Is There Room for Two TEDx Events in the Twin Cities?

As promised early, I am writing a post on my experience with both TEDx Mill City and TEDx Twin Cities. Surprisingly, I'm also publishing this a bit earlier than expected which is very out of character given my recent blogging habits.

At first I questioned the necessity of having two TEDx events nearly within a month of each other here in Minneapolis and St. Paul. TEDx Twin Cities was held in early May and TEDx Mill City was in mid June. Even as I arrived at the later I still wasn't so sure. By the time everyone was sipping on their Fat Tires and rum & cokes during the post event schmoozing I saw the merits for having both.

TEDx Twin Cities
This was the much larger and public of the two. With this one I helped with registration and guiding those of whom were lost. It was held at the Science Museum in St. Paul and had tickets for sale which sold out in about six hours I believe. It cost $20 or $10 depending on if you were in the live auditorium or satellite room, much less than the official TED conference. The turnout was in the mid hundreds meaning there were plenty of people to talk to about the speakers afterwards.

Moving from last year's free ticket model to this year's paid ticket model was definitely a smart move. It helps pay for a better space, more food & drinks, and limits the amount of "no shows". There wasn't much PR before the event so it seemed like most people who showed up knew someone involved with the project directly or like me, a die hard TED fan. I'd like to see the ticket price doubled and really make a push for getting the word out there that TEDx Twin Cities is coming up. That way there's a much more diverse crowd in attendance and the price point will be high enough that you won't get people who are bored and happen to see tickets for sale. With a slightly higher ticket price the potential for a bigger space, higher attendance, and more drinks follows. I think that'll make everyone involved a happy person.

Lead Coordinator: Chadburn Blomquist
Speakers: Art Rolnick, Terrie Rose, and Peter Benson

TEDx Mill City
Mill City was an invite only event held at the Guthrie on the 9th floor. The Amber Box's view was incredible and definitely set a mood for the event. I had the opportunity to help with photographing the "X-Men" prior to everyone showing up. The reactions we garnered from anyone fortunate enough to stumble onto us was probably the best part of the photo shoot. Afterwards, I tweeted from the TEDx Mill City account with the occasional quote or thought bubble from our three presenters.

This much smaller crowd and space was fantastic for being able to hold a good conversation before moving on. Because of this, I had the opportunity to speak with two of the presenters and find a couple acquaintances. I'm much more of a get together with a couple buddies at the bar and shoot the shit kind of guy, over going to a big party where you talk to everyone, but you don't make that same level of connection. Figuring out who to invite and who to pass on must have been a difficult task, especially in a city like Minneapolis where it seems as though everybody knows everyone. If done correctly, you'd have people who have the desire and means to make changes getting together with other like-minded people. Creating these connections comes much easier with this smaller crowd as well. On the other hand you could simply be paying for people to drink for free without anything coming from it. Measuring this event's success on that level would be a difficult chore, but if anyone if anyone figure out how I'd love to see the results.

Lead Coordinator: Gestalt Now
Speakers: Captain Dale Dye, Phil Equist, and Rick Valicenti

To Sum it All Up
I think these two styles of TED have reasons to coexist within the same general area. Both TEDs draw different kinds of people and offer benefits that are unique to one another. Although, ideally I'd like to see them spread out over the year rather than one right after the other. I know TEDx Twin Cities has plans to become a semi-annual event, but I'm not sure on the future plans for TEDx Mill City. If they could coordinate with one another and spread the events out over the course of the year there's the potential for it catching on in the Twin Cities and becoming a real source for innovative thinking on a local level.

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