The Missouri Theatre runs a banner announcing TEDxCoMo as the evening’s entertainment on April 13, 2017.

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Chris Stephens plays the Chinese pipa before doors opened at TEDxCoMo on April 13, 2017. A geographic information systems specialist at the Missouri Department of Conservation by day and musician who can play the Indian sitar, Egyptian oud and Chinese pipa by night, Stephens performs around Columbia at multicultural events.

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The stage is set at the Missouri Theatre for TEDxCoMo on April 13, 2017. This year’s theme was “citizen,” chosen to explore the many ways citizenship can be manifested.

Katherine Stevenson/Staff Photographer

U.S. Army veteran Marcus Aurelius Anderson speaks about adversity at TEDxCoMo on April 13, 2017. Anderson struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder after suffering a spinal injury while deployed and had to learn to change his mindset. “No matter what country you are citizens of … every single person wants three things: freedom, respect and love,” he said.

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12-year-old Jordan Reeves demonstrates her glitter-shooting prosthetic arm at the Missouri Theatre on April 13, 2017. Born without the lower half of her left arm, Jordan uses a 3-D printer to invent useful items like the glitter shooter. “We all have different views of what we think is normal, and I think that’s really cool,” she said.

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Barbara Buffaloe, Columbia sustainability manager, speaks about environmental citizenship at TEDxCoMO on April 13, 2017. “I’m here to talk about a light-hearted situation that is very near and dear to my heart: climate change,” she said, garnering a laugh from the crowd. She encouraged the audience to get involved, save energy, share transportation, buy local and play an active role.

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Photojournalist Dan Gill shows photographs at TEDxCoMo on April 13, 2017 he took in Ferguson, Missouri during protests following the 2014 shooting of Michael Brown. Gill is an award-winning photographer who has been on international assignments for The New York Times, Associated Press and others. “Ferguson’s a complicated story,” he said. “It requires time, patience and empathy to understand.”

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Ibtisam Barakat explains her love of language that stemmed from being a war refugee in Palestine at TEDxCoMo on April 13, 2017. Barakat is a Muslim Palestinian-American speaker, poet and author who has learned perspective through her cross-cultural experiences. “Ignore, ignore, ignore makes a culture of ignorance,” she said. “A culture of ignorance leads us backwards or keeps us stuck.”

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Nanette Ward offers advice on how only “you can prevent human trafficking” during her TED talk on April 13, 2017. As the founder of the Central Missouri Stop Human Trafficking Coalition, she works to educate the public and provide services to survivors. “It doesn’t require any special expertise, and each and every one of you here tonight can be an advocate,” she said. “You can be a citizen advocate.”

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Meeting in the middle in a place of respect is important in civil political discourse, Tara Marcink explains during TEDxCoMo on April 13, 2017. Branding herself as a cookie-cutter liberal hipster activist, Marcink is a transgender woman who thinks labels limit constructive conversation. “Me being involved in LGBTQ advocacy, I figured it wasn’t my choice to sit back behind my label,” she said. “I needed to go outside my own echo chamber and do something about it.”

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Caritas Habimana shows a picture of the family she left behind while escaping Hutu violence at the Missouri Theatre on April 13, 2017. Habimana is a Rwandan genocide survivor who now helps other refugees resettle in Columbia. “They didn’t even have anything,” she said of the families she started helping in 2007. “I didn’t see how they would make it in this country. I dedicated myself to them.”

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Connor Hickox explains why the gap between newsmakers and news consumers is growing during his TED Talk on April 13, 2017. The head of production at Newsy, Hickox spent the last year covering the presidential election and realized the disconnect between elected officials and citizens. “[I have] family and friends and neighbors who no longer feel like the news is for them,” he said. “They are increasingly turning to a diet of highly partisan news, or even fake news and conspiracy theorists.”

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Local lawyer Brianna Lennon speaks about the Citizens United case at the Missouri Theatre on April 13, 2017. Using Disney World, which is essentially a city, as an example, Lennon explained the implications of the 2010 Supreme Court ruling prohibiting individual limits on campaign contributions. “We’ve really been led to believe … that if we just overturn Citizens United we’ll be fine, we’ll go back to a situation where individuals have power, they can influence the government, but that’s really not true,” she said.

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Sintia Radu begins her talk, “Citizenship is not as important as we all like to think sometimes,” at TEDxCoMo on April 13, 2017. A graduate student at Missouri School of Journalism, Radu came from her home in Romania on a scholarship to study and “see how great America is.” No matter how many riches or how much poverty she saw on her travels, “I don’t need to be a citizen of any of those places to call those places home,” she said.

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Missouri AfterSchool Network Regional Educator Clint Darr tells the audience a story from his childhood at TEDxCoMo on April 13, 2017. “[My mother] said these exact words to me: ‘Clint, I want you to eat every carrot, and,’” he paused, “‘pea on your plate!’ So I did.” Darr promotes “world peace through laughter” by asking audiences to laugh, which soon becomes natural.

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Ashley Yong explained why she “ditched prom to help the homeless” during her talk at the Missouri Theatre on April 13, 2017. Yong is a student at the Missouri School of Journalism and the founder and director of the non-profit giveabox.org, which supplies the homeless with essential items like soap, toothbrushes and clothing. “So you don’t get this wrong, philanthropy isn’t about how much money you can donate,” she said. “Philanthropy is about how much of your life you’re willing to sacrifice for another person on this earth.”

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“Ubuntu” is a philosophy of human kindness, MU doctoral student Velaphi Thipe explained in his TED talk April 13, 2017. Born and raised in South Africa, Thipe connected the philosophy to the recent loss of his sister and the need for companionship. “We are interdependent and in community simply by being humans together,” he said. “You cannot exist as a human being in isolation because we are all connected.”

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Former state Sen. Joe Moseley introduces the first talk of the night at TEDxCoMo on April 13, 2017. Moseley acted as the master of ceremonies for the night, prefacing each speaker with a short description of their talk.

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Speakers gather for a post-event photo at TEDxCoMo on April 13, 2017 at the Missouri Theatre.

Katherine Stevenson/Staff Photographer

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Columbia residents head to the Missouri Theatre to celebrate being a ‘citizen’

TEDxCoMo saw speakers from the community share their ideas in a series of talks.

By Katherine Stevenson | April 27, 2017

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Columbia community members came together April 13 to celebrate being citizens at TEDxCoMo 2017. Held at the Missouri Theatre, the talks were a part of an independently organized TED event.

According to the organization’s website, TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks. The speakers at TEDxCoMo spread their ideas by connecting to the theme “citizen.”

“We selected the theme ‘citizen’ to explore the many ways the idea of ‘citizenship’ is manifested,” TEDxCoMo Producer Keith Politte said in a press release. “The event has been curated to present a spectrum of provocative and inspiring speakers. Everyone brings to the table their own interpretation of what it means to be a citizen, and we suggest we can all learn from each other.”

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