North Adams is getting its own TEDx Talks


NORTH ADAMS — TEDx is coming to North Adams.

TEDx events are independently-organized versions of the popular TED Talks that have drawn millions of views online, sharing the thoughts and ideas of people ranging from comedian Reggie Watts to Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates.

A group of local volunteers learned about a month ago that they were awarded a license to host a TEDx event in North Adams.

In the weeks since, they've been busy planning the logistics of hosting a TED Talk, which doesn't yet have a location but is planned for somewhere in North Adams.

They announced it on Wednesday to coincide with the city's annual Downtown Celebration.

Volunteer Keifer Gammell said the group is looking for a venue downtown.

"The goal is not to have another event series hosted at [the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art or the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts]," Gammell said.

The event will be constructed much like the main TED Talks in Vancouver, British Columbia, featuring speakers at a clip of about 15 minutes or less.

The lineup of at least eight speakers has not yet been set, and anyone can nominate themselves or someone they'd wish to see speak by visiting the North Adams TEDx website.

Given that it is the first such event in North Adams, the organizers are limited to only 100 tickets, but the event will be uploaded and free to view online.

Discussions about hosting a TEDx event in North Adams actually began two years ago, according to Benjamin Lamb.

"A few of us really liked the idea of having a TEDxNorthAdams because it felt we were at a point where this place has some really great energy to share with the world," Lamb said. "Unfortunately, that group of folks happened to also be incredibly busy, and it fell on a back burner."

But the idea was rekindled in May between Lamb and Geeg Wiles — a city native known for his world travels with a three-foot-tall wooden fisherman in an effort dubbed "Ahab's Adventures" — who gave a TED Talk in Akron, Ohio, earlier this year.

"It's all about ideas worth spreading, essentially," Wiles said, adding that the event brings together a diverse group of people of different backgrounds.

In addition to prospective speakers, the organizers are looking for volunteers to help with everything from taking tickets at the door to video production. TEDx requires that everyone participating in the event be a volunteer.

TEDx approved the application "very quickly," Wiles said.

"We had high hopes that they would see the potential in North Adams like we do," he said.

The volunteers see the event as another contribution to the positive momentum gained in the city in recent months.

"North Adams is on the verge of something special," Gammell said.

"It just reassures us that we're going in the right direction," Wiles added.

Updates about the event, which is scheduled for Jan. 27, 2018, can be found at its Facebook page, "TEDxnorthadams."

"We have so many great ideas worth sharing and people who can share them, now is our time to shine through in that light," Lamb said.

Reach staff writer Adam Shanks at 413-496-6376 or @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter


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