It's been more than 20 years since TED began compiling and sharing ideas from speakers around the world. In 2009, the next evolution of the program emerged with TEDx, independently organized events that use the TED format and brand, but are local, self-organized affairs. This weekend, TEDxPhoenix landed at the Mesa Arts Center with 18 assorted speakers and performers.
And while we've grown accustomed to innovation equating to black turtle necks and high tech gadgets, this weekend's highly anticipated forum reminded everyone that you don't need to be a genius to do something brilliant. Sometimes all it takes is an idea.
More than 500 eager people signed up for this year's event. The theme for the November 11 was, "_____ for a Change." Speakers filled the blank with their ideas that have brought about, "unexpected, interesting and positive changes."
Funny man Nathan Barnatt opened the show with a dance video that got a good rise out of folks. Then the high jumping, ground-humping comedian surprised the crowd by running though the theater. It set a light-hearted and fun tempo that would resonate through the evening.
Speakers covered topics including "disrupting for a change, connecting for a change, and design for a change," with specific attention focusing on education.
One by one they hovered over a six-foot shaggy red area rug on stage and engaged the audience with emotion, vigor, and enthusiasm. Some cried, others laughed, and speaker Marc Mertens proposed.
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ASU graduate Colin Tetreault talked about the unenviable task of trying to bring together the world's hippies and capitalists before returning to his wedding rehearsal while local songstress Michelle Blades and Katie Goodman entertained on guitar, ukulele, and piano before the night wrapped up.
There were plenty of highlights throughout the night but the most resounding sentiment we took away from this weekends event was that with a little passion, just about anyone can be an innovator.