Friday, April 29, 2011

Talk To Me, TED.

If you haven’t heard of TED by now, you need to get with it.

TEDx, a localized version in cities across the world, is taking place in Houston for the second time this June.

Just before bedtime tonight I went online for details and saw that, in order to attend the event, one must complete a full-on application. Great, just what I need, more reason to stay up late when I shouldn't. I was all over it.

As the clock struck midnight, I submitted my completed form to the website. Soon after, I'm posting its contents below. I welcome your thoughts.

Event Questionnaire

The following questions will help us understand the TEDxHouston audience, and your perspective on the 2011 theme. Where do we go from here?

Where are your roots and where are you planting your seeds? *
Tell us a bit about where you grew up, and something about your heritage.

I am a fourth generation Houstonian (prouder by the day!) and was raised in the west part of the city (Memorial). I attended University of Texas at Austin, earning an advertising degree. I spent every college summer outside of Texas (in order, Puerto Rico, Colorado, Spain/Europe and California).

After college, I lived in Chile and Brazil, working for a start-up, internet-based news agency and fiddling with an e-commerce endeavor for a total of two years. I then earned a dual degree MBA/Masters in International Management from the University of Houston and Thunderbird. I speak Spanish and Portuguese.

Today, I work for Accenture full-time and am otherwise constantly looking for projects consistent with my passions--like this blog, which gets touched up every so often.

My wife of three years (also a native, also a blogger!) and I live in a 1920-built bungalow-style home in Montrose. I ran my first Houston Half Marathon in January and am doing the CapTexTri in Austin on May 30.

Tell us about your hidden gem in Houston, a place that you find inspiring *
Describe the location and the reasons you picked it.

The neighborhood where I grew up (Sandalwood) and the neighborhood where we live now (Cherryhurst) are inspiring places which I would consider hidden. Each is different in its own way. Sandalwood has three lakes, and Cherryhurst has its own city park with a tennis court. Both have beautiful trees, friendly neighbors and make for safe walking at night.

How would you like to see your city change in the next 10 years? *
Name some of the ideal changes you imagine.

Houston should take its strength of attracting new people to the next level. The city's diverse population is an indescribable asset and can continue to grow as it has in the past or shrink as is the case in other cities, especially those in the northern US.

It should be the endless strive of city leaders to make the city as livable as possible for those who come here to earn a living. People come because they have to and they will stay here because they want to.

We must maintain our economic strength to attract talent. To put the city on par with the great cities of the world and continually retain talent, we must make the urban areas of the city more attractive places to be and generally enjoy. We are not there yet, but we are taking long strides. For a current example of how this is happening, look to the Buffalo Bayou Partnership and its beautification initiatives to improve the looks and usability along our city's bayous.

Name an international city you would love to visit in the future *
Describe your favorite place in the world, and the reasons why.

Is this a trick? An international city I would love to visit and my favorite place may not be the same, so I will take the middle path. A city where I have lived and that I like a lot is Sao Paulo. Day to day, I’m a city guy, and I like Sao Paulo because it is a city among cities. It is monstrous and diverse. (To my knowledge, there are more Japanese people outside of Japan in Sao Paulo than any other place. Fact check, please!)

It is not pretty (even on its best day) and always frenetic, but if you know where you are going and dig the culture, you can find remarkable gems everywhere. Its restaurants are truly outstanding, especially if you’re hungry for beef or pizza (or both). There is no better nightlife than that of "Sampa."

Describe your solution to a pressing issue in your community *
Pick any problem you can imagine and describe how you would solve it in an ideal situation.

An argument that I hear a few times a week these days revolves around public schools. This isn’t an issue isolated to Houston, but it seems to be more problematic here than in other cities.

Our inner city school system seems to be lacking to no end. People often either move out to suburbs for improved public education or stay closer to downtown but send their kids to private school.

I have read about private programs, like KIPP Academy, founded by entrepreneurs in Houston no less, which are delivering positive change and worth our support.

(Note: Minor revisions were made between the online application and this post.)