TED Talks at SMC

"TED Talks," known for bringing innovative tech-world thinkers forward to discuss relevant issues, is coming to Santa Monica College in the form of SMC TEDx, a new club that ventures to produce a full TED Talk. TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design, initially began as a conference meant for people in the three respective fields to amalgamate. The project quickly received an enthusiastic response, and has since then expanded to provide people all around the world with award-winning videos of enlightened individuals exploring today’s most novel concepts in what have come to be known as “TED Talks.”

TED Talks videos have been viewed more than a billion times, as of November 2012, according to the TED website.

SMC students Jon Kent Ethridge II and brothers Ali and Hasun Khan, founders of the new club SMC TEDx, set out to bring the renowned talks to the college. After the idea emerged last spring, they held their first meeting. Having met over the summer to hash out the game plan, they are now in the process of planning an event here on campus to take place by the end of the spring semester.

Ethridge said everyone who is in the club is an activist who cares, and that they were happy with the platform TED offers to share ideas with a large group of people.

"We just want to make sure it's really inspiring," Ethridge said.

In response to the growing demand, TED has begun allowing for anyone interested in applying to open their own TED chapter, where they would be responsible for hosting local TED Talks. After meeting some requirements and accepting a few terms, prospective chapters can obtain an official license, which is valid for one year.

Although the license was free, Hasun Khan said it was a challenge, and that the process took nine weeks overall. With their new license, the SMC chapter can hold sanctioned events anywhere in Santa Monica. In addition, they have the ability to coordinate with other chapters across the country.

The club began the meeting via Face-Time with their adviser, Wilfred Doucet, an English professor at SMC. With a grey beard, and dreadlocks, Doucet, who also advises Phi Theta Kappa, could be seen via an iPad that was propped up on a desk at the front of the room.

Looking for a space that offers a more intimate setting where a group of about 100 people could gather, the five students considered venues like The Broad Stage or the Studio Stage at the main campus.

SMC TEDx aspires to invite eight to 10 speakers who are “local heroes” and “people that have accomplished great things within their community," said Ethridge.

One of their ideas is to invite students to vote for a professor to speak online.

SMC TEDx has so far considered three people as speakers Walter Myers, head of the SMC art history department, Nick Kislinger, senior adviser of the Global Impact Institute, and Paul Glover, who is responsible for the oldest and largest local currency system still operating in the U.S., out of Ithica, N.Y.

The club said they would like the environment of their talk to encourage the lecturer to speak candidly. Club leaders also hope to take the club online.

"We are working on the website so that people can really see what we are actually doing as far as the actual event," said Ethridge.

With only one female, 23-year-old theater major Ivette Martinez, SMC TEDx members have said they need more girls to join the club.

When asked what their biggest worry is in taking on a project as huge as TED, Ethridge showed little concern.

"Honestly, we try not to fear but to preserve," he said.

NewsNathan BerookhimComment