The Art of Hope

December 7, 2019 • Rio Theatre • Santa Cruz

Join us at TEDxSantaCruz 2019: THE ART OF HOPE, our fifth full-day live event. Hear local and national speakers and artists share ideas curated to inspire and explore THE ART OF HOPE at the Rio Theatre Saturday, December 7, 2019, from 9:00AM to 5:00PM.

TEDxSantaCruz is a tradition that celebrates and amplifies ideas worth spreading. Join the TEDxSantaCruz Community for a day of hope. Our cup runneth over… come fill yours up.

Speakers & Performers

Save What You Love

Jonathan Franzen

Novelist, essayist, journalist, translator, and screenwriter

Jonathan Franzen is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Letters and the author of five novels, including The Corrections, Freedom, and Purity, and five volumes of nonfiction, most recently The End of the End of the Earth. Among his honors are the National Book Award for fiction, and the EuroNatur Award, for his work in conservation. He lives full-time in Santa Cruz.


Thieves of Hope: Moving Past Your Worst Mistakes by Lara Love Hardin

Lara Love Hardin

COO and Editorial Director of Idea Architects

Lara Love Hardin is the COO and Editorial Director of Idea Architects, a literary agency and media company based in Santa Cruz that represents and works with luminaries such as Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Bryan Stevenson, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Steven Hawking, Jane Goodall, John Gottman, and many other academics and thought leaders. She has an MFA in creative writing and is a 4-time New York Times bestselling writer, including the #1 New York Times bestseller Designing Your Life by Dave Evans and Bill Burnett, and recent Oprah Book Club pick, The Sun Does Shine, which she co-authored with Anthony Ray Hinton. In 2019 she won a Christopher Award for her work “affirming the highest values of the human spirit”. In 2019 she was also nominated for an NAACP Image Award and short-listed for the Dayton Literary Peace Prize.


Local Government: Where Democracy Goes to Live

Ryan Coonerty

Chair of the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors and former Mayor of Santa Cruz

Ryan Coonerty is Chair of the Santa Cruz County Board of Supervisors and the two-time former Mayor of Santa Cruz. He is also an entrepreneur, author, and educator. He is currently the host of "An Honorable Profession" podcast and a lecturer on law and government at UC Santa Cruz. Previously, he cofounded NextSpace Coworking, co-authored of The Rise of the Naked Economy – How to Benefit from the Changing Workplace and wrote Etched in Stone – Enduring Words from our National Monuments. Ryan was selected by the Aspen Institute to be a Rodel Fellow in Public Leadership as one of "the nation’s most promising young elected officials.” Ryan graduated from Santa Cruz’s public schools and the University of Oregon. He received a master’s degree from the London School of Economics and a law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law.


Climate Cancer Crisis: An Allegorical Tale

Dr. Barry Sinervo

"Coming Soon to a Neighborhood Near You: The 6th Mass Extinction"

Dr. Barry Sinervo leads a multinational research team of scientists, working from the equator to the polar regions. The UCSC professor in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology was recently awarded $2 million to study impacts of climate change on California ecosystems at the UC Natural Reserve System, the world's largest system of university-administered natural reserves, featuring examples of most major California habitats.

The Future? Yes…And. Business As a Force for Change

Sandy Skees

EVP / Innovation & Impact Practice Global Lead

Sandy believes in the power of business as a platform for disruption and mobilization to help customers, investors, partners, communities, governments, and employees create a regenerative and equitable world. She’s worked more than 30 years driving business value by aligning purpose, messaging and communications with business strategy. Over the years, her work with corporations, nonprofits, and NGOs has been focused on everyday products, recycling and waste, renewable energy, supply chain, social justice and LGBTQ and gender issues. She sits on numerous boards including Sustainable Brands, Community Foundation of Santa Cruz County, and Mini Mermaid Running Club. In Santa Cruz, she founded 100 Women Who Care, Breaking the Glass Ballot, and was appointed to a four-year team on the County's Human Services Commission.


Tammi Brown


Tammi has performed with some of the most notable Music Industry Icons known to the world including renowned Music Producer, Quincy Jones, Stanley Jordan, Dr. Maya Angelou, Joan Baez, Spyro Gyra, and Eric Bibb to name a few. She is currently a vocalist in the two-time Grammy Award nominated Vocal Ensemble, The Cultural Heritage Choir led by the Legendary, Linda Tillery, and, most recently, selected to be the new ‘Voice’ for the award-winning ‘Lost American Jazzbook’ project. Drenched in the uplifting and sultry sounds of Gospel and Jazz music, Tammi Brown’s voice is filled with rich tones, elegant phrasing, and vocal versatility. She gracefully delivers a soulful, heartfelt rendition of songs in several genres that include Jazz, Blues, Gospel, Pop, and Rock. Tammi’s music journey has placed her on several stages in more than ten countries worldwide.


