On June 28th, an empty Wrigley Field hosted a livestreamed TEDx event titled “Humanity, a View from Inside the Pandemic.”
The three-hour-plus program included a mix of live and prerecorded material. The livestream was produced by Chicago’s very own Mimi Productions, and adhered to all social distancing and CDC guidelines.
In keeping with the baseball theme, there were two streams to choose from: Right Field and Left Field. Each stream provided an alternate lineup, with the more entertainment-oriented speakers appearing on both streams.
Expecting the Left Field/Right Field choice to reflect or address America’s current political polarity, I was surprised to see that the more extreme viewpoints we’ve been bombarded with during this pandemic were largely unaddressed.
Was it a missed opportunity, or a vacation from crazy? You decide!
Prof. Joshua Kleinfeld, of Northwestern University, was perhaps the only speaker at Wrigley who truly addressed this. “Something in American discourse has gone wrong, become partisan, polarized, bitter.” As one who has made the study of democracy his bread and butter, he ultimately feels that We The People will get back on course. So that’s a plus.
The livestreamed talks were mostly upbeat, intellectual takes on where we are in terms of COVID-19 today, and the changing face of business and personal best practices in the new normal. The information was welcome, the presenters were solid, and the general rule of thumb seemed to be “take the high road whenever possible.”
Educator Nora Flanagan, for example, exclaimed that “If three million teachers can relearn their jobs in a weekend, we can change school systems to better fit [what we know works].” In a broader sense, she reminds us that we can ALL learn to adapt and grow.
The offsite prerecorded talks, shot in Chicago’s Bronzeville and Pilsen neighborhoods, dared to go deep. They mainly focused on the additional challenges affecting communities of people of color during the pandemic, including the events surrounding the renewed Black Lives Matter movement.
State Representative Kam Buckner, referring to Bronzeville, got real. “For generations, this neighborhood figuratively burned… because of disinvestment, abuse, neglect… But last week that figurative burning turned to real burning, as stores up and down main thoroughfares were looted” in the wake of George Floyd’s death.
The TEDxWrigleyville stream will be available to watch at tedxwrigleyville.com/ next week!