Naturally curious, compassionate & rational

 
 
First Saturday of the Month, 2:30-5:00pm
Sumner Library, Cargill Room (lower level)
611 Van While Memorial Drive
Minneapolis, MN
 
2:30...Socializing
2:50...Presentation followed by discussion
5:00...Library closes
 
 

Elizabeth Gilbert, author of 'Eat, Pray, Love,' muses on the impossible things we expect from artists and geniuses — and shares the radical idea that, instead of the rare person "being" a genius, all of us "have" a genius. In this funny, personal, and surprisingly moving talk, reflect with Elizabeth on how we all get in our own way when it comes to creativity.

 
Dec. 6th, 2014: Why we need to end the war on drugs
 

Is the War on Drugs doing more harm than good? In a bold talk, drug policy reformist Ethan Nadelmann makes an impassioned plea to end the "backward, heartless, disastrous" movement to stamp out the drug trade. He gives two big reasons we should focus on intelligent regulation instead

  
Nov. 1st, 2014: Can prejudice ever be a good thing?
 
We often think of bias and prejudice as rooted in ignorance. But as psychologist Paul Bloom seeks to show, prejudice is often natural, rational... even moral. The key, says Bloom, is to understand how our own biases work — so we can take control when they go wrong.
 
 
October 4th, 2014: Beware Fellow Plutocrats -- the Pitchforks are Coming
 
Nick Hanauer is a rich guy, an unrepentant capitalist — and he has something to say to his fellow plutocrats: Wake up! Growing inequality is about to push our societies into conditions resembling pre-revolutionary France. Hear his argument about why a dramatic increase in minimum wage could grow the middle class, deliver economic prosperity ... and prevent a revolution. (Filmed at TEDSalon NY2014 in August)
 
 
September 6th, 2014: Which country does the most good for the world?
 
It's an unexpected side effect of globalization: problems that once would have stayed local now have consequences worldwide. But countries still operate as if alone on the planet. Policy advisor Simon Anholt has dreamed up an unusual scale to get governments thinking outwardly: The Good Country Index. In a riveting and funny talk, he answers the question, "Which country does the most good?" The answer may surprise you.
 
 
August 2nd, 2014: How to rob a bank

William Black is a former bank regulator who’s seen firsthand how banking systems can be used to commit fraud — and how “liar's loans” and other tricky tactics led to the 2008 US banking crisis that threatened the international economy. In this engaging talk, Black, now an academic, reveals the best way to rob a bank — from the inside.

 

July 5th, 2014: How to make hard choices

 Please note:  this month we will be starting at 2:30pm.  Here's a talk that could literally change your life. Which career should I pursue? Should I break up — or get married?! Where should I live? Big decisions like these can be agonizingly difficult. But that's because we think about them the wrong way, says philosopher Ruth Chang. She offers a powerful new framework for shaping who we truly are.

 

June 7th, 2014: What doctors don't know about the drugs they prescribe

When a new drug gets tested, the results of the trials should be published for the rest of the medical world — except much of the time, negative or inconclusive findings go unreported, leaving doctors and researchers in the dark. In this impassioned talk, Ben Goldacre explains why these unreported instances of negative data are especially misleading and dangerous.

 

 May 3rd, 2014: Social Networks and SOPA

This month we will view and discuss a double feature--

  • The hidden influence of social networks - Nicholas Christakis
  • Why SOPA is a bad idea - Clay Shirky

 Christakis will demonstrate how embedded we are in our social networks by tracking how a wide variety of traits - from happiness to obesity - can spread from person to person. Your location in the network might impact your life in ways you don't realize.

Shirky shares his understanding of the social and political implications of a bill like PIPA/SOPA. He calls on us to defend our freedom to create, discuss, link and share, rather than passively consume.

 

April 5th, 2014: A 40-year plan for energy

Energy innovator Amory Lovins shows how to get the US off oil and coal by 2050, $5 trillion cheaper, with no Act of Congress, led by business for profit. The key is integrating all four energy-using sectors—and four kinds of innovation.

