Bay Area Private School Prospect Sierra to Demonstrate Kolam Art at East Bay TEDx Conference

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Kolam, the daily ritual art known by many names throughout India, is believed to feed a thousand souls—which Prospect Sierra School believes is an excellent representation of the goals of the TEDx Conference.

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Kolam art will symbolically represent the TEDx theme: "Compassion in Education."

We feel having artists creating kolam artwork live is a great way to bring a feeling of community, spirituality, and awareness of compassion to the conference.

Prospect Sierra School has partnered with U.C. Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center to host the TEDxGoldenGateED Compassion in Education Conference on June 11, 2011. During the conference, Vijaya Nagarajan, a parent of a child attending the East Bay private school, will give a short talk on the kolam tradition, a ritual sandpainting tradition performed with rice flour by women. Kolam, which goes by many names, is an important aspect of Hindu festivals and a daily ritual in many parts of India. Tamil women artists will create a kolam on the threshold of the conference door.

The TEDxGoldenGateED Conference will focus on compassion—the sympathetic awareness of another’s distress, coupled with the desire to alleviate their suffering. Compassion is at the heart of the world’s ethical and spiritual traditions. New scientific research suggests there are deep evolutionary roots to compassion. It shows humans are a fundamentally kind and caring species with brain structures devoted to these emotions. Contrary to popular belief, compassion may be our natural inclination.

“We feel having artists creating kolam artwork live is a great way to bring a feeling of community, spirituality, and awareness of compassion to the conference. In today’s schools, the ability to imagine the needs of others, to think compassionately and to design, innovate and act in ways that benefit others are truly 21st century skills,” says Kathryn Lee, Prospect Sierra School’s Director of Service Learning.

Kolam is a women’s ritual art tradition that is practiced daily on the doorstep of houses and at Hindu festivals in many parts of India. The geometrical design made with rice flour is made to feed a thousand souls, and once it is made, it is literally eaten by ants, bugs, birds, and worms throughout the morning. Symbolically feeding a thousand souls is a tradition that honors compassion in daily life.

“Walking over the threshold and over the kolam art gives the receiver a blessing,” says Wendy Horng Brawer, the Director of Advancement of the Bay Area private school. “We are firm believers of spiritual inspiration, gratitude, and compassion in education at Prospect Sierra School.”

TEDxGoldenGateED takes place on June 11, 2011, from 1 pm to 9 pm at the historic Craneway Pavilion on the Richmond harbor. Continuing Education Units (CEU) are available for therapists, social workers, and others attending the TEDx Conference. For more details, or to register online, go to: http://tedxgoldengateed.org.

The TEDxGoldenGateED Conference on Compassion will give educators inspiration, expert advice, and practical curriculum plans to help implement new ideas gained from the conference. Additionally, the conference provides a platform to exchange ideas, so educators will be able to connect with parents, counselors and nonprofit leaders and gain new insights just in time for summer school.

About Prospect Sierra
Prospect Sierra is a K - 8 Bay Area private school educating 450 students on two spacious, well-equipped campuses in the San Francisco Bay Area. Prospect Sierra is one of only seven schools nationwide—and the only private school in California—that has earned the distinction of being named a “Model School of the Future” by the National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS) for adapting its educational programs to help students develop skills essential to life in the 21st century. With exceptional teachers and staff who inspire a passion for learning, Prospect Sierra blends heart, mind, and community to give its students a decided advantage in negotiating the rapidly changing global environment.

About TEDx, (x = independently organized event)
In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized (subject to certain rules and regulations).

About TED
TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California 25 years ago, TED has grown to support world-changing ideas with multiple initiatives. The annual TED Conference invites the world's leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes. Their talks are then made available to view for free at TED.com.

TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Al Gore, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Isabel Allende, and UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

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Wendy Horg Brawer
Prospect Sierra School
(510) 236-5800
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