Posts Categorized: Audience

Gearing Up For TEDX Grandview Ave 2014 [A Checklist]

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by Joe Vennare, Storyteller


What are you doing on April 26th, 2014?

Think about it.

Are you getting married? Will you be out of the country? Are you the guest of honor or headliner at a banquet of some sort?

No, you say! We’ll then, mark your calendar. You’re not going to want to miss what we have planned for you, Pittsburgh.

1. Check us out – Are you wondering what we’re all about? What we’ve been up to? What you can expect from us? No need to wonder, just keep reading. I’ll keep it short. Promise.

On April 26th we’ll open the doors to the New Hazlett theater. The audience (maybe you!) will take their seats. Then, the ideas and people moving Pittsburgh forward will take center stage. It’s not simply an event, it’s an experience intended to inspire and inform our city and its people.

2. Meet the team – The TEDxGrandviewAve team is working hard to create an event unlike any other in the Burgh. We’re a young, bootstrapping group of creatives and entrepreneurs. We love being inspired and inspiring others. Most of all, we love Pittsburgh. Take a minute to read our bios. And feel free to connect with us.

3. Go back in time – Did you know we had our first TEDxGVA event last year? It was amazing! See for yourself. Last year’s speakers and their presentations are featured on our website.

4. Show your support – If you like what you’re up to and want to get involved we’d love to get you input. Join the Community Board. Volunteer on the day of the event. Become a sponsor. Or, email us and tell us how you’d like to help.

5. Stay tuned – I know what you’re thinking, I wish it was April too! But, there’s still some time between now and the event. We should definitely stay in touch till then. Let’s connect on Facebook and Twitter. This way you won’t miss the huge announcements we’re going to me in the weeks to come. Like who the speakers are and when tickets go on sale. Kind of important, I now.

Why We Do What We Do

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by Joe Vennare, Storyteller

PGH love

From time to time someone will ask a TEDxGrandviewAve team member a question.

Right after we’ve fielded all of the “who is TED?” questions, everyone wants to know:

Why do you do this?

What do you get out of hosting this event?

These questions are simple enough, but the explanations are a little more involved.

First, if you’re thinking we do it for a paycheck, you’re wrong. The TEDxGrandviewAve team is an all volunteer squad. As a matter of fact, TED prohibits TEDx events from making a profit. All of the money we raise is put right back into the event. The speakers aren’t paid either. And no one, speaker or organizer, is permitted to pitch or sell anything.

Nope, money isn’t the motivator.

Then what is?

As the Q and A goes on, it becomes clear that we do it because we couldn’t imagine not doing it.

Does that make sense?

Yes, the planning, organizing, designing, fundraising, and marketing take a whole bunch of time and effort. But, the payoff is priceless.

“The event was Pittsburgh at its best: intimate, authentic, and inspiring.” - TEDxGrandviewAve 2013 Attendee

We get to have a hand in sharing ideas and inspiration, two very powerful things. And, because the TEDxGrandviewAve team and event is deeply rooted in Pittsburgh’s community, we’re focused on the people and ideas that are leading the way in our region. We want to showcase them and their ideas, we want to see just how far these ideas can spread.

So the not so simple, simple answer to the “why?” question.

We do it because we’re passionate about Pittsburgh and we’re passionate about making a difference. And people that do things out of passion, do them better.

But, there’s a catch. Something we don’t want you to overlook. It’s kind of the most important part of the event.

It’s not about us, it’s about you.

We’re just the platform; you are the next big thing.

We need your ideas, insights, and innovations.

So, tell us, what are you working on? And, don’t forget to answer an important question; “why do you do what you do?”


The best ideas are meant to be shared

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TEDx experience

Have you ever played telephone?

You know…

Everyone stands in a row. Then, a sentence or phrase is passed from one end of the line to the other. Anyone familiar with this game knows that this task is accomplished via a tried and true messaging system – the whisper. Usually, when the message reaches the end of the line the original statement is unrecognizable.

Sure telephone is a fun game, but it’s a terrible method for sharing ideas.

A better idea, about spreading ideas…

If you’re searching for new ideas, or you have some of your own that you’d like to share, we have a better approach than the whisper.

You see, we LOVE ideas!

We think that the best ideas, the kind worth spreading, aren’t meant to be whispered; they’re meant to be shared from high atop a mountain (Mt. Washington maybe?).

Trouble is it’s really hard to get your idea noticed; even if you scream.

Thankfully, TEDx is trying to change that. Officially, the “x” stands for independently organized, but at TEDxGrandviewAve the “X” could be a “U” because that’s what we’re all about, you – the community, the local voices redefining the Steel City.

How we’re spreading ideas

Of course coming up with an idea isn’t all that difficult, it’s spreading it that’s the real challenge. Lucky for you, we’re making it easier by providing the “who” and “how”.

WHO: Surround yourself with people that want to change the world. The rest will follow.