 

March 1st, 2014: Are we in control of our own decisions?

Behavioral economist Dan Ariely, the author of Predictably Irrational, uses classic visual illusions and his own counterintuitive (and sometimes shocking) research findings to show how we're not as rational as we think when we make decisions.

 

 

February 1st, 2014: Is China the new idol for emerging economies?

The developed world holds up the ideals of capitalism, democracy and political rights for all. Those in emerging markets often don't have that luxury. In this powerful talk, Dambisa Moyo makes the case that the west can't afford to rest on its laurels and imagine others will blindly follow. Instead, a different model, embodied by China, is increasingly appealing. A call for open-minded political and economic cooperation in the name of transforming the world.

Dambisa Moyo is an international economist who analyzes the macroeconomy and global affairs.

 

 

January 4th, 2014:  Bridging Political Divisiveness

Presenting a double-header:
• Let’s Try Emotional Correctness by Sally Kohn
• Take "The Other" to Lunch by Elizabeth Lesser
 
Sally Kohn, political pundit, shares what she learned as a progressive lesbian talking head on Fox News. It's time for liberals and conservatives to transcend their political difference. She claims the way to finding common ground is by focusing on the compassion and humanity in everyone.
 

Elizabeth Lesser, author and co-founder of Omega Institute, encourages us to transcend the divisive tension around politics and have meaningful conversations. We need to elevate the way we treat each other in order to live together more effectively. She gives a simple, concrete example of how each of us can begin real dialogues with "The Other".

 

December 7th, 2013:  The Power of Vulnerability

Brené Brown studies human connection -- our ability to empathize, belong, love. In this poignant, funny talk of over 11 million views, she shares insight from her research on vulnerability, courage, authenticity, resilience, and shame. Her talk shares her personal quest to know herself and her effort to understand humanity.

 

November 2nd, 2013:  The Puzzle of Motivation

Dan Pink examines the puzzle of motivation, starting with a fact that social scientists know but most managers don't: Traditional rewards aren't always as effective as we think. Listen for illuminating stories -- and maybe, a way forward.

 

 October 5th, 2013:  Building a Caring Economy

Riane Eisler is a social scientist, attorney, and author whose work on cultural transformation has inspired both scholars and social activists. Her research has impacted many fields, including history, economics, psychology, sociology, and education. She has been a leader in the movement for peace, sustainability, and economic equity, and her pioneering work in human rights has expanded the focus of international organizations to include the rights of women and children.

Dr. Eisler is President of the Center for Partnership Studies and internationally known for her bestseller The Chalice and The Blade: Our History, Our Future, now in 25 languages. Her newest book, The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics proposes a new approach to economics that gives visibility and value to the most essential human work: the work of caring for people and nature. 

 

September 7th, 2013: Comedy is Translation

Every act of communication is, in some way, an act of translation. Writer, comedian, and juggler extraodinaire Chris Bliss thinks hard about the way that great comedy can translate deep truths for a mass audience.

Chris Bliss is a national headline comedian, with credits including the Tonight Show and the Late Show with David Letterman, as well as an internationally renowned variety artist, opening for superstars from Eric Clapton to Michael Jackson.

In 2005, he founded MyBillofRights.org, with the mission of creating monuments and permanent displays of the Bill of Rights in civic spaces across America. The organization dedicated America’s first monument celebrating the Bill of Rights at the Arizona Capitol Mall, in December 2012. 

 

August 3rd, 2013;  Dare to Disagree

Most people instinctively avoid conflict, but as Margaret Heffernan shows us, good disagreement is central to progress. She illustrates (sometimes counterintuitively) how the best partners aren’t echo chambers -- and how great research teams, relationships and businesses allow people to deeply disagree.

The former CEO of five businesses, Margaret Heffernan explores the all-too-human thought patterns -- like conflict avoidance and selective blindness -- that lead managers and organizations astray.  In her book, Willful Blindness, Margaret Heffernan examines why businesses and the people who run them often ignore the obvious -- with consequences as dire as the global financial crisis and Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Heffernan’s third book, Willful Blindness was shortlisted for the Financial Times/GoldmanSachs Best Business Book award in 2011.

