Judge Adrienne Nelson: Encouraging Connection to Make the World a Better Place
–TEDxMtHood is honored to introduce Judge Adrienne Nelson as one of our 2017 speakers!–
Connection. It’s the warm and exuberant embrace of an old friend after a long separation. It’s the collective sense of satisfaction felt by a group of neighbors after an afternoon helping out at a neighborhood cleanup. It’s a smile shared with a stranger as you both pause on the street to admire the sight of a rainbow after a storm. These are the transcendental moments that feed our souls and make us feel like we are a part of something bigger than ourselves.
Human connection has the power to open hearts, minds, and doors – to give rise to compassion where there was fear and mistrust, to foster understanding where there was dispute, and to make the seemingly impossible possible. And, connection with other humans does not just enrich our lives – there is a growing body of evidence that suggests that it is as important for our health and longevity as eating well and exercising.
Still, even in the age of smartphones and social media, with the infinite opportunities to be “connected” that they provide, a national conversation has arisen around what is perceived to be a dramatic decline in social connectivity over the last half century and what is being called a “loneliness epidemic” in this country.
Furthermore, we are becoming less likely to make connections with people who are different from us – with people whose political ideology, religion, or worldview, differs from our own – preferring instead to interact exclusively with people who share our beliefs and perspectives. This trend has served to create a culture of echo-chambers, increase the disparity between our “in-groups” and those we consider “out-groups”, and enhance a sense of “otherness” that is isolating and polarizing. It would seem that, in 2017, our “connect-ability” in the United States is in trouble.
That is why we need more people like Adrienne Nelson. Adrienne believes in the intrinsic and tremendous value, importance, and power of human connections, and works to cultivate them every day. She is a conduit for the flow of ideas and experiences between people of all walks of life, using storytelling and the sharing of lessons and laughter to create environments where people can connect with the things that we all have in common and, ultimately, with each other.
She is passionate about helping people to express the best in themselves, both individually and collectively, and sees connection as a primary way to achieve this – she encourages us to find our own voice, so that we can speak up for ourselves and be the tellers of our own stories. She compels us to resist the urge to settle into the old, familiar spaces and to continue to grow and and stretch outside of our comfort zones, reminding us that this is our life and showing up for it is absolutely worth it. Finally, she asks us to continue to meet new people and learn new things from them, and to have the important, uncomfortable conversations – the ones that really help us to expand our minds and understand each other, and that teach us compassion.
Adrienne truly believes that the world is not an unfortunate place of scarcity but a place of plenty and possibility, and that by sharing our experiences with each other and getting comfortable with being uncomfortable, we can all find a way to live in it together. By encouraging connection, Adrienne works to achieve her ultimate goal, which is to make the world a better place. In doing so, she inspires us to do the same! We are incredibly excited to welcome her to the TEDxMtHood stage this October, and she is just as excited to share her ideas with our community. “This is the universe,” she says, “step into it!”
Judge Adrienne Nelson
Adrienne Nelson, Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge, is only the second African-American female judge in Oregon’s history. She is a sought-after speaker on a variety of topics including diversity, inclusion, equity, community engagement, leadership and professional development. The Judge is a tireless encourager, helping people succeed by living their best lives.