LC a cappella group "Section Line Drive" performs in Fir Acres Theatre as part of the TEDxLewis&ClarkCollege event. Photo courtesy of LC

LC community deconstructs norms with student-organized TEDx event

Lewis & Clark held its first TEDx event on Oct. 9, where students, faculty and alumni deconstructed ideas like power, virginity, social interaction, music, dance and happiness. 100 audience members attended the talk, held in the Black Box of Fir Acres Theatre. The setting allowed for intimate discussions. 

The speakers included Amaris Bouchard ’20, Tom Stratton ’20, Hannah Harrington ’20 and alumna Nicolette Sauramba ’19, along with two faculty members, Adjunct Professor of Music Duncan Neilson and Instructor of Cello David Eby, who performed along with their talks. The event also held a musical performance by LC a capella group Section Line Drive, a dance performance by alumnus Latroy Robinson ’18 and a fire arts show by Quinn Murley ’20. 

Tuse Mahenya ’21, who began planning the event in fall 2018, spoke about her reasons for wanting to bring a TEDx event to LC. 

“I went to high school in Tanzania (and eSwatini), and then when I came here I noticed when people would speak in class, the others were not even listening,” Mahenya said. “It’s just so destructive to not listen to each other at all.” 

It took several months to apply for the TEDx license. Once approved by the official TED organization, Mahenya worked with Gracie Packard ’22, Ochuko Akpovbovbo ’21 and Eva Magana ’20. 

“Tuse (Mahenya) was really the pioneer of all this, and I think our role was just to support her in the best way we could,” Magana said. “Being the first one ever we didn’t want to disappoint anyone, because TED has a big name assigned to it, so we really wanted it to be true to that.” 

Magana attended TEDxPortland last fall to find inspiration for the LC TED event. She said that the posters in the hallway, encouraging audience participation, and the three minute recap at the end of the event were inspired by the Portland event. 

Mahenya said one of the biggest unexpected challenges the team faced was getting audiovisual equipment so the talks could be posted on YouTube for the public to view. The Student Academic Activities Board (SAAB) was able to help them out.

“From the beginning, we had (some money) but that went to merch and things like that,” Mahenya said. “We had put some money aside (for AV) but that was a laughable amount compared to what we actually needed. So we applied for a SAAB grant just for audiovisual support.”

Mahenya wanted to create a platform that would encourage the LC community to collectively investigate how to deconstruct widely-held communicative and social norms.

“Everyone has the ability to take something from their personal experience, and deconstruct it and then reconstruct it into something that’s better and more sustainable,” Mahenya said.

Eby, an experienced cello player, spoke about a strange musical phenomenon in which when one note is played, other strings will echo the note without even being touched.

“This is a topic that I’ve been working on for a long time, and it’s a

perfect opportunity to craft a speech around it,” Eby said. “It’s been a fascinating process to hone it down to just the right things to say, and to be able to make it super clear.”

Eby helped the audience open themselves up to the music through a short meditation, and he subsequently played the cello so they could feel the literal and metaphorical resonance inside of themselves.

He pointed out how both ideas and musical notes resonate in the same profound way.

“We feel something awakening inside, it’s kind of like there’s something almost vibrating, an energy that’s inside that we can kind of get in touch with,” Eby said.

Upon reflection, Magana feels that the event was an overall success. “Reflecting now, it’s just great seeing people inspired and so excited,” Magana said. “(My roommate and I) were talking about … how it’s relevant to our lives, and I’m more than positive that everyone who went home that night did the same thing.”

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