I was honored to be invited by Robert Gupta to speak at the first every TEDxSkidRow. Although we had talked and emailed in the past, this was the first time meeting Robert. I have to tell you the Robert is the real deal. He is genuine and humble, and not what you would expect from a person who has reached such professional success as being a solo violinist for Los Angeles Philharmonic starting at the age of 19!
Robert could be doing a world of things other than spending time on Skid Row, but as he will tell you, and I cannot argue, once homelessness changes your heart there is no going back. Few years back Robert had a life-changing experience with Nathaniel Ayers, the subject of LA Times columnist Steve Lopez‘s book “The Soloist”. Yup, there was a movie, too! That experience changed Robert so much so he started a nonprofit called Street Symphony. Street Symphony brings live classical music performances to mentally ill homeless people on Skid Row.
I have to say that I have experienced some very cool events, but I cannot think of one as awesome as TEDxSkidRow. It may have been a hot room, there may have been not enough parking, the lights and the PA may have not been like other events, but TEDXSkidRow was PERFECT! Come on now. On any given day not a whole lot of good things happen on Skid Row, and most certainly nothing that would draw and mixture of eclectic people to spend the day exploring new ideas. I give Robert huge props for taking the risk to make this all happen and I pray this is only the beginning of something much bigger.
Please follow Robert on twitter and support his great works.