Asheville fans of a California-based conference that shines a spotlight on fascinating ideas and inspiring thinkers have begun planning a similar one-day event here.
TED (technology, entertainment, design), a California-based nonprofit, has sponsored a conference highlighting interesting speakers since 1984. The idea is simple: Spread great ideas and change the world. And the original focus has expanded to include speakers specializing in science, business and the arts. Speakers are videotaped, and their “TED talks” spread virally on the Web via www.ted.com.
Cities around the world have started organizing their own conferences with help from TED. The independent events are known as TEDx, and Asheville wants to join the list of participants.
Why? “Because Asheville is such a creative place with a strong entrepreneurial spirit, a spirit of community, of helping, of learning,” says Jennifer Saylor, executive director of the 2009 TEDx Asheville event. “It’s about being inspired.”
With a self-appointed steering committee, the group has moved fast to start lining up speakers, a venue and sponsors. The one-day event is slated for late summer, according to Saylor, who says the group is still looking for speakers, sponsors and volunteers. The group has a Facebook page, and Saylor says a Web site is in the works.
While TED has become known for attracting big-name speakers such as Al Gore, Bill Gates and Malcolm Gladwell, “It’s the people you’ve never heard of who really blow you away,” says Saylor, a UNCA student who’s due to graduate in December.
Jose Ibarra, one of the folks working on the Asheville conference, says the event is all about showcasing amazing local talent.
“My hope is that TED is going to further expose some of Asheville’s talent in the technology field, the green-economy field and all kinds of other areas. We have some amazing microbiologists here [and] urban-renewal experts,” notes Ibarra, who owns the Applied Solutions Group, an Asheville-based Web-development and design company. “We’ve been given a platform where this talent can be showcased and we can use a brand name to give attention to those people.”
Local speakers, says Saylor, will be videotaped and will have a shot at getting included in the California conference. Meanwhile, she’s encouraging anyone who’s interested to fill out an application to speak or get involved in some other way.
The free event, she says, “is for anyone who wants to be inspired, who wants to learn, who is turned on by education and turned on by new ways of seeing the world.”
For more information, e-mail Saylor at firstname.lastname@example.org.