Enjoy reading about the wonderful community that has developed around this annual event.

January 23, 2013

TEDxConcordiaUPortland 2013 Guest Curator: Cheryl Strayed
Category: 2013 Event, Guest Curators, News


After a TEDxConcordiaUPortland (now known as TEDxMtHood) event, so many attendees glowingly describe how inspired and empowered they feel. From the speakers and performances to the stage art and lighting, attendees comment about all of the wonderful things that make TEDxConcordiaUPortland (now known as TEDxMtHood) so great.

What you may not know is that many of our speakers feel the same way. When Cheryl Strayed left the 2012 stage (relieved, she admits, that her talk was over!), she was impressed by the sense of community created between speakers and attendees. When the planning team asked if she would like to curate a session on March 23rd, 2013, she eagerly agreed.

“I knew immediately that I wanted to do it, and I also knew that artists and the arts would be my focus,” she said.

Cheryl StrayedWe’re happy to announce that Cheryl Strayed will be the 2013 Guest Curator, and we’re excited to see who she has chosen to take the stage. The arts and artists—sculptors, filmmakers, actors, painters, radio personalities, writers—are grounded in creatively spreading ideas; it’s fundamental to what they do. They reflect and react to the world, showing us who we are and what we might be; they sustain us in a singular and extraordinary way.

Cheryl herself is familiar with art’s power to sustain and renew. Her writing has been celebrated for its grace and beauty, but also for its honesty. Readers have been inspired by her courage to quickly expose the core truth of every subject she considers. Since taking the TEDxConcordiaUPortland (now known as TEDxMtHood) stage in 2012, she’s been insanely busy with the success of her memoir, Wild. Between the book being selected to kick off Oprah’s Book Club 2.0, the film rights being optioned by Reese Witherspoon’s production company, and the release of another New York Times bestseller, Tiny Beautiful Things, writing has become an even more precious act for Cheryl.

Given the momentum of Cheryl’s success in the past year, the 2013 event theme, “Velocity,” would appear to be an appropriate match. The word itself, she believes, is central to the arts:

“I love that word. And I think it’s a particularly good word to express what I had in mind when I chose the speakers for my session. These are people who make things happen, who bring about movement and change, who spark ideas, influence minds, move us emotionally and heal us spiritually through the sheer force of their creativity. Every time we create we move in a new direction, sometimes powerfully so. Creativity is velocity.”

As you well know, TEDx speakers present ideas worth spreading from the stage, but they do so by means of a story. Stories are memorable and relatable. We can easily digest a story, and we can easily share them. A story grounds us in the vivid particulars of a speaker’s experience, bringing it to life for all attendees. As a writer, Cheryl is profoundly interested in stories and she’s excited about the ones her speakers will share.

“I can’t wait to hear what each one of them has to say.”

Neither can we! We’re delighted to welcome Cheryl back to TEDxConcordiaUPortland (now known as TEDxMtHood), and we look forward to the creative speakers that she’ll be introducing to our community.

Sean Wheaton

Sean Wheaton is a teacher and writer who lives in Portland, OR. He’s a lover of ideas both big and small, and he is thrilled to be a part of this year’s TEDxConcordiaUPortland planning team. He’s one of several storytellers who will be sharing write-ups, interviews, and perspectives on the many extraordinary people from our surrounding community.