Ted’s Back


Tedx this month is a chance to start talking.

by André Natta

The City of Ideas continues to be buzzing months after the conclusion of the Prize to the Future competition. Many people are willing to share their ideas with each other in hopes that they can gain support for them and see them take flight—waking the sleeping giant that is Birmingham’s hope.

There are several conferences that attempt to make those ideas available to anyone willing to listen. One such conference is TED (which stands for Technology, Education, Design). The conference started in 1984 as a one-off event. It’s been an annual event since 1990 and currently takes place in Long Beach, CA with additional events including TEDGlobal.

TEDx—a collective of more than 750 independently organized events based on the TED mantra of sharing ìideas worth spreadingî and licensed by the nonprofit organization responsible for the California conference—have taken place all over the world, with Birmingham preparing to host its second event in a year.

Shortly after the April 27 tornadoes, TEDxRedMountain was held in the city’s Lakeview community, bringing people together from across the region to focus on talk of recovery and healing. That event included presentations by ABC 33/40 meteorologist James Spann about the use of social media in sharing information about recovery efforts and Patrick Morris of UA Greek Relief talking about the success of their meal initiative in the days following the storms.

TEDxBirmingham will take place in October. The theme for this second event, scheduled to take place on October 8 at Woodrow Hall in Woodlawn, will be Waking the Giant. Jeremy Carter, one of TEDxBirmingham’s four organizers, says ìwill focus on a broader range of topics and ideasî presented by folks working and living in Birmingham. He hopes that presenters like Confederate Motor Company’s founder Matt Chambers and serial entrepreneur Tanveer Patel along with several musical performances will spark the minds of those in attendance.

Carter believes participants will continue the dialogue long after the last words are spoken, saying ìSuccess is people talking, both at the event and the conversation continuing afterward.î He did point out that how and if those conversations move forward differently from other efforts that have been undertaken in the past is dependent upon the attendees. ìWe’ll put it together, organize it, get the content there [and see] whatever’s made of it. We want to faciliate it and allow it to take whatever form it needs to take, watching it grow from there—doing our best to allow it to happen.î

Fall seems an appropriate time of year to think about planting the seeds of change and harvesting ideas. Keeping those conversations going, no matter where they occur, may be just the right next step necessary to wake the giant sleeping in the midst of Jones Valley.•

AndrÈ Natta is the stationmaster for bhamterminal.com.

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