The Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr was both a dreamer and a leader. What’s more, his ability to captivate an audience is envied by the best entertainers out there. TEDxCAE was held on MLK day, which seems fitting to me. As I continue to share what I learned on Monday, I wanted to break down the day into three segments: dreamers, leaders and entertainers. It’s not that one speaker can’t be two of the above… or even all three. But I like to keep blog posts short(ish) – and this seemed to be a great way to organize my thoughts.

Pretty Woman started and ended with the quote: “What’s your dream? Everybody has a dream. What’s your dream?” The people who spoke at TEDx aren’t only dreamers – they have taken a passion and turned it into reality. And now we can learn from them! Here’s who I categorized as the dreamers for the day and why.

Cheri Brown Thompson made me cry. When I was just moving to Columbia, she was beginning to form The Healing Species – an education program that teaches compassion to the children in our community who may have never heard that word, much less experienced it. By paring rescued abused dogs with abused children, she is forging the way to a more caring, less violent and better educated city. If you love dogs (and people!) – find out more at healingspecies.org.

I had the fortunate experience of learning about Hidden Wounds from a friend. He is a former Marine and once he heard about this awesome organization he had to tell everyone he knew about it. But here’s what I didn’t know: how it began. Anna Bigham is the founder of this non-profit organization that provides interim and emergency counseling services to ensure the psychological health and well-being of combat veterans and their families. How did she dream up this idea? She lived through her brother’s suicide. She spoke about what it was like to see her fun loving baby brother leave for his tour of duty and return alive just to lose his identity and eventually his life. The unseen trauma that our troops endure when they come home from war is real. If you know someone who is hurting and who needs help, there’s now a place to turn. Check out HiddenWounds.org for all the information. You can literally save a person’s life.

Does anyone reading this play Words With Friends? I figured. My nemesis on this game is Philippe Herndon. He is a point master. He shows no mercy. And his game commentary makes me laugh even when I’m 200 points behind. But Philippe is more than a WWF geek like me – he is an innovator. His dream lives in Caroline Guitar Company, where he creates handmade guitar pedals that have recently caught the eye of Guitar World, who gave the Wave Cannon – his first pedal – the Platinum Award for Excellence. Allow me to say that 10 years ago, I didn’t even know that there was a magazine called Guitar World. My husband Tye (who plays guitar) changed that for me. Guitar World is big, people. If it’s a day late to our mail box, the pacing starts. And when it does arrive, it’s read cover to cover. So Philippe is the real deal. But what inspired me about his presentation and performance at TEDx were his words about not being apologetic for where we live. Not only does he take pride in creating products that are Made in the USA, he goes even further to wear a badge of honor for being Made in Columbia, SC. In my mind, every single one of us should take this passion and live it. Oh, and for more info on his company, you can check out CarolineGuitar.com.

Certified SC Grown is dear to my heart. With the SC Department of Agriculture at our side, we launched this brand a few years back to help the farmers of our state sell more of their product, while bringing healthier and better tasting food to our consumers table. You have no idea what pride I have when I see a Certified SC Grown logo posted to a farm, sitting in a grocery store cart or tacked to a water bottle. So when Eric McClam from City Roots Farm brought his water bottle out and placed it on the table during his presentation on Monday, I was beaming. More than that, I was excited to hear from the founder of City Roots Farm because it is a topic of conversation at my kitchen table quite often. My kids go to school at A.C. Moore Elementary. The same school that Eric went to (he even gave them a shout out during his presentation!). My son went to the farm on a field trip last year and he still talks about it constantly. Eric mentioned in his presentation that if we can teach kids about the positive effects of eating locally, then they’ll take it from there. HE’S RIGHT. His dream of creating an urban sustainable farm is being realized and I urge each and every one of you to check it out. You can find them online at and visit in person at 1005 Airport Boulevard near Owens Field and the YMCA sports complex.

Speaking of dreamers… what would you think of someone who dreamed up the idea of creating a crow vending machine? I know, it sounds off the wall. But I was so moved my the possibilities of this (stick through it to the end – you’ll see what I mean) that I wanted to share this Big TED video that we watched during the day.

And I’m not trying to bait you like the vending machine… but I hope you’ll be back for a few more posts covering my day at TEDxCAE.