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You never know where the next brilliant, world-changing idea will come from: your next-door neighbor, your kid’s fifth-grade math teacher, the landlady – but if you’re at a TEDx event, it may come from the person sitting next to you.
“It’s a platform for giving people a voice,” Brandon Weber, one of the organizers for TEDx Sacramento said. “If somebody has a great idea, the best thing you can do is give them a voice – a place to share it.”
TED – technology, entertainment and design – events are a series of brief talks by people with new ideas, or, according to the TED slogan, “ideas worth spreading.”
The organization went local with the development of the “TEDx” series of events. These are individually organized, smaller events facilitated by volunteers. In Sacramento, TEDx events are organized by a 20-member TEDx Sacramento board of directors, led by Weber.
The Crocker Art Museum will be the site for TEDx Sacramento Aug. 31 – an event that organizers say will include speakers, performances and a “dash of mind-blowing demonstrations.”
Alex Terrazas, a neuroscientist turned corporate researcher, will be speaking at TEDx Sacramento for the second time at the Aug. 31 event, and this time it’s not about rats driving cars – although the video of that talk is still available on TED.com.
This time, Terrazas will discuss recent developments in satellite market research, which he says means finding out what people are watching, buying and consuming by looking at satellite pictures of activity around the world.
“I like getting up on stage and having to explain in clear terms what I’m doing to make it accessible to people,” Terrazas said. “It makes you refine your thinking and not just giving technical details.”
Other speakers include a National Geographic photographer, a robotics designer, the trainer behind SEAL Team 6, and a speaker from Denmark. TEDx Sacramento is leaking out the speaker list a little at a time to keep the focus on the ideas, not on the individual speakers, Weber said.
The variety of topics being covered at this year’s TEDx Sacramento event range from solar-paneled roadways and how living in a virtual world such as Second Life affects the human brain in the real world, according to Weber.
“Often, the best TED talks are the ones from people you never knew before,” Weber said. “Bill Gates has spoken at TED, but his talk isn’t the one you email everyone about. The buzz is about some unknown person with something incredible to offer.”
TEDx Sacramento started around the time Weber opened The Urban Hive – he wanted to be involved in something with meaning, he said, something where his job aligned with his values.
“I felt like I had a little piece missing,” Weber said. “The Urban Hive was created out of a want to do something to make our community better, and TED falls into that category, too.”
Weber attended a TED event in southern California and was blown away, he said. He had a realization that TED events presented a chance to hear great ideas and share them with others, with the goal of making the world a better place, he said.
Back in Sacramento, Weber decided to invite a small group of people to The Urban Hive to emulate the experience he had in Southern California. The small group meetings became more frequent, and soon Weber was invited by a TED regional representative to become a licensee – someone who can host TED events under the TED brand.
2012 marks the third year that Weber has helped organize day-long conferences with a variety of speakers who want a platform for sharing ideas that might otherwise not ever be heard.
“There are a lot of ideas in the world that don’t percolate past institutional ideas,” Weber said. “TED brings some of these ideas forward.”
The worldwide organization that TED has become started in 1984 by Richard Saul Wurman and was initially a group of select thinkers and doers getting together and talking about their ideas during a four-day conference in California. Chris Anderson bought the company in 2000 and made the content available online, and TED started to take off.
Speakers at TED have included Bill Gates, Al Gore, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson and Gordon Brown.
TED talks are all about innovative, world-changing ideas, according to the TED website – but what makes an idea worth spreading?
Jordan Reeves, TED Education Team representative said Monday that there needs to be something exceptional about the idea – and you know something is exceptional when you see it.
“It doesn’t have to be the cure for cancer every time,” Reeves said. “There is no bullet-point list of criteria, but it needs to be potentially world-changing. It can be very simple, as long as it is something everyone can get something out of.”
Lee Chazen, one of the TEDx Sacramento board of directors said that he believes a lot of people are working in isolation and need the inspiration that comes from seeing and hearing fresh ideas.
“For anyone who is down on the world or thinks the world’s problems will never be solved, go to a TED event and just listen,” Chazen said. “There are people with ideas that are going to solve those problems, and they want to share them. Who wouldn’t be inspired by that?”
TEDx Sacramento will be at the Crocker Art Museum Aug. 31. The event goes from 9 a.m. - 6 p.m., and tickets are $100. For more information and to register for the event, visit the TEDx Sacramento website.
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