Exactly! That’s why we’re undertaking a thoughtful curation of speakers and attendees who listen to and engage with ideas on the local level.

HOW: Increase distribution channels

With all of the region’s change-makers and do-ers united under one roof, ideas, resources, and stories will flow freely. These conversations create a cooperative environment that sparks collaboration.

Take some advice from Harvard Medical School professor Nicholas Christakis who said; “Things don’t just diffuse in human populations at random. They actually diffuse through networks.”

You don’t have to tell us twice.

We’re doing our best to build a network of individuals and ideas that will inspire and inform our city and its people.

We hope you’ll join us. We can’t wait to hear all about your ideas.


The TEDx Experience

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While organizing TEDxGrandviewAve and imagining what our event would look like in February, I felt the urge to attend another TEDx event for some motivation. Last week, I had the opportunity to attend TEDxAkron, held at the University of Akron in Ohio. The organizer, Sam Falletta, generously offered me the chance to see their event in action.

One of my favorite things about TEDx is the community of organizers and teams. Our events all have one goal in common: giving you an experience to remember. Most event organizers and team members have attended a TED or TEDx event before and have experienced that incredible feeling of being able to view things differently or a whole new insight on a common life topic. It’s what you hear, see, and experience at a TEDx event that really gets your mind thinking, your eyes opened and your imagination going.

TEDxAkron’s theme was “uneXpected.” And unexpected it was. I took a harmonica lesson with the whole theater, cried watching the stories of homeless families, was asked “how much does my life weigh,” learned how a man hears colors, and listened to Olympic gymnast Dominique Moceanu’s life-changing story.

At the end of the event, I had pages and pages of notes, quotes and new thoughts written down. It was truly inspiring to see all of the attendees connect over this event brought to their community. Conversations were created over new ideas and speakers were given an opportunity to share their thoughts with the whole theater. It’s safe to say everyone walked away feeling the TEDx experience.

And since sharing is caring, I can’t help but to show some of my favorite talks and videos from the event.

Ted Senf: “Travel Light”

Ted (coincidence, huh?) spoke about what he learned on a hiking journey in Spain. Along the way he met locals that all taught him a different lessons from asking questions such as: “Where are we going so fast?” and “Why are we taking so much with us?” From this, Ted encouraged us to enjoy the journey, travel light and enjoy the moment.

Lynn Budnick: “Everyone has a story… some use cardboard to tell it.”

One of the most touching talks I’ve heard in awhile was by Lynn from ACCESS, a shelter for homeless single women and homeless mothers with their children. She talked about not just helping these women with basic necessities to survive, but giving them educational tools to help turn their lives around. Her talk concluded with an emotional video of the women’s success stories. There wasn’t a dry eye in the theater!

Marcel the Shell

In between all of the serious life thinking, we were pleasantly surprised with one of the most quirky little movies I’ve seen in awhile. How did I not see this YouTube star before?

Neil Harbisson: “I listen to color”

At TEDx events, usually a few TED conference videos are played to switch up the day of live speakers. In this talk, artist Neil Harbisson, speaks about being a “cyborg.” He was born completely color blind, but with the help of a device attached to his head, he now hears colors. Imagine being able to look at a Picasso painting and hear a symphony!

After reading about all that I learned at TEDxAkron, I hope that you will consider joining us for TEDxGrandviewAve in Pittsburgh! Many thanks to the TEDxAkron team for letting me join them for the day, great job by everyone involved! More information on their event can be found at


Innovation in Pittsburgh, by You

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Pittsburgh is home to nationally recognized brands, global research efforts and some of the latest technological innovations. They all started with ideas big and small, from life-changing to world-changing. So in a city with so many exciting new projects and incredible thinkers…why don’t we celebrate our ideas more?

With TEDxGrandviewAve we want to showcase ideas that are evolving the community around us. We want to bring you the voices that have revolutionized neighborhoods, healthcare, education and technology – just to name a few. But most of all, we want to reshape the way you think about and view the Pittsburgh region.

Behind TEDxGrandviewAve is a team of seven young professionals working together with community feedback and support from local industry leaders. We can’t thank everyone enough for all the support we’ve received during the past few months of planning.

If you’ve tweeted us, you’ve helped. If you’ve submitted a nomination for speakers, you’ve provided us with new ideas. Even if you’ve simply nodded your head and smiled at a local event as we go on our TED-inspired rant, we greatly appreciate your attention. Each time a new email comes in from strangers thanking us for organizing this event, we become even more motivated to bring you this exciting event. Very soon we will announce the final program content, and we cannot wait to share it with you!

In the meantime, we’ve taken all the responses from our invitation question, “what do you hope to get out of this TEDx event?” and put them all into perspective. The largest words are the ones that are repeated most often.  We ask this question of everyone requesting an invite to TEDxGrandviewAve, and so many had great stories, hopes and ambitions for our community.

We hope their words will encourage you to join us at “The Edge of Innovation.”