 

 July 6th, 2013: Green the Deserts, Reverse Climate Change

Desertification is a fancy word for land that is turning to desert,” begins Allan Savory in this quietly powerful talk. And it's happening to about two-thirds of the world’s grasslands, accelerating climate change and causing traditional grazing societies to descend into social chaos. Savory has devoted his life to stopping it. He now believes -- and his work so far shows -- that a surprising factor can protect grasslands and even reclaim degraded land that was once desert.

Allan Savory works to promote holistic management in the grasslands of the world. In 1992, Savory and his wife, Jody Butterfield, formed the Africa Centre for Holistic Management in Zimbabwe, a learning site for people all over Africa. In 2010, the Centre won the Buckminster Fuller Challenge for its work in reversing desertification. In that same year he and his wife, with others, founded the Savory Institute in Boulder, Colorado, to promote large-scale restoration of the world's grasslands.

 

June 1st, 2013:  Charity Redux

Activist and fundraiser Dan Pallotta challenges us to change the way we think about changing the world.

"The nonprofit sector is critical to our dream of changing the world. Yet there is no greater injustice than the double standard that exists between the for-profit and nonprofit sectors. One gets to feast on marketing, risk-taking, capital and financial incentive, the other is sentenced to begging,” Dan Pallotta says in discussing his latest book, Charity Case. This economic starvation of our nonprofits is why he believes we are not moving the needle on great social problems. “My goal … is to fundamentally transform the way the public thinks about charity within 10 years.”

Pallotta is best known for creating the multi-day charitable event industry, and a new generation of citizen philanthropists with the AIDS Rides and Breast Cancer 3-Day events, which raised $582 million in nine years. He is president of Advertising for Humanity, which helps foundations and philanthropists transform the growth potential of their favorite grantees.

 
May 4th, 2013:  No event this Saturday due to annual spring banquet
April 6th, 2013:  Great Leaders Inspire Change

Simon Sinek, beginning as a student in anthropology, turned his fascination with people into a career of convincing people to do what inspires them. Through his struggle to rediscover his excitement about life and work, he made some profound realizations about how great leaders inspire action.

Simon Sinek has a simple but powerful model for inspirational leadership all starting with a golden circle and the question "Why?" His examples include Apple, Martin Luther King, and the Wright brothers.

 
March 2nd, 2013:  Sound Affects-- Listening or Not?

Julian Treasure is the chair of Sound Agency, a firm that advises worldwide businesses -- offices, retailers, hotels -- on how to use sound. He asks us to pay attention to the sounds that surround us. How do they make us feel: productive, stressed, energized, acquisitive? We will view two short talks by him.  Five ways to listen better & The four ways sound affects us.

In our louder and louder world, sound expert Julian Treasure says, "We are losing our listening." In the first short talk, Treasure shares five ways to re-tune your ears for conscious listening -- to other people and the world around you.

In the 2nd brief talk, Treasure shows how sound affects us in four significant ways, using sound effects which are both pleasant and awful. Listen carefully for a shocking fact about noisy open-plan offices.

 
February 2nd, 2013:  Institutions vs. Collaboration

TED favorite, Clay Shirky, is an American writer, consultant and teacher on the social and economic effects of Internet technologies.  In this talk, Shirky shows how closed groups and companies will give way to looser networks where small contributors have big roles and fluid cooperation replaces rigid planning. He argues that the history of the modern world could be rendered as the history of ways of arguing, where changes in media change what sort of arguments are possible -- with deep social and political implications.

January 5th, 2013:  Smart Failure

The world is changing much more rapidly than most people realize, says business educator Eddie Obeng -- and creative output cannot keep up. In this spirited talk, he highlights three important changes we should understand for better productivity, and calls for a stronger culture of "smart failure."

 December 1st, 2012:  Architecture

This month we will be discussing two short TED presentations on innovations in architecture.

