‘The Blueprints Between X and Why’

The Blueprints Between X and Why

Emily Doran

The Grand Valley State University community is filled with people who value creativity, design thinking and innovation. Some of those individuals are taking their interests a step further with the creation of TEDxGVSU, an organization intended to promote the dissemination of interesting and significant ideas.

TEDxGVSU is run by volunteer GVSU students and graduates who have a passion for stimulating community conversation about important topics. This past semester, the group became an official GVSU student organization (under the name TEDx). It receives funding from Student Life and is also sponsored by various other university offices.

TEDx groups, like TEDxGVSU, are local, nonprofit, independently organized TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) affiliates. Their events include live presentations, speakers and acts, as well as the broadcasting of prerecorded TED Talks. TEDx groups allow people from many different locations to organize their own community-based events. That way, a broader range of people can experience a TED-inspired event firsthand without having to travel to the annual TED Conference on the North American West Coast.

TEDxGVSU will hold its inaugural event Friday, Feb. 24, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in the Cook-DeWitt Center. The theme of the event is “The Blueprints Between X and Why.” Event speakers and performers will use their own experiences and expertise to tie into the main theme of examining what happens when a strictly planned life or career path takes unexpected twists and turns or runs into roadblocks. Attendees will also be encouraged to examine their own life plans, scrutinizing their motivations for pursuing certain goals.

“When you have to accomplish a goal, or when you have a large task at hand, you often come up with a plan to get from point X to point Y,” said Joseph Parks, lead designer at TEDxGVSU. “During that process of trying to get to where you’re going, things can go wrong, you can realize that what you’re doing is maybe taking you down a wrong path or maybe you decide to abandon (one) solution (to a problem) in favor of another one. (The theme is about) figuring out what you’re doing and what your goal is as you’re striving to achieve it.”

Parks hopes attendees will leave the event empowered to dream big in terms of their life plans and to be open-minded to changes and different possibilities.

Since this will be the organization’s first event, it has been limited by TEDx to allow only 100 attendees in order to establish its success and representation of TEDx before being opened to a larger audience.

“It’s a worldwide brand, so they have very high standards,” Parks said.

Because of this restriction, interested individuals will have to complete an application describing why they’re interested in the event and what they hope to get out of it, among other questions, in order to be considered for a ticket.

Nikhil Watsa, the creative director at TEDxGVSU, said the process would not be selective but would rather be considered on a first-come, first-served basis. He said the applications would, however, allow the event curators to learn more about the audience members, whose responses could then potentially be included at some point during the program.

“We want you to feel that you were there for a reason—you had an interest to be there,” Watsa said. “We want to hear what were your experiences, rationales that led you to this.”

While TEDxGVSU has not yet released the names of the event presenters and their individual theme topics, Watsa said there would be eight presenters at the event, all of whom were carefully selected by the TEDxGVSU board members.

Watsa said he hoped attendees would be motivated by the presentations.

“I hope that (attendees) feel inspired,” Watsa said. “TED is all about inspiring, motivating people to do things and giving credit to the people who are doing amazing things, as well. (I) guess I would want people to leave thinking that (the) possibilities for them are far beyond what they imagined.”

The TEDxGVSU organizers hope to make this event an annual occurrence.

“I think that it can be really impactful for the Grand Valley community as a whole,” said Jaclyn Ermoyan, co-curator and director of marketing and branding at TEDxGVSU. “(Just) because we host it every year doesn’t mean we’re reaching the same people (because of student turnover), and so I think that it can have a really big scope because I think no matter who’s planning it and no matter who comes and speaks, they have a really powerful message to share.”

To apply to attend the conference, visit www.tedxgvsu.com/. Approved individuals will need to purchase a $15 ticket.