TEDxDicksonStreet 2017 Speakers and Performers

The Video Playlist can be found on Youtube.

 Our 2017 TEDxDicksonStreet Speakers were:

Allison Thurmond Quinlan + Jessica Hester | Street trees create tangible benefits for urban dwellers
Angela Belford | CommUNITY is the solution to homelessness
Creed Tumlison | Inaccuracy in self-knowledge assessments impacts our decisions
Ilana Starr Berman | Why we need to offer group trauma treatments to (ordinary) males
Jamie Smith | Do you hear what I hear?
Laura Bell Phillips | From Despair to Drag: How performance helped save my life
Martha Londagin | Adverse Childhood Experiences Can Be Connectors to Joy
Munya Nyamanzi | Do What It Is That You Love
Olivia Trimble | Just Do The Thing
Peter Ungar | The Ancestral Human Diet
Raj Suresh | Nobody’s Listening
Robert Dayton Castleman | Tilting at Rockets
Taylor Bridges | Reclaiming the 3R’s: A New Direction to Salvage Sustainability

Allison Thurmond Quinlan + Jessica Hester


Alli and Jess met while attending the University of Oklahoma College of Architecture during their undergraduate years.  Alli went on to receive a Master of Landscape Architecture degree from Virginia Polytechnic Institute and Jess went on to receive a Master of Design Research from the University of Michigan.  They reunited in Northwest Arkansas in 2015 after consecutively working the same position at the University of Arkansas Community Design Center.  Alli and Jess have won national and international design awards separately for their work at the UACDC. They have also recently won several awards together for an urban watershed plan done during their time with the UACDC, including a Green GOOD DESIGN Award, 2016 American Architecture Award, and 2016 ASLA Central States Merit Award.


Why are you drawn to speak at a TEDx event?

Alli: The power of forests to counter the stresses of modern urban life is simple and attainable by almost every city and town. Rarely is the prosaic topic of street trees considered as a powerful tool in improving lives. TEDx offers a unique cross-disciplinary platform to share these ideas.

Jess: As a self-proclaimed TED talk and TED radio hour addict, it has been a dream of Jess’ to participate in TED(x) for many years.   She believes that the idea of placemaking in regard to urban forestry and more specifically to street trees is an important piece of our community’s future and deserves an opportunity to be part of the local dialogue.

Both: Alli and Jess are avid viewers of TED talks and are passionate about being lifetime learners.  After attending the Congress for New Urbanism in Seattle this Spring, they were inspired to research and develop a field guide for North American street trees to help cities, developers, and everyday citizens plant healthy, happy, thriving urban forests.

Angela Belford

From a childhood of homelessness and food insecurity to becoming a champion of community investors, Angela Belford is charting a new path for people experiencing homelessness in Northwest Arkansas.

Why you should listen
Like many of us, Angela Belford didn’t start out on a straight and narrow journey to success. By the time she graduated from high school, Angela had lived with 4 families, made countless address changes, and attended over a dozen schools. She even experienced a season of homelessness after the passing of her adopted mother. Yet over time, Angela changed her trajectory in life.

In addition to owning a successful Fayetteville based software development and digital marketing company, The Belford Group, Angela has passionately become our community’s homelessness ambassador. She is currently the chairwoman of a local board of community investors working on a strategic plan to end homelessness in Northwest Arkansas by 2025. Her new book, Be Freaking Awesome debuts in September 2017 with more about her story and the lessons she learned from her humble beginnings.

Why are you drawn to speak at a Tedx Event:
I want to demonstrate a path from person experiencing homelessness to tenant to homeowner to community investor. A house is not enough. If we all see how we are investors then we can embed this concept into our strategies and polices to solve large scale social problems and help our neighbors on their journey.

