavesting, will share stories and observations about the growing emphasis on local economics—a topic keenly on our radar as an Island community. And then there’s Charles Hambleton–maverick, film producer, musician, waterman. This man is the walking embodiment of a can-do attitude. He is a true innovator, using cameras and infrared technology both as art and as fact-finding tool, as he did in the Academy Award winning documentary, The Cove.
Q: Were there many locally nominated speakers?
There was great enthusiasm for some of our local champions, like Dr. Arthur Medeiros, who is the visionary behind the Leeward Haleakala Watershed Restoration Project. His passion is contagious, and many in the community follow his important work. I also had many requests for Dr. Jacob Liberman, whose specialty is vision, both inner and outer. Dorothy McCoy in Wailea recommended Jacob, as did a group of yoga students in Haiku—so his message resonates with diverse groups of people.
A: What does this kind of event do for the community?
One of the best things I do all year is attend the Bioneers conference. For eight years running, even if I can’t afford it or justify taking the time off, I go to Bioneers along with 3000 other people. I go because it enriches my life in every way—my working life, my relationships and community, and even my parenting and family life. I come back with ideas, new connections, information—a multitude of resources that gives me sustenance for the year. We have modeled TEDxMaui this way: as a source of information and inspiration that can foster well-being for Maui and carry us forward in all aspects of our life.
Many of the TEDxMaui speakers will be staying extra days to meet with others in the community in their respective fields. Some have offered their expertise or creative spark in whatever way serves Maui. Most of these speakers have devoted their lives to a cause or an organization or issue. And like Ekolu Lindsey, who has stepped into his father’s shoes at Maui Cultural Lands, once you begin to do meaningful work for an issue more important than just yourself, you are hooked.
Q: What is your favorite TED talk?
It’s always hard to choose one favorite, but I love the talk by Scottish percussionist and composer Evelyn Glennie. After her amazing performance, she gives a short talk and you learn that she’s deaf. She plays by “hearing” the vibration and was the first deaf student admitted to the Royal Academy of Music. My jaw literally dropped when I heard her story and its powerful message: there are other ways to hear than through your ears. And she plays barefoot so she can feel through her feet, and who can resist that?
Enjoy Evelyn’s performance at TED2003 below:
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