Something worth talking about

TEDx is coming to the Shoals.

 | By

The non-profit, online-media organization known for their unique and creative TED and TEDx Talks is coming to Downtown Florence this September.

TED stands for technology, entertainment and design, which was its original purpose evolving to include topics such as education, business, activism and science.

From topics such as synthetic biology to “How to Practice Safe Sexting,” TEDx Talk videos cover a wide range of subjects from a diverse and unique assortment of speakers. While TED Talks take a more global approach, TEDx Talks focuses on local communities and their residents’ voices.

“In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TED has created a program called TEDx,” TEDx Wilson Park event director Kristen Mashburn said. “TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience.”

This program allows organizations and communities to stimulate a similar experience of a TED Talk but it all happens locally, Mashburn said.

“At our event, TED Talks video and live speakers will combine to spark a deep discussion and connection in a small group,” she said.

The goal of TEDx Wilson Park, according to their website, is to bring together bright minds to give talks that are idea-focused on a wide range of subjects to foster learning, inspiration and wonder while provoking conversation for that matter.

“Our hope is that having something like a TEDx in the area will be a catalyst for other people doing these kinds of mindful activities,” Mashburn said. “This is just another step to make change in our area.”

Change, while not the topic of the TEDx Talk, is the goal and theme for TEDx Wilson Park.

“TEDx Wilson Park started with discussions about change,” Mashburn said. “We noticed that our little corner of the world, the Shoals, has been growing.

“This small metro area nestled along the banks of the Tennessee river has a combination of music, arts and culture that rival cities like Austin and Nashville, and now the word is getting out.”

Mashburn and her team at TEDx Wilson Park believe the “catalyst” for this “renaissance” is a combination of “makers,” who have been leaving their mark on the area.

“We wanted to meet them, to get to know them and find out what it is about them and the area that has allowed their ideas to flourish,” she said.

“TEDx Wilson Park is about ‘Making Change’ and to do this, we’re bringing together a stellar, wide-ranging lineup of innovative thinkers and doers to share their ideas with the Shoals and the world.”

The group is hoping for this event to leave the community with more than just a unique experience, but also a takeaway or two, or possibly a few, about creating change in the Shoals. The TEDx Wilson Park team wants everyone in attendance to learn and understand from the speakers and repurpose this experience in future endeavors.

“A speaker does not have to be someone everyone knows, or someone who does a lot of motivational speaking,” Mashburn said. “The speakers we are looking for are people that have done some kind of research or have some kind of experience that is dissimilar from what might be the norm.”

Bryan Rachal, chair of the marketing and public relations committee, said there has already been an outpouring of qualified and exciting speakers who have applied.

“We haven’t officially selected any speakers yet, but we’ve been pleasantly surprised by the number of people who have applied,” he said. “TedX is one of those things where you’re pulling people in from not just around the city or even the state, they’re coming from all over.”

Who will be speaking? What will be the topics? Only one way to know for sure, attend TEDx Wilson Park, congregate with other members of the Shoals and see what a select few people from the community think about and research.

TEDx Wilson Park is a one-day event scheduled for September 8. Don’t let the name confuse you — although it reflects one of Florence’s downtown attractions, Wilson Park, this TEDx Talk will take place three blocks west at the University of North Alabama’s Mane Room, due to the rules of the TEDx program. The group’s choices for names were limited.

“We had to have a venue that would allow for 100 guests,” Rachal said. “If you’re in a bigger city like Birmingham, you can obviously have thousands of guests. But for our purposes, the Mane Room was perfect.”

For self-research or just to check out a TED Talk, go on YouTube and/or, look for a topic that interests you and watch away.