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TEDxOmaha set for October 16, speaker suggestions welcome

Marcelo Moguilevsky performing at TEDxBuenosAires. Photo by TEDxBuenosAires via Flickr.

TED is synonymous with remarkable. Each spring, it holds its flagship conference in Long Beach and Palm Springs. Outside of those, TED holds a handful of other conferences, such as TEDGlobal. Whatever or wherever, the organization consistently puts well-known and respected thought leaders on stage for 18 minutes of inspiration.

This October, for significantly less dollars and miles to travel, Omahans will have a chance to get a taste of the TED experience through TEDxOmaha, an independently organized TED event.

Put on by the team at REBEL INTERACTIVE, the sponsor of the event’s production, and headed by REBEL employees Andy Melichar and Brian Smith, TEDxOmaha will take place Saturday, October 16 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the Durham Museum. Amy Mather and Cindy Grady are also a part of the planning team as they lead the speaker search.

To learn more about the event I conducted an email interview with Andy.

Silicon Prairie News (SPN): What is TEDxOmaha and what is its relation to TED?

Andy Melichar: TED is a small nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with two annual conferences – the TED Conference in Long Beach and Palm Springs each spring, and the TEDGlobal conference in Oxford, UK each summer – TED includes the award-winning TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Project and Open TV Project, the inspiring TEDx program and the annual TED Prize.

TEDx Omaha is an independently-organized TED event. A little over a year ago, TED formally opened up the TEDx program to allow communities and groups of like-minded individuals to hold mini TED-like conferences independent of the annual TED conferences that are held in Long Beach and Palm Springs.

TEDx Omaha will be held on Saturday, October 16 at the Durham Museum. The theme of the event is “Inspiring” and we are currently searching for speakers who have an inspiring story, invention, thought or performance that will wow the attendees of TEDx Omaha.

SPN: Why did you decide to bring this event to Omaha?

Andy: We’ve never been to TED and instead decided to do the next-best-thing and organize our own TEDx event. Ultimately we are doing this to benefit the community and to create an opportunity for influential and innovative thinkers to hear about inspiring ideas happening locally, and to provide an opportunity for the attendees to network, join forces and bring ideas to fruition through their communal resources.

SPN: Has anyone on the team attended a TED or TEDx event? If so, can you summarize the experience?

Andy: None of the people working on the team directly have been to TED, though we have the distinct privilege of having Bo Fishback of the Kauffman Foundation support us as a past attendee of TED.

SPN: Submissions to speak at TEDxOmaha are currently open. What is the process behind choosing speakers?

Andy: Interested speakers should visit TEDxOmaha.com for detailed information about speaker requirements and a form to express interest in being a speaker. We are asking for video submissions, which will be reviewed by the team organizing TEDx Omaha and graded according to how closely they fit these criteria:

  1. Local voices that few have heard before
  2. People who can present their field in a new light
  3. Perspectives that the global TED community may not have access to
  4. Diverse demographics, ethnicities, backgrounds, subject matter
  5. Speakers whose work fits our event theme of “Inspiring”

Ultimately, we want a lineup of speakers who will take the attendees of TEDx Omaha on an inspiring, though-provoking journey throughout the course of the conference. The lineup will also be intermixed with videos of past TED Speakers from TED.com. The deadline for submission as a speaker is July 31!

SPN: What’s in-store for attendees of TEDxOmaha? Both the format and overall experience?

Andy: First of all, we are very excited about the venue. The conference room at the Durham Museum is an intimate, inviting and comfortable space that will lend well to the spirit of TED. Attendees will be joined by some of the most influential and inspiring people in our community both as attendees and as speakers. The schedule for the day will include speakers, videos from TED.com, musical and artistic performances, and frequent breaks to encourage attendees and speakers to mingle, meet each other, exchange ideas, and network. Lunch will also be provided.

SPN: How does one obtain a ticket to TEDxOmaha?

Andy: Tickets to the event will be very limited and we anticipate the event will sell out in a short period of time. Public sale of tickets will begin on August 20 and will be available on TEDxOmaha.com. Tickets will be $20 and will include a box lunch.

There will be a pre-sale of tickets made available to community leaders and people who have the ability to forward ideas, projects and provide resources to our speakers. If you would like to be considered for the pre-sale list, please visit TEDxOmaha.com, fill out the contact form, and let us know why you should be considered for the pre-sale.

SPN: Will the videos of the talks be available after the event?

Andy: We will be live-streaming the event on TEDxOmaha.com and all of our TEDx Omaha presentations will be uploaded to the TEDx YouTube Channel shortly after the event.

SPN: What are a few of your favorite TED talks?

Andy: Kaki King Rocks Out to Pink Noise and Tony Robbins asks why we do what we do

SPN: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

Andy: We are very excited to be able to organize this event and can’t wait for October!

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