TEDxSeattle Celebrates 10 Years

Inspirational ideas conference hosts talks on the power of shifting perspectives
| Updated: November 14, 2019
Speaker Anirudh Koul at the 2018 TEDxSeattle

An anesthesiologist utilizing virtual reality for pain management. A nonprofit director using hip hop as a learning tool for students. An artist fueling conversations about creativity and mental health. On November 23, 11 TEDxSeattle speakers will bring a host of compelling, seemingly unrelated topics to the stage at McCaw Hall, unified by a single theme: shift. This year marks the 10th anniversary of the local event dedicated to sharing inspirational ideas, and its theme was selected in part to spark conversation about the way small shifts in perspective can lead to big changes in the future.

“Everybody in Seattle has seen a lot of shifts happening around us,” says Elizabeth Coppinger, executive director and curator of TEDxSeattle. “One of the things that we are really encouraging ourselves and everyone to think about is, ‘What do we want the next ten years to look like and what kind of shifts do you need to make today to get to where you want to be in ten years?’”

TEDx is the local, independently hosted version of a TED conference—a speaking event centered on the concept of “ideas worth spreading.” An extensive selection of TED and TEDx talks exist online, in addition to live events hosted around the world, but editing your own video queue can lead to tunnel vision. When attending a live TEDx event, “you start making connections that you wouldn’t have made otherwise, by just having diverse ideas from different disciplines presented one right after the other,” Coppinger says.

Plus, the event is split into multiple sessions punctuated by breaks designed to help attendees connect through games and activities in the lobby—another feature that could help Seattleites bridge their intellectual silos.

“We’re sort of a city of intense people who get very heads-down and involved in what we do, and having that ability to take a step back and look more broadly I think is really helpful to contributing to our civic life and making Seattle a really thriving, vibrant place,” Coppinger adds. 

This year’s speakers span a range of identities and disciplines, selected for their passion and the inspirational nature of their work rather than professional speaking capabilities. Karen Okonkwo will discuss her stock photography company TONL, which specializes in images that showcase a diversity of identities; Dr. Hans-Peter Kiem will discuss gene editing efforts to cure HIV, and Chris Jordan will discuss a shift in the tone of his environmental photography.

“We love the idea of stretching your mind in different directions,” Coppinger adds. “There’s something about hearing people who are doing amazing things that makes you realize, ‘I can do amazing things, too.’”

Be sure to grab your tickets fast, however—they’re likely to sell out well before the event. (If you can’t make it in person, videos will be available online in early 2020.)

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