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TEDxVermilionStreet announces speaker lineup

by Christiaan Mader

A mayor, a choral director, a civic activist, an ecologist, a physicist, an artist, an architect, two speech pathologists, two civil servants, a fashionista and a bio-engineer walk into a bar...

TEDxVermilionStreet has announced its motley lineup of presenters for the inaugural Lafayette TED Talk event coming up Sept. 12 at AcA Downtown. The 13-strong list (spread around 11 presentations) boasts a diversity of Lafayette-based thinkers and doers, including theoretical physicist and string theorist Dr. James Dent, student and UL Collegiate Fashion Association founder Joshua Jackson and even his Lafayette majesty (and Reddit AMA samurai), City-Parish President Lester Joseph Durel Jr.

“A couple of months ago I didn’t imagine we would have a string theorist,” says TEDx lead organizer Taylor Sloey. “It’s a lot of fun to see how much talent our town has to offer. There are a lot of intelligent and driven people who will change the world in their own right.”

Taylor Sloey
Photo by Robin May

Sloey and her planning compadrés cast a wide net two months ago for speaker submissions, not sure they’d get any fish in the trawl. Given Lafayette’s unfamiliarity with the TED Talk concept, there was a reluctance to open the bag for fear of thin pickings. But after the submission deadline ended June 30, Sloey et al had themselves a new problem: sorting out how to winnow 110 plus speakers to the final 13 they announced via their website. The process involved a careful consideration of intellectual diversity, ensuring that no two presentations would be alike on the basis of content and discipline, and a keen eye toward matching the proposed presentations to the event’s official “Je ne sais quoi” theme. After several culling rounds, TEDx had its all-star lineup.

“That was more than we anticipated. We were very impressed with the quantity and quality,” says Sloey. “There were a lot of good ideas, but we didn’t have time for everybody.”

Speakers have been paired with speech coaches who will help refine their proposed presentations for the lighted stage. All speakers submitted a basic synopsis of their concepts which will be polished into succinct and stylish talks that mirror the informal and informative rhetorical style that has made the parent TED Talks format so popular.

Final presentation titles and themes have not be released at this time, though Sloey notes that reading the speakers’ bios on the TEDxVermilionStreet website will give interested parties a good idea of what to expect. It’s a safe bet that Project Front Yard brain-trust Carlee Alm-LaBar and Katherine McCormick will discuss civic beautification projects and that bio-engineer and Cajun Artificial Heart Laboratory director Charles Taylor will remark on his research in 3D printing and heart replacement and so on. The list is a fantastic mix of known aficionados and up-and-coming experts.

Tickets for the event go on sale Aug. 10 for $20 a pop, but supplies are limited to 100 by stipulation of the TEDx license. In the event of a sellout, a spill-over viewing area will be opened, also inside AcA, with a live-stream of the event for an additional 100 people. Spill-over viewing will require reservation, but will be free of charge. When the virtual box office opens, visit or to get your ticket to mental expansion.