BROWNSVILLE — Salon Cassia on the University of Texas at Brownsville campus was packed Friday as people of all ages and backgrounds attended a local TEDx event that showcased local innovators as well as a simulcast with a larger event in New York City.
TEDx, a locally organized version of the internationally renowned Technology Entertainment Design talks, provides cities everywhere with a connection to the world’s foremost innovators through hosting viewing parties.
Luciana Mendoza, a graduate student at UTB, applied for a license for a viewing party when she learned the closest TEDx event was in Houston.
One hundred people were granted invitations to the event, which was bookended by live streams from sessions happening in New York City and broadcast at more than 120 similar events worldwide.
Local speakers discussed their projects, all of which promoted sustainable and innovative urban living, a collective theme for the conference.
Mendoza contacted Brownsville Bike Brigade co-founder Claudia Tamez for the event after Tamez was nominated to speak.
Tamez, who is pursuing a master’s degree in biology at UTB, leapt at the opportunity.
“I couldn’t believe it when she asked me to be a part of it,” Tamez said. “I thought it was amazing that we were going to do this in Brownsville.”
Tamez, who said she was already a fan of TED talks, said she hoped having the event in Brownsville was a sign that the city was taking a more progressive approach to its growth.
“Brownsville is definitely moving in the right direction,” she said, noting its plastic bag fees and biking trails. “The city is attempting to be a pioneering city. They have definitely been raising the bar for cities in the Rio Grande Valley. Brownsville is doing a lot of things that are in tune with bigger global movements.”
The TEDx talk was an opportunity for Brownsville’s brightest to share their practices with the world through video presentations that will be available for viewing worldwide.
Among those topics was the creation of a bike movement, which Tamez explained using her experience from founding the Bike Brigade.
That movement developed into the Bike Barn, a place for bike enthusiasts and beginners alike to learn safety, etiquette and make repairs to their bikes.
A sister group has also developed across the border, Tamez told the crowd, showing pictures from a Matamoros bike club that the Bike Brigade frequently partners with.
Mendoza said she was pleased with the turnout for the event, but was happiest with the fact that attendees included students, city officials, activists and other residents, representing a true cross-section of the city.
And while she considered the event a success, she suggested that the true success of the event could only be measured by what attendees chose to do with the momentum and knowledge they gained from the event.
“What is next?” she said. “It cannot be just a watch party.”