TEDxToledo seeks to reIMAGINE regionWritten by Sarah Ottney | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
The first thing to know about TEDxToledo: It’s not named after a guy named Ted.
“A lot of people ask, ‘Who is Ted?’” said Will Lucas, curator of the Sept. 19 event, which will feature 23 speakers on topics ranging from art, music, science, business, politics and more.
TEDx events are local talks based on the global conference series TED, which stands for technology, entertainment and design. Its slogan is “Ideas worth spreading.”
“We were looking for people who not only have good ideas or a perspective on how to reimagine Toledo, but are actually doing something,” Lucas said.
Lucas, who also curated Toledo’s inaugural TEDx event last year, said the idea is to “bolster our level of thinking” by bringing together people who don’t typically get to interact.
“It’s an opportunity to show people something outside of their box,” Lucas said. “There will be people who would never have had the opportunity to sit next to each other. That’s what I’m most excited about.”
Last year’s TEDxToledo sold out and Lucas expects this year’s event to as well. It’s set for 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 19 at One SeaGate (the Fifth Third Bank building). Tickets are $75.
“We still hear ripples of positive feedback from last year’s event from people who said it changed their whole perspective on Toledo, even people who have been here for a long time,” Lucas said.
The title of this year’s event is reIMAGINE. Each speaker will have the stage for eight to 18 minutes.
“We want to reimagine what Toledo is,” Lucas said. “Historically we’ve been a manufacturing hub, which has kind of left over the past 10 years. We’re in the middle ground between what we were and what we could be. There’s a large group that wants to be what we were and a large group that wants to be what we could be. What is our history and how can we build on that for the future of Toledo?”
An opportunity to think about the direction Northwest Ohio is headed is why City of Oregon Administrator Michael Beazley is most excited to speak at TEDxToledo.
“One of the things I want to really emphasize is there’s not one solution,” Beazley said. “We need to try a lot of things to move a community forward. The notion that we can just find that one thing and all our problems can be solved, I don’t think it’s realistic for most places.”
Mike Osswald, vice president of experience innovation at Hanson Inc., said his TEDx talk will focus on “making sense of marketing in the digital age.”
“All these rapid changes we’re seeing in technology, even just in the last three to four years of consumer electronics, websites and apps, the pace of it is like never before and it’s changing how people live and make decisions about what to buy and how they want to interact with companies,” Osswald said. “For marketers trying to keep up with all the new stuff, it’s like drinking out of a fire hose. It’s almost impossible. [But] as much as things have changed, a lot of it is the same. I want people who are in business to realize they know more than they think they do.”
Osswald spoke at a TEDx event hosted by Bowling Green State University in 2011.
“When you put all those different disciplines together in a room, synergy happens. It really creates new ideas and opportunities for all the different people involved,” Osswald said. “Creativity often comes when you’re not thinking directly at something but thinking around it, and that’s what TEDx does.”
Artist Jefferson Nelson said he plans to discuss the utopian ideal of choosing “autonomy over profit,” with the goal of getting his listeners to think about the value in doing the things they don’t get paid for.
“My biggest goal is to get people to do the things they are passionate about and not just think about making money,” said Nelson, who sculpts, draws, paints and works on art installations. “In an ideal world, I’d basically take making money out of the equation for everyone and have us function in a way that’s about the greater good.”
Nelson is partnering with a few other TEDxToledo presenters, including Toledo Museum of Art Director Brian Kennedy, Launch Pad Cooperative Co-director Crystal Phelps, musician Dean Tartaglia, architect Paul Sullivan and Instagrammer Ben Morales, to offer their talks for free at 5 p.m. Sept. 15 at the Ottawa Tavern, 1817 Adams St. For more information, check out FREEPRETEDX on Facebook.
“It’s a chance for us to practice and also a less formal chance for people who can’t afford the tickets to come out and hear a few of the talks,” Nelson said.
For the past two years, Morales has collected historical Toledo photographs and photographed them in front of the modern-day locations. He calls the series Toledo Rephotography.
“It was the juxtaposition of old and new that really grabbed me,” Morales said. “Hopefully learning and connecting to the past will enable people to take ownership of the community and be involved in it, therefore helping to control its future path.”
Adam Mahler, owner of Ampelography Fine Wine Sales and Marketing, said he hopes TEDxToledo inspires attendees to look at Toledo differently.
“The wine business isn’t something you think about being in Toledo,” Mahler said. “I hope [attendees] realize that Toledo’s unique limitations are no greater than any other city’s unique limitations and if you are smart and assertive about it you can figure out how to make any place work for you and turn what could be a perceived negative into something you can use to your advantage.”
Before Mahler founded Ampelography in 2009, he listened to a lot of TED talks.
“I really got inspired,” Mahler said. “It helped me recalibrate the way I thought about business and how to build an enthusiastic community for a product. Over the years, every time I had a question I’ve gone back to it.”
Morales and others said they are excited to hear the other speakers.
“I love to watch people talk about stuff they are passionate about,” Morales said. “Plus, I like that they are short and sweet. They get right to the meat of the talk, not a drawn-out lecture.”
Other speakers include Ballard Architectural Studio owner Andre Ballard; Great Lakes Institute founder Dave Beckwith; ex-atheist and University Church pastor Julian Davies; Blade crime reporter Taylor Dungjen; Toledo Public Schools Interim Superintendent Romules Durant; University of Toledo President Emeritus Dan Johnson; Toledo historian and North Shore Strategy Managing Principal Tedd Long; ProMedica President and CEO Randy Oostra; Root Learning co-founder Randy Root; Leadership Toledo Executive Director Dave Schlaudecker; political strategist Gabrielle Seay; Bowling Green State University biology professor Karen Sirum; foodie Molly R. Thompson; and Northwest Ohio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce Director Robert Torres.
For more information, visit the website www.tedxtoledo.com.
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