Erin Gruwell is an educator and president of The Freedom Writers Foundation. When Erin landed her first job at Wilson High School in Long Beach, Ca, she discovered many of her students had been written off by the education system and deemed “unteachable.” As teenagers living in a racially divided urban community, they were already hardened by exposure to gang violence, juvenile detention, and drugs. By fostering an educational philosophy that valued and promoted diversity, she transformed her students lives. She encouraged them to rethink rigid beliefs about themselves and others, to reconsider daily decisions, and to rechart their futures.
With Erin’s steadfast support, her students shattered stereotypes to become critical thinkers, aspiring college students and citizens for change. They dubbed themselves the “Freedom Writers.” Inspired by Anne Frank and Zlata Filipovic (who lived through worn-torn Sarajevo), Erin and her students captured their collective journey in “The Freedom Writers Diary – How a Teacher and 150 Teens Used Writing to Change Themselves and the World Around Them.” The book and their stories became the basis for the movie, THE FREEDOM WRITERS, in which Hilary Swank starred as Erin Gruwell.
TEDxConejo, an independently organized TED event, was held in Thousand Oaks, Ca on March 26, 2011. The conference theme was Energy, using that word very broadly to go beyond what powers our homes and transportation but really what fuels life. What energizes business, education, health, and ideas? What energizes you? A broad mix of thinkers and doers characterizes the TEDx experience both on the stage and in the audience. TEDxConejo is open to the general public and produced in association with the Conejo Valley Unified School District. For more information visit www.tedxconejo.com
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.)