Creed Tumlison

Creed is a Public Policy PhD student and Doctoral Academy Fellow at the University of Arkansas. He received a BS in Business Management from Arkansas State University and an MA in Political Science from the University of Arkansas. Creed has always found himself interested not in what people think, but why they think what they do. As such, his research focuses on understanding the decision-making processes of both policy elites and the general public across a variety of issues, specifically examining the roles that actual and self-perceived knowledge levels play in the policy-making process. His research has been presented at multiple national and international conferences. When he is not working on research or teaching, Creed enjoys spending time with his family, particularly teaching his three children about the wonders of the wild outdoors and the proper ways of a Razorback fan.

Why are you drawn to speak at a TEDx event?
Speaking at a TEDx event is exciting to me because of the community that surrounds such events – a community of people eager to share, receive, and spread new stories and ideas. I have long been fascinated by how people go about making decisions. I hope that in sharing some insights into the decision-making process, as well as how people can potentially better improve their decision-making (and, in turn, the outcomes of their decisions), I can ultimately help people at both the individual and societal levels.

Jamie Smith

Jamie Smith often tells people that she grew up in Kansas but became a grownup in Northwest Arkansas. A former newspaper reporter, Jamie is now a writer and workshop facilitator through her own company, Jamie’s Notebook. She’s also a Personal Leadership Effectiveness Advisor through Future Achievement International.

Jamie’s life mission is to “inspire people, especially women, towards better self-awareness and ownership of their inherent value, core beliefs, and purpose through my own personal vulnerability, storytelling, and leadership.”

Jamie frequently writes and speaks about communication and leadership concepts and she sees talking about disability-related issues as no different. As a full-time wheelchair user, Jamie often experiences common communication struggles between the world of people with disabilities and able-bodied society. She uses personal stories and humor to help bridge those communication gaps and bring better awareness about life with a disability and chronic illness.

Jamie lives in Elkins with her husband and their four “furkids.” When she’s not working or spending time with family, Jamie loves writing on her personal blog, Sunflowers & Thorns.

Why are you drawn to speak at a TEDx event?
TEDx is known for being a platform where people come with an open mind and are more willing to at least listen to ideas that make them uncomfortable or that challenges their preconceived notions. It’s that type of audience who will listen, act and help change the world for others. And, secondly, what public speaker wouldn’t want to be invited to do a TEDx Talk? What an amazing opportunity.

Ilana Starr Berman

Ilana Berman will be giving a talk on the importance of offering group therapy to (ordinary) men with symptoms of PTSD. She is passionate about working with under-served populations: delivering and evaluating evidence-based treatments to individuals and families affected by traumatic experiences.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, she earned her Bachelor’s at the University of Delaware (2011). She has worked to implement a Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy program for youth and caregivers in the state of Delaware and conducted home visits to research children’s exposure to violence in Philadelphia. Now in her 4th year of the clinical psychology PhD program at the University of Arkansas, Ilana has provided individual therapy services at Juvenile Detention Center, Peace at Home Family Shelter for survivors of domestic violence, and continues to work at the U of A Psychological Clinic where she has organized and co-leads trauma recovery groups, specifically designed for individuals also struggling with substance use.

When not promoting the importance of confronting and processing trauma, she loves spending time with her pets (both a cat and dog) and doing acro yoga. She is excited to share this academic information with the public who can benefit most from the results and are often the subject of research.

Laura Bell Phillips

A political activist and co-founder of For Fayetteville, the group that campaigned to pass the city’s LGBTQ rights act in 2015, Laura Bell Phillips struggled with crippling depression and anxiety for years before finding an outlet in Diva Drag (the art of drag performed by women) in Spring 2015. She performs as Kandy Kakes Monroe in Fayetteville and Fort Smith and founded Fayetteville’s Drag Queen Story hour. A tireless advocate for social justice and the redeeming power of love, she has officiated over 100 weddings  including the first same sex wedding in Arkansas and stood up for countless people with the aim of making the world a more just and compassionate place.  She has been described by her friends as “Xena Warrior Princess wrapped in rainbows and glitter”.

