who teach humanity that attention, awareness,
and service to Nature is the only path
guaranteeing the survival of us all.
Your courage is contagious.
With brave wings, she flies.
Consider the last time you witnessed someone do something brave.
Not bravery in the “running into fires” sense, but bravery as an action born of vulnerability. I can tell you I witnessed such bravery when I attended TEDxSAVANNAH where multiple speakers stood before a crowd to speak up for something they believed in, despite their own vulnerability in doing so. What I realized is that in order to put a message before your own feelings of comfort requires courage, bravery, and hopefulness.
Delivering these speeches reveal one’s personal wisdom; their struggles and their growth; and their flaws just as much as their strengths. But these brave individuals show us that hope and lived change are possible – and an integral part of our gift to the world.
Some would go as far as to argue language is all we have left of action. The words we use and messages we construct have the power to mirror, build, sustain, and even transform who people are and how they view the world. When we speak, we take a stand on who we are and how we engage with the world. Listeners crave truth-tellers even if it comes at a personal cost. Humanity has gone to great lengths to protect itself from the uncertainty that the world has become. And many have bound themselves to a future that they cannot conceive of and have carefully avoided investigating
The connection between words and meanings resembles a symbiotic way of moving in the world. Language needs courtesy to guide it, an inclusion and a generosity that is both robust and precise and requires that we live in the moment. At Savannah Bee we have a saying: Bee Here Now. To me, this phrase is a call to action to remind ourselves, time and time again, the place where we are is here. And living in the here requires attention, awareness, passion, struggle, sacrifice, and responsibility. A responsibility to take a stand and speak the truth for something or someone that so desperately needs what we all crave:
And the opportunity to be heard.
Rarely do we consider how unimaginably hard it is to invite an audience into your narration— the truth you wish to tell about what is really going on in our world, and to make them to feel it and act upon it.
But there’s a gentle awakening upon us. An awakening through conversation that doesn’t just chart a beekeeper’s story, it unlocks and uncovers meaning; it bridges between here and now; between change and survival; between honeybee and humanity.
With that said, I want to tell you a story. Well, part of a story that ultimately became a journey to a well-lit stage, a sold out event, and a 13 minute TEDx talk that left us with tears in our eyes.
In December 2016, I was asked to help with an application nominating Savannah Bee’s President and CEO, Ted Dennard to speak at TEDxSAVANNAH. I thought it would be a simple process, until I had to answer a number of questions. This nomination wasn’t taken lightly. I took my time answering each question—without any knowledge of how it would or would not relate to Ted’s eventual speech.
The 2017 TEDxSAVANNAH theme was “Bridge.” And onward I went, typing with familiarity and uncertainty.
Below are the exact questions on the application and the answers I wrote. My answers are based on pieces I’ve written, spoken, read, or experienced in working with Ted. They have not been edited.
Describe an idea worth sharing regarding this year's theme: "Bridge"
For 100 million years, honeybees have freely created beauty and abundance through co-evolution with the plant world. Their beautiful and monumental relationship with nature teaches us that when we awaken from our illusion of separateness, we may see honeybees as part of a metaphysical bridge that transcends boundaries to teach humanity that any act of symbiosis, where all parties benefit, is the most successful path in the long term.
Elaborate on this idea in 3-5 sentences
Every day we – at Savannah Bee and through our non-profit, The Bee Cause Project – work to be more symbiotic in the way we live and interact in the world. We must work together to live a life that approaches that of the noble honeybee—a life where we do no harmful actions, only mutually beneficial ones. We must be diligent in our effort to inspire everyone we touch with our packaging, products, shipments, phone conversations, emails, retail store experience, and our overall embodiment of our mission. Like a honeybee leaves a flower better simply because they happened to meet, each interaction should leave us feeling better than before. Savannah Bee operates just like a beehive and so should yours. This simply means our company is like a superorganism - an organism made up of many organisms doing specialized duties and are able to achieve success together that individually we could not attain.
How does this idea impact the community?
Bees have this give-in-order-to-receive or receive-in-order-to-give way of life. They build the world up and so should we. We are at a crossroads in today’s world where we have allowed what divides us, define us. This idea of using a beehive as a business model, necessitates that we look beyond ourselves to better understand that it is a gift we can give to each other to approach life unconventionally and with generosity so that we may float freely as co-creators, not with the freedom to only do what we want, but freely in our ability to choose what we should do—what is best for everyone.
The rhythm of bees from hive to flower and flower to hive is a song that has been sung for more than a thousand millennia. In 2017, the same song is still being sung. We all must slow down and pay attention to the sound and beauty that can so easily evade our awareness.
The soul of Savannah Bee is contained in the harmonious buzzing of bees. Our passion for what we do and what we lovingly create will hopefully inspire others to Bee Above Your Usual.
