For three consecutive years I ran TEDxFairbanks, a platform for deep discussion and idea-sharing within the Fairbanks community. Altogether we hosted 16 speakers, just under 200 audience members, and dozens of volunteers with a small core team of four people over the course of two events: Intimate Space (2016) and Building Capacity (2017).
Why I Created TEDxFairbanks
I created TEDxFairbanks out of a sense of desperation. I was tired of seeing the same old shocking, depressing stories of situations unfolding across the globe – stories of prejudice, political greed, fear mongering, hate and biases – with no solution at hand. While these stories are important to tell, so are stories of how we can change our behaviors, mindsets and actions so we can overcome these challenges. I believe this requires an idea-based, solution oriented approach which is at the same time a transformative, multi-sensory experience, ultimately giving people the time and space to reflect on how they can contribute to making the world a better place.
I first had the idea of organizing a TEDx event while finishing my undergrad at the College of Wooster. My good friend and fellow philosophy major, Christina Haupt, had just returned from the mainstage TED2013 conference in Vancouver, and was so inspired by her experience that she decided to organize a TEDx event at our college. Thus, TEDxTheCollegeOfWooster entered its first year of existence.
When Christina first asked me to be an event photographer, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I’d never even watched a TED Talk, much less been to any sort of TEDx event. Even so, within the first few minutes of the event, I was hooked. The conversations, the environment, the juxtaposition of art and culture, I loved every minute of it and couldn’t wait for the next one.
When I first entered the Fairbanks scene shortly after graduation, I found myself on the fringe of a very tightly knit community. I had only a handful of friends, and no idea how to meet more people who appreciated thought-provoking conversations. What happened next was magical. We saw a huge outpouring of support from the local community. Dateline Digital Printing offered to print for us, the nice folks at UAF eLearning offered their services for manning the digital program, and somehow thanks to all this help we pulled off the first event with a functional livestream, 75 attendees, and just over a dozen volunteers.
For our second event, we expanded to the West Valley High School DeWild Auditorium and hosted another 75 attendees.
Currently the TEDxFairbanks team is on hiatus and the event is open for licensing by any interested party in the Fairbanks area.