The independent conference series TEDx is returning to Savannah for its sixth year today, featuring 15 speakers expressing their ideas about this year’s “Balancing Act” theme.
Local nonprofit The Creative Coast has helped organize the event for Savannah since 2010, attracting dozens of applicants from across the Southeast looking to share experiences and life stories.
TED — an acronym for Technology, Entertainment and Design — began as a one-off conference in California in 1984 and became a regular event by 1990. The popular speaker series has since become a global phenomenon with dozens of independently organized conferences each year, denoted by the “x,” and now spinoff programs and a podcast.
This year’s theme, according to organizer Charisse Bennett, attracted the largest number of applicants they have received since starting the event.
“It’s been growing every year,” she said. “I think 80 was our record this year.”
She said they often try to pick a broad theme to attract a diverse set of presentations. Last year’s theme was “Exploring R/Evolution” and included speakers addressing criminal justice, medical robotics and jazz music. This year’s roster, Bennett said, promises to be just as interesting.
“We have a diverse range of topics this year,” she said. “We have work-life balance, masculinity, dance, juggling, music, community and how to have a balanced conversation, which is a really good one.”
On Thursday, speakers had their final chance to practice at the Jepson Center auditorium, working on timing, presentation and flow.
Carol Crofoot Hayes, a counselor and former laywer, talked about her experience juggling a family while having a high-powered career. She said she learned that by containing feelings of anxiety and guilt, she could be more focused and happy in the present.
Giselle Rahn, a SCAD professor and designer, talked about issues surrounding gentrification after she and her husband found and fell in love with a dilapidated home on West 41st Street near Barnard.
She said the experience of renovating the home, formerly owned by a native Savannahian who both went to and taught at Beach High School, had taught her the importance of investing in a community block by block.
“The power of place is an equalizer and mobilizer,” she said. “It is important.”
Bennett said the aspect of TEDx she enjoys most is seeing how the speakers and audience members connect with each other after the program ends.
“I like that it involves a pretty broad spectrum of the community that might not normally come together in the same room, and it creates a lot of connections afterward,” she said. “Connections happening between speakers or between audience members and committee members.”
This year’s event is sold out, but a live stream will be available to those interested in watching via livestream.com/tedx/creativecoast.
More info at ted.com/tedx/events/14007