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TEDxSunValley Delights Speakers and Audience
Friday, December 2, 2016


Two decades ago Dave Hayden imagined into existence one of the first Internet search engines.

On Wednesday he stood before a full house at the Sun Valley Opera House and asked people to imagine with him a different kind of internet—one that could teleport images across space and time, perhaps allowing users to see someone telepathically, in a way that will revolutionize the world.

“Einstein said, ‘The imagination is more important than knowledge,’” Hayden told more than 200 people listening to his TED talk. “The imagination needs nurturing and attention. It goes away if you don’t pay attention to it.”

TEDxSunValley made its debut Wednesday, wowing its audience with its professional look and feel.

Against the backdrop of a mountain made of curtains and a yellow ring-like sun created by tech guru Andy Castellano, 13 speakers presented 18-minute talks on subjects dear to their hearts.

They didn’t just get up and speak—they had been coached over and over by Lexie Praggastis and a team of coaches that helped them refine their speeches, add visuals and tell share their “ideas worth spreading” in an engaging way.

And they had practiced the day before in front of Community School students.

TED organizers Kim Castellano and Aimee Christensen interspersed short, funny and serious clips in between the speakers. Among them, Paul Nicklen’s tales of engaging with a snow leopard—one of Christensen’s personal favorites.

And MindTravel musician Murray Hidary, co-founder of EarthWeb, delivered an improvisational piano performance timed to his photographs, which have been seen in such galleries as San Francisco MOMA.

“It’s about seeing things in a new light and hearing things differently,” he said.

“He’s great!” said Gary Hirno.

Ketchum Photographer Thia Konig encouraged the audience to “Get Naked” when they travel, shedding expectations and preconceived notions in order to see the world anew.

A couple hours before, she had been as nervous as she’d ever been in her life.

“I paraglide off Baldy. I do all these things. But this is one of the scariest things I’ve done,” she said as she headed to the Sun Valley Lodge to practice her talk one more time.

Still, Konig was as excited as a monkey on a banana farm.

“I love TED. I like that if you don’t like one you’re soon on to the next one. I like that they’re short stories, not novels,” she said. “To have TED here, to speak at it, is a dream come true. I’ve always wanted to do this. Around dinner, I’ve asked people, ‘If you were to give a TED talk, what would it be?”

Vanessa Fry, a Hailey resident who is pursuing her PhD. At Boise State University, described how she has been helping Boise Mayor Dave Bieter solve the problem of chronic homelessness with a Housing First program that will provide apartments for homeless people.

She showed a picture of a 40-year-old man named Joe who chugs hand sanitizer as a cheap alternative to alcohol, even though it’s highly toxic. That has cost $15,000 on ambulance rides in the past six months, as well as $26,000 in hospital bills and 95 days in jail at a cost of $10,000.

What if we had a hundred $54,346 bills from our homeless community? That’s what Boise is facing—$5.436 million on issues related to chronic homelessness,” Fry said. And that doesn’t include costs to businesses near where homeless people hang out or social costs when someone dies due to exposure.

"The city can save $2.7 million by providing housing for those people at a cost of $1.6 million," she added.

Fry said it was the TED coaches who encouraged her to make her talk more tangible by adding Joe’s story.

“Learning how to give examples, personalize my talk was good. They showed me new ways to think about how I share information.”

Paralympic  skier Muffy Davis told her story of how her mother helped her learn to embrace adversity by allowing herself to have grieving days after she was paralyzed in a ski accident at 16. It was a story she has told numerous times. But even it seemed more powerful, more refined this time—certainly enough to bring the crowd to its feet.

Davis had given a talk a few years ago at Bloomington. But she didn’t have to audition—she was asked. And they offered her no coaching.

“Even though I give motivational talks all over the country, I definitely learned from the process here,” she said. “And I think that those who talked this year should help pay it forward next year by helping to organize next year’s conference or helping with coaching.”

Castellano said this year’s TED talk took place the day before the TED license that Christensen took out last year expired. "Next year, they might be able to hold it on a weekend day when more people could attend," she added.

Castellano was inspired to organize the independently organized event after meeting someone who had been involved with a TED conference on an airplane trip. She was happy to learn that Christensen had a license.

"Organizers are already looking ahead to next year," she said.

“I just think it’s the perfect thing for here,” she said. “We have so many engaged people, and we have such diversity.”

~  Today's Topics ~

Big BAH Crowd Learns How the Pickleball Bounces

Museum Solicits Stories and Artifacts for Pride in the Archives Project

Sun Valley Youth Hockey Hires Executive Director








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