TEDxSanAntonio: Talks on Urban Impact

October 20, 2014 by Taylor Allen

This past weekend San Antonio hosted its annual TEDx event at Rackspace’s Golbal HQ. This independently organized event is part of the TEDx program Ideas-In-Action-TEDxSanAntonio-280wcreated by the nonprofit conference and event organization, TED. TED is a wildly successful conference/event series where some of the world’s leading thinkers and doers are invited to share what they are most passionate about. “TED” stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design — three broad subject areas that are, collectively, shaping our future. And in fact, the subjects covered at these events have become broader still, showcasing ideas that matter in any discipline.  TEDxSanAntonio hosted 20 speakers throughout the day’s event covering a wide variety of topics. There were four in particular that called attention to some of the issues and challenges in urban re-development.


Cara Brenner, Mitch Hagney, Suzanne Scott, and Dr Thomas Schlenker
Cara Brenner, Mitch Hagney, Suzanne Scott, and Dr Thomas Schlenker

Suzanne Scott, General Manager of The San Antonio River Authority, spoke of the need to address the impact of development and storm runoff on the river. She made a call for an increase in Low Impact Development in the San Antonio River’s watershed. Outside of the segment of riverwalk most know, she drove home the fact that the river is a critical water resource for the region.


Mitch Hagney, CEO of Local Sprout, an urban farm in downtown San Antonio. Hagney is farminghydroponically, producing what would typically take an acre of land to do in a single shipping container. His farm uses one tenth of the water traditionally needed. Hagney noted that with a growing population and limited water for irrigation, vertical urban farming is a sustainable solution that needs to be expanded upon.

View inside Local Sprout, courtesy Image
View inside Local Sprout, courtesy Image

Clara Brenner, CEO of Tumml, a San Francisco based urban venture accelerator. She noted that urban impact entrepreneurs, innovators in start-ups trying to solve real urban problems such as transportation, poverty, and hunger are faced with barriers to funding from investors. Her non-profit works with these start-ups to empower entrepreneurs to solve these issues by helping to find investors. She noted that, as San Antonio is one of the top 10 fastest growing cities in the country, innovative solutions to an increasing population will be critical in the coming years.

Finally, Dr. Thomas Schlenker of San Antonio Metro Health discussed impact of diabetes in San Antonio. In addition to diet as a contributor, he noted how the built environment is also a factor. Increased walk and bike ability of a community can greatly mitigate health concerns such as diabetes.


This spectrum of topics from presenters with varied specialties all coalesced the idea that well planned land development and community innovation are critical to a communities health and economic growth.

Written by Taylor Allen

Taylor Allen

Taylor Allen is a resident of Downtown San Antonio. He graduated from Texas A&M University, and is a practicing civil engineer in San Antonio. He is the Chair of LOOP, Leadership San Antonio Class 42, and is actively involved in ULI.