By Cynthia Betubiza

An idea worth spreading doesn’t just magically appear out of thin air. Instead, it needs a long incubation period, a sometimes frustrating — and often exciting — trial and error of creation, failure and innovation.

On April 18, TED welcomed its first-ever class of the TED Residency program, an in-house community of 28 bright minds who are tackling ambitious projects and making meaningful change.

This group of thinkers will spend the next four months in a collaborative space, learning with and from each other on ideas that address …

• How to talk about science differently
• The personal stories of migrants
• Violence prevention in at-risk communities
• Meaningful personal connections in a tech-heavy world
• Inclusion in the fashion world
• Building the digital Disney of Africa
• Frictionless housing for a mobile society

… among many other fascinating subjects

At the end of the session, the residents will give a TED Talk about their final ideas in TED office theater. Read more about each resident below:

Daniel Ahmadizadeh is working with artificial intelligence to revolutionize how consumers are informed and make choices. He co-founded Riley, a chatbot concierge service that saves real-estate professionals time. Riley handles the preliminary conversation with a prospect on behalf of agents 24/7 via text message.

Piper Anderson is a writer, cultural worker, and founder/chief creative strategist at Create Forward, a social enterprise that designs creative strategies for social change to activate the collective imagination. Inspired by her 15 years working on local and national initiatives to end mass criminalization and incarceration, she launched the National Mass Story Campaign, which will host participatory storytelling events in 20 cities to catalyze more restorative and transformative approaches to justice through stories and dialogues with people directly impacted.

Isabel Behncke is a Oxford field primatologist from Chile working on the evolutionary roots of social behavior in humans and other animals. As part of her interest in “the evolution of the ideas-talk,” she is creating a show on the Science of Joy that blurs boundaries between theatre, poetry and cutting-edge science. Think ancient fireside storytelling, but with Rolling Stones, Whitman and Darwin as part of the hearth.

Susan Bird is working to build a podcast series of meaningful conversations.  As face-to-face connection is now considered a new luxury, Susan hopes to create a global appetite for conversation and feed it with the skills needed to spread ideas.

Artist and traveler Reggie Black looks to inspire others through Sticky Inspiration! Sticky Inspiration started as an online project designed to inspire others through thought-provoking quotes composed and distributed daily in public spaces. After five years, he’s looking to continue and expand on his idea through tangible experiences to create an even bigger impact.

Sashko Danylenko is a Ukraine-based filmmaker whose animated films explore wonder and curiosity. Currently, Sashko is working on a film that documents different cities around the world as seen through bicyclists.

Tanya Dwyer is an attorney and social entrepreneur in Brooklyn who works to promote inclusive capitalism and economic justice. She wants to help establish a living-wage business park in Crown Heights that is cooperatively owned by neighborhood residents and stakeholders.

Laura Anne Edwards wants to enlist the global TED community to help create DATA OASIS, a dynamic index and treasure map of open data archives and a wiki-style forum for sharing best practices and APIs across disciplines and borders. DATA OASIS will reduce redundant research projects, thereby moving critical efforts forward such as environmental science and medical studies. It will also radically democratize access to valuable data sets, many of which are taxpayer funded and technically “open” but in practice, extremely difficult to locate and access.

Rob Gore, an academic emergency medicine physician doc based in Brooklyn, leads KAVI (Kings Against Violence Initiative), a youth empowerment program and violence prevention program that has been running for the past five years. His work explores the intersection of medicine and empowerment and hopes to transform health care in marginalized populations.

Che Grayson is a filmmaker and comic book creator whose multimedia project Rigamo, a comic series and short film about a young girl whose tears bring people back to life, helped her overcome her grief at the death of a beloved aunt. She wants to explore using these forms of storytelling to tackle other tough subjects, heal, and inspire.

Bethany Halbreich runs Paint the World, an organization on a mission to discover what could happen if we make opportunities for creativity ubiquitous. Paint the World facilitates public art projects in underserved communities, the resulting pieces are sold and the profits fund more kits and supplies for areas in need — and so the cycle repeats!

Sarah Hinawi is the co-founder and director of Purpl, a small-business incubator that focuses on the person rather than the business. Her career has been driven by a desire to help others find self-direction, a personal connection to learning and a life path in line with their passions, interests, and beliefs.  Her latest work examines what a new model of leadership looks like in the gig economy and how fostering this model can address the disengagement and isolation so omnipresent in our workforce.

