TED talks never disappoint and this year was particularly great. A packed schedule of passionate speakers talking about how they’re creating solutions to help solve the world’s biggest challenges – certainly a momentous task. This year’s theme is dream and most of these people are turning dreams into realities. A truly inspirational community of doers rather than talkers - something our world needs much more of.
I had the opportunity to watch a livestream of the TED talks from the Nasdaq Entrepreneurial Center in San Francisco. I just moved to San Francisco and can’t think of a better way to spend my first two days in my new city! Tons of extremely interesting people in attendance, many working on great projects that strive to create good in the world. It certainly inspired me to stop talking and start acting.
I was only able to see the live talks from the Wednesday and Thursday sessions, in addition to the great live talks curated by Jem & James Joaquin, an awesome couple who sparked the idea for the event to create a TED community in San Francisco during the event. The global climate crisis, social justice and neuroscience discoveries were the three common themes that I noticed throughout the talks.
The social justice talks were particularly interesting to me because I’ve been studying the barriers of access to justice and the legal system over the last year. Adam Floss may have been the most powerful speaker that I heard. He’s a prosecuting attorney based in New York calling for reform of the criminal justice system, specifically prosecutors. Adam challenges prosecutors to stop sentencing young, capable, intelligent people to extended jail times because they made a mistake. Instead of throwing the book at them, give them a second chance. Give them the opportunity to experience an intervention and the support to turn their lives around instead of sitting in a jail cell for the majority of their lives. Invest on the front end rather than spending countless dollars keeping a person incarcerated, which I learned costs roughly $60,000 a year per person.
We also heard from Beverly Parenti, who co-founded The Last Mile, live at the Center. The Last Mile runs a coding and life skills course for incarcerated individuals to prepare them for the outside world. These skills allow them the opportunity and confidence to find jobs and earn a living wage after release, greatly reducing their chance of rebounding back into whatever landed them in jail to begin with. One of their graduates spoke to us as well. After completing the program he was offered an internship at RocketSpace and the chance to start again. After spending 19 years in jail, he’s now a successful and inspiring individual embodying the power of opportunity when given a second chance.