Sara Nelson

Executive director and co-founder of the Romero Institute

Sara is the executive director and co-founder of the Romero Institute. The Institute’s three initiatives include the Lakota People’s Law Project, Greenpower, and the California Green New Deal. She has spent more than 40 years in non-profit leadership focused on organizing, national education and fundraising,. Her work as Director of the Karen Silkwood Fund led to a 1979 moratorium on all private nuclear power plants. She served as Chair of the Musicians United for Safe Energy, Executive Director and co-founder of the Christic Institute, an interfaith law and policy center in Washington, D.C. and Executive Director of the State of the World Forum in San Francisco. Sara also served as national Labor Chair for the National Organization for Women and a was a member of the California Commission on the Status of Women. She has a background in journalism having worked as a cable television anchorperson, editor and reporter, and obtained a BA in Anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley.


The Philosophy of Hope & Despair

Kyle Robertson

Co-founder of the Center for Public Philosophy at UC Santa Cruz

Kyle Robertson holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy from UC Santa Cruz and a J.D. from UC Berkeley. In 2015, he co-founded the Center for Public Philosophy at UC Santa Cruz. He has a passion for all things public philosophy, including high school ethics bowl programs, teaching inside San Quentin State Prison, and philosophy for children. He regularly speaks on public philosophy topics and publishes on the challenges of doing public philosophy. In addition to this work, he is a Lecturer in the Philosophy Department at UC Santa Cruz.


David T. Lee

Assistant Professor of Computational Media at UC Santa Cruz, where he directs the Tech4Good Lab

David T. Lee directs research that integrates design, modeling and algorithms to support a flourishing future of education, work, community engagement, and governance. His work has received paper awards at AAAI HCOMP and ACM CHI, been published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and deployed with the Finland Ministry of the Environment. He is a recipient of an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship, an Accel Innovation Scholar fellowship, two Magic Grants from the Brown Institute for Media Innovation, and the Baskin School of Engineering Teaching Excellence Award. David received his PhD from Stanford University, where he was a part of the Social Algorithms Lab. He loves spending time with his wife, Ivy, and his three young kids Liana, Isobel, and Daniel.


The Ingredients of Activism

Sylvanna M. Falcón

Associate Professor in the Department of Latin American and Latino Studies, Director of the Research Center for the Americas, and Founder of the Human Rights Investigations Lab at UCSC

Sylvanna M. Falcón is an Associate Professor in the Department of Latin American and Latino Studies, Director of the Research Center for the Americas, and founder of the Human Rights Investigations Lab at the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is the author of Power Interrupted: Antiracist and Feminist Activists inside the United Nations, [University of Washington Press, 2016; winner of the National Women’s Studies Association’s Gloria E. Anzaldúa Book Award] and the co-editor of Precarity and Belonging: Labor, Migration, and Noncitizenship [under contract with Rutgers University Press] and New Directions in Feminism and Human Rights [Routledge, 2011]. She is also the producer and host of a weekly public affairs radio program called Voces Críticas/ Critical Voices that airs on KZSC and KCSB.


Bradford Loomis


Drawing from the storytelling of Bruce Springsteen, Iron and Wine and Jason Isbell, and pairing it with the soulful delivery of Chris Stapleton, Marc Broussard and Shawn James, Bradford has created a unique style he calls Rhythm & Roots. Grit and melody marry roots and soul. Bradford speaks of the raw reality of the human condition with passion, sharing tales that are shaped by grief and longing colored by wistfulness and regret, but are lifted by enduring hope, humility and love.


I was suffering: Parenting PTSD

Abigail McFarlane Makepeace

Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Founder of Makepeace Therapy

Abigail Makepeace is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, the founder of Makepeace Therapy, a writer, and a thought leader in trauma’s impact on relationships. She has a private practice in Los Angeles, where she works with couples and individuals to help them discover the root causes of unwanted patterns and destructive behaviors. Through these revelations, she empowers her clients towards the path of forgiveness and healing and helps them break these habits so that they can live more fulfilled, healthy, and joyful lives. Treating past trauma, which presents as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, is a large portion of her practice. Abigail is trained in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) and incorporates this somatic treatment to help clients suffering from PTSD. She believes healing is possible for everyone and that one changed life contributes to changing the world.