DK Holland has developed a free afterschool program where third through fifth graders take the lead. Kids’ Council is a micro-democracy run by kids in their classroom. DK finds that giving kids the opportunity to serve motivates even the quietest, most challenged child to express his or her natural generosity, inquisitiveness, individualism and sense of fairness. She is working on making this new model accessible to other public schools across the US. She’s finding that many kids are natural innovators and they consult with Inquiring Minds USA, her company, to bring progressive learning improvements back in to their classrooms, notably the Learning Wall and Portfolio Pockets.

Liz Jackson is the founder and Chief Advocacy Officer for the Inclusive Fashion & Design Collective, which is the first fashion trade association for businesses and designers serving the needs of people with disabilities. Their mission is to introduce the world to inclusive design and use it to fuel the disability market, which is an emerging market the size of China.

Ayana Elizabeth Johnson is a marine biologist and policy expert who advocates zoning the ocean as we do land. As executive director of the Waitt Institute, she led the Caribbean’s first successful island-wide ocean zoning project, resulting in one third of Barbuda’s coastal waters being protected, and went on to launch similar initiatives on other islands. Ayana argues that this big-picture approach can frame political, environmental, cultural and economic tradeoffs; set a course toward restoring the ocean’s abundance; and enable us to use the ocean without using it up.

Jonathan Kalan and Michael Youngblood are rethinking the future of flexible housing through their company Unsettled. They want to redefine the notion of home and its relation to work for a more mobile generation. The rise of the sharing economy has proven that our generation values experiences over ownership, and this duo is pioneering the first truly “global lease,” a subscription-based platform for global housing that will unlock a location-independent, experience-driven lifestyle.

Brian McCullough is the creator of the Internet History Podcast, an oral history of the internet.  Regarded as the informal textbook to the historical evolution of the web, Brian’s work serves as a tool to educate those that work in that space.

Christia Mercer is a full-time Columbia philosophy professor and part-time activist. She plans to examine radically different answers that people across cultures and times have given to hard questions and show their relevance to modern thinking.

Ted Myerson is a co-founder of Anonos, a Big Privacy technology company that enables data to be more readily collected, shared, published and combined. As Big Data paves the way for new discovery, Ted hopes to improve quality of life with privacy-respectful life science breakthroughs that could empower personalized and precision medicine.

As a tap dancer, Andrew Nemr has lived the oral tradition of American Vernacular Dance. Along with dance legend Gregory Hines, Andrew has co-founded the Tap Legacy Foundation and is working to create an online platform for the preservation, support, and promotion of oral traditions.

Cavaughn Noel is looking expose urban youth to the untapped fruits of life that they rarely get to experience, using inspirational imagery, via technology, arts, fashion, and travel. By creating a platform to serve as a “lens” for young people to see opportunities around the world, he wants to empower them to build their own inroads in those spaces once they see what is possible.

Torin Perez is building a digital platform to bridge the massive gap in availability and accessibility of diverse children’s content for schools and families. The DreamAfrica app is home to engaging and educational family-friendly multimedia content from established publishers, independent content creators, and children.

Amanda Phingbodhipakkiya is a Columbia-trained neuroscientist turned art director and is founder of The Leading Strand. Her organization directs designer-researcher collaborations to produce visual media that reveal the incredible possibilities hidden behind the often inaccessible language of academic science.

After her Flappy Bird in a Box video went viral, Fawn Qiu wondered how else she could hook teens on engineering.  By creating an open-source model for designing fun projects with low-cost, everyday objects, she hopes to encourages a new generation of engineers.

Vanessa Valenti is the co-founder of FRESH, a next-generation speakers’ bureau focused on diversifying the speaking field. She’s conducting research to inspire us to redesign thought leadership—specifically, who gets on the world’s most influential stages, and what their experiences are once they get there.

Kimberlee Williams is the CEO of FEMWORKS, a communications agency specialized in developing authentic and enduring community connection through events, engagement strategies and creative content.  She wants to transform local economies by better engaging and enrolling African American consumers in buy-local campaigns.

Read more here:: Meet our first class of TED Residents