2010 Presenters and Performers

Walking A Mile In My Shoes

Estella Cumberford, 18 years-old

Estella Ray Cumberford was born in California in 1991 and 6 months later moved with her parents to Southwest Colorado. Consequently, her first memories and her way of life were greatly informed by the sheer power and beauty of the grand mountains and sage-dotted red rock mesas of that region. When she was 5, her family moved again to Western North Carolina. Although she has never stopped thinking of the West as her heart home, she’s lived in the beautiful Blue Ridge ever since, beginning her “formal” education as well as learning to play the harp in this region. Deeply involved with the homeschool community in Asheville, Estella did not attend a public school until 5th and 6th grade, after which, she continued homeschooling and distance learning all the way through highschool. Throughout these years, she embraced steady passions for many forms of art, music, travel, horses, nature, reading, leather-tooling, ballroom dancing, friendships, barefooting, stargazing, baking, photography, and many more. She is currently looking forward to attending the School of Design for Digital Art and Design at Writtle College in England for three years, beginning September 20th 2010!

What’s Wrong with Our Food “System”? And How We Can Make a Difference

Birke Baehr, 11 years-old

While traveling with his family and being ‘roadschooled’, Birke at the age of 9 began studying sustainable and organic farming practices. Birke has visited and worked at Full Moon Farms Co-op, Athens, GA; Sequatchie Cove Farm, Sequatchie ,TN; Sapelo Farms, Brunswick, GA; and the organic gardens of The Hostel in the Forest in Brunswick, GA. He also attended a full day seminar with renowned farmer and author, Joel Salatin at The Farm in Summertown, TN. Mr. Salatin has continued to mentor Birke in his pursuit of new thinking about food and agriculture. Birke has also participated in The Sequatchie Valley Institute’s annual ‘Food for Life’ gathering for the past two years. At these workshops he’s studied composting, vermiculture, canning and food preservation methods, sprouting and tea. This year Birke has enjoyed tending a garden with his Granddaddy, growing tomatoes, beans, okra, potatoes, cukes and more. Birke intends to continue his education in this genre and expects to be a sustainable organic agriculturist in the future. He also has a passion for educating others, especially his peers, about the destructiveness of the industrialized food system and the enlightening alternatives of sustainable and organic farming, food and practices. Birke has also volunteered at the Humane Society and loves working with animals.

School Mods: Gaming the Educational System

Jonathan Schenker, 16 years-old

Jonathan has been captivated by computers longer than he can remember. Before he was a year old he was banging on keyboards and scrolling trackballs, progressing from Baby Smash and Baily’s Book House to more advanced programs such as Photoshop, Stop Motion Studio, and various online games and worlds. He never missed growing up without a television or a gaming system since he always had high-speed unrestricted Internet, a fast computer, unlimited software, and access to first generation computer geeks and hackers immersed in tech and the online world. Jonathan tries to balance geekdom with scuba diving, competitive gymnastics, photography, and ultimate frisbee. His current spare hours disappear when constructing objects in a Second Life sandbox, hacking online mods in World of Warcraft, dabbling with Flash and Objective-C, and exploring the latest Mac animation engines. As Jonathan continues to spend time using computers and chatting with others who do the same, he is becoming increasingly more convinced that immersion in virtual environments, particularly educational gaming, offers the best and broadest chance for this generation to make education systems not only much more productive, but also more fun. Jonathan wants us to understand that it is time to stop complaining about computer gaming, and instead work together to make educational online and multiplayer gaming a required part of every school day.

Youth Leadership in Our Community

Chase Pickering, 23 years-old, Adult Speaker

Chase was born and raised in Asheville, NC. At age 15, he became involved in Jane Goodall’s Roots & Shoots program,which empowers young people around the world through community-based projects that benefit people, animals and the environment. Before starting college, Chase took a gap year and served as the first Youth Leadership Fellow at the Jane Goodall Institute-USA and was invited to be part of the organization’s Board of Directors. He now plays a key role in bringing a young perspective to this very important leadership role and currently serves as Vice Chair of the Philanthropy and Communications Committee. Chase is a senior at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill where he studies strategic communications, environmental studies and entrepreneurship. He recently completed an internship with Discovery Communications in their Emerging Networks division. With his keen interest in photography, he has expanded his portfolio in recent years, and serves today as an advisor for Nature’s Best Photography magazine. Chase also serves on the board of directors for Wild for Life: Center for Rehabilitation of Wildlife and The Biltmore Company.

