GARY — A slew of speakers at the second annual Gary TEDx presented thought-provoking ideas, including reinvesting in one's self and rejuvenating the community.
Pediatrician Dr. Chantal Walker, Society of Innovators Executive Manager Jason Williams, author and reporter Vernon A. Williams, author and cultural activist Samuel Love, activist Kwabena Rasuli, master herbalist and community gardener Lord Cashus D, financial strategist Sharon Mallory and historic preservationist and urban explorer Tyrell Anderson gave talks at Indiana University Northwest in Gary.
"No one, absolutely no one, learns when they’re speaking," Vernon Williams said.
The speakers addressed a variety of subjects, including telling Gary stories, violence in commercial rap music, financial planning for the future and working toward one's dreams. They delivered messages of hope and inspiration.
"Tonight I want you — all y'all — to rejuvenate something," Cashus D said. "Rejuvenate. Maybe use grapeseed oil instead of vegetable oil, that cheap stuff you get from Aldi's. Rejuvenate. Put some good stuff in your body. If you want to drink that iced tea, go and drink some water too. And get out and rejuvenate the community."
Dozens gathered to hear the speakers give 18-minute talks that were filmed so they could later be posted on YouTube at Arts & Sciences Building Main Stage Theatre at the School of the Arts on Broadway.
"We traveled all over the U.S. and world to learn about different cultures," said Anderson in his talk about the Decay Devils group. "What makes people excited about this country? What makes people want to visit? How can I bring that home? What can I do better here?"
The group of urban explorers returned home from their travels committed to reduce, reuse and recycle. Anderson said they've tried to think outside the box while working on historic preservation projects in Gary.
"You don't have to cater to everyone's expectations," he said. "Sometimes you have to put yourself first. And when you put yourself first and grow passionate about your idea, your project, you're going to get people excited and find people who want to support you."
The Decay Devils have been working to invest $5 million into restoring and repurposing the historic Union Station downtown. They also have three books and five gallery exhibits coming up over the next two years.
"When you stay true to what you believe in, when you say it out loud, when you own it, you will see it," he said. "You have to reinvest in yourself. As long as you reinvest in yourself, you will continue to grow. You will continue to push that vision forward."
McKenya Dilworth, MAED and Jeffrey Smith curated TEDx Gary 2021, which they hope to bring back as an annual event.
"How do you define wealth?" Mallory said. "I've traveled the country and one thing I know for sure is that it's not how much you make, it's what you do with what you make. It's not about the six figures, the nine figures, the white picket fence. You have to have a dream. You have to want something. You have to be passionate about something. If you don't know what you want or what you're passionate about, you won't know how to pursue it."