‘Joining the Brainstorm’: UMass Boston Hosts IDEAS Boston Conference This Month
October 02, 2011
Chico Colvard doesn’t shy away from difficult subjects.
“I think I’m interested in telling stories about issues we don’t want to talk about,” the UMass Boston alumnus, adjunct professor, and documentary filmmaker says.
Colvard earned critical praise at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival for his film A Family Affair, a film centered on his discovery, at age 10, of sexual abuse within his family. Now, he is one of 16 leading-edge thinkers from around the region who will be sharing creative, innovative, and big ideas at the 2011 IDEAS Boston conference at UMass Boston on Oct. 20.
This is the first year UMass Boston will be hosting IDEAS Boston, after taking permanent ownership of the forum earlier this year.
“I think I want to talk about my ideas for films, or the kind of filmmaking I’m interested in,” Colvard says about what he plans to present at the conference. “I also want to talk about the way to deliver those sensitive and volatile stories, so I think that with Family Affair, the issue of incest kind of serves as a narrative backdrop, and I use it to sort of pull out a lot of universal issues and themes around family, around notions of forgiveness and redemption and punishment and accountability.”
And Colvard will be in good company.
Marjorie Agosín, who teaches Latin American studies at Wellesley College, has won numerous honors in recognition of her work as a human rights activist. Like Colvard, she also tells stories through her work. She is especially passionate about representing the voices of Latin American women.
“I’m going to talk about the importance of poetry in a highly technological world, the importance of the relationship between the poet and the reader, the intimacy of poetry, the individuality as well as the communal voice of poetry,” she says.
Nathan Ball, the cofounder of Atlas Devices, says he’s excited to be a part of the speaker lineup. Ball’s lifesaving equipment company makes a real-life version of Batman’s grappling setup.
“It will be a thrill to get to share some of my story and the technological ideas that have me on the edge of my seat,” Ball says. “I'm really pleased to get to contribute to this amazing conference, especially right here at UMass Boston. It's a tribute to the institution and our local area that such a group of individuals are converging to create this event.”
Other speakers range from an evolutionary biologist who advocates barefoot running to an entrepreneur who is working to commercialize the recently developed technology enabling wireless electricity. Tom Ashbrook of NPR’s On Point will serve as moderator.
Associate Professor of Political Science and Director of the Institute for Asian American Studies Paul Watanabe spoke at the IDEAS Boston conference in 2008.
“In Boston, many of us fill venues such as Fenway Park, the Garden, and Gillette Stadium to witness the extraordinary physical feats of talented individuals,” he says. “I can assure you that with IDEAS Boston there is a similar ‘high’ for presenters and the audience. It is energizing to be in a packed room where innovative ideas are bounced and bandied about with skill and imagination. Even more important in these mental contests there are no losers – everyone comes away a winner.”
The Boston Typewriter Orchestra, a group of six who make music with manual typewriters, will perform, along with musicians from Berklee College of Music, New England Conservatory of Music, and UMass Boston.
To register or read up on all of this year’s speakers, visit www.ideasboston.com. Preregistration is required, and registration closes October 14. There is a discount for UMass Boston employees, who can register in the nonprofit category.
IDEAS Boston is sponsored by the University of Massachusetts Boston, Plymouth Rock Assurance, Ambit Creative Group, Bank of America, the Barr Foundation, Weil, IBM, and Interise. This year’s media partners are The Boston Globe, WBUR radio, WCVB-TV Channel 5, and MassINC.