Business News

TEDx speaker lineup hints at a provocative second year

by Christiaan Mader

Lafayette locals will probe sensitive issues for the 2016 edition of the successful speaker series.

Photo courtsey TEDxVermilionStreet

Talks on racism, mental illness, HIV and sexuality are among 12 presentations on slate for this year’s TEDxVermilionStreet, according to organizers announcing the 2016 speaker roster. This year’s theme, "Challenges," attracted scores of applicants with stories of personal struggle to tell, leading to a final lineup that lead organizer Taylor Sloey says will touch off challenges for speakers and challenges to attendees.

“Now, more than ever, ideas are so important because they help us understand one another’s experiences,” Sloey tells ABiz. “The stories you’re going to hear are really going to inspire you. It’s going to open your mind to some things you don’t think about everyday.”

While the individual speaker biographies and corresponding subjects have not been released, you can expect presentations that broach a diversity of topics both sensitive and sensational, honed in informal, multimedia monologues that are the hallmark of TED Talks brand.

For a conservative town like Lafayette, many of these are topics not openly discussed in social and political circles. But Sloey says that her team believe locals are more than primed for stories and ideas that challenge many of the accepted and normalized mores in the Hub City.

"I think people in Lafayette are open to sharing these ideas. I think our community is first and foremost about community," she says.

The TEDx format is intimate, just the speaker and 200 ticket-holders in Moncus Theater at the Acadiana Center for the Arts in Downtown, setting a bare stage for candor about challenges that Lafayette most certainly faces, whether publicly or not.

“Our speakers are brave to get in front of an audience and talk about these sorts of issues,” Sloey says. “They’re going to be doing it in a way that’s personal. They’re not going to tell you to vote one or way or another. They’re trying to include their own experiences in major issues that a society faces.”

The TEDx series is a localized version of the popular TED Talks conferences begun in 1984. Over the years, the conferences emerged as a vehicle for spreading innovations and ideas in science and culture via presentations by luminaries like Bill Gates and Elon Musk, fueled in part by the viral distribution of TED videos via YouTube. You can get a taste of TED style presentations via the TED Radio Hour, which airs locally on KRVS on Wednesdays at 8 p.m.

This year marks the second annual TEDxVermilionStreet. Tickets for the event go on sale for the event August 15 via AcA, with only 200 available to the public.