Asheville edition of TED talks sets date, confirms three speakers

The Asheville version of an annual California-based conference known as TED will be held Aug. 30 at the Orange Peel.

A local contingent of TED fans got together earlier this year and decided to organize an independent version of TED, which stands for technology, entertainment and design. With help from the founding organization, TEDx Asheville —  as the local manifestation will be called — was born.

Three speakers have been confirmed, but nominations remain open. The goal of TED is to spread world-changing ideas in a range of disciplines, from science and business to the arts and entertainment. The three speakers slated for the Asheville event are bell hooks, a writer and social activist who is a faculty member at Berea College in Kentucky and who has spoken in Asheville on several occasions; David McConville, co-founder of The Elumenati, an Asheville design and engineering company that creates custom immersive environments such as domes; and Asheville resident Drew Jones, program director for the Vermont-based Sustainability Institute, who specializes in systems dynamics and climate-change modeling.

Local speakers will be videotaped and will have a chance to be included in the California conference. Meanwhile, Jennifer Saylor, executive director of the 2009 TEDx Asheville event, is encouraging anyone who’s interested to fill out an application to speak or get involved in some other way. The group needs volunteers and sponsors, she says.

The event is free, says Saylor, and about much more than just lectures. The Asheville event will also prominently feature performance artists and demonstrations of locally made products. “And some surprises, too,” Saylor adds. It’s the latest Asheville event to target people in creative and entrepreneurial fields. This spring’s HATCH Asheville festival also brought people together to talk about big ideas and network.

Plans are to make TEDx Asheville an annual event, Saylor says.

To nominate a speaker, go to

Organizers plan to meet at 6 p.m. on Monday, July 20. The meeting is open to interested participants. For more information, e-mail Saylor at

— Jason Sandford, multimedia editor


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