May 4, 2011

TEDxMileHigh 2011: Flavors of a sustainable planet. ~ Ashley Herzberger

Photo: TEDx

It’s easy to get caught up in your own little world, especially the Boulder bubble. But making the drive down to Denver for TEDxMileHigh 2011 was worth it.

Communicating your dream to make the world a better place is an opportunity to open minds and hearts, share stories and facts and ignite a fire for someone to heed your calls and truly take action for the benefit of a better world.

The speakers at TEDxMileHigh 2011 did not disappoint. From an engineer without borders, to a cowgirl confessing her failures as an advocate for wide-scale adoption of green energy, the 2011 line-up hit on a few notes not altogether foreign to the Denver Metro and Boulder communities. Overarching themes included sustainability, community collaboration, innovation and service.


The word sustainability often gets pigeonholed in the realm of renewable energy. Have you ever stopped to think about the different flavors of a sustainable planet?

Author, analyst and researcher Robyn O’Brien shared a compelling tale of her introduction to genetically modified proteins in the United States food chain. It all started with her youngest child’s allergic reaction at the breakfast table. Did you know that major food companies like Kraft produce food without genetically modified proteins in foreign countries that have banned the technology? Yet, in the United States, Kraft produces its food with the proteins, which were never subjected to human trials before entering the food supply.

Photo: GrowHaus

How about the sustainability of a community of people who may look different and have different values? Can you bring such a community together to understand, respect and help each other? Ashara Ekundayo tries to forge those connections with community gardening.

The COMMON Brand

Speaking of community, marketing and advertising gurus Alex Bogusky and Rob Schuham have created the first ever brand for the people. This COMMON brand will be owned, used, embraced and sustained by the communities who create, share and adopt the philosophy behind community collaboration. These brands will spawn from the ideas of entrepreneurs who have a solution for a local problem. Utilizing American Idol style voting and the principles of honest competition, inspired citizens will compete to win training provided by FearLess Revolution to jumpstart a local business using local people and resources to solve that local problem. Who would have thought that bamboo bikes in Alabama could revitalize a small-town Southern community?

Photo: Engineers Without Borders

Complexity in all its Simplicity

A lot of people tend to make things harder than they really are. Just think—the world is so complex that there is a very successful and popular magazine on the shelves campaigning for the adoption of a Real Simple life. A popular TED video deconstructing complexity connected more TEDx talks touching on the idea that innovation isn’t rocket science. There are very real problems in this world with very simple solutions. All it takes is a little creativity, patience and inspiration. Often times that inspiration appears right in front of your eyes, in systems that have worked unexplained since the beginning of time—in nature. Bernard Amadei, founder of Engineers Without Borders, argued that emerging third world countries don’t need fancy technology to solve their local problems. They need bricks, and the training to sustain a local economy, complete with construction, business and trade. This nets income, shelter and food—the necessary basics—all from something that has been around for centuries.

Finally, many speakers held dear the notion of solid, realistic education. Of reintroducing physical education into elementary schools to combat childhood obesity and instill the values of healthy competition at a young age. Creating a new type of virtual class that brings together thought-leaders in all industries to teach students what is really going on in their world today. To value the practical application of learning in the classroom to help others. To innovate, reinvigorate, cultivate, support and succeed in training the next generation of leaders, thinkers and doers.

No, changing the world isn’t easy. But, the audience was reminded that each individual possesses a unique gift; all you have to do is hone that gift and share it with the world to create positive social change. And you don’t have to solve universal health care or global poverty. All you have to do is identify a problem, however large or small, and commit to action by capitalizing on your gift to create the solution. All Allen Lim wants you to do is try.

Invoking the words of the wise Master Yoda, Ashara Ekundayo reminded us all, “Luminous beams of light are we.”

Watch the clips from TEDxMileHigh 2011—you will be inspired.


Ashley Herzberger started practicing yoga in college to balance out her hyper-Type A personality. Each day, she faces the challenge of not making a big deal out of something small. A lifelong student, Ashley aims to learn from those around her, from books and from herself. She is passionate about public relations, communicating and telling stories. Ashley moved to Boulder, CO, in 2006 from suburban Cleveland, OH—needless to say, she suffered mild culture shock. It didn’t take long for her to drink the kool-aid, start working out and eat healthy foods. Then she started practicing yoga. Then she started receiving acupuncture, taking enzymes and burning incense every now and then. Today, Ashley does marketing and public relations for CorePower Yoga, public relations for Hanuman Festival and writes for fun on the side. Her German last name loosely translates to “heart in the mountains.”

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