Metal That Breathes: Doris Kim Sung

Modern buildings with floor-to-ceiling windows give spectacular views, but they require a lot of energy to cool. Doris Kim Sung works with thermo-bimetals, smart materials that act more like human skin, dynamically and responsively, and can shade a room from sun and self-ventilate.  Sung is a biology student turned architect interested in thermo-bimetals, smart materials that respond dynamically to temperature change

Using Nature's Genius in Architecture: Michael Pawlyn

How can architects build a new world of sustainable beauty? By learning from nature. At TEDSalon in London, Michael Pawlyn describes three habits of nature that could transform architecture and society: radical resource efficiency, closed loops, and drawing energy from the sun.  Pawlyn established the architecture firm Exploration in 2007 to focus on environmentally sustainable projects that take their inspiration from nature.

 

November 3rd, 2012:  The Power of Introverts

"There's zero correlation between being the best talker and having the best ideas."

In a culture where being social and outgoing are prized above all else, it can be difficult, even shameful, to be an introvert. But, as Susan Cain argues in this passionate talk, introverts bring extraordinary talents and abilities to the world, and should be encouraged and celebrated.


October 6th, 2012:  Finding the Story Inside the Painting
When Tracy Chevalier looks at paintings, she imagines the stories behind them: How did the painter meet his model? What would explain that look in her eye? Why is that man … blushing? She shares three stories inspired by portraits, including the one that led to her best-selling novel "Girl With a Pearl Earring."
 
September 1st, 2012:  What We're Learning from Online Education

Daphne Koller is enticing top universities to put their most intriguing courses online for free -- not just as a service, but as a way to research how people learn. Each keystroke, comprehension quiz, peer-to-peer forum discussion and self-graded assignment builds an unprecedented pool of data on how knowledge is processed and, most importantly, absorbed.

August 4th, 2012:  How to Expose the Corrupt

Some of the world's most baffling social problems, says Peter Eigen, can be traced to systematic, pervasive government corruption, hand-in-glove with global companies.

Eigen worked in economic development for 25 years, mainly as a World Bank manager of programs in Africa and Latin America. Stunned by the depth and pervasiveness -- and sheer destructiveness -- of the corruption he encountered, he formed the group Transparency International to take on some of the main players in deals with corrupt officials: multinational corporations.

 

July 14, 2012:  Why Do Societies Fail?

With lessons from the Norse of Iron Age Greenland, deforested Easter Island and present-day Montana, Jared Diamond talks about the signs that collapse is near, and how -- if we see it in time -- we can prevent it.

Jared Diamond is an award-winning scholar of ecology, biology and history, and best-selling author of Guns, Germs and Steel and Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.

June 9th, 2012:  The Antidote to Apathy

This month's topic: Local politics -- schools, zoning, council elections -- hit us where we live. So why don't more of us actually get involved? Is it apathy? Dave Meslin says no. He identifies 7 barriers that keep us from taking part in our communities, even when we truly care.

Dave Meslin is a "professional rabble-rouser." Based in Toronto, he works to make local issues engaging and even fun to get involved in.

 May 12th, 2012:  The Global Power Shift

Paddy Ashdown claims that we are living in a moment in history where power is changing in ways it never has before. In a spell-binding talk at TEDxBrussels 2012 he outlines the three major global shifts that he sees coming.

Paddy Ashdown is a former member of the British Parliament and a diplomat with a lifelong commitment to international cooperation."

April 14th, 2012:  Trial, Error and the God Complex

Economics writer Tim Harford studies complex systems -- and finds a surprising link among the successful ones: they were built through trial and error. In this sparkling talk, he asks us to embrace our randomness and start making better mistakes.

Each month we view a recorded, ~20-minute presentation by a notable person who has interesting things to say about some aspect of the world we live in. Then we take over and talk about the subject.

We can’t promise the presenter’s ideas will change your life—maybe not even change your mind—but knowing many of our group’s members, we can safely say that you will be in for some stimulating conversation, and most likely learn something new. And any day that happens is a day well-spent, so come join us!

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