The Rapidian

Independent TEDx conference to come to Grand Rapids


Underwriting support from:



Grand Rapids Civic Theatre

For maps, parking, and directions please visit their website


May 12, 2011

9am-6pm, after parties at 6:30pm

Requests for invites cost $85 + $20 for food

To request an invitation, or to find out more information, please visit TEDxGrandRapids website

All potential sponsors may contact Nick Pickrel at [email protected].

The planners at a meeting

The planners at a meeting /TEDxGrandRapids

Steve Frazee

Steve Frazee /TEDxGrandRapids

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design. A TEDx conference, which works to spread “ideas worth sharing,” is currently being independently organized for Grand Rapids by Steve Frazee and Nick Pickrel. Frazee said that TEDxGrandRapids is like a like a conference between some of the smartest people on earth mingled with a broadway show. By catalyzing conversations among 500 thought-leaders in the area, via  internationally and locally renowned speakers, Frazee sees this conference as being an instrument in the development of new ideas for West Michigan, in technology, the arts, design, and other disciplines. Frazee explains what he believes could happen during one of the conference’s breaks, “Maybe something amazing will come out of two people sitting next to each other at our event. They each have an idea. A third idea comes from the stage. It all mixes together and suddenly there’s a sustainable fabulous new idea that gets born right there. Or, maybe it will happen a week later, but at least we’re trying to get it going.” By setting the atmosphere for new ideas to born, Frazee envisions the event as a tool for these thought-leaders to go back into their worlds and create change.

The nonprofit organization, TED, allows independent events to be organized (thus the “x”)  in the spirit of the organization. Its themes are now broader, including business, science, culture, arts, and global issues. TED conferences are in Long Beach and are simulcast to Palm Springs, California. TEDGlobal occurs in Oxford, UK. An official TED conference runs for four days. However, plans for TEDxGrandRapids include one day of TEDtalks and sixteen live speakers. These idea generators are either internationally renowned motivators or are innovators from the Michigan area who will deliver the same thought-provoking energy found in a TED event. TEDx events have included past speakers such as Melinda Gates, co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (TEDxChange in New York), Lesley Hazelton, psychologist, reporter, and writer who examines the roots of conflict between Christianity, Judaism, and Islam (TEDxRainier), and John Gerzema, a highly experienced consumer data analyst who advocates change in brand management to maximize results (TEDxKC). Each speaker is given about 18 minutes to present their piece.

The event, which is set to take place in May 2011, will be structured around the theme “Innovate X.” The conference will be held at the Grand Rapids Civic Theatre and will be broken up into four sessions, each with its own related theme. The organizers are currently planning on hosting sixteen speakers, three musical guests, a lunch, and a reception. Concerning the speakers, Frazee remarked that “we’re very blessed to get such tremendous response.” Now, Frazee and his planning team are working out of this luxury to create the best possible experience for the event. When the speakers have been finalized, the themes of these sessions will be unveiled.  In keeping with the innovative spirit of the event, the lunch will include water in cartons, and also some snacks, donated by Grand Central Market. Another sponsor has donated a space for the planners to set up their headquarters. Dozens more sponsors have already stepped up to help with the event, and more are welcome to take part. Also, there is a surprise in store for the reception that has the organizers quite excited.

While TED invitation requests cost $6000 each, a request for invitation to TEDxGrandRapids costs $85 with an additional $20 for lunch. Seating will be limited; TEDxGrandRapids, at its discretion, will reserve 150 seats for their individually selected invites. Frazee hopes that TEDxGrandRapids will become an annual event in which the ideas worth sharing are spread throughout West Michigan

The Rapidian, a program of the 501(c)3 nonprofit Community Media Center, relies on the community’s support to help cover the cost of training reporters and publishing content.

We need your help.

If each of our readers and content creators who values this community platform help support its creation and maintenance, The Rapidian can continue to educate and facilitate a conversation around issues for years to come.

Please support The Rapidian and make a contribution today.

Comments, like all content, are held to The Rapidian standards of civility and open identity as outlined in our Terms of Use and Values Statement. We reserve the right to remove any content that does not hold to these standards.