May 6, 2016 01:25 PM

No experience necessary. Any one with an idea worth sharing is welcome to apply.

Joey Durel speaks at TEDxVermilionStreet in 2015

Without getting preachy, Lafayette is going through growing pains. We sprawl too much. We rely on oil too much. We struggle too keep pace with the nation on issues of sexual, spiritual, cultural and racial diversity. Sure, we’ve got the food and happiness thing down pretty solid, but it’s not all peachy keen.

Perhaps the great struggle here is our fair city’s strange confluence of isolation and affluence. We have a recognized university, a commodifiable culture and plenty of brochure intangibles, but just when we start cycling and walking, we build strip mall developments and widen roads to accommodate more and more cars. Lafayette’s a complicated place.

Lafayette deserves a conversation with itself. A frank and uncomfortable one.

Organizers of TEDxVermilionStreet hope to stoke that fire with the second iteration of the wildly successful speaker series, this year themed “Challenges.” To that end, lead organizer Taylor Slooey and her team are collecting applications to speak at the September 10 idea summit. As is the group’s custom, they’re not looking for any particular themes or speaker backgrounds. They hope to curate a roster of diverse and compelling ideas that challenge problems big and small and cajole attendees into confronting experiences or notions that may make them uncomfortable.

“I think you grow and you learn when you’re uncomfortable,” Slooey says. “And if TED is challenging people to rethink a city planning issue or somebody with a disability and consider their experience, it might make you uncomfortable, but you’re gonna learn from them. It provides this excellent spring board for the speakers to talk about their experiences or their ideas for how to solve a challenge.”

If you’re not familiar, TEDx follows the format of its parent organization TED Talks in hosting several speakers in a single sessions delivering short and engaging multimedia presentations on a variety of topics connected by a loose theme. The talks are casual in style, but typically involve a call to action that attempts to rattle convention.

For an idea of how it works, check out my personal favorite TED Talk on how you don't know how to use paper towels.

While the parent TED Talks broadcast ideas from luminaries like Bill Gates or Bill Clinton, the TEDx series attempts to draw from the provincial wisdom of the world’s farther reaches. Many of the best talks from TEDx events worldwide are featured on the TED website.

Speakers at last year’s TEDxVermilionStreet included former mayor Joey Durel, artist Jacob Broussard and UL choral director Bill Plummer among a wide variety of scientists, civic activists and go-getters.

If you’re interested in taking part, fill out the application form on TEDxVermilionStreet site before May 15. Speakers are selected purely on the basis of their ideas and not their previous speaking experience. All you have to do is be prepared to challenge your fellow Hub Citizens to move outside of their comfort zone.