TEDx Portland



What if for one sunny Saturday in Portland  (the first sunny Saturday of the year, really) we all decided to get out of the beautiful weather that we pined for all winter long and crowded into one big, dark room? What if we all sat elbow-to-elbow, sipping Stumptown iced coffees just talking? What would we talk about? It turns out that we’d probably talk about what we eat and how we get around. We’d talk about how to save the planet and—invariably—there would be a tangent about how we all spend too much time staring at our cell phones instead of stacking firewood or something else “more real.”


We’d talk about how the world is and how we want it to be, and we’d tell each other about the things that we believe in.


Pretty much we’d talk about the business of living. We’d talk about how the world is and how we want it to be, and we’d tell each other about the things that we believe in. And if we were lucky, we’d all get to see a cheetah up close. Like frighteningly close. This is the TEDx Portland experience.




If you have an internet connection and the dexterity to type Youtube.com into a web browser— you’ve watched TED talks. Chances are that you’ve sat on your couch in the dark way too late on a weeknight watching people share their ideas and beliefs with the TED audience. We’ve all done this. There is a magic to that experience. Even staring into the glow of your iPad at home watching a talk feels like an intimate experience with the speaker. It feels intimate because the person whose eyes you are staring into–on screen or otherwise–is sharing something really real with you that they really care about deeply. It turns out that to actually be at TEDx is just at intimate, but even more inspiring. Sitting with your peers in an enormous room and feeling the energy of the speaker firsthand makes the world outside that dark ballroom high in the Portland Art Museum feel even more hopeful, and full of possibilities.

That’s what TEDx was about really: possibilities not answers. Every speaker had a tiny piece of the puzzle, and when they put all of their pieces together their larger portion was still not the whole picture—we are. That’s why it’s important for us to all get together at TEDx. Because when we all get together in a big room to talk about what we’ve heard over ice cream sandwiches during the break something happens that is just as important as what happens on stage. Ideas are shared that will change the world in more radical ways than the speakers could have even envisioned.




TED was not created to stay locked up behind the doors of the Portland Art Museum, where volunteers only let in those who can afford the price of a lanyard and have time to give up a whole day. The ideas and thoughts and provocations of the speakers are meant to spill out into the streets of Portland—to be shaped and tweaked and critiqued by the audience into their own truths and their own questions. Those ideas are then presented back to the community where new ideas and opportunities can take shape. It’s this process of invention and reinvention that makes TEDx great and makes these meetings such a special time and place. We each hold a piece of the puzzle and TEDx is just there to remind us of that.




All of  the talks from TEDx Portland will soon be available  on Youtube and I urge you to watch them when they’re posted. And know that if you watch Kate Bingaman-Burt’s talk first thing in the morning you can forgo your morning coffee. If that talk doesn’t get you excited about your day, I don’t know what will.


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