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TEDxDirigo: RISE State Theatre, Portland, Maine


What is the difference between TEDxDirigo, TEDx, and TED?


TEDxDirigo was co-founded in 2010 as a world-class platform to celebrate innovation and creativity in Maine. In the same spirit of the state motto, TEDxDirigo leads the way with ideas from Maine’s brightest innovators and changemakers. Our goal is for TEDxDirigo to be a catalyst for positive change in the state and world, where new ideas are supported for the greater good of all. Through the popular and effective TED Talk format, we have inspired hundreds of live audience members and hundreds of thousands online across the globe.

TEDxDirigo is lovingly created each year by a passionate team of volunteers.


About TEDx

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)


About TED

TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California 25 years ago, TED has grown to support those world-changing ideas with multiple initiatives. The annual TED Conference invites the world’s leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes. Their talks are then made available, free, at TED.com. TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Al Gore, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Isabel Allende and former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The annual TED Conference takes place each spring in Long Beach, California, along with the TEDActive simulcast in Palm Springs; the annual TEDGlobal conference is held each summer in Edinburgh, Scotland.

TED’s media initiatives include TED.com, where new TEDTalks are posted daily, the recently launched TED-Ed platform for students and educators, the Open Translation Project, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as the ability for any TEDTalk to be translated by volunteers worldwide, and TEDBooks, short e-books by speakers that elaborate on a single idea originally presented on TED’s stage. TED has established the annual TED Prize, where exceptional individuals with a wish to change the world are given the opportunity to put their wishes into action; TEDx, which offers individuals or groups a way to host local, self-organized events around the world, and the TED Fellows program, helping world-changing innovators from around the globe to become part of the TED community and, with its help, amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.

What’s a Maine Idea Worth Spreading?

A Maine Idea Worth Spreading provides an innovative contribution to a field, or enhances the quality of life in our state and beyond. It has a connection to Maine whether that is the person, topic or issue. It’s the kind of idea that promotes integrity, celebrates humanity, and expresses human beauty.

It’s the kind of idea that gets you thinking and keeps you talking.

Are you a non-profit?

TEDxDirigo is an independently organized event that works with Treehouse Institute as its 501(c)(3) nonprofit partner organization. Through this partnership, tax-deductible gifts and grants can be made to TEDxDirigo to support TEDxDirigo’s mission to celebrate and cultivate creativity and innovation in Maine. The mission of Treehouse Institute is to connect people, places, and ideas. In turn, these connections foster more resilient and prosperous communities.

Are you employed by TED?

No. While we operate under a license from TED and are intimately involved with the ecosystem that is TED, including with TEDx organizers around the world, TEDxDirigo is a volunteer-based initiative.

All volunteers? Really?

Yes, everyone on the organizing team is a volunteer and has been since TEDxDirigo was launched in 2010 —from the people that curate our program, design our advertisements, coach our speakers, manage our social media, and more. Depending on the event venue and structure we do pay vendors for professional services such as catering and video production.

What does “curate” mean?

When we refer to “curating” an event, we are basically referencing the same values that are inherent in the process of requesting an invitation to attend the event—being thoughtful and intentional about the experience. We ask you to be intentional about why you want to come and what you hope to get out of the day; likewise, we are intentional about every aspect of the day—from the tangible elements of the day like the physical space of the event and the food to the thematic elements of the day like speaker selection and the cross-section of ideas that they represent. The funny thing about the way we curate our events, though, is that what we are actually aiming for with all of our specificity and intentionality is randomness—the kinds of random collisions of people, ideas, and conversations that make you wonder if there isn’t really a little bit of magic in the world after all.

How do you select your speakers?

Anyone can nominate himself or herself (or anyone else) at any time, and we look at every nomination that comes in. In the past we have also held tryouts, but are not currently doing so.

At any point we’re working from a list of more than 150 potential presenters, and we use that list to generate shortlists that are reviewed by the internal team (specifically by Adam Burk, Tim Ferrell, Heather Hudson, and Ariel Hall), as well as by a cross section of experts across the state.

We look for speakers who deserve a bigger audience—the outliers and the relatively unknown. We also look for people who are well established in their field, but maybe have a new take on a familiar idea that’s especially timely. We look for speakers and ideas that have a significant connection to Maine, but we don’t want to become overly insular, so we consider a few speakers from outside the state, too.

Really, though, what we look for is that visceral reaction that gets you in the gut and leaves you saying, “Wow. That’s an incredible idea.”

Why $100?

TEDxDirigo is a self-renewing event. All of the proceeds from each event go back into producing the event itself—and if there is money left over, it goes into producing the next event. The actual cost of a ticket is upwards of $700, but we work to bring down the ticket cost through our volunteer team and event sponsors.

Besides the day of the event itself, our intention is also to connect you to the larger TEDxDirgo community through contact sharing, post-event lunches, potlucks, and coffee chats, and early bird registration opportunities for upcoming TEDxDirigo events.

A day at a TEDxDirigo event is meant to be exceptional. We put on a world-class event with a high production value because we want to tell the stories of Maine in the best way possible. We believe in the value of what we offer at our events—right down to the last crumb of our locally sourced and unusually good food.

Does TEDxDirigo offer scholarships to attend events?

Yes, we do. So far, we have never had to deny any attendee a scholarship. We are committed to providing scholarships for those who wouldn’t otherwise be able to attend. You can request a scholarship here.

We also live webcast our events and all of our talks are uploaded to YouTube, all available for free.

How do I attend a TEDxDirigo event?

Join our mailing list, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter to make sure you get notified when tickets are on sale for an upcoming TEDxDirigo event! Then just head over to our registration page to sign up!