How “baby bonds” could help close the wealth gap | Darrick Hamilton

Hard work, resilience and grit lead to success, right? This narrative pervades the way we think, says economist Darrick Hamilton, but the truth is that our chances at economic security have less to do with what we do and more to do with the wealth position we’re born into. Enter “baby bonds”: trust accounts of up to $60,000 for every newborn, calibrated to the wealth of their family. Learn how this bold proposal could help us reduce inequality — and give every child personal seed money for important things like going to college, buying a home or starting a business. “Without capital, inequality is locked in,” Hamilton says. “When it comes to economic security, wealth is both the beginning and the end.”

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How to be “Team Human” in the digital future | Douglas Rushkoff

Humans are no longer valued for our creativity, says media theorist Douglas Rushkoff — in a world dominated by digital technology, we’re now just valued for our data. In a passionate talk, Rushkoff urges us to stop using technology to optimize people for the market and start using it to build a future centered on our pre-digital values of connection, creativity and respect. “Join ‘Team Human.’ Find the others,” he says. “Together let’s make the future that we always wanted.”

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The most important thing you can do to fight climate change: talk about it | Katharine Hayhoe

How do you talk to someone who doesn’t believe in climate change? Not by rehashing the same data and facts we’ve been discussing for years, says climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe. In this inspiring, pragmatic talk, Hayhoe shows how the key to having a real discussion is to connect over shared values like family, community and religion — and to prompt people to realize that they already care about a changing climate. “We can’t give in to despair,” she says. “We have to go out and look for the hope we need to inspire us to act — and that hope begins with a conversation, today.”

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The work that makes all other work possible | Ai-jen Poo

Domestic workers are entrusted with the most precious aspects of people’s lives — they’re the nannies, the elder-care workers and the house cleaners who do the work that makes all other work possible. Too often, they’re invisible, taken for granted or dismissed as “help,” yet they continue to do their wholehearted best for the families and homes in their charge. In this sensational talk, activist Ai-Jen Poo shares her efforts to secure equal rights and fair wages for domestic workers and explains how we can all be inspired by them. “Think like a domestic worker who shows up and cares no matter what,” she says.

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How storytelling helps parents in prison stay connected to their kids | Alan Crickmore

When a parent is sent to prison, the unintended victims of their crimes are their own children — without stability and support, kids are at higher risk for mental health and development issues. In a heartfelt talk, Alan Crickmore explains how the charity Storybook Dads is keeping families connected through the simple act of storytelling.

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How to motivate people to do good for others | Erez Yoeli

How can we get people to do more good: to go to the polls, give to charity, conserve resources or just generally act better towards others? MIT research scientist Erez Yoeli shares a simple checklist for harnessing the power of reputations — or our collective desire to be seen as generous and kind instead of selfish — to motivate people to act in the interest of others. Learn more about how small changes to your approach to getting people to do good could yield surprising results.

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The story of Marvel’s first queer Latina superhero | Gabby Rivera

With Marvel’s “America Chavez,” Gabby Rivera wrote a new kind of superhero — one who can punch portals into other dimensions while also embracing her gentle, goofy, soft side. In a funny, personal talk, Rivera shares how her own childhood as a queer Puerto Rican in the Bronx informed this new narrative — and shows images from the comic book that reveal what happens when a superhero embraces her humanity. As she says: “That myth of having to go it alone and be tough is not serving us.”

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How to disagree productively and find common ground | Julia Dhar

Some days, it feels like the only thing we can agree on is that we can’t agree — on anything. Drawing on her background as a world debate champion, Julia Dhar offers three techniques to reshape the way we talk to each other so we can start disagreeing productively and finding common ground — over family dinners, during work meetings and in our national conversations.

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A librarian’s case against overdue book fines | Dawn Wacek

Libraries have the power to create a better world; they connect communities, promote literacy and spark lifelong learners. But there’s one thing that keeps people away: the fear of overdue book fines. In this thought-provoking talk, librarian Dawn Wacek makes the case that fines don’t actually do what we think they do. What if your library just … stopped asking for them altogether?

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Is civility a sham? | Teresa Bejan

What exactly is civility, and what does it require? In a talk packed with historical insights, political theorist Teresa Bejan explains how civility has been used as both the foundation of tolerant societies and as a way for political partisans to silence and dismiss opposing views. Bejan suggests that we should instead try for “mere civility”: the virtue of being able to disagree fundamentally with others without destroying the possibility of a common life tomorrow. (This talk contains mature language.)

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