Laura will be speaking on how performing as a drag queen has helped her body image and self-confidence and has been a boost to her mental health. Bell Phillips lives in south Fayetteville with her unique family and her tiny dog.

Why are you drawn to speak at a TEDx event?

I wanted to do a Tedx talk because my story is unique and TEDx talks help share unique stories with people who may benefit from hearing them. I know I have learned so much and been exposed to so many different and new ideas through the power of Ted talks and I am honored that I will be able to be a part of this amazing program.

Martha Londagin

Martha Londagin is a VP Commercial/SBA Business Loans officer with Legacy National Bank. She is a Siloam Springs High School graduate and a licensed attorney in Arkansas and Oklahoma.  Her family has lived in Washington and Benton Counties, Arkansas for over 160 years. She is a former public school educator and non-profit outreach business consultant. Martha has been married to her husband Doug for 30 years and they own a small business together. They have one child, Carter, who is the light of their lives. She holds a Secondary Education bachelor’s degree from the University of Arkansas and was a high school English and Communications teacher prior to graduating from the School of Law at the University of Arkansas where she earned her Juris Doctor. Martha serves as a children’s Sunday school teacher at Genesis Church in South Fayetteville, an outreach ministry of Central United Methodist Church. She is an active volunteer with several Northwest Arkansas chambers of commerce assisting members with starting and growing their small businesses with education and information about Northwest Arkansas resources. The passion of her life is supporting any person, cause, or group that brings joy and love to children and teens.

Why are you drawn to speak at a TEDx event?
I am drawn to speak at a TEDx event because the words of other people have at times positively changed my life, saved my life, and delivered joy to my life. Some of them are now gone and I didn’t’ say thank you enough. Thus,  I strive to honor what they gave me by sharing with others in such an accepting and open environment as the TEDx event. The fact that this event takes place on Dickson Street is what drew me to apply finally to some speaking event after my girlfriends had begged me for years to speak at some public gathering or write a book. Dickson Street is a street I physically grew up on as a Fayetteville street rat child and have continued to “prowl” my entire life. It is a part of my life’s diary-delightful on many pages, and sometimes….not so much.  Plus this event’s planning requirements are a lot less demanding than writing a book. (:

Munya Nyamanzi

Munya is a passionate speaker and entrepreneur who was born in Zimbabwe and grew up in California. He is the third of five children coming from a humble background where at times the family went days without food.

At the age of 10, while crossing the street he was hit by a car and spent 3 months in a coma. Diagnosed with short term memory, Munya struggled in school and many teachers never saw the potential he had and how he would ever change the world in a positive way.

At a young age, even with his diagnosis he never was content with being average or being just another number in the line up. A mentor once told him that “Munya you have so much life to live and so much to give to the world, don’t let your talents waste away.” This is one of the major things that inspired him to chase exactly what he wanted and always chase what he loved.

Munya has a wonderful story and a powerful message that connects with audiences of all ages. Munya was in a coma for three months and was incapable of speaking, talking, or even moving. At the age of 11, he had to learn how to read, write, walk, talk, and also build social skills. Many people would have never thought at the age of 11 he would turn out to be speaker and change the minds of many in the future.

Olivia Trimble

Olivia Trimble is a sign painter and muralist in Fayetteville Arkansas who spends her days dreaming of ways to improve the urban landscape through hand painted signs and colorful works of public art. Some of her favorite pieces are positive messages, calls to action and encouragement. She received national attention after painting over a racial slur and formed the movement, Repaint Hate. Olivia is one half of the creative force behind Cattywampus Coop, an indie craft and outsider art show. She has made peace with a life of rough hands with paint under her nails. Jenny Holzer is her spirit animal.

Why are you drawn to speak at a TEDx event?
I’m excited to do this TedX Talk on using fear as fuel because it’s a running theme that I’ve discovered within my creative community. It’s also what I have to do every day to function.

