Connecting Currents

by CONNOR HICKEY
On October 26th Jacksonville will proudly play host to its second annual TEDx event. Organized last year as TEDxRiversideAvondale, this year’s initiative is known as TEDxJacksonville: Connecting Currents. It will take place in the WJCT Studios soundstage and gallery spaces.
Founded in 1984 and based in California, TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a nonprofit organization devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading.” The organization has continued to expand globally to encompass a multitude of endeavors, such as the renowned TED Conferences: TED Women 2013 (San Francisco) and TED Active 2014 (Whistler, British Columbia). In 2014, TED Global will be in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), and TED The Next Chapter will be in Vancouver (British Columbia). For more on TED events, go to TED.com. Each inspirational video on the site is 18-minutes or fewer. Just click on one of the free 1,500 intellectually stimulating TED Talks and share them. Are they worth your and your friends’ time? Well, collectively they’ve been shared more than one billion times.
TEDx is a series of independently organized events aimed at creating a TED Conference-style environment, thereby engaging individuals on a grassroots level. To date there have been over 8,000 successful TEDx events around the world. Each presentation is filmed at a TEDx event and placed on the TED Talks YouTube channel.
TEDxJacksonville aims to bring a wide range of thought-provoking ideas into a single room to interact in a positive, enthusiastic environment in order to foster the growth that Jacksonville has been experiencing in recent years. TED invites movers, shakers and doers to meet and discuss the ideas most relevant to them. TEDxJacksonville: Connecting Currents will feature Al Letson, Jacksonville’s own critically acclaimed host of NPR’s State of the Re:Union. Letson, a poet, playwright, actor and radio host, will present 11 speakers giving the intellectual talks TED is famed for, musical acts, and theatrical performances.
This year’s speakers and topics range from former UN Ambassador and White House adviser Nancy Soderberg, who will be speaking on the development of quality leadership in America and the corresponding shifts in its governing bodies, to artist Aman Mojadidi discussing modern racism and existing civil rights struggles in the Southern US. Other speakers include Barbara Colaciello, Hank Coxe, Bruce Ganger, Robert Inglis, Chevara Orrin, Lawanda Ravoira, Matt Rutherford, Patricia Sieman, and Ben Warner.
Representing our region’s flourishing arts community, several talented local performers have been confirmed for the conference. The 5 & Dime Theater Company, recent recipients of a portion of the One Spark crowdfund, will tell stories and prompt conversations through the melding of theatrical tradition and innovation. Bob-N-Me’s performance partners Robert White and Charlotte Mabrey give an eclectic routine of movement, spoken word and music with an emphasis on percussion, film and video. Musicians set to inspire the crowd through gifted performances are Floridian songwriter and finger-style guitarist Sam Pacetti, as well as the Jacksonville University Honors String Quartet, a highly skilled, all-student ensemble.
In the spirit of TED’s mission of Ideas Worth Spreading, the TEDxJacksonville team is planning an event that will inform and inspire attendees not only through thought-provoking live talks from the previously announced roster of speakers, but also throughout the conference experience as a whole. During the event, the mobile app Feathr will be an interactive means for presenters and attendees alike to initiate and carry discussion well beyond TEDxJacksonville. “The energy of the audience will be unlike any other event,” says organizer Doug Coleman. “Everybody is engaged, intellectually curious and wants to talk about the issues.” Passive witnessing is discouraged, for receiving implies giving. If you’d like to chime in on discussions of good ideas and sure-to-be stellar performances, you must apply to join the audience.
More than 200 applications have already been submitted by Jacksonville residents hopeful for selection as one of the diverse audience members. Seats are limited to 300, and these are filled based upon an online application process in order to ensure a group of “broad interests, expertise and perspectives.” If confirmed to attend, the ticket cost for the day is an estimated $100, so be sure to put in your registration application now to be considered for participation. Invitations to purchase a ticket are nontransferable. This will be one of Jacksonville’s most powerful initiatives, bringing dialogue and people together over intellectual ideas that just might change the world–and you could be there for this exciting and stimulating experience. Don’t hesitate. Go to tedxjacksonville.com.

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