Past TEDXSanAntonio speakers. Courtesy photo.
Past TEDXSanAntonio speakers. Courtesy photo.

Beyoncé’s hyper-sexualized performance at the 2014 MTV Movie Awards was complete with some pole dancing, a bejeweled onesie, the word “FEMINIST” up in lights and a beautiful, accented voice speaking of equality between the sexes. The voice was taken from its context, a TEDx Talk, to justify what some call an offensive song and performance. It also illustrated the influence and growth of TED, which prides itself on sharing “ideas worth spreading.”

African author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s 2013 TEDxEuston Talk, titled, “We should all be feminists,” is sampled on Beyoncé’s song “Flawless,” but it is powerful and necessary in its entirety.

A few years ago, the general public was asking, “Who is this TED person and why is he talking so much?” It would be surprising if you haven’t heard of TED yet, but it’s not too late. TED Talks are now available on YouTube, iTunes, Netflix, Google Play and through apps for iPad, iPhone, Kindle and Android devices. They are being shown and streamed in classrooms, work places, and homes all over the world.

2013 TEDxSanAntonio audience members. Courtesy photo.
2013 TEDxSanAntonio audience members. Courtesy photo.

TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) is a nonprofit organization that started as a four-day conference in California. TED has grown to support its mission with its TEDx initiative, which supports individuals or groups in hosting local, self-organized TED-style events speaking on every topic imaginable.

This year’s TEDxSanAntonio will be held on Oct. 18 at Rackspace’s headquarters, a.k.a “The Castle.” Attending a TED or TEDx Talk is more complex than just buying a ticket – the application process is said to ensure diversity and a willingness to engage the talks. Tickets are $85 and student pricing is $45. Check out for more information on requesting an invitation to purchase a ticket.

Local web tech guru and TEDxSanAntonio organizer and licensee Susan Price says a quarter of her time is now spent on TEDxSA goings on, but insists she didn’t get roped into it.

“I signed up for this. I have more in common with these organizers than I do with my neighbors. If you’re a ‘do-gooder’ and trying to change things, you feel like you’re alone. Here is a group of people whose ethics are remarkably similar and goals are truly altruistic.” She now has contacts all over the world whose priorities are sharing ideas to better lives. 

TEDxSanAntonio volunteer organizers Susan Price (left) and Cynthia Phelps. Photo by Iris Dimmick.
TEDx San Antonio volunteer organizers Susan Price (left) and Cynthia Phelps at a salon event held in summer 2013. Photo by Iris Dimmick.

Currently in its fifth year, Price says interest has never been higher in TEDxSA. Volunteers have responded with a series of TED Live viewing events, a TED Women series and TED Youth.

“We’ve also held four salon events which focus on a specific topic, including Creating Meaning, Reframing Negative Body Image, Food Policy, and Children’s Mental Health,” she said.

TEDxSA community members selected this year’s theme, ‘Ideas in Action,’ centered around acting on issues rather than just discussing them. Twenty speakers – medical students, actors, poets, business owners, and more –  were chosen from about 180 applicants and will be sharing specific, recommended actions. See the full list here.

Each talk promises to deliver insights and inspiration. Here is just a taste of what attendees can expect:

Kori Ashton
Kori Ashton

“Every day is a chance to create something and better the world!”

by Kori Ashton, Artist and Co-Owner of WebTegrity

Ashton will inspire her audience by sharing the story of a young polio survivor who has overcome all the odds. While telling this story, she will be painting on a wooden canvas and when the story ends, the painting will reveal an encouraging concept to challenge the attendees to put Action to their Ideas.

Big idea:

Inspiration can happen no matter the resources or abilities that one possesses.

Steve Vrooman
Steve Vrooman

“Our brains are Twitter,”

by Steven Vrooman, Professor of Communication Studies, Texas Lutheran University

Vrooman will talk about how we think our audiences want to listen. We think they are listening. Maybe they even think they’re listening, but in so many ways they aren’t. Perhaps the Twitter metaphor will help us grapple with that reality a bit better.

Big idea:

Twitter has not made us shallow braggarts, the way its critics would accuse. That’s who we’ve always been.

Joshua Singer & Abhi Suri
Joshua Singer & Abhi Suri

“Foster your Inner Hacker,”

by Joshua Singer & Abhi Suri, Co­-founders, Apps for Aptitude

Singer and Suri will help us understand that hackers are all around us and define what it means to be a hacker. They will give some advice for anyone interested creating, building, and hacking.

Big idea:

Society has placed a social stigma around the word “hacker” referring to those who don’t build and create, but rather break and ruin the contributions of the real hackers and innovators in our world. The great minds in the history of the world were actually hackers, so why can’t we encourage everyone to be one?

Eric Anthony Dorsa
Eric Anthony Dorsa

“How Drag Saved My Life,”

by Eric Anthony Dorsa, Wine Steward

Dorsa will share the story of how drag saved his life and challenge the audience to shed their false personas to experience who they are without definition. He will be in drag on stage and slowly remove exterior elements to reveal who he is underneath.

Big idea:

To challenge people to be seen in their most vulnerable states in order to find a life worth living.

Pliny Fisk
Pliny Fisk

“A Different Future for the Planet, Naturally”

by Pliny Fisk, founder and co­-director, Center for Maximum Potential Building Systems (Austin) 

Fisk will present three projects: one land-based, one coastal and one sea connected that when integrated together hint at quite a different planetary future. He will showcase toxin­-absorbing flowering plants, a brine­-based toxin trapping cement as well as plants grown in pulverized bio­remediated coal before it is burned. He will show how heavy metal toxins gleaned from each process can be permanently and safely sequestered in our buildings, roads and bridges, thus enabling a new level of planetary health.   

Big Idea:  

Three projects, one world.

*Featured/top image: Past TEDxSanAntonio speakers. Courtesy photo.

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Melanie Robinson is a San Antonian writer, poet and musician who currently works as the content writer for Tribu, a digital marketing firm, and freelances for the Rivard Report, San Antonio Current and...