Together, we work to perpetuate a kind of goodness that not only supports honeybees, it emulates them too.
How does this idea relate to the theme "BRIDGE”?
In life ‘bridges’ present themselves in a myriad of ways—inviting one to take a risk in crossing it. We are met with a decision to regard it with enthusiasm or trepidation. The creation of Savannah Bee makes it abundantly clear that to choose rather than inherit your path in life is ultimately what saves you. Savannah Bee embodies this ‘bee-centric’ reality of fighting for your dreams without harming others. Honeybees live a poetic life where all they touch is benefitted. They have created a place on Earth that is the most admirable of the species. It is hard to experience the present in the presence of the future, but there is this calmness amidst the buzzing that takes over when one realizes that we don’t have to choose just one dream or path in life, but that we can live out the conversation between them in wonderfully fulfilling ways. The song honeybees sing each day, and have been for 100 million years, is a harvesting of the collected sunshine that gives us life. Their symbiotic partnership with the plant world is the reason our world looks the way it does with all of its flowering plants. If we pay attention to the life of nature’s smallest heroines, we may find lesson(s) that not only bridge, but honor the space between no longer and not yet.
Taking the theme, "BRIDGE", what makes the idea distinctive?
The notion that no matter what path you take in life, bee-ing better people in a better world should be the end goal. Happenstance events and meetings lead you closer to your aspirations before you make them incarnate. Helpers or ‘worker-bees’ show up to guide you along the way. As we wrestle with life’s contradictions and difficulties, we can look to the beehive as a model for a pathway with the potential to push the human race forward. Bees are distinct in their life-giving approach to unforeseen setbacks. They continue to push forward, despite the fact that humanity has nearly destroyed in 100 years, what they managed to sustain over 100 million.
Savannah Bee may be a stepping stone or perhaps a life-long journey. But what remains is that we too can find meaning and diversity in our ultimate unity. The beehive reveals that each of us was born to become an accomplished – even if unconscious – projector of possibility in a seemingly impossible world. The virtuous paths in life are not paved with the lessons of saints and heroes, but the lessons left behind by humble doubters, misfits, and nature’s true heroines who teach us – through the wordless chorus of compassion – that radiance falls upon us all when recognize we are nothing without each other.
As Pliny the Elder said, “Nature in Her entirety is nowhere more seen than in her smallest creatures.”
What is the audience’s take-away? What is their call to action?
It’s not outlandish to ask yourself, “What would a honeybee do?”
Bees are unusual in their own wisdom, calling us to cross that metaphysical bridge even if it means falling from the expectations of others into your own truth. For just around the corner is something or someone surprisingly new, offering an opportunity that could forever change your life.
It’s okay to be a follower as long as you are following the right people. I invite you to follow that quiet buzzing in your ear, urging you to take that next step. A beehive is the form through which my company’s soul works in concert with consciousness to communicate a meaning of value that exceeds the monetary, and instead, signifies passion and love as a co-creation. Its meaning ultimately shines a light on the poetic dance of life, inviting us all to listen with our hearts and dance with our passion.
We are the product of a journey taken together. We are Savannah Bee Company
I share these words with you as the part of a journey that would become something reminiscent, yet completely different than what was and is one of the best speeches I’ve heard. And I can say this with confidence, as I taught many undergraduates public speaking during the years I persued my master’s degree at Auburn University.
Before you listen for yourself, I want to say that this blog post and Ted’s speech are not about us and it’s not about popularity or self-promotion—it is about them, the honeybees. It is about saving the bees, who will ultimately save humanity.
Ted ended his speech holding a hand-painted sign with big black letters that read, “SAVE THE HUMANS.” On that bright stage amidst a captivated crowd, he said with heart and precision, “In our multitude of reciprocal acts, perhaps we can not only save the bees and the World but also, in that process, save ourselves.”
I sat for a moment taking it all in. While hugging Ted’s wife, parents, and my coworkers we rejoiced and we congratulated Ted. He thanked us for our support and help. Then the moment was over.
It was one almost gone afternoon in May, that I stepped out of the Jepson Center for the Arts into what sun was left of the day, fully understanding the hopeful, generous, infinitely kind gamble taken by the honeybee—who, in her humility, seeks an abundance from nature, but does not demand it.
As I got into my car, headed back to work, I imagined the tireless honeybee buzzing in flight to join the blossoms born of Spring; no longer separate from nature and hive—I knew she had found her way home.
On that day, Ted spoke for the bees and we listened with our hearts and our minds.
A post about Ted Dennard’s TEDxSAVANNAH talk titled, "I Speak for The Bees" May 19, 2017, Jepson Center for the Arts, Savannah GA