Berkeleyside’s fifth annual Uncharted Ideas Festival drew more than 400 people to downtown Berkeley on Friday and Saturday for a program of powerful conversations interspersed with food, live music and dance, comedy workshops and the forging of new friendships — be it in the courtyard of the Berkeley Rep over lunch or at the opening night party at the David Brower Center.
Uncharted novices through veteran festival-goers expressed how much they enjoyed the festival. “I attended for the first time this year and found this event to be wonderful!” said Betsy York. “So sorry I did not know about [it] before now.”
“Uncharted was truly outstanding this year,” said Mal Warwick who has participated in previous years.”I wasn’t able to attend quite all the sessions, but nearly all those I did observe were illuminating … All around, a winner, and the best yet.”
“It is encouraging, and life giving, to know that people still value a place to sit, listen, learn and engage with people on some of the key issues of the day,” said festival co-curator Helena Brantley. “It is not a radical thing to convene people to talk with each other, to listen and learn from one another, while meeting new people. We are thankful to all who came and hope the experience leads them back next year, maybe with a new friend.”
On-stage conversations ran the gamut of subjects, kicking off on Friday morning with how we deal with the “conveyor belt of death,” with Highland Hospital’s Dr. Jessica Zitter, through a closing talk on how we handle the 45th president of the United States with Republican political strategist Rick Wilson who believes “everything Donald Trump touches dies.”
“We don’t invent a theme for Uncharted each year, but there are always significant threads that emerge organically from the conversations,” said Uncharted founder and co-curator Lance Knobel. “I was struck this year by how many speakers were talking about the importance of individual courage in fighting against convention, circumstances or malign forces. Whether it was Christian Picciolini emerging from hate groups, or Bandak Lul applying for refugee status as a kid, or Prudence Carter advocating for the best education in underserved communities, or Vitka Eisen moving from heroin addiction to helping addicts, I came away feeling optimistic about the power of courageous individuals.” (See all speakers.)
Berkeleyside conceived of the Uncharted Ideas festival as a way to bring people together, from the local community and beyond, to meet with some of the world’s brightest minds who are focused on some of our most pressing issues. Underpinning the festival is the belief that the most intriguing ideas — and solutions to today’s big challenges — emerge from the collision of different visions and perspectives.
If you didn’t attend the festival, missed any of the conversations, or simply want to hear them again, we have already started work on creating podcasts of this year’s talks. We will keep you posted as we release them, and they will be available on our Podcast site, on iTunes, or through your favorite podcast host.
Get a taste of what happened at the festival with the live coverage on Twitter. A Twitter account is not necessary to follow along at #BerkeleyIdeas.