Jess Stangeland has been watching TED Talks for years.
“They’re fascinating. I watch any topic. I’ll watch science, I’ll watch performance. I watch them all,” she said.
Nick Thompson feels the same way.
He was introduced to the wildly popular lectures — which inform and inspire millions around the world — while in college.
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“One of my favorite professors used them so well, I went home and watched more,” he said.
Now Stangeland, Thompson and a team of other local movers and shakers are bringing a TED-like conference to the Tri-Cities — one packed full of the kind of interesting, innovative and rousing talks that are a hallmark of the brand.
TEDxRichland is set for Sept. 17 at the Uptown Theatre. TED stands for “Technology, Entertainment, Design.”
The team is seeking speakers for the conference, with applications available at www.tedxrichland.com.
Stangeland and Thompson expect to select a minimum of nine people to give talks at the event.
They’re looking for diversity in both the speakers themselves and the topics they present. The ideal would be to have a couple talks each in the areas of environment, medical, social issues, arts/performance and science/technology, they said.
Speakers must have ties to the region, and the presentations need to be new — not duplicating existing TED or TEDx talks.
More online: www.tedxrichland.com
Beyond that, the criteria is simple.
“We’re looking for unique angles on good ideas,” Thompson said. “It doesn’t matter if you have a GED or a master’s degree. It doesn’t matter if you’re 5 years old or you’re 50 years old. As long as the idea has a unique angle and is worthy of being explored — that’s all that matters.”
Each person selected will speak for no more than 18 minutes.
Some are serious, some are funny. Some are provocative, some touching. Some are a little of all of that.
The most popular TED Talks run the gamut — from a lecture by Sir Ken Robinson on fostering an education system that cultivates creativity, to author Mary Roach’s “10 things you didn’t know about orgasm,” to psychologist Dan Gilbert’s ruminations on the science of happiness.
They’ve each racked up millions upon millions of views online.
Headquartered in New York and Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, TED is a nonprofit “devoted to ideas worth spreading.”
It’s perhaps best known for the TED Talks, many of which are given during the annual TED conference in Vancouver and then posted online.
TEDx conferences — like the one coming to Richland — are local, self-organized events “that bring people together to share a TED-like experience.”
Tri-City community leaders are beginning to hear about TEDxRichland, and excitement is brewing.
“I think it’s a terrific idea,” said Matt Kincaid, an author, speaker, entrepreneur and business professor at Columbia Basin College in Pasco.
“There have been a lot of TEDx events around the country. Anything that’s geared toward educating and sharing ideas — it benefits people and the community.”
Peter Christenson, an assistant professor of fine arts at Washington State University Tri-Cities, has students helping with the conference.
“I’m excited that there’s an interest in general in growing the culture of the area and thinking about the trajectory of where we’re headed and how we can help shape and mold where Tri-Cities is going,” he said. “I’m excited that people are doing things like (the conference) in the Tri-Cities.”
TEDxRichland will be the first TEDx in the Tri-City area. Stangeland and Thompson are working with a team of about 10 others to put it on.
They’ve selected the theme “Invisible Adversity.” All the talks and videos will relate to it in some way.
At its heart, the theme is hopeful, Stangeland said.
“Adversity can be seen as a place you can get stuck in, a thing that’s out of your control. But, really, adversity is a turning point where new beginnings and change happen,” she said. “That’s what we’re hoping people pull away from it — through adversity and struggle, all of these amazing things have been found.”
TEDxRichland will include a full day of events at the Uptown Theatre, with a mix of live speakers, pre-recorded TED videos and other activities.
One hundred audience slots will be available. Audience applications will be posted online soon.
Organizers also are in talks to hold live webcasts at CBC and WSU Tri-Cities, and people will be able to watch remotely through a free livestream.
Stangeland, Thompson and their team will need volunteers for the day of the conference and leading up to it. Volunteer applications are on the website now.
They said TEDxRichland will be a creative, collaborative event. One that’s a lot of fun.
One that can make a difference — for those who speak, those who attend, the community.
“People are going to walk away with new energy, new connections and hopefully some tools they can use for collaboration, to make whatever changes they want to see here locally,” Stangeland said.
Speaker applications are due by May 22.
More online: www.tedxrichland.com.