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Published: Saturday, 9/17/2011 - Updated: 3 years ago

Sold-out event at BGSU shows ideas sprouting into actions

Popular TEDx conference visits NW Ohio

Artists, CEOs and comedians took the stage at Bowling Green University's Kobacker Hall on Friday. 640 people attended the sold out event. Artists, CEOs and comedians took the stage at Bowling Green University's Kobacker Hall on Friday. 640 people attended the sold out event.

BOWLING GREEN — Notebook in her lap, Woodmore High School biology teacher Ellen Saffran jotted notes as artists and CEOs and comedians took the stage at Bowling Green State University’s Kobacker Hall Friday.

She was among 640 people who had tickets for the sold-out TEDx conference, an independently organized version of the popular TED —Technology, Entertainment and Design — conference. TED’s motto: ideas worth sharing.

“I’m a huge fan of TED,” Ms. Saffran said. “The TED program gives people money for ideas and wishes implemented on a big scale. It’s mind-blowing. I appreciate pushing for good.”

Among the 18 live presentations — all limited to 18 minutes — presenters spoke on topics as weighty as “Empowering entrepreneurs globally to end poverty” to as whimsical as “What I learned about life while standing in the middle of Times Square in my bathing suit.”

The idea? Ideas — lots of ideas related to the conference’s theme: Passion. Inspiration. Action.

Jim Kukral’s idea: Identify what it is that makes you happy and do it. For him, a formerly stressed-out marketing executive, it was fishing.

Michael Szuberla, Toledo Grows program director, talked about turning problems into solutions — taking jobless inner-city youths, teaching them to raise vegetables and chickens, and helping feed people.

Kids who take care of animals become better parents, he said. Kids who spend time outdoors are calmer, happier.

“As people are talking, all of a sudden you think of something and write it down. ‘I could use this idea,’ ” said Cory Dippold, associate executive director of Leadership Toledo and TEDx attendee.

“The topics are very broad, but it’s very interesting,” Maryellen French of Bay Village, Ohio, said.

Her husband and business partner, Barry French, was among the presenters. Other chief executive officers in the line-up were Jim Haudan of Root Learning and Michael Thaman of Owens Corning.

BGSU senior Skyler Rogers, curator of the event, said about half of the presenters at BGSU were from the region; the other half came from across the country. None was paid for his or her presentation.

The TED brand has been unbelievably powerful in pulling people in who otherwise wouldn’t come to campus for free,” he said.

Mr. Rogers said video recordings of the 18 presentations would be submitted for consideration “by the TED people” for placement on ted.com, the wildly popular Web site where hundreds of such talks are posted. The nonprofit organization offers a competition among speakers called The TED Prize, in which the winner is given $100,000 and the winning topic, or wish, is unveiled at an awards program at TED’s annual conference.

BGSU President Mary Ellen Mazey confessed she had not heard of TED before Mr. Rogers paid her a visit, but she’s a fan now. The event, which was licensed by TED, was planned and carried out by Mr. Rogers and a team of volunteers.

“All you have to do is listen to the students and they come up with these great ideas, and they implement them,” she said. “We’re the first university in the state of Ohio to host a TEDx event.”

Using $2,900 from the BGSU Foundation, Ms. Mazey purchased 100 tickets that were distributed to students through Mr. Rogers and the Undergraduate Student Government.

“People came from all over the country. It is putting northwest Ohio on the map. I love it,” Ms. Mazey said.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at:jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-724-6129.

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