Finian Makepeace

Co-founder of Kiss the Ground; Thought Leader in the Field of Regenerative Agriculture

Finian Makepeace is the co-founder of Kiss the Ground and a renowned presenter, media creator, and thought leader in the field of regenerative agriculture and soil health. His dedication to Kiss the Ground’s mission of “inspiring participation in global regeneration, starting with soil”, has motivated him to develop training programs, workshops, and talks designed to empower people around the world to become confident advocates for this growing movement. As part of the Kiss the Ground media team, Finian has worked with leading experts, farmers, and businesses to bring the ideas of regenerative agriculture and soil health as hopeful solutions to the world’s problems in clear, comprehensible and thought-provoking formats to audiences everywhere. Simply, he has helped Kiss the Ground succeed in sharing this message across the globe. His background as a leader of a band and lifelong activist has given him the unique opportunity to blend his artistic vision with his ability to organize and advocate for this growing, global, and diverse community. His “calling” is that people experience being a part of making history” and he believes that with enough new advocates promoting the ancient wisdom and new science of regenerative agriculture and ecosystem restoration we can heal our planet.


Different Is Not Dangerous

Hamza Al Haidari

Programs Director, America Scores

Hamza Al Haidari moved to California as a refugee from Baghdad, Iraq in 2008. He has traveled from small towns all over the US to the full stretch of the Camino de Santiago across Europe to share his story as a tool to combat fear and racism. He has been a keynote speaker at immigration marches around the state, the Multicultural Festival in San Diego, and by special invitation to TEDxBaghdad. Al Haidari taught emergency response courses and gave lectures on diversity while on staff at Stanford University. Hamza now works for a national nonprofit; America SCORES, developing learning curriculum, teaching poetry and soccer to at-risk youth. He is also involved with Do/Love/Live, an organization dedicated to encouraging positive change through real life story telling.


The Radical Authenticity Revolution

Phillip L. Hammack, Ph.D.

Professor and Chair of Psychology and Director of the Sexual and Gender Diversity Laboratory at the University of California, Santa Cruz

Phillip L. Hammack, Ph.D., is Professor and Chair of Psychology and Director of the Sexual and Gender Diversity Laboratory at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Dr. Hammack is an expert on gender and sexual identity diversity and diversity in intimate relationships. For over a decade, Hammack has been a leader in psychology’s paradigm shift in how we think about and study identity. He has published dozens of scientific papers in scholarly journals and is the editor of The Oxford Handbook of Social Psychology and Social Justice. His research has been supported by the National Institutes of Health and the William T. Grant Foundation, and he has been a guest on the popular NPR Freakanomics podcast. Hammack has received several early career awards and has been a fellow at the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.


Hope Built This: Placemaking and Chanticleer Park

Mariah Roberts

Executive Director of Friends of Santa Cruz County Parks

Mariah Roberts is Executive Director of Friends of Santa Cruz County Parks. She was one of the key partners of the collaboration to imagine, fund and build Chanticleer County Park, a 4.5 acre park, featuring LEO’s Haven Inclusive Playground designed beyond ADA requirements to be an outdoor classroom for inclusive play. The park is slated to open in January 2020. Mariah holds a bachelor's degree from Pomona College in Women's Studies/Religious Studies and a master's degree from San Francisco State University in Special Education. Her passion for community engagement and Universal Design in public spaces is informed by having spent twelve years as an educational specialist serving families across the South Bay and Central Coast. In medical clinics, schools or homes, she worked with professionals and families to co-design activities, materials and spaces to promote active learning and healthy development through play.


Barry Sinervo

Evolutionary Biologist & Professor at UCSC

Barry Sinervo, Full Professor, University of California, Santa Cruz, is an evolutionary biologist who conducts research on Behavioral Ecology, Game Theory and the Biotic Impacts of Climate Change. He received his HBSc from Dalhousie University with a double major in Mathematics and Biology, PhD from the Zoology Department, University of Washington, and was a Miller Research Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. Early in his career he discovered the first biological example of the rock-paper-scissors game, played out in nature by the side-blotched lizard. He is co-author with Dan Friedman of a book (Feb., 2016) entitled: “Evolutionary Games in Natural, Social and Virtual Worlds”. He is currently researching contemporary extinctions of reptiles and amphibians and changes in plant communities driven by climate change, at sites distributed on five continents, leading a multinational research team of scientists developing physiological models of the biotic impacts of climate change on diverse biological systems, and measuring the biotic impacts of climate from equatorial sites to polar regions. He gives workshops on climate change science at institutions around the world. He is also Director of the UC-wide Institute for the Study of the Ecological and Evolutionary Climate Impacts, a research consortium funded by a UC Presidential Research Catalyst Award, studying biotic impacts of climate change across the UC Natural Reserve System of California.


Karelle Siellez, Ph.D.

