Thought Leaders Present Talks on the “Value of Play” at Second Annual TEDxNavesink, a Day of Non-Fiction Theater in Monmouth County

April 21, 2014
Jennifer Smiga, (201) 892-9403, [email protected]
Thought Leaders Present Talks on the “Value of Play” at Second Annual TEDxNavesink, a Day of Non-Fiction Theater in Monmouth County

What: TEDxNavesink is a self-organizing annual Monmouth County-based event licensed by the nonprofit organization TED, and dedicated to education, community, innovation, culture and ideas worth spreading. Each year, a different theme is chosen by event organizers to build the day of non-fiction theater.

In 2014, TEDxNavesink Play will offer two-dozen live talks, entertainment and art that focus on the ways that play facilitates greater openness, tolerance, prosperity, creativity, generosity and curiosity in all aspects of the human endeavor. More than 30 business and nonprofit leaders, students from local universities and sponsors have planned, managed and funded the all-day, sold out event. Sponsors in 2014 include Monmouth Medical Center, Sawtooth Agency, United Teletech Financial, and others
TED is devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a conference in California 26 years ago, TED has grown to support world-changing ideas with many initiatives. At a TED conference, the world’s leading thinkers and doers are asked to give the talk of their lives. TEDx is a program of local events to give people a TED experience, and events are recorded live for a global audience.
Where: Two River Theater, 21 Bridge Ave. in Red Bank, NJ.When: Saturday, May 10, 2014; 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. talks and performances in the Two River Theater and art on view in the lobby; 12:00 p.m. and 12:40 p.m. press lunch in the library
Who: 31 participating speakers, performers and artists
Participating Speakers

Marc Bekoff, Talk: Wild Justice and Fair Play
Marc Bekoff is professor emeritus of ecology and evolutionary biology at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and a former Guggenheim Fellow. In 2000, he was awarded the Exemplar Award from the Animal Behavior Society for major long-term contributions to the field. 

Laurie Brekke, Talk: Growing Minds by Growing School Gardens
Laurie Brekke is the co-founder of Along with co-founder Hope Hanlon, they proposed the creation of a learning garden to Atlantic Highlands Elementary School. 

Baba Brinkman, Talk: A Brief History of Rhyme: Wordplay Past and Present
Baba Brinkman is a Canadian rap artist, award-winning playwright, and former tree-planter who has personally planted more than one million trees. He has a Masters in Medieval and Renaissance English Literature from the University of Victoria. 

Mark Burgess, Talk: The Rise of the Social Employee
Mark Burgess is co-founder and president of Blue Focus Marketing, a social branding firm that helps businesses realize the power of the social employee. Mark is co-author of an Amazon bestseller “The Social Employee: How Great Companies Make Social Media Work.” 

Augie Carton, Talk: Beer Is Cuisine
Augie Carton founded the Atlantic Highlands, NJ craft brewery, Carton Brewing, with his cousin Chris Carton and friend Jesse Ferguson, to create a place where they could play their flavor games with their community.

Dennis Daniels, Talk: Spiritual Drumming

Daniels is the former director of the Count Basie Learning Center, now the Boys and Girls Club, in Red Bank and is currently the dean of students at Hope Academy Charter School in Asbury Park, NJ. He is also a self-taught Djembe drummer as well as a professional ventriloquist. 

Jens Peter de Pedro, Talk: Why We Must Go Beyond Pink and Blue
Jens Peter de Pedro is a play designer at Toca Boca, the digital toy powerhouse. He’s the mastermind behind apps such as Toca Hair Salon, Toca Band, Toca Kitchen, Toca Train and Helicopter Taxi. 

John Dias, Talk: We Call it a ‘Play’ for a Reason
John Dias, Two River Theater’s artistic director since 2010, has with his team expanded programming, produced subscription shows on two stages, launched the Crossing Borders festival of Latino plays, a commission program, an arts-education initiative and more. 

Peter Gray, Talk: The Decline of Play and Rise of Mental Disorders
Peter Gray, research professor of psychology at Boston College, has conducted and published research in neuroendocrinology, developmental psychology, anthropology and education. He is also the author of “Free to Learn.”

James Giunta, Talk: Hypnosis + Music = Hyp-Note-Therapy

James M. Giunta is a hypnotist and “inspirationist” who conducts individual and group hypnotic sessions to help clients improve thoughts, emotions and behaviors. He teaches and lectures about his favorite subject and hosts a grand event annually in celebration of World Hypnotism Day. 

Stanton Green, Talk: Play Ball: The Anthropology of Baseball
Stanton Green is professor of anthropology and dean of the McMurray School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Monmouth University. His interests, from Irish prehistory to baseball to educational reform, use the concept of culture to understand how communities adapt, change, function and dysfunction. 

Lois Holzman, Talk: Play Helps Us Grow at Any Age
Lois Holzman is director of the non-profit East Side Institute and lead organizer of the biennial Performing the World conferences, where she helps to create and support a new generation of play revolutionaries. She travels the world bringing her message groups from rock climbers to execs to postmodern psychotherapists. 