Peter Ungar

Peter Ungar serves as Distinguished Professor of Anthropology and Director the university’s Environmental Dynamics Program at the University of Arkansas. He received his PhD in Anthropological Sciences from Stony Brook University and taught Gross Anatomy in the medical schools at Johns Hopkins and Duke before joining the U of A faculty.  He is also an Honorary Professorial Research Fellow of the Evolutionary Studies Institute at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Ungar is known primarily for his work on the role of diet in human evolution. He has spent thousands of hours observing wild apes and other primates in the forests of Latin America and Southeast Asia, studied fossils from Tyrannosaurus to Neandertals, and developed new techniques for using surface analysis technologies to tease information about evolution and diet from tooth shape and patterns of use wear.

Ungar has written or coauthored more than 160 scientific works on ecology and evolution for books and journals including Science, Nature, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society.  These have focused on teeth, food choices and feeding in living primates, and the role of diet in the evolution of human ancestors and other fossil species.  He has also edited or co-edited edited three volumes focusing on the evolution of human diet, and his academic book, Mammal Teeth: Origin, Evolution, and Diversity (Johns Hopkins University Press), won the PROSE Award from the Association of American Publishers for best book in the biological sciences.  His recent popular science titles, Teeth:  A Very Short Introduction and Evolution’s Bite are available on bookstore shelves and online.  

Ungar’s work has been featured in documentaries on the Discovery Channel, the Science Channel, BBC Television and others.  He has given dozens of invited talks and keynote addresses at venues around the world, including the Royal Society in London, the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC., and the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

Why are you drawn to speak at a TEDx event?
I was drawn to speak at a TEDx event because I want to share my passion for science with the larger community.  There is so much misinformation on the web about the natural human diet and what it means for us today.  I think it is important to bring a scientific perspective to bear on what we know, and what it can teach us.

Raj Suresh

Raj Suresh is a stand-up comedian who tells jokes about cats, Adele, being Indian, redheads and more. He has opened for a large number of national headliners including Bert Kreischer, Kyle Kinane, and more, helped set up Northwest Arkansas’ first comedy club in decades, and established a robust comedy scene in Bentonville.

This year he hopes to hang out with Coldplay (or Emma Stone), drink good craft beer (or cheap Fireball), and tell more jokes.

Why are you drawn to speak at a TEDx event?
I’m drawn to speak at a TEDx event because I know that if my speech is impressive enough, folks might actually buy my comedy album, “Semi Famous, afterwards. Oh, also, I have ideas worth sharing. 😉

Robert Dayton Castleman

Dayton Castleman is an Arkansas-based artist and founder of Rogers Experimental House, a non-profit community studio and art center. A New Orleans native, Dayton received his BA in Art from Belhaven University and his MFA in sculpture from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He has taught as Assistant Professor of Art in sculpture at Trinity Christian College, Chicago, and as Museum Educator at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. He is currently Museum Manager at 21c Museum Hotel Bentonville. He has permanently installed large-scale site-specific artworks in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Bentonville, Arkansas, and his work has been seen in exhibitions throughout the United States, in Scotland, and The Netherlands. He lives in Rogers, Arkansas with his wife, Karen, a dancer, and their three children Anastasia, Zoe, and Fletcher. http://daytoncastleman.com

Why are you drawn to speak at a TEDx event?
I often participate in the telling of stories by supplementing them through symbolic means, making objects and images that facilitate, inhabit, or suggest narratives, but seldom tell the whole tale. In fact, during the events that motivated the quixotic adventure I’m going to share at TEDx Fayetteville, I was involved with crafting symbolic objects, costuming, and props related to to my survival fantasy. Yet while the props are an important part of this story, it requires my voice and words to be properly told. A setting built around the incorporation of images and words like TEDx is the ideal place to share it. Thank you.

Taylor Bridges

Taylor Bridges is currently a senior at the University of Arkansas working on her Bachelors in Psychology along with a minor in Sustainability.  She aspires to inspire others to protect and conserve this beautiful earth that we all call home.