PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — TEDx Portland turned 4 Saturday, and it did not disappoint.
Thousands filled downtown’s Keller Auditorium for the information- and inspiration-based conference — just under 3,000, according to TEDx Portland organizers, triple last year’s turnout.
Fourteen speakers and three performers took center stage from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with a very happy Happy Hour opening up onto Keller Fountain Park afterward.
Between a first-class set — complete with a 3D honeycomb display — consistently top-trending Twitter hashtags, and a popular rumor TEDx’ers temporarily brought down Instagram, Saturday’s event was one for the books.
Here are some of the biggest takeaways from TEDx Portland 2014.
Great Things are Happening
The people of Portland, the city many of the day’s speakers call home, are talented. There’s Aaron Draplin, the Detroit-raised designer with a full laugh and even bustier portfolio.
Or Nong Poonsukwattana, owner of “Nong’s Khao Man Ghai.” A Thai immigrant who moved to America 11 years ago with only $17 to her name, Poonsukwattana’s story is one of dedication and courage. (Her food is nothing to sneeze at, either.)
The skilled Jackson Gariety, a 17-year-old Portland native who started a coding class at Grant High School before dropping out to focus on his love for computer programming.
Gariety, who said Saturday he had aspired to be the next Mark Zuckerberg up until recently, now refers to programming as an art form. To him, “the world of programming can be beautiful,” and he wants others to know it too.
How about Cody Goldberg, who, together with his wife, founded “Harper’s Playground,” a North Portland playground paradise for children of all abilities. The Goldbergs’ daughter, Harper, was born with Emanuel Syndrome, leading the couple to delve into the playground passion project after finding the majority of playgrounds ill-suited and insufficient.
Harper’s Playground’s mantra: “A more inclusive world, one playground at a time.”
Moore deserves a category of his own.
The 91-year-old WWII veteran strode onto the stage proudly wearing his Army uniform, his heart of gold shining right through the fabric.
Moore, an Army sergeant who was on the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, shared moments of personal tragedy — the passing of his daughter — and stories of the horrors of war, but spoke with a gentle spirit about the love of his life, Jeanne.
Frank and Jeanne wed in 1943 and hope to celebrate 75 years of marriage together in “3 or 4 years,” according to Frank.
Moore also passed on years of wisdom, telling a captivated audience: “there is no impossible dream,” “you must work hard at the art of living,” and “don’t be afraid of receiving love.”
Moore’s time ended with his wife joining him on stage to a standing ovation. The pair lovingly embraced, waving goodbye as they left.
It’s Not All Talk
TED might be known for its lectures, but that’s only one facet of what makes the event special. TED itself stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design, and Saturday’s entertainment more than held up its end of the bargain.
The smooth sounds of Al James, a singer-songwriter born and raised in Oregon, melded perfectly with the tone of the day.
A performance from the Oregon Ballet Theatre came next, with principal dancer Allison Roper and former OBT principal dancer Artur Sultanov sweeping across the floor to Nicolo Fonte’s critically acclaimed “Bolero.”
And then there was Portland’s own Blitzen Trapper, a country folk band that’s been touring the Pacific Northwest and the rest of the western world for more than a decade. The band was the last to play at TEDx Portland 2014, a perfect crescendo to a jam-packed entertainment installment.
(Note: It’s true. Grammy Award-winning Ben Haggerty, aka Macklemore, was a main attraction Saturday, though not as a performer. The 30-year-old Seattle rapper instead took part in a Q and A session, discussing his troubled history with substance abuse and his stance as a gay marriage advocate.)
TEDx is Growing
Early on in the day, TEDx chief curator and executive producer David Rae polled the audience, asking how many people were at their first TEDx Portland. Hands shot up immediately, reflecting the rapid growth of TEDx in Portland and around the world.
TED has been around for 30 years, but TEDx — licensed through TED but organized solely through local channels — is still brand new, launching in 2009. Portland got in on the game early, hosting its first in 2011.
Since then, TEDx has exploded in popularity, with more than 9,000 licensed events since its creation, according to Rae. That’s an average of eight TEDx events a day worldwide.
It Takes a Village
Given this is the fourth go-around for TEDx Portland, it may seem like the event’s now a well-oiled machine. But, as Rae said throughout the day Saturday, it wouldn’t be possible without the support of the community.
TEDx 2014 partnered with dozens of Portland-area businesses, made evident by the endless supply of gift bag-like items handed out to each TEDx attendee.
Water, snacks and some on-the-house after-party alcohol were also provided. Stumptown Coffee alone donated $30,000 in coffee for the event, according to Rae.
Get Ready for TEDx Portland 2015