TEDxFountainhills: Personal stories and community building

Alysia Rachel Dahir/Photo courtesy of Alysia Rachel Dahir

Alysia Dahir/Photo courtesy of Alysia Rachel Dahir

By Jade Frazier

You might have heard of TED Talks, but did you know TED could be in your neighborhood?

TEDx are independently, locally organized events that combine TED Talks videos and live speakers who share ideas and connect in small groups.

Arizona resident Alysia Dahir is an accountant and educator running local programs for the community of Fountain Hills. Dahir is also vice president of finance and co-founder of DQD, an education nonprofit.

How do you think TEDxFountainHills will bring forth change in Arizona?

My job is to look for the ideas and in those ideas there needs to be a call for action. So, if the speaker is coached and has enough experience on whatever work they are doing, they naturally stand in and demand action. All you have to do to change the world is change yourself, right? Change what is it you are doing in your approach and how you are connecting and then stand in it. When you stand in it, it calls people to you, it calls people to action and it causes change to occur. … My job is to make sure people have the opportunity to be that strong standing on my stage, so it can create change.

TEDxFH started its first year last year. In our first year our speakers started their own nonprofits, spoke at additional TEDx and other motivational seminars. They got onto America’s Got Talent. …

It’s the speaker’s job to call for activation and sometimes they are the ones to show us the path.

How do speakers incorporate their personal stories and life experiences into their TEDx Talks?

They take moments of their lives and they talk about the significance of that moment and how that moment got them to that idea, or how it started to build. Ideas can come in multiple ways, right? They might come over time … or all of a sudden it connects and the light bulb moment happened. … In that moment is where the power comes in. When you tell a story you have to capture that moment because you want people to feel how you felt. …

You are not necessarily in a play and giving a performance. Their job is to really capture the moment, really demonstrate how they are standing in that moment in that idea and how that makes “change.”…

Depending on our market or whatever it is that you are talented in, your job is to get to that point across to them. It is storytelling. Myself and the other speaker coaches carefully craft our story into the talks. It is not the main point of the talks. In fact, it’s supposed to be the shortest piece involved making it more of a masterpiece. At TEDWomen a few of the speakers clearly crafted this into their ideas leaving the only option for us, (the) audience, to be to act and do.

When you hear the words community engagement, what comes to mind?

Our first year one theme was community. We realized that Fountain Hills was significant for us because it was a small town outside of the city. You could choose to go outside of the city but we wanted to have a small town experience. … The significance of TEDxFountainHills is we want to engage our community. We interact with various clubs and groups and we partner with each other. There are opportunities for everyone within the community. In that, you have a ripple effect that begins with an experience and that experience will eventually create change.

From your perspective, how would journalists be more creative in storytelling or connecting with their audiences?

The whole process and style of journalism is very significant to the TED program. As an audience we also know that journalists may struggle with this kind of storytelling because they are reporting the facts. … Educators are not teaching enough of the storytelling process with how journalist are learning.

The point is to experience how that is significant. Did you feel different? Did it (storytelling) make it (TEDx Talk) more significant?


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