Brian Thompson

Brian Thomason: Growing Solutions to Feed the World

Agriculture is coming to a crossroads with demands outweighing the production. How will the world learn to produce more with the same resources? One way we’ve found is through technology. Planting smarter and conserving resources will help out. Technology can’t do it alone though—what can do you?

Nick Givechi

Nick Givechi: CANVAS: The Formation of Identity

In a 5 – 7 minute Spoken Word Poem, I illustrate the abstract concept of self, as we perceive ourselves to be, through the metaphor of being a blank canvas that the colors of diversity paint upon us as we develop from infancy into adulthood.

“I am a Canvas.
It was the world’s job to paint me before I ever made memories.
I once was a soft, little baby who viewed this world as a masterpiece, and each one of you were the masterful brushstrokes which waved at me — waving your own unique colors of life’s experience so gracefully over me, and I am your canvas.
I evolve as your vibrant, resilient painting, and I am one of the fortunate, because you — as my artists and co-creators — embrace me.”

This piece plays with the concept that we are all born “carte blanche”, and are taught shades of acceptance and ignorance, love and hate, activism and apathy; therefore, we are never truly living in a “me versus the world” mindset — no matter how often we’re taught the notion that we should look out for ourselves.  We create divisions when we forget that those who love us “paint” us accordingly; without those brushstrokes, we would be slightly less complete as a masterpiece.  We are all intertwined, and we are responsible to be self-aware that our beauty is a direct result of all the shades that complement each other to make us beautiful to look at: a portrait that equally gives every color equal spotlight on the eye.

“A world painted in the shade of only one color would truly be a boring world indeed, so don’t let the shade of all the past tell you what shade of all the pastels you should be.
If no one else tells you today, I love you, because you helped make me.

I did nothing except stand here, blank, and allow myself to be your Canvas.”

Lori McMillan

Lori McMillan: Taxation Myths and Realities: What’s the Matter With Kansas?

Taxation is something that everyone has an opinion about, but very few people actually understand. This talk is aimed at exploring the underpinnings of the income tax, and how society needs it to be a fundamentally fair tax. Tax law is, arguably, one of the most reflective of social values, since tax legislation is used not just to raise revenue, but also as a tool to further social and economic policy. One of the most watched “experiments” in taxation has unfolded in Kansas over the last couple of years, and Kansas state taxation policy is an excellent tool for exploring ideas like fairness in building a fiscal system.

Michael Stewart: Fuel Tax, the Future, and Oh Yeah . . . Holograms!

The current highway system is largely funded by fuel tax, a tax collected on the sale of gasoline on a per-gallon basis.  The fuel tax had its place, but it’s quickly becoming obsolete.

Gasoline powered vehicles are becoming more efficient, and hybrid powered vehicles are becoming more widespread.  The auto industry is also seeing an emerging market of vehicles powered entirely without gasoline, such as all-electric powered vehicles and compressed natural gas powered vehicles.  The combination of all of the above is creating a growing hole in the tax revenue collected for roads, as fewer gallons of gasoline are being purchased.

This is currently a minor problem, and luckily it can be fixed before it gets out of hand, but it requires a proactive approach.  Americans have always had a clear vision of the future and the fortitude to make that vision a reality, from John F. Kennedy’s challenge to reach the moon, to Steve Jobs’ and Bill Gates’ race to put a personal computer in the American home.  This nation has made history by looking to the future, and it will continue to do so in the 21st Century with further advancement of an array of technology such as weaning off of fossil fuels; building electronic data infrastructure that provides infinite storage & transfer speed; and oh yeah, Holograms!

The fuel tax is a real problem with a real solution.  Fixing it will require leaders to look to the future, like Americans always have and always will.  In the process, maybe those visionaries will find something more inside of each of them that will change the World.

Sarah Smarsh: Why Most News Stories Aren’t True Stories

Sick of the news? Sick about the news? Maybe it’s not the content that’s exhausting or depressing but the way it’s conveyed. Journalist Sarah Smarsh reveals the missing element in your fast-flowing information stream, the nature of true story, and a new media landscape that will transform your relationship to the world.

Jarrod Guth: Improvisation and Opportunities: The Quick Thinking Performer

I will plan on talking about not being scared to take the next step as a performer and that some shows are best when they are not planned. My performances are 80% improvised on stage. I will talk about making sure you have the right tools to improvise when on stage in order to avoid being scared to perform from not having enough material.

Drew Blas: The Rebirth of Board Games and the New Social Revolution

Technology has powered a whole new paradigm of virtual “social” interaction and Facebook and its ilk are common household names that pervade our culture. But at dinner tables, coffee houses, and bars all across the world, a completely different social revolution is taking place: Board gaming.

These are not your parlor table staples, like Candy Land or Monopoly. Instead, find out what mechanisms the genre has discovered that capture our hearts and minds. Deception, cooperation, and quick-thinking are all skills that are rewarded in various ways.

Learn how this industry has revitalized itself with new titles that have broad appeal for both the young and old.  Finally, see how they’re helping to bring us closer together by closing the generation gap and making face-to-face entertainment cool again.

Phillip “Brail” Watson: Giving Back

The idea of this presentation would be to illuminate the mystery of why crime is so prevalent in our city, and give people an idea of what they can do to stop it. Speaking from the point of view of the “hood” I hope to bring an often unheard voice, and perspective to the idea of giving back to one’s community, and what that REALLY means.

Brendan Wiley: Consider Saying Yes

That’s not our policy.  We have always done it this way.  We have all heard these road blocks.  We have all heard conversations ended.  What if no’s became yes’s.  What if road blocks became opportunities.  What if we considered saying yes?