Joe Iconis, Performer
Joe Iconis is a musical theater writer and a fixture on the New York cabaret scene.  As a composer, lyricist and writer, he has authored the musicals “Bloodsong of Love,” “The Black Suits” (with Robert Maddock), “ReWrite,” “The Plant That Ate Dirty Socks” and “We The People.” His musical “Be Chill” debuts in 2015 at Two River Theater. 

Marie Jackson, Talk: Healing Ourselves Through Play
Marie Jackson is the owner of 6-year-old The Flaky Tart Bakery in Atlantic Highlands and a three-time James Beard Nominee for Outstanding Pastry Chef. Her love of baking and pastry is only trumped by that for her husband of over 20 years and three great kids. Johnston, Talk: Augmented Asbury Park

Augmented Asbury Park is a collaboration of Monmouth University Professors Mike Richison and Marina Vujnovic, and Kean University Professor Ed Johnston. The free mobile experience reconstructs key historic landmarks on the Asbury Park boardwalk in augmented reality. 

Karl M. Kapp, Talk: Life Lessons…From Video Games
Karl M. Kapp, is a scholar, writer and expert on the convergence of learning, technology and business operations. His expertise is gamification.

Mike O’Keefe, Performer
Mike O’Keeffe has been performing and teaching improv comedy for over twenty years. After graduating from Villanova University, he worked in Orlando performing and writing with the Sak Theatre Comedy Lab.
Jillian Pransky, Talk: Mindplay to Expand Love in Your Life
Jillian Pransky is an international presenter, national director of Restorative Therapeutic Yoga Teacher Training for Yoga Works and co-founder of the Bright Spirit Yoga Teacher Training. She leads programs at Kripalu, Omega and Mohonk.
Todd Reynolds, Performer
Todd Reynolds, a violinist, composer, educator and technologist, is known as one of the founding fathers of the hybrid-musician movement and one of the most active and versatile proponents of what he calls “present music.”
America Rice, Talk: Loving Second Life Bikes
America Rice is a beautiful, intelligent, funny and enthusiastic young lady. She has lived all of her 11 years in Asbury Park, NJ and attends the middle school there. She is a youth volunteer at Second Life Bikes.
Pat Rumbaugh, Talk: Saving Play: One Playful Step at a Time
Pat Rumbaugh, the Play Lady, and author of the children’s book, “Let’s Play at the Playground” is the founder of Takoma Plays, a group that has organized more than 45 fun and free play events for people of all ages. Currently, she is forming Let’s Play America to help communities develop play events.
John Shammas, Talk: Introducing TEDxSelfie 2.0           
John Shammas is a web developer currently working at Meddle. A high school student freelancing for almost 6 years, he works to move the web forward, strengthen education, and build memorable, usable products.
Timothy Sheehan, Talk: Get into Your Play “Wisdom from Dr. George Sheehan”
Timothy Sheehan is an author, a commercial real-estate executive, runner and, perhaps most importantly, one of George Sheehan’s seven sons. He’ll introduce the film “Sheehan on the Run” and discuss his father’s philosophy of play and self-discovery.
Robyn Stratton-Berkessel, Talk: Playful Inquiry – Try This Anywhere
Robyn Stratton-Berkessel specializes in participatory design in the field of organization and human development to bring about positive change. She partners with executives and teams to deliver high impact change with a focus on creating cultures of ownership, empowerment and inclusion.
Matthew Urbanski, Talk: Creating Play Spaces for the Livable City
Matthew Urbanski is a landscape architect and principal of Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates. He’s planned and designed landscapes across the U.S., including significant new play spaces in NYC, Hoboken, Tulsa and Chicago.
Poornima Vijayashanker, Talk: Taking the Time to Tinker
Poornima Vijayashanker was a founding engineer at Since its acquisition, she has gone on to start BizeeBee, a CRM solution for fitness businesses, and Femgineer, an education company for tech professionals and entrepreneurs.
Participating Artists


Lisa Bagwell
Lisa Bagwell is a garbage sculptor creating everything from absurd mobiles to lamps to realistic depictions of animals and people. She collects non-recyclable items destined for the landfill in an attempt to ease her ecological footprint and simultaneously focus her creative impulses.


Nina Bovasso
Nina Bovasso works primarily on paper creating large scale, colorful abstractions. She has a B.F.A. from San Francisco Art Institute. Following her undergraduate studies, Bovasso attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture and has a M.F.A. from Bard College. Currently, she divides her time between New York City and


Erik Johanson
Erik Johanson is a fine art professor at Brookdale Community College and a sculptor who often employs organic materials. He has exhibited his work in a variety of venues in the region, including the New Jersey Biennial.


Jason Krugman
Jason Krugman is a light sculptor specializing in interactive architectural and public artworks. His work combines materials with electronics, referencing nature through accumulation and modularity.


Sharon Sayegh

Sharon Sayegh is a New Jersey-born artist whose work includes paintings, drawings and sculptures. Her work merges a playful humor with serious concerns. She studies at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts.

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