New connections begin, old connections get stronger, and lots of people have been taking action and creating change. Our local TEDx community is extraordinarily proud of what our speakers and attendees have been doing and we’re excited to share our accomplishments with the millions of global TEDx-sters out there.

November 25, 2014

Who would’ve thought I’d be on a TEDx Planning Team?
Category: 2015 Event, Community

TEDxMtHood planning team

It began with a simple invitation to join the TEDxMtHood (formerly TEDxConcordiaUPortland) planning team, after attending several TEDx events.

I have been watching TED talks for a very long time, even including them as required “watching” in my graduate courses. But never did I imagine I would be a member of the planning team for one of these events!

This invitation was a little intimidating because the events are amazing. From the stage set, to the featured artwork, to the incredible speakers and their messages, this is a huge event! It all takes place over one full day, which means someone has to pull it all together — speakers, activities, registration, logo and branding, food, coffee, swag, volunteers, parking, and music — all for the enjoyment and enhancement of over 700 people.

What a challenge! Who are these people, and how do they pull it off and make it look effortless? Could I really be a part of this?

The TEDxMtHood planning team creates and refines the framework on which the event is built, to support all of the people and all of the elements of the event. The planning and preparation from start to finish takes about 11 months, and starts about one month after the last event, when the organizer, called a curator in TED-speak, calls an initial gathering of existing and potential new team members from all over the Portland area.

This, and most future meetings, can take place in a variety of locations — a hall in a community center, a meeting room in an historic building, a pub, someone’s home (or garden if the weather is nice). It’s at this initial low-key gathering that experienced members and newcomers begin getting to know each other, and the strong sense of community grows from there.

The TEDxMtHood planning team is an eclectic mix of people from many walks of life. Some have been a part of the team anywhere from one to five years, some are new each year. We have artists, educators, pastors, authors, stage and lights experts, audio-visual and technology pros and enthusiasts, graphic designers, and people who work in for-profit and non-profit organizations.

One of the first, and most exciting tasks we do as a team is select the theme. We gather ideas, words, and phrases, and the team engages in a lively discussion to narrow down the choices until the right theme emerges.

Next, and probably most important, is identifying potential speakers whose ideas or work embody the theme. Speakers are nominated by team members, event attendees, and alumni speakers. The whole planning team vets each and every nomination, researching the nominees, striving for a diverse final roster of individuals who have ideas worth spreading. The team participates in several rounds of evaluation and voting. Through this process, the long list (sometimes more than 100 nominations!) is pared down, and invitations go out to our top nominees, and we hope they’ll accept!

There are many roles within the team, and each one contributes to the success of the event as a whole. Some members of the team take on the role of speaker concierge, becoming the go-to person for two or three speakers and working with them throughout the entire process, from planning and preparation, to the day of the event. Other members create partnerships with local organizations and businesses who wish to support TEDxMtHood either financially or with in-kind support. Our webmaster and graphic designer develops the look and feel that will brand our TEDx event.

Our sense of community is a priority to the team, so throughout the planning and preparation phase, we host several social gatherings bringing together alumni speakers and the current event’s new speakers. These gatherings offer terrific opportunities for cultivating and strengthening our TEDx community.

There are many projects for team members to work on — some are on-going throughout the entire eleven-month process, some take a few weeks, and some are specifically related to the logistics of the event day, such as set-up, lighting, cameras, and technology. These team members may do some work during the year, but they get really busy in the weeks and days leading up to and including the day of our event.

Throughout the year, while our team is working locally to bring the event to fruition, we get several opportunities to network, share and learn from members of the global TEDx community. Some of our team members have traveled to attended TEDActive (part of the TED conference), TEDGlobal, TEDxSummit, TEDxBeaconStreet in Boston, and locally to other TEDx events like TEDxPortland and TEDxSalem. Our members return from these events inspired and full of new ideas that enhance our own event and the attendees experience, and help us to further strengthen our community.

I asked my fellow planning team members what excites them about being part of this year’s TEDxMtHood. Here’s what some of them had to say:

  • Change!

  • Working with all of the amazing members on the planning team to do things we have never done before — to face new challenges and rise to meet them.

  • Getting to once again learn about things I don’t know much or anything about, to meet new people, and to share time doing something worthwhile with my friends from the planning.

  • The exciting opportunities at Revolution Hall at Washington High School.

  • To be a part of such an eclectic, energized, diverse, and driven team.

How could one not want to be a part of this? This is the second year my husband and I are on the TEDxMtHood planning team. I have had the opportunity to be the speaker concierge for two brilliant TEDx speakers, write stories for the website as a storyteller, and work alongside the Artist in Residence to help assemble her art for the stage set.

At the end of the day I can say, “Been there, got the T-Shirt” — and it’s true because we do get a fantastic and unique T-shirt as part of the planning team. But I’ve now been there, and what I’ve “gotten” goes well beyond a T-shirt. Being a member of the TEDxMtHood planning team, I gained a whole community and a trove of memorable experiences!

Jan Albrecht

Although a native Oregonian, she left the state for 36 years—living in each of the four corners of the United States as well as Hawaii and Italy. Her life as an educator has spanned 50 years, teaching students from fifth grade through graduate school. She is a "puzzler," and loves making order out of chaos. This is her second year on the TEDxMtHood planning team.