“Ideas worth spreading” will flow freely on August 20 at the New Vic as 18 speakers tell their stories during a full-day, thought-provoking conference known as TEDx Santa Barbara. It’s the return of an annual program started in 2010 by tech entrepreneur Mark Sylvester and his wife, TEDx speaking coach Kymberlee Weil, who’ve collectively attended almost 40 TED events.
For the uninitiated, TED, which initially stood for “Technology, Entertainment, and Design,” started in 1984 as an annual conference of 18-minute-or-less talks in Vancouver. The all-volunteer-led format quickly spread to other major cities, launched countless viral YouTube videos, and spurred the offshoot TEDx series in 2010. “We were part of the first wave of TEDxes around the world,” said Sylvester, who hosted the TEDxAmerican Riviera by blending hometown speakers with other inspiring storytellers until 2012. As of last month, there have been 16,450 TEDxes hosted around the world, and Sylvester wanted to tap back into the movement. “By doing TEDx Santa Barbara now, we can create our event as a premium brand, host it right downtown, and get the community involved,” he said.
Sylvester said that this year’s 18 speakers, about a third of which are from Santa Barbara, will “talk about issues we think are not only germane to the Santa Barbara audience but important to a global audience.” Seth Streeter of Mission Wealth, for instance, will talk about conscious investing. “That talk isn’t just about Santa Barbara,” said Sylvester. “It’s good all over the planet.”
Another hallmark of the free event, which will also be live-streamed by Citrix online, is that one must apply to attend in person. “It’s like stacking the deck,” said Sylvester of the “curation” process. “You want to make sure that the audience is the most receptive people we can get to those ideas.” They’re looking for involved community members but also a diversity in ages and previous TED experience. The deadline to apply is July 28, but people are already coming from Canada, Barcelona, and across the United States.
Sylvester’s hope is that this will grow during the next three years into a packed house at the Granada Theatre and flags flying on State Street. He explained, “Our goal is that TEDx Santa Barbara gets treated by the community as one of those bright spots we can all be proud of.”
TEDx Santa Barbara is on Saturday, August 20, 9 a.m.-6 p.m., at the New Vic (33 W. Victoria St.). Apply to attend via tedxsantabarbara.com by July 28, or watch for free online or at the Impact Hub (1117 State St.).