The Power of Audacity

From stripping to investing to publishing, the speakers at Year 10 of TEDxPortland embody fearlessness.

Sponsored content presented by TEDxPortland.

What do a prolific Portland stripper, a meticulous local investor and the publisher of candid children’s books have in common?

They’re audacious. And they’re coming to the Moda Center to educate, inspire and entertain for the 10th annual TEDxPortland event, after three reschedulings due to the COVID-19 pandemic and more than a thousand days of planning.

The team behind the experience is thrilled to welcome 15 speakers and six live performers including Death Cab for Cutie, Portugal the Man, Digable Planets, Jimi Hendrix Tribute, Pink Martini, NY Times best selling author / poet, Atticus, and improv comedy group Broke Gravy to the largest indoor TEDx event in the world. Come celebrate Portland’s most audacious role models on Saturday, May 28 in a full-day TEDxPDX experience. Tickets are available online starting at $59, or gain access to the immersive, virtual livestream starting at $10.

One speaker, Viva Las Vegas, spent the last 24 years dancing in Portland and advocating for stripping as a true art form. She was the subject of the documentary “Thank You For Supporting the Arts” (so named for her catchphrase after each set) that screened earlier this year at Hollywood Theatre.

“Naked women have always been art,” she explains in the documentary.

Viva -- or Liv Osthus offstage -- is also a mother and the author of two books. She’s served as editor-in-chief for Exotic magazine, a vocalist for a medieval French a capella trio and as frontwoman for Portland punk band Coco Cobra and the Killers.

“My performances have taken me around the world, from the smallest stages to the largest, preaching my message that connection is paramount, that sex work is important and valuable work, and that stripping IS art,” she wrote in a note to her fans.

Another featured TEDx speaker will be Rukaiyah Adams, who serves as the chief investment officer of Meyer Memorial Trust. Over the last 40 years, the trust has awarded roughly $840 million in grants to causes that promote racial, social and economic justice in Oregon.

She’s a pillar of the local community, taking on pro bono work and serving on the boards of Oregon Public Broadcasting and the Oregon Investment Council. She previously helped lead the Black Coalition on AIDS and Portland Center Stage -- and she’s a TEDx alum.

“I’m an investor. I spend my days absorbing an almost overwhelming amount of data and information, and I do that because I’m looking for patterns,” Adams said in a 2016 speech at TEDxMtHood.

“I don’t look at short term ups and downs. I don’t look at individual transactions. I try to pay close attention to things that affect us on a macro scale, things to watch over time,” she continued. “If I can identify the right things to watch over time, then I can spot opportunities. I can spot them before they’re apparent to other people.”

Attendees will also hear from Jelani Memory, the founder and CEO of A Kids Book About. His company makes books for children about heavy topics like race, gender and mental health. Their first book was A Kids Book About Racism, which uses reader-friendly language and punchy visuals to explain what racism is, how it makes its targets feel and how to identify it.

A father of six children, Memory said his aim is to make it easier for parents to start tricky conversations with their kids. He grew up as a Black kid in Portland, one of the whitest cities in America, and says he wants to ensure children understand what racism is and how to talk about it openly.

“The first bit of advice I give (to parents) is just to try. Start somewhere, start anywhere. Start anchored to some point of reference you can that feels genuine, feels honest,” he told Willamette Week in 2020. “My book was designed as a way to create an anchor for a family that doesn’t have that.”

Since launching his company in 2019, Memory has since expanded his anthology to include titles like A Kids Book About Life Online, A Kids Book About Incarceration and A Kids Book About Body Image.

The company also branched out into creating audio for children, including the flagship show A Kids Podcast About: The Podcast that was named one of Apple’s top podcasts of 2021.

“Kids have thoughts about these things much more than we would ever let ourselves believe,” Memory said. “Once you open that door, you find that they’re more thoughtful, more curious, and they have more questions than otherwise would think. Start somewhere.”

Can’t join in person? TEDxPortland has you covered with a one-of-a-kind livestream experience through their partners at FRQNCY (the brains and muscle behind Pickathon!) Experience all the magic of Year 10 with 9+ camera angles. Invite your friends to hang out in private video chat rooms and interact with their global TEDxPortland community in curated discussions / debate. If you purchase a Backstage Access Ticket, you gain exclusive access to chat LIVE with the speakers and performers and experience behind-the-scenes moments that are sure to deliver goosebumps, drama, and genuine truth. You want to DM with a Speaker or Death Cab for Cutie, Portugal. The Man, Digable Planets and Pink Martini? You can!