Where can you go to see some of Detroit’s brightest minds, biggest thinkers and seismic creators? Where can you gather where you will find them all in one place at the same time, accessible and open to talk about their lives and passion projects?
One place: TEDxDetroit.
Thousands of like-minded Metro Detroiters will be there at 8 a.m. when the doors open Oct. 6 at the Fox Theatre in Detroit. That is when TEDxDetroit returns for an eighth year of celebrating business and innovation in the Motor City.
The event is unique because it is a fast-paced conference of creators, designers, thinkers and doers that organizers say is “set to challenge the status quo, create exciting new connections while inspiring each other.” Chances are you’ve listened to a TED talk; its podcast is one of the most popular out there.
Having a Michigan perspective makes these local speakers that much more meaningful. A TEDx event is local program that combines video, music, spoken word and live speakers to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. Each speech lasts about 18 minutes, and it is designed to knock you off your feet and leave you breathless. No, really. Done right, a TED speech informs, inspires and more.
“Every year we don’t think we’ll be able to top last year’s show, and then every year we find new, remarkable ideas worth spreading. This year is no exception,” said Charlie Wollborg, founding partner at Curve Idea Accelerator in Pontiac, and curator of TEDxDetroit.
“From ultrasound technology that’s breaking up cancerous tumors to grassroots movements building up community in forgotten neighborhoods. From a magician teaching us how to deceive to the next wave of personal medical analytics insuring we can never lie to ourselves. From making the case for the next wave of alternative energy technology to making the case for old school manufacturing,” Wollborg said. “We’ll dance around left brain to right brain, looking back in history and looking ahead to the future. You’ll leave TEDx with a head full of ideas, a spring in your step, and the fire in your belly rekindled.”
Some background: TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design, three fields that inspire and drive innovation across all sectors of the economy. In 2009, TEDx launched in major cities across the country, Detroit becoming one of the first, to shine a light on the entrepreneurs, innovations and artists creating in the region. Bringing together “charged particles” to create new connections and collaborations, TEDx asks its speakers “if you had the world’s attention for a few minutes, what would you share?”
This year’s event starts with an Artist in Residence, the talented Fel3000ft, a Detroit-based street artist known for his works with Buddy’s Pizza and HopCat. He will work on a piece right there in the Fox Theatre, letting the crown inspire the art and watch it happen live.
The first session, which lasts from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m., features a variety of speakers. The list includes: Khary Turner of the Coleman A. Young Foundation; Christine Gibbons of HistoSonics; Aaron James Draplin of Draplin Design Co.; Jeff Owens of Delphi Automotive; Zaria Ware with a spoken word performance; Patrick Elkins doing a shadow puppet performance; Paulette Auchtung of Michigan Science Center; and Rick Robinson of Mr. CutTime.
Session Two begins at 11:45 and lasts until 12:45. Highlights include Adam Genei of Mobsteel ; Dawn White of Accio Energy; Ron Kagan of the Detroit Zoo; Wes Matthews – spoken word performance; Rick Lax – magic performance; and Shamayim Harris of Avalon Village.
Session Three finishes the day, starting at 2:45. It has many heavy hitters including Lungiswa Moore of my girl squad; Dave Meeker of Isobar; Christian Birky of Lazlo; Satori Shakoor of The Secret Society Of Twisted Storytellers; Lisa Waud of Flower House; Bill McDonald of Phoenix Haus; Katie Mann and Annie Klark of 4th Wall Theatre Company; Eric Thomas of Saga MKTG; and Michael Knight of Michael Knight AOS.
Some highlights will be Satori Shakoor, who gives people of all backgrounds lessons on how to do stage performances. Her words are likely to stay with everyone in the live audience and online for months to come. Her voice and her message resonates that much.
Another will be Lisa Waud, the incredibly creative and impressive organizer of Pot + Box as well as Flower House. Her internationally recognized October 2015 project impressed all who saw and experienced it. Last year, Lisa was one of the TEDxLabs presenters; this year, she’s likely to steal the whole show.
Finally, Eric Thomas of Saga is among the youngest speakers on the schedule. But his old soul and wisdom are likely to speak louder than anyone else. His essays have gone viral for good reason, and his TEDx speech is not to be missed. Thomas as a way with words that must be recognized. He also showed up in previous TEDxDetroit editions — as one of the photos that the event uses to advertise. Now, he’ll be on stage as well.
You won’t go home disappointed after a TEDxDetroit event; you’re likely to want to go back to work and get busy creating. And that’s a good thing.
“I think the real value of TEDx is getting you out of your comfort zone,” Wollborg said. “So often, we read the same articles, we go to the same conferences and we stay in our rut. Creativity is cross-pollination. To succeed in business, whatever your field, you need to seek fresh inputs from outside your industry. If you’re only listening to voices you agree with, you’re intellectually stagnant. A day at TEDx reinvigorates your brain and stretches your view of what is possible.”