Bullying Prevention: Everyone Needs a Helping Hand

Martel Jackson and Andrea Griffin, 17 years-old

Andrea Griffin is a senior at Asheville High School in the SILSA program. She recently won an essay contest on defining leadership at a Leadership Conference hosted by UNC-Asheville. Andrea recognizes that she is a leader. Every day she tries to allow her actions to inspire her peers to dream more, become more, and learn more. As a college-bound student planning for a career in nursing, Andrea has a firm belief that “knowledge is power.” She intends to be the first person in her household to go to college. Her dedication to being a successful person is driven by her desire to be a positive example to her younger siblings and to make her family proud. Andrea became passionate about bullying prevention after experiencing firsthand the effect of being verbally bullied and then being in a physical conflict. As a college-bound student, altercations at school were significantly troubling and at times caused her to lose her desire to go to school. As she began to address this issue, she found that teachers, counselors, and her principal were unable to help her. Feeling alone, she found ways to be strong even when some of her peers viewed her as being scared and defeated. She avoided the threats, took different routes to class, and sat at different tables at lunch. Andrea recognizes how much energy it takes to deal with being bullied. By talking about this issue, she feels she is standing up for those students who feel victimized by bullies and feel that they aren’t strong enough deal with this problem themselves.

Martel Jackson has encountered many challenges during her 17 years of life. One of those giants has been bullies. Her first conflict with a bully occurred when she was 8 years-old. It was a messy experience and spawned a deep fear that took root within her. As her years accumulated and she experienced more intimidation from bullies, her fear changed to anger towards anyone who might take advantage of her. She adopted the mind-set that fighting back was the only way to escape these unwanted experiences, only to discover that fighting sometimes made things worse. Martel recognizes that the issue of bullying is a giant with which most people are never able to declare a victory. She feels it is her responsibility to give a voice to all individuals who are raped of their confidence and experience bullying in their lives. Martel recognizes that bullying has plagued our society for years and she believes that our school systems have implemented little to effectively address this important issue. She wants to share her ideas about what can be done to solve this pervasive problem.

Social Justice Through Music

Miranda Norlin, 14 years-old

Miranda is in the 10th grade and has been homeschooled all her life. She enjoys most school subjects, especially math and science, which is fortunate as she plans to become a large animal veterinarian. She practices her skills on her two pet goats whom she has trained to pull a cart. Miranda also enjoys hurdling and contradancing and she loves music. She has been playing piano for the past six years and recently began playing the accordion. She has written some music and is interested in learning more about arranging and harmonizing. In 2009, she attended the National Peace Alliance conference where she met Azim Khamisa, whose work in gang prevention inspired her to become more involved in social justice. She participated last year in Building Bridges of Asheville, an anti-racism program which taught her about the crippling disease of prejudice from which America is still suffering. Six months ago Miranda learned about El Sistema, the amazing Venezuelan music and social justice program.When she heard Adele Diamond, a renowned researcher in developmental cognitive neuroscience, give El Sistema as an example of a program that helps children develop into successful adults, Miranda and some friends were inspired to start a similar program for the children of Asheville.

Our Universal Connection

Duvey Rudow, 17 years-old

David “Duvey” Rudow is a senior at Asheville high. He is a supreme dancer who has taken four years of dance and participated in three dance shows. He is at the core a performer so when he learned about TEDxNGA, he jumped at the opportunity to share his ideas from the Orange Peel stage. Duvey has spent his entire life being mystified and inspired by the stars. Till the age of five, he lived in Fairview, an area just outside of Asheville that provided a great view of the stars. He would spend hours sitting outside, hypnotized by what he saw. After moving within the city limits of Asheville, Duvey felt that he lost more than just his country home, he lost his stars. He has spent the past twelve years attempting to find that connection again. Duvey hopes his TEDx talk will both help himself establish more a connection to the stars and help others realize what they are missing. His talk entitled “Our Universal Connection” is about finding our place in the universe.

Why Does Music Make Me Feel So Good?

Nate Wilcox-Pettit, 17 years-old

Nate Wilcox-Pettit is a senior at Asheville High School. He enjoys music, writing, dance parties, and live action roleplaying. He feels music on a deep level that he’s never really been able to describe, but that he’s convinced is a major part of the joy of being a human. He is a master bedroom dancer and loves to share and experience particularly bumpin music with those around him. Sampled music provides an avenue for experiencing the possibilities of human connection across the boundaries of culture, and is a passion of Nate’s because of this cultural complexity as well as the simple joy of the way it sounds.

Filmmaking and Creative Adaptation

Emery McGaha and Ross Marnock, 15 years-old

Emery McGaha is an aspiring filmmaker. He is a sophomore at Carolina Day School in Asheville, where he got his start making shorts for school projects. Emery immediately fell in love with the creative and engaging process of making a movie, and hasn’t stopped making them since. In May of 2009, one of his short films was screened at the Fine Arts theater in Asheville. Since then, the size of his production team has grown exponentially, and he has produced multiple other shorts. Whenever Emery is not working on a movie, he is watching one. He enjoys action, comedy, horror, drama, and anything else that isn’t a romantic comedy. In making films, he focuses on action comedies, a difficult genre for a low budget.

Ross Marnock is a young and budding film enthusiast, and is a rising sophomore at Carolina Day School. In seventh grade Ross made his very first short film for an event known as “Think Week” at his Middle School, as well making a few other shorts for school projects. Ever since then Ross has continued to direct, star, and produce films alongside his colleague Emery McGaha, learning more and more about film after every production. Ross will enjoy a film in any genre as long as it has a good script, but has a particular soft spot for enjoying and creating action comedy films, which are difficult to pull off with a low budget and still maintain overall quality. Ross and Emery currently plan to make various shorts, while slowly working on feature length films at the same time.

