A group of local volunteers came together this year during the pandemic to form TEDxAlpharettaWomen and plan SEEK 2020, a virtual conference from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 21, which hopes to feature groundbreaking ideas for change and bring the community together.
Event Curator Aswini Oliver said that TEDxAlpharettaWomen wanted to inspire a dream and hope “for a better tomorrow” as the pandemic ripped away plans for the future and motivation for change for many in the community.
Their upcoming six-hour conference will feature the voices of a diverse group of 12 women in the community “all of whom possess groundbreaking ideas that can spark conversations towards hope and change,” according to the group’s website.
“Our goal is to spark conversation about change and innovation by giving the changemakers of our community a platform to tell their incredible stories,” Team member Diya Mohan wrote in a statement.
Each of the 12 women will speak on different topics, including the #MeToo movement, STEM for young girls, dating yourself, self-advocacy, imposter syndrome, using STEM to stop gun violence, and much more.
Guests can find out more about participating speakers by visiting the group’s website at tedxalpharettawomen.com/attend-seek.
The inspiring group of speakers also includes two rising seniors in high school, Hannah Testa and Divya Nori, and Oliver said that several other high school juniors and seniors have joined the team to help in production and promotion for the event. She said she was appreciative to see young people in the community getting involved and inspiring change.
“There is a lot of hope with the young people,” Oliver said. “I learned a lot from them, but there is also a lot of clarity from them in the vision on what needs to be happening.”
Nori attends Milton High School and founded Safer with STEM, an organization that applies science and data to the prevention of gun violence. She spoke during the filming for the event about how the community can stop gun violence through the use of data analysis.
Testa is a student at West Forsyth High School in Forsyth County and the founder of Hannah4Change, an organization dedicated to fighting environmental issues and eliminating single-use plastics. In her speech, Testa speaks about youth activism and how much it has changed her life. She also wrote some about youth activism in her recent book, “Taking on the Plastics Crisis.”
“How does someone who is 18 have that kind of conviction and such clarity and such focus?” Oliver asked. “And [Hannah Testa’s] talk is just amazing.”
Oliver said that the other speeches offered for the event are just as amazing, and she has worked to partner with 106 schools in neighboring Fulton County to share the event with teachers and staff members. She believes the speeches could be valuable to the schools as they take in these new and interesting ideas for the future.
The virtual event will be split up into three separate sessions: seeking clarity, seeking community and seeking courage. Each session will feature four speakers, and there will be three or four performances in between each session.
Performers for the event include Siddarth Kelam, a dancer, audio engineer, music producer and filmmaker who serves as the co-director at Kalaivani Academy; Sheila Pree Bright, an internationally-acclaimed photographer; Okorie “OkCello” Johnson, a cellist and songwriter; and PRISCA, a cinematic pop artist.
After each session there will also be a formal Q&A where those speakers or team members who are available can come on live and answer audience questions.
Oliver said that tickets are limited and will sell out soon. Guests can find tickets for sale on the group’s website at tedxalpharettawomen.com/attend-seek. Tickets are $20 per guest for general admission, $30 for a household pass that allows multiple people at once to access the link and replay the conference, and $100 for those who want to become a patron and give more to support the group and help to pay for the event.
Community sponsors also helped to fund the upcoming event, including the top sponsor, VDart Inc. Oliver said she is incredible grateful to all of their sponsors as they "helped us bring this vision to life."
“We are all in our own ways seeking clarity, community and courage,” Oliver said. “That’s the whole point of having the team of SEEK to put on [this event] because I think there is a lot of need for us to bring the community together. There is a lot of division in the community and there’s a lot of uncertainty in the community, so what can we do to bring some groundbreaking ideas and bring some positivity through these women.
“Especially for women, we don’t have enough conversations or ideas that happen specifically from the point of view of a woman,” Oliver continued. “And TEDX is a great platform which believes [in the sharing of] ideas, and we have been humbled and honored through this whole process of doing this as a way of giving back to the community.”