Astrophysicist at UC Santa Cruz

Karelle Siellez graduated from her PhD in Astrophysics in France and moved to Atlanta for Postdoctoral research in Astrophysics at Georgia Tech in 2015. She is now working as an Astrophysicist at the University of California Santa Cruz. She participated on the LIGO discovery of gravitational waves which was rewarded by a Nobel Prize and she received the breakthrough prize in 2017. She is also an “artivist” (artist-activist) connecting art and science together with a call for action. She completed several murals around the theme of ocean life in Atlanta and in Europe, has conducted projects intertwining art and science outreach, focusing on underserved populations with scarce access to museums and art, and organized countless outreach events for children to introduce astrophysics through craft activities. She is the co-founder of the Whale Shark Project, an environmental non-profit created in 2017 that won the Georgia Tech Earth Day award in 2019.


The Banana Slug Effect

Tim Goncharoff

Zero Waste Programs Manager for Santa Cruz County

 He is a well-known innovator and problem-solver, and the creator of many cutting edge environmental protection programs. Tim has won numerous awards for his accomplishments and speaks all over the world about his inspiring work. 


The Arc of the Scientific Universe is Long

David Deamer

Research Professor of Biomolecular Engineering at the University of California, Santa Cruz

David Deamer is a Research Professor of Biomolecular Engineering at the University of California, Santa Cruz. In 1989, Deamer proposed the idea that it may be possible to sequence a DNA molecule by passing it through a nanoscopic pore embedded in a membrane. Mark Akeson and Deamer investigated the technique over the next 15 years, and in 2014 commercial devices were marketed that utilize nanopore sequencing concepts and patents developed by the Akeson and Deamer research groups. In a second research area, Deamer investigates how nucleic acids and primitive cells could have emerged on Earth 4 billion years ago, which is the topic of his TEDx talk. Deamer’s research is described in Assembling Life (2019), published by Oxford University Press, and was featured in a cover article in the August 2017 Scientific American.


Roxanne Beltran

Postdoctoral fellow in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology department at UCSC

Roxanne Beltran is a postdoctoral fellow in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology department at UC Santa Cruz. She hopes to better understand the strategies that allow marine mammals to thrive in the open ocean, especially how their behavior and survival may be impacted by our changing planet. Roxanne is also passionate about science communication and inclusion of underrepresented minority students in scientific research. She has combined those two passions using a mathematical approach to understand how learning in nature can engage and retain undergraduate students in STEM. Additionally, Roxanne has written a children’s book, “A Seal Named Patches” and has visited more than 4,000 K-12 students to share her research.


Addi Somekh

Balloon Artist, Entertainer

Addi Somekh is a balloon artist who specializes in improvising elaborate balloon hats and large abstract sculptures. His balloon work has taken him to over 40 countries. In 2001, Addi was bit by a tick and contracted Lyme’s Disease, and wound up bedridden for eight months. While he could do little else, he used his time learning to make and play the balloon bass. The balloon bass is a musical instrument made entirely of latex balloons and air, and has a range of three and a half octaves. It is built with only a single 11-inch round balloon and two skinny twisting balloons, and is amplified by a peizo pick up run into a bass amp. These days Addi can be found playing with his Los Angeles-based band, Unpopable.


Touching Land: How to Build Bridges Through Art

Carolina Rubio-MacWright

Artist, Immigration Lawyer and Activist

Carolina Rubio-MacWright is an artist, immigration lawyer and activist fighting for immigrant and humanitarian rights. Her experience as an immigrant and immigration attorney opened her eyes to systems of oppression and how these intersect, taking peoples freedom away. She believes art is the most powerful way of explaining these inequities. She has thus mixed her law and art into the perfect platform called Touching Land; a program that uses hands on experiential arts as a tool for immigrant empowerment and community building. At Touching Land, immigrants learn about their rights and self-worth as they make a ceramic piece. The program also has a building bridges track, where cross cultural exchange happens as immigrants and American citizens come together through the power of art. Whether working on policy campaigns for non- profits, performing public art pieces, speaking at events or organizing lawyers to work inside detention centers, Carolina is guided by a simply principle: anything is possible when inspiring ideas and passionate people come together.


Sue Carter

Provost of Rachel Carson College, the Director for the Center of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Development at UCSC, and Professor of Physics

Sue Carter is the Provost of Rachel Carson College, the Director for the Center of Innovation and Entrepreneurial Development at UCSC, and a Professor of Physics. She has worked at companies like Pfiezer, General Motors, IBM and AT&T and has been a principle or founder at 4 start-ups: Add-vision (fully printable Organic Light Emitting Displays), Solexant (tools to deliver next generation solar cells), IRIS Science Academy (hands-on science eduction for students who learn differently), and Soliculture (sustainable electricity generation with improved crop yields). In her multiple roles, Carter focuses on deploying basic research and supporting students grass-roots efforts to deploy innovations to promote global sustainability.