TEDx Doi Suthep

 |  April 27, 2011

Somewhere in your inbox crammed with viral ‘world’s funniest’ videos of cats dancing to death metal and granny punch-ups you may find you have also been the recipient of the rather heady TED videos, where world renowned thinkers and savants from the streets discuss their ideas in front of an audience of a hundred people and you, the online viewer.

TED is a non-profit organisation that’s been around for 25 years. Started in California, the event now shows in locations throughout the US and also in Oxford, UK. Bill Gates, Julian Assange, Bono and Jane Goodall are amongst hundreds who have graced the TED stage. For the first time ever, and only for the third time in Thailand, TED’s sister programme (something like its export version) called TEDx, will be available in Chiang Mai.

TEDx, while still affiliated with ‘TED’, is a localised ‘independently organised event’, giving cities all over the world the opportunity to put some of their best minds on stage and of course up on YouTube and TEDx’s own websites. Even though TED provides ‘assistance and guidance’ to TEDx the affiliate programmes are not directly involved with TED staff, TEDx events are organised locally. Chiang Mai’s first TEDx event, TEDxDoiSuthep (the name was chosen because of the symbolic nature of the mountain) will be held on May 22nd at the Chiang Mai University art faculty’s auditorium. The speakers confirmed (time of writing) are: Peggy and Jo from Pun Pun on sustainable organic farming; Chatsumarn Kabilsingh, ordained Buddhist monk nominated for the Nobel Peace Award talking about ‘rediscovering female potentiality’; Laura Spector and Chadwick Gray of ArtSpace talking about collaborative art; Richard Barber of the Makhampon Foundation talking about their project in Chiang Dao; and James Fuller, photographer, on his work on a Burmese Karen family fleeing Burma to Buffalo and photographing the vagaries of their relocations.

Katherine LeRoy and Sheila Pham, both of whom are living and working in Chiang Mai, are responsible for bringing TEDx to Chiang Mai.

“TED is open to the world,” they explain, “you can apply for a license and if you fulfill their requirements you can hold an event.” They tell Citylife that in Bangkok two TEDx events have already happened, and so the two women thought about “opening the door” to TEDx in Chiang Mai. Even though at this particular event there will be no Thai speakers, Le Roy and Pham both express that they are hoping in the future that more Thais will be represented.

“It’s essentially to spread ideas, to inspire people,” they both acknowledge, and explain how Martin Venzky-Stalling from Chiang Mai Creative City has been a loadstone in putting the event together. “Many people are working with us,” they say, adding that “Alex Boyesen from Digital Mixes is working on filming the event and has been instrumental in making TEDx happen.”
“We live in a really vibrant city and it’s home to some really creative and motivated people,” the two TEDx organisers tell Citylife, and they both hope that once this event is finished someone else will take up the mantle and organise more TEDx events in the future. “It takes a lot of time and effort,” they say, “but at no cost.” Anyone, providing you meet TED’s requirements, can hold an event. The emphasis can be on anything you want: technology, preservation, restauranteurship, the meaning of our lives, or the psychology of animals, as long as you are spreading forth new ideas.

TEDxDoiSuthep will be available online.
To become part of the TEDxDoiSuthep audience visit their website for details.
www.ted.com; www.tedxdoisuthep.com