There’s no question that our world is broken in many ways.
On May 30 – June 1, MPR News is bringing together some of the best minds and problem solvers from around the country and region, along with public radio personalities to help fix what is broken.
Presented by the College of Continuing Education at the University of Minnesota, the MPR News Top Coast Festival is a celebration of real-world solutions. The three-day event at the University of Minnesota will feature top-class speakers from around the country, plus workshops and entertainment, with a goal of finding answers to the problems our country – and world – face.
“We hear and report on the challenges facing our communities and we thought it was time to bring together those who don’t just want to talk about the problems, but rather address the question of how do we solve these important issues, while learning and having some fun in the process,” said Dave Kansas, chief operating officer, Minnesota Public Radio. “In addition to some of the brightest minds in their respective fields, we’ll have the energy, enthusiasm and ideas of those attending the festival.”
Registration information is available at mprnews.org/topcoast.
Politics, pop culture, health care, technology, food and philanthropy: leaders from these industries talk with your favorite public radio personalities about what they think is broken and how to make what’s wrong right. The inaugural MPR News Top Coast presenters include:
Russell Simmons is a master entrepreneur and visionary. He has influenced virtually all aspects of business and media. In music, he was the co-founder of Def Jam Recordings. In the fashion industry, he created the trailblazing Phat Farm, Baby Phat, Run Athletics and Def Jam University clothing lines. His work in film, television and on stage includes HBO’s “The Def Comedy Jam,” “Russell Simmons Presents Def Poetry” and the Tony Award-winning stage production “Russell Simmons Def Poetry Jam on Broadway.” In addition, his work includes numerous ventures in the financial services industry, mobile communications and philanthropy.
Aneesh Chopra has spent his life focused on education and innovation, with a deep commitment to opportunity and equality for all. After attending Johns Hopkins University and the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard, Chopra worked for the Advisory Board Company, a health care think tank dedicated to helping hospitals better serve patients. He began a full-time career of public service when Governor Tim Kaine chose him to serve as Virginia’s Secretary of Technology. He was chosen by President Obama, in 2009, as the nation’s first Chief Technology Officer.
Paul Tough authored How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character, a New York Times bestseller that has been translated into 22 languages. He is a contributing writer to New York Times Magazine, where he’s reported on education, parenting, poverty and politics. He’s also worked as a reporter and a producer on WBEZ’s This American Life, and he was the founding editor on Open Letters. Paul Tough’s appearance is supported by American Public Media’s Healthy States.
Neil Blumenthal is co-founder and co-CEO of Warby Parker, a transformational lifestyle brand that offers designer eyewear at a revolutionary price, while leading the way for socially conscious businesses. In 2012, Blumenthal was named a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum and one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business by Fast Company. In 2013, he received an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year award and was recognized as part of “The Next Establishment” by Vanity Fair.
Mark Leibovich, an author, journalist and political writer, is currently the chief national correspondent for The New York Times Magazine, and he’s previously written for The Washington Post and The San Jose Mercury News. His most recent book is This Town: Two Parties and a Funeral — Plus, Plenty of Valet Parking! — in America’s Gilded Capital.
Molly Melching has lived and worked in Senegal, West Africa, since 1974 and dedicated her life to the grassroots empowerment of communities. Her time working with children in Dakar and living in a rural village formed Tostan, an organization whose Community Empowerment Program engages communities for three years in the cross-cutting themes of democracy, human rights, problem-solving, hygiene, health, literacy, project management skills, and parental education. She is highly regarded for her expertise in non-formal education, human rights training and social transformation.
Ramez Naam is a computer scientist, futurist, and award-winning author, most recently of The Infinite Resource: The Power of Ideas on a Finite Planet, which focuses on the environmental and natural resource challenge of climate change, and changing our policies to encourage both conservation and critical innovations.
Melanie Warner has covered business and food-industry stories for many publications, including The New York Times, Men’s Journal, Fast Company, and CBSNews.com. She’s fascinated by where our food comes from, and she relayed her findings on its origins in her book, Pandora’s Lunchbox: How Processed Food Took Over the American Meal.
Clive Thompson is a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine and a columnist for Wired. Thompson wrote Smarter Than You Think: How Technology Is Changing Our Minds for the Better, released last year. A blogger since 2002, Thompson has long been fascinated by the Internet as a means for self-expression — from Wikipedia and collaborative art to the ESP of status updates.
Jonathan Foley, Director of the Institute on the Environment (IonE) at the University of Minnesota, leads IonE’s Global Landscapes Initiative, focused on the sustainability of our civilization and the global environment. He’s been published in many scientific journals, as well as The New York Times, Scientific American, and The Guardian.
Food Moskowitz Grumdahl is one of America’s most awarded food writers. She has won five James Beard Awards for her food, wine, and food personality coverage and is senior writer for Minneapolis St. Paul magazine. She contributes to Saveur, Bon Appetit, and Food & Wine, and can frequently be heard on both the Current and MPR’s All Things Considered Appetites.
Koerth-Baker is the Science Editor at BoingBoing.net, an independent online publication devoted to sharing and celebrating interesting things. She writes for The New York Times Magazine and authored Before the Lights Go Out, a book about electricity, infrastructure and the future of energy.
MPR News personalities, such as Kerri Miller, Krista Tippett, Tom Weber and Stephen Smith, will join these experts in what is expected to be lively discussions throughout the festival.