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Monday, 23 January 2012 15:41

TEDx events returning in 2012

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WEST MICHIGAN — Entrepreneurs looking to surround themselves with other innovative thinkers take note: TEDx events are returning to West Michigan.

TED, which stands for technology, entertainment and design, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to “Ideas Worth Spreading,” that organizes a system of talks, events, and conferences that have become popular in recent years. Recently, independently organized TEDx events cropped up in several cities in West Michigan, including Holland, Grand Rapids and Muskegon.

The original TED conferences began in California in 1984 and now include annual conferences in both California and Scotland, as well as numerous events around the globe, including many independently organized TEDx events.

TEDx events feature speakers who present provocative ideas in the TED categories centered on a theme, location or social issue to promote worldwide innovation.

Unlike most conferences and events where audience members buy tickets, the TED audience is selected through an application process to ensure those attending are engaged in the theme and are likely to continue the discussion long after the final presenter leaves the stage.

“The speakers are there to inspire the audience,” said TEDx Grand Rapids licensee Steve Frazee. “The audience shares in the discussion. It’s a great opportunity to engage with new ideas.”

For this reason, the TEDx events have become popular with business leaders and entrepreneurs looking to connect with their peers and develop new ideas through collaboration.

Kevin Budelmann, president of the Grand Rapids design firm Peopledesign, was an advisor for TEDx Grand Rapids in 2011, and Peopledesign was a contributor to the event.

“I see it as a way of softening the ground for innovation,” Budelmann said. He sees TEDx as an opportunity for leaders to “broaden their ideas of what their business can be.”

The inaugural TEDx Grand Rapids in 2011 focused on the theme “Innovate” and boasted 675 attendees, 16 speakers from around the globe and almost $250,000 in sponsorships. What astonishes Frazee is how “the community came together around the event. We were initially expecting attendance of maybe 50 to 500, but we wound up selling out at more than 600. It was a huge accomplishment.”

Looking ahead, the theme for TEDx Grand Rapids on May 10 will be “What Now?” The application window opened in mid-December and will remain open until mid-February. As with most TEDx conferences, the speaker list will remain secret until the audience selection process is completed. According to Frazee, the list for TEDx Grand Rapids will be disclosed sometime in mid-April.

To the west, TEDx Macatawa originally began in October 2010 and was held in Zeeland. This year, the event will be held in the historic Knickerbocker Theater in downtown Holland on March 8. The application window opened on Jan. 8 and will remain open until mid-February. The theme, “Do More Good,” will focus on how members of the lakeshore region can collaborate to create “a new kind of bottom line, a new standard of excellence in the community,” said organizer Jay Frankhouse of design firm fuel D. “This is an action-oriented theme.”

“Not too often do designers get to work on a project that doesn’t just make artifacts for manufacture, but can work for social good,” Frankhouse said. “This is a new model for social good that generates a new economic force.”

While the speakers for TEDx Macatawa will remain secret until Feb. 8, Frankhouse states that the event is geared for West Michigan. Both the audience and speakers will come from the lakeshore region. “We are looking to curate an audience group with a diversity of background and information,” said Frankhouse, “but we have a lot to be proud of in our own backyard.”

Muskegon is planning to hold another TEDx on Oct. 11.

Whether in Long Beach or Grand Rapids, Budelmann sums up the TED message clearly: “What TED represents is anything that can get the audience to think differently.”

Read 3721 times Last modified on Monday, 13 August 2012 12:45

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