College to host TEDx conference on ‘impact’

MIDDLEBURY — How much can you learn in less than 18 minutes?
When the popular lecture series TEDx comes to town on Oct. 2, the Middlebury College community will answer that question.
At the conference, about a dozen speakers will address the theme “How we started from idea to impact.” In keeping with the spirit of the world famous Technology, Entertainment Design (TED) conferences, which the TEDx series grew out of, the speakers will limit their talks to 18 minutes or shorter.
Author Ted Conover, a Pulitzer Prize finalist, and Chris Waddell, a member of the U.S. disabled ski team who climbed Mount Kilimanjaro in a handcycle, will be among those condensing stories for the fast tempo of the conference.
Middlebury College students are organizing the event here, which will take place over the course of one full day — from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
 The original TED conferences were small events that encouraged schmoozing between speakers and audience members. For that reason, TEDx limits audience at its events to 100 people, and the Middlebury conference will only be open to members of the college community.
“The idea is for people to experience the TED vibe,” said Cloe Shasha, a Middlebury College senior organizing the event. “TED conferences are so engaging both because of the way that they are organized — with 18 minute speeches grouped together based on unifying themes — and because of the speakers and attendees themselves.”
The Middlebury TEDx conference will differ from TED in one major respect: the cost to those who attend. Audience members at the annual TED conference pay thousands of dollars for the privilege, while organizers of the local TEDx said the admission fee would be much, much less (though haven’t yet settle on a figure).
In Middlebury, Frank Sesno, a former CNN Washington bureau chief and anchor will speak about Planet Forward, a website he created to encourage people to reduce their carbon footprints.
Astri von Arbin Ahlander and Liz Kofman, two recent Middlebury College graduates, in their presentation will tell the story of the Lattice Group, a campaign they founded to look into how young professionals approach life in the workforce. 
Organizers will post video footage of the event online through TEDx and Middlebury College. Both the TED and the TEDx websites have become popular in the past few years — visitors seek out talks by Al Gore, Bill Gates and Jane Goodall, among many others.
In fact, it was the TED website that inspired Shasha to contact TEDx and put on an event in Middlebury.
Although the event organizers haven’t yet announced many of their speakers, they have revealed that Sierra Murdoch, the founder of the organization Power Past Coal, will discuss her various initiatives, including the reporting she has done on mountaintop removal mining in Virginia.
She will participate in the “Action for the Environment” section of the event. Speakers in other sections will present talks under the themes of “From an Idea to a Book,” “Creating a Dialogue” and “A Physical Mission.”
Reporter George Altshuler is at [email protected].

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