Thursday, March 24, 2016

Carter's Biz Cafes to host TED Talks viewing party and discussion

(Originally published in the 3/24/16 edition)

   In recent years, TED Talks have become popular in several different circles. Put on by the nonprofit Sapling Foundation, TED Talks are 18-minute lectures delivered by speakers big and small on a variety of academic, technological, scientific and cultural topics. More than 2,400 talks are available on, and by November 2012, these videos had been watched more than 1 billion times worldwide. 
   No matter what your interests are, you are likely to find a talk on something you’re interested in. Carter’s Biz Cafes in conjunction with Benicia Literary Arts and the Carquinez Village Project will be presenting three of them Saturday for a free event in the Commanding Officer’s Quarters. 
   According to BLA event team member Carolyn Plath, the genesis for the event came from a conversation between her and Carter’s Biz Cafes owner Carter Rankin. 
   “We both appreciate the spirit of TED which is founded on sharing powerful and inspiring ideas,” Plath said. 
   This will be the first ever TED Talks event to be held in Benicia. Over the course of 90 minutes, attendees will view three different TED Talks videos with time allotted for discussion after each.
   The first presentation will be engineer and biophysicist Hugh Herr’s 2014 lecture “The New Bionics That Let us Run, Climb and Dance.” Herr lost both of his legs in a climbing accident 30 years ago but was given prosthetic limbs that enabled him to climb again. He is now the head of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Biomechatronics research group.
   A discussion facilitated by Plath will follow the screening. According to Plath, this video was chosen by Rankin.
   “I think he was dazzled by the stunning achievements in bionics that are designed and built from the premise that no one needs to be physically disabled anymore,” she said.
   Plath selected the second video to be shown, “The Clues to a Great Story” by Pixar director and screenwriter Andrew Stanton. Stanton has been involved with nearly every film in the acclaimed animation studio’s filmography, and he even won Academy Awards for his work on “Finding Nemo” and “Wall-E.” Stanton’s presentation on how to tell a good story will be followed by a discussion facilitated by Plath.
   “In Benicia Literary Arts, we are all about supporting writers, so storytelling is a natural match,” she said.
   The third and final video will be “Older People are Happier” by psychologist Laura Carstensen in which she explains how the longer people live, the greater their quality of life and outlook on life will be. The ensuing discussion will be facilitated by BLA President Lois Requist and Carquinez Village Project co-founder Judie Donaldson, both of whom selected the video. 
   “The more I'm involved with the aging community, the more positive things I realize about being my age,” Requist, whose Carquinez Village Project establishes a support network for seniors, said. “I'd like more people to be aware of that. How many times do you hear people say, ‘It's all downhill from here?’ Well, it isn’t!”
   Plath says that all three videos should be of interest to Benicia residents.
   “While each one is quite different from the other, all three are fascinating and uplifting,” she said.  “If you come to see a specific one, I believe you will enjoy all three.”
   “Attendees are sure to be entertained and inspired,” she said. “We also believe that the event itself, gathering in our beautiful and historic Commanding Officer's Quarters with other lifelong learners, will be memorable.”
   The event will begin at 11 a.m., Saturday, March 26 at Carter’s Biz Cafes, located at 1 Commandant’s Lane. The event will be free, and light refreshments will be served. For more information, contact Plath at, Requist at, Rankin at and Donaldson at


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