Environmental Activism: The CTS Site and the Spill in Our Own Back Yards

Gabe Dunsmith, 17 years-old

Gabe Dunsmith is a senior at Christ School in Arden, where he is managing editor of the school newspaper and regularly participates in the drama program. He has grown up in the Asheville area, and spends his free time outdoors, hiking, biking and meandering in the mountains and woods. This past summer, he attended both the Duke Creative Writers Workshop and the Kenyon Review Young Writers Workshop. Several of his short stories and articles have been published in the U.S. and Canada. He is one of the Service-Learning Prefects at Christ School and hopes to extend the school’s involvement in the Asheville community. As a childhood cancer survivor, he has developed a passion for environmental awareness and activism and has become an activist for cleanup of the CTS Site in South Asheville. He hopes to attend Vassar College in New York, and wants to pursue a career in journalism.
Watch his Talk



Summit Jaffe, 14 years-old

Numatik makes music…
He’s been experimenting with many different ways to do this, some of the usual, and a lot of the unusual. Chronologically “young,” Numatik seems to find his place more within an “older” crowd. He’s constantly trying to discover new and innovative performance techniques that intrigue audiences and inspire them to participate. He experiments with everything from vintage analog synthesizers to circuit-bent children’s toys. He plans to “drop” ethereal soundscapes upon the TEDxNGA audience, hitting you in the core with explosive bass and stimulating your auditory nerve directly. If all goes well, the funk will be ankle-deep. Bring rain boots.

I’ll Build a Stairway to Paradise: a Rockettes-style Tribute to the Optimism and Potential of Youth to Build a Better World.

Youth Members of The Asheville Ballet, Ann Dunn Director and Choreographer. Dancers 11-19 years-old, featuring Jaimon Howell

The Asheville Ballet Guild is one of Western North Carolina’s oldest non-profit arts organizations. ABG was created in 1960, incorporated in 1963 and in an average season, ABG’s formal and educational outreach programming affects a culturally diverse audience of approximately 23,000 people of all ages, especially youth. With a goal to inspire young people, ABG creates annual all-youth collaborations with other youth organizations such as The Asheville Youth Orchestra. They also introduce thousands of young people to dance every year through their Nutcracker school shows, Peter and the Wolf, and in-school programming. They have included young dancers in collaborations with all major local arts organizations and artists that include the Asheville Symphony, UNC-A, Asheville Bravo Concerts, Asheville Community Theater, Asheville Lyric Opera, and Asheville Community Theatre. Their dancers have gone on to perform with Alvin Ailey, Kirov Ballet, Pennsylvania Ballet, Forth Worth Ballet, Dance Theatre of Harlem, Colorado Ballet, Hartford Ballet, Boston Ballet, Geneva Ballet, National Ballet of Cuba, Broadway Musicals, Hollywood films, and the Radio City Music Hall Rockettes. They are committed to nurturing the art of dance through the youth in our community and at Asheville Ballet Guild, their motto is, “No dance task in our community is too small or too big for us.”

Jazz The Ripper

Julian Samal, Joe Hamilton, Will Newman, James Hamilton, Ted Marks, Jordan Arnold, 15-19 years old

Jazz The Ripper, a funk band based in Asheville, North Carolina, has been performing for three years. JTR focuses on bringing hard-grooving original music to the ears of all music lovers everywhere. The band which started off as simply an idea of a couple of teenagers continues to grow, playing at all sorts of venues from local bars like Tressa’s to big places like The Orange Peel and Bele Chere. JTR has released two albums, “Funky and Fresh” in 2008 and most recently “Funk in Progress” in the summer of 2010. Jazz the Ripper contributes their unique sound to their use of saxophones instead of vocal melodies which allows the band to explore different avenues in music and branching out to several genres instead of one. Their collaborative style of songwriting depicts the whole band’s creativity where one band member brings an idea to the band and the others add their input and creativity. Each band member has a unique set of influences and this is key to bridging some of the gaps that lie between genres. JTR’s band members are young in age, but they will leave you awed and always wanting more.
Watch their Performance


Peter Smith-McDowell

Peter Smith-McDowell’s comedy is years beyond anyone else is at his age. He brings you in and welcomes you into his over exaggerated world. His quick wit and warm personality will leave you on the floor holding your side laughing your brains out.

Becca Steinhoff, 22 years-old

Becca is a stand-up comedian finishing up her bachelors at UNC Asheville before taking the world by storm with laughter and entertainment. With Becca, what you see is what you get. She is the same person on-stage, offstage, and in her sleep. While her comedy is rooted in her own life, her experiences are accessible and enjoyed by all. A performer at heart, it’s hard not to enjoy the hilarity that ensues when Becca wants to entertain.