On April 19 I’m giving the opening talk in a special session on “The Great Challenges” at the TEDMED Conference in Washington, D.C. I’ll be introducing the, “And, But, Therefore” template which will then be used at the end of the day to summarize each of the 20 discussions.

On the afternoon of the last day of TEDMED there will be a special session called The Great Challenges. It will begin with me giving a 10 minute talk about some general principles of storytelling, followed by two great storytellers — Ben Lillie and Erin Barker of the Story Collider Project. Then the participants will break into 20 discussion groups, reassembling at the end of the afternoon, when each group will be asked to give a one sentence summary of what they discussed. To structure their sentences they will use the “And, But, Therefore” template I have lifted and modified from Trey Parker, co-creator of South Park, and will present in my talk. It’s going to be a rather novel experience — as far as I know, no one has ever used it as a device for summarizing discussions like this. Which is cool.



Assuming my flight out of Homer, Alaska on April 16 doesn’t get blizzarded out, I’ll be flying overnight from Anchorage in time to give the opening talk of the Great Challenges Storytelling Session on the last day of TEDMED in Washington, D.C. My talk is titled, “The And, But and Therefore of Storytelling,” and will be just ten minutes. But the cool thing is I’ll be introducing the “And, But, Therefore” template, then at the end of the day all 20 of the Great Challenges discussion sessions for the afternoon will regroup and report what they talked about, using the ABT template to summarize their discussions in just one sentence each.

Have a look at their website, and especially the 20 Great Challenges topics. I’ll probably attend the discussion on dementia since my father, who died last fall at nearly 95 years old, suffered from it in his final years. My workshop co-instructor, Dorie Barton, will also be attending TEDMED and the discussions. It’s going to be fascinating. And continues my journey into the world of public health which began in 2010 with my first visit to the CDC. It’s been the greatest unexpected joy of my book. It’s so refreshing to find a profession that not only understands what I have to say, they actually support it. Yay.