Almost from the moment that the TEDxGR 2012 team wrapped up last spring’s event, those of us involved with the 2013 event began thinking about who we’d love to have grace the stage at the Civic Theatre the next time around. If you’ve been in the audience the previous two years (or watched any of the dynamic talks once they’re available online), you’ve probably noticed that we use two very specific criteria to select our speakers:
1. We’re looking for an interesting person who has something interesting to say. Period. This one’s pretty simple, right?
2. As a rule, we’re looking for that interesting person to live outside of Grand Rapids, Michigan. This one’s a little trickier to explain, but allow us to try.
Different TEDx events organize differently, and some other TEDx events do allow – or even require – their speakers to hail from the city or area in which the event is held. There’s certainly value to that, and the idea of having ten or twenty of the very best local voices on-stage in the same location for a TEDx event is exciting. But it’s not what we do here, for a couple of reasons.
First, we are committed to bringing a wide diversity of outside perspective to our region. We love inviting people to see our beloved city with fresh eyes, showing off our best local assets to far-flung speakers, and hearing new and innovative solutions to our local challenges. Because West Michigan is such a connected, supportive community with plenty of dynamic events, our hope is that the best local voices can be heard locally in lots of other venues on lots of other days. But on this one day in May, we aim to fill the Civic Theatre stage with a variety of new voices that bring a global perspective to Grand Rapids and have the potential to link us to other communities.
Second, we do want the best local voices and thinkers involved in TEDxGR: We want them to be part of the conversation by being in the audience. We’ve made the rare exception to this rule, but in general, we think TEDxGR can have the best of both worlds by bringing in speakers with a diverse, global perspective to interact with a committed, creative local audience. Done well, we think this combination has the potential to create the most meaningful conversations for our region.
Here’s where you come in. Whether or not you’ve attended TEDxGrandRapids in years past, who would you most love to see and hear at this year’s event, “Tag – You’re It”? Our team welcomes your input as we continue to seek out fresh, dynamic voices with ideas worth spreading. So if you have just the person for our stage, let us know by emailing Bill@tedxgrandrapids.org. Please include “speaker recommendation” in your subject line, and be sure to give contact information and maybe even the potential topic of talk in your brief email. (One caveat: while we encourage you to think big, please don’t suggest a celebrity or someone with whom you have no previous connections or experience. We’re looking for concrete possibilities, with email addresses or websites so we can check them out ourselves.) And thanks for helping us add more voices to the conversation.