By Ross Boissoneau
Ted is coming to Traverse City.
Make that TEDx. A daylong conference at Milliken Auditorium on Tuesday,
May 17, TEDx will feature speakers from across the spectrum making brief
presentations designed to inspire attendees.
That has been the goal of the entire TED initiative since it began in
1984. Originally focused on bridging Technology, Entertainment, and Design
hence the name its scope has become ever broader. Along with annual
conferences held in Long Beach and Palm Springs each spring, and the
TEDGlobal conference in Edinburgh, UK each summer, various TEDx one-day
events have sprung up across the globe.
Now its Traverse Citys turn.
Paul Sutherland, principal of Financial Investment Management Group, and
Northwestern Michigan College President Tim Nelson had attended the TED
conferences, and decided to join forces to bring the one-day event to
Traverse City. Along with Karen Ruedinger of NMC and Kelly Kuhns and Sara
Harding of FIM Group, they set out to create an event to engage,
challenge, and inspire attendees.
We wanted to bring ideas here, said Sutherland. We knew some really
great people, speakers who were always looking for a reason to come here.
They all thought it would be cool to do a TED here.
They must have thought it would be cool indeed, since one of the
requirements is that the speakers cannot be paid. That hasnt stopped
people like Al Gore, Steve Jobs, Jane Goodall, Bill and Melinda Gates,
J.J. Abrams, Rick Warren, Thomas Dolby, and a host of other equally and
lesser-known figures from becoming part of the TED conferences.
Locally, the lineup is just as eclectic: journalist/activist J. Carl
Ganter on water, writer Jerry Dennis on creativity, Neeli Bendapudi on
brand choices and loyalty, David Kenneth on the science and art of 3D
technology. In all, 16 speakers will take the stage.
Its amazing to read all their bios, said Kuhns, who worked with the
speakers to bring them to Traverse City. Its humbling to realize the
energy, creativity, motivation they have. People (in the audience) wont
As one example, she points to photojournalist Paola Gianturco. For the
past 13 years, she has documented womens lives in 40 countries. Her most
recent book, Women Who Light the Dark, tells the story of local women
around the world who are helping one another tackle the problems that
darken their lives, including violence, poverty, illiteracy and disease.
Gianturco is giving 100% of her author royalties for this book to The
Global Fund for Women.
Sutherland hopes and believes that the stories they tell will galvanize
the audience. When youre around creative people, you can say, I can do
this. Its got to inspire you, he said. People are very evangelical,
and want to share their passions.
The event is sold out, which both pleases and dismays those in charge.
They would like to be able to have more people attend, but are also afraid
that it might lose its intimacy if it was held in a larger venue.
Tickets sold out in two weeks, said Kuhns. We have people on a waiting
Some might not readily see the appeal of sitting in an auditorium all day
listening to a bunch of people talk. But not only are the presenters
interesting, Sutherland said one of the best parts of the conference comes
between the speakers, when audience members interact with one another.
How can you be thinking big when youre in Traverse City? he said. Its
hard for people to share their dreams and big ideas. At TED you get
Youre going there because youre excited, Kuhns said. Its brain food.