TEDxPhoenix brings the inspirational ideas of TED to the Mesa Arts Center on April 26 with the “Press Play,” theme, which looks at what it takes to drown out the noise, ignore the odds and choose your own adventure. Some of the guest at this year’s TEDxPhoenix will include Emmy-winning and Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Bristol Baughan, Research fellow and geneticist Rachel Bloom and comedian Danny Lobell. Wardah Jamil, one of the lead organizers of the event, will tell us more.
Ted Simons: Ted-X Phoenix brings the inspirational ideas of Ted talks to the Mesa Arts Center this Sunday. Some of the guests at this year's event includes Emmy winning and Academy Award nominated film-maker Bristol Baughan, research fellow and geneticist Rachel Bloom and storm chaser Camille Seaman.
Video: Storm chasing is a very tactile experience. There's a warm, moist wind blowing at your back. The smell of the earth, the wheat, the grass, the charged particles. Then there are the colors in the clouds of hail forming, the greens and turquoise blues. I've learned to respect the lightning. My hair used to be straight. I'm just kidding.
Ted Simons: Joining us now to talk about this year Ted-X Phoenix event is one of the lead organizers Wardah Jamil. Good to have you here, thanks for joining us.
Wardah Jamil: Thank you for having me.
Ted Simons: Give me a better definition of Ted-X Phoenix.
Wardah Jamil: Ted-X Phoenix It's an event licensed by the Ted conference. We bring together the leading thinkers and doers in the valley to come together for a good conversation and evening of talk by inspiring people.
Ted Simons: Licensed by the Ted conference. What is TED?
Wardah Jamil: It stands to technology entertainment and design and TED is a nonprofit, it's a conference that happens annually in Vancouver. They make their talks available on line for free at Ted.com. They have had luminaries such as Bill Gates and Al Gore.
Ted Simons: Some of those things are tremendous. As far as this event, the theme is called press play. What is that all about?
Wardah Jamil: We chose the theme press play because it's envisioned as a reboot of Ted-X Phoenix. As a larger encompassing of that for our speakers, Press Play is a look at ignoring the odds, drowning out the noise and really choosing your own adventure.
Ted Simons: When you say reboot, I know we had one in 2013. Did we have one last year?
Wardah Jamil: No, we didn't. It's a volunteer-run event. When we have the support that we need that really gives us the drive to keep moving forward. We took a year off to kind of define, what is the vision of Ted-X Phoenix, where is this going and how are we coming back.
Ted Simons: So you're coming back, and obviously ignore the noise or odds and choose your own adventure. And we just saw amazing photographs and a very interesting speaker talking about storm chasing. How does that speaker fit into this theme?
Wardah Jamil: Camille is very interesting. She is a "National Geographic" photographer. For her she decided she was going to hit the North Pole and just kind of got some stuff from REI and headed up there. Her baggage was lost but she still made it up there and she's very much a person that chooses her own adventure. She fits in a lot with the adventure part.
Ted Simons: And you also have a tornado tracker as well, that is true?
Wardah Jamil: She's an atmospheric scientist, Karen, and she tracks tornadoes and gets into little vehicles and chases storms.
Ted Simons: Another speaker I thought was very interesting, she basically had her toddler dress her for a week and blogged about it.
Wardah Jamil: She is a very brave woman. She had her toddler style her and wore that clothing out and about doing errands and actually filmed people's expressions as she was walking by in these outfits.
Ted Simons: Are the outfits something that a toddler would think was nice?
Wardah Jamil: She had a sequined skirt and some cheetah print loafers.
Ted Simons: Her blog on this went viral?
Wardah Jamil: It was all over NBC and Reddit and babble where she originally wrote the article.
Ted Simons: You have an academy award nominated and Emmy winning filmmaker as well. Talk to us about that.
Wardah Jamil: Bristol Baughan is also an Emmy winning videographer, producer. She made a video about teenaged race car drivers.
Ted Simons: Wow. And again, these people, it's not just what they do, they talk about what they do.
Wardah Jamil: Absolutely. They are experts in their field, but they are great storytellers and that's why we really want to feature them.
Ted Simons: How do you pick who to feature and who not to feature, how does that work?
Wardah Jamil: That's a very good question. It's a meticulous process. We look for someone who is an expert in their field, what we also look for is that field current? Is it now? Are they getting press? And are they a good storyteller? That's what it's all about.
Ted Simons: I notice you have a comedian on the list, as well. How does a comedian fit into all of this?
Wardah Jamil: He has a very interesting story about tolerance and is going to be sharing that on Sunday.
Ted Simons: That's it? Not going to tell us anything more?
Wardah Jamil: If I do, I'll give you the punch line.
Ted Simons: There's more than just these folks on a stage giving out these TED talks that we see on Ted.com and stuff like this. Talk about other things happening at the event, I should say.
Wardah Jamil: Absolutely, it's also about conversations. We want Phoenicians to come together, they see the talks and talk about the talks and perhaps how we can incorporate those ideas within our own communities, to put something actionable behind it, to do more good. There's food and drink and musical entertainment. So really it's an all-encompassing event.
Ted Simons: What do you want people to take from an event like this? First of all, what do people expect when they go there? What do you want them to expect once they leave?
Wardah Jamil: I think perhaps a lot of people come in with no expectations, and we want to blow them away ultimately. We want them to feel inspired, to feel as if they can do things, they can make change. We want them to help Phoenix get to the forefront of the national conversations and global conversations that are happening about the world's most pressing issues.
Ted Simons: Are there Ted-X Denver, Ted-X Seattle and these sorts of things?
Wardah Jamil: There are thousands of Ted-X events all over the world.
Ted Simons: And again, your group, you're involved. How did you get involved?
Wardah Jamil: I started as a volunteer when Ted-X Phoenix first started in 2009. Then I got more and more involved and ended up helping with organizing. We really have a passionate group of volunteers. It's a completely volunteer-run effort.
Ted Simons: It's sounds completely volunteer effort. Someone has to get the stage set. Where's the money coming from?
Wardah Jamil: The money comes from ticket sales. Then we have very generous partners and sponsors whose help us, as well, who really are part of the event as well.
Ted Simons: Is that one of the reasons we didn't have one last year? Was it hard to kind of wrangle that up at the time? What happened last year?
Wardah Jamil: So I think a lot of it has to do with just getting enough volunteers and having enough time to sort of plan events that take such time. Since it's not necessarily a conference, it's not a theater or play of any sort, but with all the details it takes a little time to put all that together.
Ted Simons: It sounds like it's kind of a glorified lecture, isn't it? Some guy would come through town and lecture about how he went to Africa and shot a rhino and something like that. Now it's all these ideas, kind of the same form, isn't it?
Wardah Jamil: At its heart it's about storytelling. We all love storytelling since the dawn of time, we love to hear stories. If people can connect their fields with stories, that is so powerful.
Ted Simons: Okay. When and where is this event?
Wardah Jamil: It is Sunday, this coming Sunday, April 26th at 2:00 p.m. at the Mesa Arts Center.
Ted Simons: Sounds fun, congratulations, good luck.
Wardah Jamil: Thank you.
Wardah Jamil:Lead Organizer, TEDxPhoenix;