Image © TEDxAthens
If you haven’t been to a TEDx event or don’t know what it encompasses, let us be the first to inform you. TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less). TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics – from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages.
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. Over 130 countries and 1200 cities have hosted a TEDx event. It’s been done in remote and unexpected places like Iraq, Kenya, and Cuba.
TEDxAthens is one of the first TEDx events worldwide and the first ever TEDx event in Greece – started in May 2009. Its main goal is to develop and leverage the TED experience at a regional level. TEDxAthens is curated by Dimitris Kalavros-Gousiou and organized by a team of 40 volunteers. Excited, eager and with a stack of business cards in tow, I arrived at the Onassis Cultural Center for two days of uplifting speeches, innovative ideas and entrepreneurial thought.
“Uncharted Waters” was the theme for the 2013 event and speakers shared their experiences on how they are dealing with daily “Uncharted” territories in their life. A variety of exciting speakers contributed, including Greek-Australian adventurer James Castrission (who completed the longest unsupported polar expedition ever), film director Alexandros Avranas who won the Silver Lion award for his film “Miss Violence”, 19 year old photographer Olivia Bee, singer Iyeoka Okoawo, philosopher Roman Krznaric, and Pixar’s Art Director Ricky Nierva.
While TED events take more of a global approach TEDx typically focuses on a local community that concentrates on local voices. The event brought together some leading players in the NGO sector such as Tzanetos Antypas, President of NGO PRAKSIS, Ipatia Doussis-Anagnostopoulou, Founder of Mission ANTHROPOS and Chris Alefantis, Founder & Editor in Chief of Shedia, a “street magazine” sold by homeless individuals offering vendors the opportunity to earn their own money.
Big Olive Walking Tours provided a genuine Athenian experience for TEDx speakers. With a backdrop of marble ruins and neoclassical houses brightened by cascades of purple bougainvillea our docents told the amazing story of Athens. Big Olive’s itinerary offered TEDx speakers the perfect way to gain a true appreciation for, and an understanding of Athens’s colorful past and vibrant present.
A pencil sketch of Kosta souvlaki joint by Ricky Nierva; made during a walking tour offered to TED speakers by Big Olive.
Fidelman, Mark (June 19, 2012), “Here’s Why TED and TEDx are So Incredibly Appealing“, Forbes. Retrieved October 28, 2013.