The first wave of speakers!

The first wave of speakers!

// By Jacqueline Brennan

/ By Jackie Brennan /

Telling tough stories. Giving life to movements. Creating wow! moments. We know this first batch of Main Stage speakers is on-point because they embody the spirit of Upswell. We could extol their virtues ad nauseam, but we think the basis for our enthusiasm will be self-evident once you see who these folks are, and the range of ways they—through doing what they do best—have changed—and are actively changing—our world.

Lisa Ling

Telling the stories that often go untold

How many people have joined you in your living room consistently for two decades? If you grew up in the 70s, maybe Fred Rogers comes to mind. If quiz shows are your thing, maybe it’s Alex Trebek. Or maybe you never missed an episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show during its 24-season run. Our living room club is a small one. For many in the U.S., Lisa Ling is part of that small club.

The Sacramento native’s television career began more than 25 years ago, when she joined Channel One News at the tender age of 18. As Lisa’s career has taken her to many different programs—The View, National Geographic Explorer, ABC News’ Nightline, Our America, and now CNN’s This Is Life—she’s maintained a reputation for bringing us off-the-beaten path stories about struggles and triumph. These are the kind of stories changemakers live and breathe every day. It’s why we’re delighted to share that Lisa—a familiar face to many of us, a native Californian, and an incisive commentator, all in one package—will be joining us on the Main Stage at Upswell in Los Angeles this November!

Giving life to the #MeToo movement

Lisa Ling inspires us to reflect on how much can happen in two decades. Tarana Burke reminds us that tectonic shifts can come to bear in a single moment. Indeed, this time a year ago, many of us didn’t know Tarana Burke’s name. Not the case now. Tarana is the galvanizing figure behind the movement that defined 2017—spreading shockwaves with the two-syllable hashtag #MeToo.

Tarana’s activism has ushered in a spate of individuals sharing their stories about societal inequities across communities and industries. Tarana is at the center of a story that reminds us that change happens when we organize around lived experience. As an ambassador for a new order of how society-level change can take effect, we’re beside ourselves with excitement to hear from Tarana at Upswell!

Tarana Burke

Erik Wahl

Creating wow! moments

The third Main Stage speaker we’re excited to share keeps with the theme of movements and moments. Specifically vis-à-vis wow! moments, or what he likes to call “disruptive moments.” Erik Wahl is an internationally renowned graffiti artist known for his “live art” exhibits that wed creativity and inspiration. Erik is himself a Californian, and a long-time resident of San Diego—which is just a few hours south of where we’ll be meeting him this November (provided traffic’s good on Interstate 5).

Oh, and if you think you can search for some of his work to purchase, you’re dreaming. Erik has strong feelings about commodification when it comes to art. Nonetheless, there are troves of YouTube videos capturing the type of stimulation Erik is going to bring to Upswell. We’ve handpicked a few to help you get in a creative headspace between now and November.

Jackie Brennan is the associate of social media and web at Independent Sector.

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