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TED inspires audience

Dear Editor:

On Wednesday, a few dozen committed Aspenites braved the whiteout to reach Glenda Greenwald’s home and the site of the first TEDxAspenLive salon – an all-day live simulcast of the TED 2012 conference taking place in Long Beach, Calif.

It was worth the trek – the audience (including local bloggers, tweeters and an Aspen High School news reporter) was plunged instantly into TED’s inspiring combination of dazzling speakers, disruptive ideas and inclusion into what has become a viral worldwide phenomenon.

TED (Technology Entertainment and Design) combines active audience participation with an extraordinary collection of speakers “with something remarkable to share – and able to share it in a remarkable way.”

So what is the “TED Experience”? For the Aspen TED participants, this meant having Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency Director Regina Dugan pose the question, “What would you undertake if you knew you could not fail?” while demonstrating a dazzling array of DARPA projects – including an existing Mach 20 hypersonic aircraft (New York to Los Angeles in 11 minutes) that involved many mis-steps along the way. (“The only way to learn to fly is to fly,” she reminded us.)

There were five themed sessions, which progressed from 9:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. European Catering provided the delicious all-day buffet, and local TEDster Yalonda Long added her In the Soup creations to the gourmet fare.

Among the 20-plus talks, Aspen TEDsters were alternately moved, dazzled, challenged and inspired – the talks covered everything from self-organizing mini-helicopters to teen gospel choirs, from energy policy to crowd-sourcing, from algorithms to art, from virtual dissection to the sacred headlands of northern Canada.

In the salon, Nancy Paley, Jim Aresty, Nancy Walker and others brainstormed with Ward on potential speakers for upcoming TEDxAspen, slated for Aug. 10 and 11. Catherine Ward, ace high school reporter, was spotted interviewing Bill Hunt (over hors d’oeuvres).

In the other room, Blanca O’Leary declared that in the spirit of TED’s collaborative ethos she had recruited her entire table of TEDsters (and new BFFs) to attend the Democratic Caucus meeting March 6.

Glenda remarked on the level of excitement at the TEDxAspen gathering: “It’s so wonderful to see people becoming inspired by all of these different ideas and sharing that enthusiasm,” she noted. “That’s what I love about Aspen – people embrace new ideas and want to make them happen.”

The organizers agreed with the attendees that the first TEDxAspen salon was a huge success and are looking forward to bringing TEDxAspen to life this August.

“Aspenites are always hungry for substantial, intriguing, cutting-edge programs – we intend to deliver just that,” Ward said.

Well, when they do, you should be in the front row!

Kevin Ward

Snowmass Village


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