“On snow days in my school district, the majority of kids don’t eat lunch. I think to the rest of the world, the lunch lady in our school district is a nobody. To these kids, she’s somebody—she’s everything.”
There’s a deeply troubling and misplaced western idea that if you’re not somebody, you can’t do anything—and if you’re not somebody, you’re nothing,” she says. “We’re obsessed with becoming somebody.”
“My challenge to you today Pittsburgh is to dig this out again from the depth of our egos, our salaries, the everyday stresses and trials that force us into a box that because we aren’t somebody we can’t do anything.
“Redefine who you are—and who you think you’re not—if you still think you’re nobody and can’t change the world,” she says. “Nobody is changing the world every day—whether we know it or not. If you’re aware of your impact you can redirect it and guide it towards something better.
No footprint is so small that it can’t make an impact on the world, and I would know—I wear a 5 1/2.”
Michelle Fanzo is the president of Four Corners Consulting and a World Policy Institute Fellow. She worked as a United Nations staffer and founded PUMP here in Pittsburgh.
“How can Pittsburgh become the next global city?” she asks. “The next wave of global cities will reflect the changing way we produce value—by shifting from centralized to decentralized, by empowering others rather than following a single leader and by not asking ‘Will I succeed’ but ‘Will I matter?’
“Our city and region can shine in the new space.
“What if we developed an initiative with people in Pittsburgh with those who left—it would be a bridge between here and there, between the past and the future. We would call it Pittsburgh Homecoming,” she says. “People here and there could share ideas, build partnerships, invest in businesses and project and up-to-date images of what the region has to offer. And we could tap into the experiences of the Pittsburghers out there and offer a way for them to bring their knowledge and expertise back home.”
Lawrence Reed, Schenley High and Pitt grad and visiting assistant professor in psychology at Skidmore College, spoke on his research related to facial expressions and why we express our private emotions on such a conspicuous place as our face.
“The face is a dual processing system. It is capable of producing both deliberate and spontaneously animated expressions.” In his talk, he explores the limitations we have in controlling our facial expressions and how the viewer interprets another’s facial expressions.
Samantha Bushman is founder of Talk, The New Sex Ed, a social enterprise that prepares young people—and their parents—to talk about sex.
“Only 22 states require that sex ed be taught at all. And of those states, only 13 say that sex ed needs to be medically, technically or factually accurate.
For kids to make informed, responsible choices about relationships and sexual health, they really need healthy sexual development to be addressed in home and in the classroom—and currently neither is happening.
Kids look to educators for technical information. Kids look to parents for: ‘What do you think my relationships should look like? When is it appropriate to date? What kinds of people should I be seeking out?’
Stop thinking of it (talking to your kids about sex) as an event, and more as a process.”
Josie Badger is a certified rehabilitation counselor and youth director at Parent Education Advocacy Leadership (PEAL) Center and chairperson of the #I Want To Work campaign, which works to improve employment opportunities for youth with disabilities. She spoke of being exceptional by choice.
“All of us have a gift to share whether it’s because of our life—or in spite of it.
“Exceptionality doesn’t come from your job or your education or where you grew up or your parents or your money or your disability; exceptionality comes from what you do with all of that and the choices you make and how you share that with others.”
Diane Turnshek is a faculty member in the Department of Physics at Carnegie Mellon University and spoke about her time at the Mars Desert Research Station in Utah. Seeing the night sky while there became her call to action.
She realized that “Pittsburgh is a wash of light—everywhere,” she says. “That light scatters up and out—so that it goes into the suburbs and into the rural countryside.”