OCC Hosts TEDx Event Focused on Central NY Community

Apr 16, 2018

This past weekend, Onondaga Community College hosted its third and largest TEDx event to date with the goal of fostering a sense of community among Central New Yorkers. Over 250 people attended the event which was independently organized by brothers David and Jason Furney, both professors at the college. Jason said they wanted to use this opportunity to bring together people from all walks of life.

Credit Liam Mcmonagle / WAER News

“I want them to have a sense of community.  That was the biggest thing, so we wanted everything to revolve around the fact that we are all a community. We wanted to bring Syracuse together, and through that, all of our speakers have some kind of tie to this area.  So we want people walking away feeling like a community and feeling like they have a chance to bring people together.”

Among other speakers included were students, physicians, a librarian, musicians, and professors, many of whom were OCC students, faculty, and alumnus. All of them spoke about the event's theme "We are" which focused on collective humanity in terms of coming together as a community.

Singer and songwriter Connor Campbell who recently joined the Central New York music scene took the stage to perform two of his original songs.

Singer Sonwriter Connor Campbell performs.
Credit Liam Mcmonagle/WAER News

Another speaker, Sandra Fioramonti-Sabene, told the crowd how she uses her past as inspiration to move forward and motivate others with her work.

“The dark areas of my life, they drove me to the light, and that’s what I hope to be for other people because I know this message can’t live within me anymore.  It needs to come out and shine a light because people feel hopeless and disconnected.”

The artist and motivational speaker presented what she calls “the art of letting go.” She hoped to show the audience how to enjoy the process of creation rather than focusing on hopes for the outcome. 

“In that process, we start to focus on the end product and getting things perfect, and that’s where people struggle, so if we create safe space and start to inspire trust and connection and community then we can allow ourselves the inspiration and let go of the outcome, and that’s really what I want to get across is to not focus on the outcome.”

Fioramonti-Sabene performed meditative painting, a form of painting in which artists emphasize the process rather than the result. She explained that her goal was to show others how letting go can actually serve as motivation. 

“This isn’t about performance.  It’s not about art.  It’s not about what the person in the front of the room or that one seemingly unique person can do. It’s about all of us seeing that in ourselves, to get fired up, to feel the passion, to feel purpose in what we do, and don’t sit on it. Don’t wait on it.”

Sandra Fioramonti-Sabene spoke about Art Therapy. She owns Liverpool Art Center.
Credit John Smith/WAER News

Ultimately, she wants people to live in the moment and stop focusing so much on the final outcome.

“I would say don’t wait.  If you feel fired up about something, do it. Do it now. Feel it, be in the moment, then do it every moment.  Light things up, then share that light with as many people who will listen.”

Co-founders of Worldwide Musicians United, speakers Daniel DeMento and Julian Garcia Reig, touched on a similar idea with DeMento urging the audience to act now.

“If we can free ourselves from the burden of the past, all those miles gone by, and if we can limit our fear and anxiety about the future which hasn’t even arrived yet, then we can focus on the now and act.”

The two met online and virtually created their music collective before ever meeting in person. In their talk, they praised the power the internet has to bring people from around the world together and help us accomplish our dreams now instead of waiting.

“If we’re going to stay engaged over time, we need to find the projects that deeply move and inspire us, because these are the ones were going to want to work on. A great side effect is that we start to worry less and less about what other people think we should be doing.  It’s a way to build our dreams."

Their talks and others from the event will be available on the TED website starting next month.