Source: The Enterprise Bulletin
Innovation alive and well at inaugural TEDX
Dan Gunn, CEO of VIATEC, kicked off the event as the first presenter
COLLINGWOOD - TED Talks (Technology, Education and Design) have introduced a myriad of thought-provoking discussions with topics ranging from changes in technology to social justice.
It’s an exclusive event, with high-ticket prices and even higher aspirations.
Collingwood got a taste of that as the inaugural TEDx conference filled the Gayety Theatre last week with a wide range of topics to spark discussion.
And that’s just what organizers Chris Kelleher and Martin Rydlo were hoping for.
“I think everyone is craving knowledge and wants something big in this town. We thought that this would be a hit, so we started plans about a year ago and have a perfect team of four dramatically different individuals. It was really based on the community, the growth of the community, thought leadership, discussions, networking and getting them talking,” said Kelleher.
TEDx was created in the spirit of TED’s mission: “ideas worth spreading.” It supports independent organizers who want to create a TED-like event in their own community.
For an entrepreneurial-minded town like Collingwood, this seemed to be a perfect fit.
“I sort of got attached to this when I was overseas, and I met Martin when he first came to town about TEDx. We started a speaker series, and we started growing this and we just needed someone else to help us grow this,” Kelleher.
Kelleher knew they had a nucleus but were looking for one more piece.
“We met Brandon Houston — he’s run two in Chatham — and we all had this vision of growing this in this town. We all had a shared interest,” said Kelleher.
Rydlo, director of marketing and business for the Town of Collingwood, felt that TEDx provided a perfect platform to bring together the knowledge leaders in the area.
“What’s really interesting is the variety of speakers that TEDx allows you to have. There are so many great speakers here or people who have connections with great speakers,” says Rydlo. “In a lot of cases a lot of presentations rely on one keynote presenter. In this case, we are able to offer variety and diversity. I think, in Collingwood, we have so many opportunities in front of us, the variety of presentations is actually what is stimulating that audience right now.”
Interest in the conference was surprising for Kelleher and Rydlo, having 900 people registered for a venue that held over 200 and interest from 40 speakers.
“Dan Gunn was one of the first presenters — he talked about magnetic cities — and Collingwood is one of those places that he said I see a lot of things here that Victoria had 20 years ago when it was a magnetic city. That’s the opportunity that we have ahead of us, we have the opportunity,” says Rydlo. “There is something different that is happening in Collingwood. It is that magnetic energy that is drawing in more and more people that is letting us have events like this.”
The idea seems to have worked.
“Overall, I think that this town craved this. We have done these speaker engagements before with only one presenter. This is 11 and two performers so we get this variety,” said Rydlo.
Both men feel that an event like this shows the true face of innovation in the area, which just a little over 20 years ago suffered devastating loses in jobs and expertise with the closing of the shipyards and an number of manufacturing plants.
“And the community is just in its infancy of what it’s to become. Everyone thinks this is it ... it has just started,” says Kelleher. “We have an amazing sense of community, getting new ideas and thinking differently, people are just open-minded.”