One-of-a-Kind TEDx Event Brings Together Communities on Both Sides of the U.S./Mexico Border

Taking its name from the first border demarcation between the United States and Mexico, TEDxMonumento258 is a testament to the power of collaboration.

The border between the United States and Mexico is, by definition, a divisive line of demarcation. Across it, “they” are “there,” “we” are “here,” and vise versa. But a recent, day-long event set out to prove that, despite a fence running through the heart of their community, two cities cleaved both together, and apart, can still spend a day learning with, and from, one another.

On September 4th, the grassroots organizers of TEDxMonumento285 brought together hundreds of attendees to San Diego’s Friendship Park, and Tijuana’s adjoining Playas de Tijuana border park. Done as a partnership between the teams responsible for TEDxTijuana and TEDxSanDiego, Monumento285 featured presenters speaking both English and Spanish, whose talks were experienced by attendees on both sides of the fence that separates the United States and Mexico. Organized around the theme of “Ideas Without Borders,” speakers included artists, academics, urban planners, and a performance by Redes 2525, an after-school music program which focuses on at-risk communities across the cities of Tijuana, Ensenada, and Mexicali.

What’s more, while the San Diego side was restricted to ticket holders, attendance on the Tijuana side of the event was open to the general public.

The TEDxMonumento258’s name refers to Monument 258, a stone obelisk which, as the event’s website explains, marks “the first point of demarcation between the United States and Mexico after the Mexican-American War concluded”.

In a release provided to GOOD, Mark Lovett, one of the event’s lead organizers, explained:

“TEDxMonumento258 provides an opportunity to explore how two cities continue to overcome cultural, legislative and physical barriers to create a binational region that capitalizes on the strengths and diversity each has to offer”

Beyond simply being a day learning, the goal of TEDxMonumento258 is to serve as a model for other border communities around the world. It shows the power, and possibilities, of collaboration as a way to benefit everyone, no matter which side of a fence they find themselves on.

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