"In Tune" with an Innovative Community

I’m privileged to be helping my new community in Nashville with the upcoming TEDxNashville event on April 15 and 16, 2016. Back when I was with NASA, I joined a small group of rebels led by Steve Craft at NASA Langley Research Center to create the first TEDxNASA event in 2009. The theme was “Space to Create.” The concept of independently organized TEDx events came from the Chris Anderson and the larger TED team that originally created the world-famous TED Conference and talks featured at TED.com.

The letters in "TED" stand for “Technology, Entertainment and Design” and while NASA was very comfortable with technology, and striving to stay cutting-edge in the realm of design, the “entertainment” part of the equation was a bit harder to sell. At the time, NASA leadership was cautious to make sure the public didn’t think the agency was wasting taxpayer dollars by funding musicians, poets or artists to perform. Our presenters didn't charge a fee for performing. And, while the large, traditional TED events could cost several thousands of dollars to attend, it was tough for some to grasp that we were making the TEDxNASA event accessible for everyone - scientists, doctors, construction workers, artists and musicians.

NASA has long inspired the public through their missions, but also through their commitment to ongoing creativity and innovation. (I used to work closely with the folks at NASA HQ who published the yearly “NASA Spinoff” magazine that helped the public understand how NASA technology improves life here on Earth as well as space, but that’s a story I’ll save for another post.) Our hope for TEDxNASA was to invite a broad range of creative speakers who in essence could “create more dots of innovation for NASA employees to connect.”

You see, technology, entertainment and design don’t always fall into neat and clear categories. For instance, the technology called “Autotune” that’s commonly used to help keep singers from going too sharp or flat in the studio (you know who they are) was derived from technology originally developed to fix faulty seismic monitoring instrumentation for the oil industry. The speakers we had at the first TEDxNASA and five other subsequent events ranged from artists to aerospace engineers to folks that spent their life helping others enhance their creativity.

The speakers slated for TEDxNashville are no less compelling. On April 15, attendees will hear innovative talks that will let you see into the future of healthcare and health.  On April 16, you'll be inspired by a wide variety of exciting topics including forward-thinking talks aimed at breaking the national trend of negative commentary.

The TEDxNashville folks get it. They understand that hip hop artists, world-renowned doctors and paleoanthropologists can all offer “Ideas Worth Spreading.”

You can find out more about TEDxNashville, including the 2016 speaker lineup at http://tedxnashville.com. I hope I'll see you there.

Meanwhile, treat yourself to some inspiration by revisiting one of my favorite TEDxNASA talks from way back in 2009 by Gregg Fraley on YouTube at this link. Gregg says “If you want to have great ideas, it comes easily when you really care about what you are working on.” At Quindar Media, that’s proven to be true every day. I’m thankful to be a part of TEDxNashville this year and proud to be able to contribute to a community event that I truly care about. 

- Timothy Allen, Quindar Media, LLC