Surely you’ve heard of TED: the technology/entertainment/design conference that’s known for amazing presentations by really (really!) smart people. TED curator Chris Anderson this year announced that the nonprofit was licensing its name to small local events. Tod Martin, founder of Unboundary, an Atlanta-based design studio, took Anderson up on it, and TEDxAtlanta took place yesterday afternoon.

FOH Sam Harrison scored one of just 100 invitations and shared this report:

When Tod Martin, Unboundary CEO, attended the TED Conference this year, he was awed by the performance of Eric Lewis, a NYC musician who channels the raw emotion of alternative rock into take-no-prisoners jazz piano pieces.

To inspire Unboundary team members and clients, Martin decided to have Lewis perform at the firm’s Atlanta headquarters and began making arrangements for Lewis’s visit. But then came an announcement from Chris Anderson that TED would start licensing independently organized TEDx events, and Martin decided to expand his plans and host a TEDxAtlanta. The 100-person guest list included designers, artists, strategists, journalists, authors, chefs, food critics, business leaders, city and new urbanism developers, educators, investors, social capitalists, etc. He had a long waiting list of others wanting to attend.

Martin had no specific theme for the event (although talks leaned heavily toward sustainability); his goal was to bring together influential speakers and city residents to envision possibilities for Atlanta’s and America’s future.

There were nine participants/speakers (plus chef Shane Touhy, who served creative interpretations of grits during the late-afternoon wine tasting). As with the TED Conference, each speaker had an 18-minute slot to present his/her ideas. They included:

Musician Eric Lewis, who played various selections to open and close the event.

Ciannat Howett, sustainability director at Emory University, who shared her successful plan of building the USA’s greenest university

Dr. Richard Farson, author of “The Power of Design” and a psychologist and educator

Documentary filmmaker Justin de Leon, who previewed his newest documentary, “Give to Live”

By hosting this TEDx event, Martin further positioned Unboundary as an intelligent, creative, concerned organization. It was energizing just to be in the same space with 100 imaginative, influential people. And the speakers were top-notch—entertaining, inspiring, educational. In each of their 18-minute talks, they pointed out challenges we face, but, more importantly, offered visions, directions and solutions. A great afternoon of ideas, interaction and entertainment.

Below, from left: Justin de Leon, Greg Lindsay, Dr. Keith Eigel, Dr. Carl Hodges, Dr. Richard Farson.

Posted by Bryn