CreativeMornings/Omaha Meet Brian Smith

Omaha is part of the global CreativeMornings community. This monthly breakfast lecture series is designed to highlight our creative community and adds to Omaha’s strong arts and culture scene and growing reputation.

After our June event featuring Joey Bierman, we caught up with attendee Brian Smith, writer.

Describe the work that you do.

I’m a writer who explores people in relation to created systems. We build systems like companies, cities, and contracts that all have different social expectations and responsibilities. I examine how they operate, shift, and deteriorate.

As part of our We Don’t Coast spirit, describe the impacts you are trying to make.

I’ve produced TEDxOmaha since 2010, connecting people to TED’s global movement of Ideas Worth Spreading. Our 40 volunteers develop leadership skills by presenting 16 annual programs, and our attendees find like-minded people in the community. We focus on universal topics with speakers who live in or have a strong connection to Omaha. Brag moment: we have featured 83 remarkable speakers and performers, one of whom had her talk promoted to the official TED website. It has over 2.5 million views.

On a civic level, I am encouraging Omaha residents to take an active role in public life. Living in a city is a political act, and we are responsible to and for each other.

What is your creative passion?

I’m a conceptual artist who utilizes a blend of ideas, photography of found objects and temporal status. One collection, #plushiebomb, can be found on Instagram.

What is your first and/or most meaningful CreativeMornings experience?

I’m a fan of CM founder Tina Roth Eisenberg and considered starting the CM Omaha chapter in 2013. I believe the first talk I watched online was that of my friend, Grace Rodriguez, speaking at CM Houston. []

How important is being a part of a creative community to you?

Artists always work in context of relationships to other people and social concepts. As creators, we need co-conspirators.

In your opinion, how should we celebrate one another’s uniqueness?

People are multidimensional, inconsistent and ever-shifting. Scrape away the superficial layer of social chatter when you meet someone. It’s up to you to find the good stuff. Ask better questions. Find a reason to get excited about their potential. Look for ways to share stories.

Who is your favorite cultural leader and/or artist of all time?

I am reticent to name only one person, but I’ll nominate Neri Oxman. She leads the Mediated Matter research group at MIT Media Lab and produces the most amazing interdisciplinary work. I consider her to have genius on top of genius. []

Tell us something about yourself that we can’t find on Google.

I believe 9am is the optimal time to get out of bed.

If you could open a door and go anywhere, where would you go and why?

I’d go to Birmingham UK and talk with Immy Kaur and Indy Johar. Immy is a friend from TEDActive and co-founder of Impact Hub Birmingham. Indy is a leading thinker on urbanism and humanity.

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