Local TEDx event: Ideas ‘worth hearing and spreading’

EDMONDS — The first TEDx event in Snohomish County is scheduled Friday at the Edmonds Center for the Arts, where the public can hear from 23 people who are innovators in business, the arts, and science speaking on the theme, “Creating New Futures.”

TEDx is a local offshoot of the international TED talk events, organized to bring together leaders in technology, entertainment and design. The Edmonds event, TEDxSnoIsleLibraries, is one of 10,000 such programs held worldwide since 2009. Twelve other TEDx events are scheduled worldwide on Friday, in cities including Singapore, Zürich, Switzerland and Koprivnica, Croatia.

Speakers at the Edmonds event include Ben Hempstead, chief of staff of ElectroImpact, Inc. in Mukilteo; Xola Malik, a hip-hop artist and philanthropist; Tammy Mach, whose immigrant parents from Vietnam started a Mukilteo machining company that has been named Boeing’s Supplier of the Year; Swil Kanim, a Lummi Tribe member and violinist, native storyteller and actor; and former astronaut Dorothy Metcalf-Lindenburger.

“Every one of the speakers is remarkable and is speaking to an idea that’s really worth hearing and spreading,” said Ken Harvey, a Sno-Isle spokesman who helped organize the event.

Presentations will be short by design — between three and 18 minutes — to allow the public to hear from a wide variety of perspectives, he said. “There’s something for every generation.”

Each speaker is being coached, “preparing them for the best talk of their lives,” Harvey said.

Reserved seats for the Edmonds event were snapped up quickly. Those sitting in the 700-seat auditorium will be asked to do something unusual at a tech-savvy event — stay unplugged from their cell phones, tablets and laptops all day so they can be “concentrating on the speakers and the ideas being presented,” Harvey said.

There will be a nearby outlet for the tech deprived, the gymnasium on the arts center site, which will be called The IdeaLab. It’s not just a place where people can plug in. It’s also where the event artist, Andy Behrle, of Zillah, will be displaying his work, “cosmos aquatic,” a project undertaken through a grant from the Snohomish County Arts Commission.

If you’re not one of the 700 people awarded with free on-site tickets, there’s still a variety of ways to join in on the event. Friday’s TEDx events will be webcast for public viewing events held at 10 area libraries, the community colleges in Edmonds and Everett, the Arlington City Council chambers and the PUD auditorium in Everett. The public also may choose to listen and watch individually on their desktop computers, tablets and smart phones at sno-isle.org/tedx.

Harvey encourages people to go to one of the public events. “There’s a quantum leap forward when you have the opportunity to watch it with others and share ideas with others who have seen and heard it,” he said.

Todd Huotari, 29, of Snohomish signed up for the local TEDx quickly enough to get one of the on-site arts center tickets. He plans to attend with his wife, Lindsey Huotari. “A friend of ours did a TEDx talk at college,” he said. “I was interested in checking it out.”

He operates an online marketing business in his home and said he is looking forward to some of the business-related presentations. Huotari said he’s also interested in “having my thoughts stretched in different ways that I don’t usually do on a daily basis.”

Carolyn Mattson, 65, of Mukilteo will be attending the event with her husband, Richard Mattson. “I’ve looked at the lineup of speakers online,” she said. “They all sound fascinating to me. I think it will be fun to just hear the talks about their passions and interests. I find that inspiring.”

A public reception is planned at the end of the event at the IdealLab, beginning about 6 p.m. Attendees can informally talk with other attendees and TEDx speakers, Harvey said.

Organizers of Friday’s event quickly found that there were more potential speakers with great ideas than there were opportunities to present them at one event, Harvey said. There’s plans to start pursuing permission from TED to hold a similar event next year.

Phil Klein is a Seattle consultant who previously has worked with more than 150 TEDx speakers and will be helping manage Friday’s event. All the talks will be posted online within about a month, he said.

Klein said he’s been part of TED and TEDx events for five years. It’s only been recently that the events have been held with participation from libraries, he said.

The purpose of TEDx events is to spread interesting new ways of seeing things, he said. “It’s not about block- buster celebrities, glamour and glitz. It’s about real people… who are noteworthy, and what’s interesting, important, and meaningful about what they’re doing.”

Sharon Salyer: 425-339-3486 or salyer@heraldnet.com.

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