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TEDxSavannah 2017: See where bridges can take you

If 2017 has taught us anything, it’s that change can be tumultuous.

Yet once undertaken, change has the potential to transform, to give us a stronger sense of purpose, a better way of interacting with the world and a fresh perspective on ideas never before considered.

That spark of possibility is at the core of every TED-sponsored event, whether presented on an international stage or one as local as the Jepson Theater.

A TED talk, whether at a main TED conference or a community-organized satellite event known as TEDx, is a one-day conference that pairs an inquisitive audience with interesting speakers. TED talks can be as short as two minutes or as long as 18, but their goal is the same: to present factually supported ideas that are relevant to a wide audience and have the potential to spur change.

Technology, Entertainment and Design—TED—were the three areas of emphasis at the first conference more than 30 years ago, and they remain at the core today. Around the world, TED has become an acronym for sharing innovation, affecting change and exchanging ideas. The theme from the first TED conference, sharing “Ideas Worth Spreading” has become TED’s iconic slogan.

TEDx supports independent organizers who want to create a TED-like event in their own communities.

And that’s where Savannah enters the picture.

Nearly 10 years ago, The Creative Coast first nurtured the idea of a Savannah-based event. As it does with other entrepreneurial efforts, once TEDxCreative Coast was securely established, the event separated from The Creative Coast in 2016 to stand on its own. An independent nonprofit board, Inspire Savannah Inc., now oversees TEDxSavannah.

Just like the national events, TEDxSavannah curates a one-day conference that gathers speakers from all parts of our community and the larger Savannah region. Some are educators. Some are scientists. Some are business owners and artists. All have an idea that inspires them and makes them eager to share those concepts with others.

Like most other TEDx conferences, the Savannah event each year chooses a theme that sets the tone for the day. This year, TEDxSavannah asked speakers to interpret one word: Bridge.

You’ll be amazed where that one word can take you. For some, it has connected them to the past. For others, it serves as a connection to the future. A few more see it as a way to move beyond strife or as a means to interact more deeply with the people around them.

On May 19 in the Jepson Center Theater, TEDxSavannah speakers will take to the stage to share not only stories, but their actions and ideas for improving their community and, in some cases, the world at large.

The beauty of a TEDx event is that for one full day, hundreds of people in one community put everything else aside. They listen to people with ideas worth sharing. At breakfast, lunch and during session breaks, audience and speakers delve into those ideas, sharing thoughts and making new connections. It’s a starting point for even more new possibilities.

Within the week, our chosen speakers will be announced. Tickets go on sale March 20 at tedxsavannah.com and Eventbrite.com.

Come see what TED is all about. Don’t hesitate too long; tickets sell out quickly. If you want to learn more, TED.com is a fantastic resource. TED talks are available in more than 100 languages on a huge array of topics—all free. While many famous people have taken to the TED stage (Bill Gates, Herbie Hancock, Elizabeth Gilbert, George Takei) the majority are everyday citizens. Many of the TED website talks come from TEDx events. Georgia Public Broadcasting radio host Celeste Headlee, who spoke in Savannah in 2015, is featured on TED.com. Her talk has been viewed more than 6.7 million times.

Take a minute to start exploring TED and TEDx.

Maybe one TED talk won’t change the whole world. But it may change yours.

Lesley Conn is a volunteer board member with Inspire Savannah, Inc., dba TEDxSavannah, and can be reached at lesley.conn@gmail.com.

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