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TEDx event aims to spark innovation and change in Buffalo

Ashley Hirtzel
Journey's End Refugee Service's Bryana DiFonzo and Bishnu Adhikari

The third annual TEDxBuffalo conference attracted more than 350 people this year. The event is modeled on the global Technology, Entertainment, Design conference format (TED), but focused on issues relevant to Buffalo.

Fifteen speakers had less than 20 minutes to share their innovative ideas and inspire people to get involved with different community organizations.

Founder of TEDxBuffalo Kevin Purdy says it’s not a traditional conference, but rather a platform for sharing ideas that can spark change.

“I hope people not only get inspired to work with groups, to try new things, seek out information on some of the stuff they’re hearing about today, but I also hope it inspires them to think about their own ideas and what they have to say,” said Purdy.

Bryana DiFonzo is a Volunteer Manger with Journey’s End Refugee Services. Her presentation focused on the refugee community’s role in helping to revitalize western New York.

“Refugees are contributing. They’re taking action, they’re doing things, and a lot of people don’t even know that they are here. So I wanted to tell people that they’re here, make sure people understand what their stories are and what their background is,” said DiFonzo

DiFonzo says many refugees in Buffalo are working in janitorial, housekeeping, and food service jobs until they have a better handle on the English language. She encouraged Buffalo natives to make refugees feel welcome and support their assimilation into American culture.

The year’s TEDxBuffalo touched on a range of topics other topics as well, from the correlation between art and science to how people are getting inspired by talks around the dinner table. The conference’s proceedings are being shared online.

WBFO/Western New York reporter for the Innovation Trail.