Wednesday, June 3, 2015

TEDxCLE 2015

TEDxCLE 2015 descends upon Cleveland in just a few days! (Friday at the Cleveland Museum of Art, to be exact.) This year's diverse roster of speakers includes an urban poet, a playwright/transgender advocate, a Guggenheim Fellow, a children's rights activist, a chef/food educator and world-renown doctorThere is so much passion and talent in this city and so many change-the-world kind of ideas circulating. I can't wait to immerse myself in this exchange and walk away inspired.

Founded by husband-and-wife team Eric Kogelschatz and Hallie Bram Kogelschatz, TEDxCLE is in its sixth year and raising the bar with the theme, "Untold." As a storyteller myself, I'm particularly invested in this year's subject.

I recently pulled Hallie away from her beyond-busy schedule to share what we can expect. Thanks Hallie for your time. Looking forward to seeing Cleveland shine!


Jennifer Cho Salaff (JCS): TEDxCLE is coming up! What can we expect this year?
Hallie Bram Kogelschatz (HBK): This year -- the event's 6th -- is really exciting for Eric and I and we have the opportunity to explore a theme that is very important to Cleveland's future. At least, in our humble opinion!  The theme is "Untold," giving us a chance to talk about topics that are lesser mentioned, focusing on speakers that may not be widely heard from, or if they do speak regularly, they're talking about topics that are critical but have not shared publicly in the past. In many cases, these are topics that separate us from being a world-class city. It's really getting to the core of where Cleveland finds herself in the process of reinvention. 

JCS: In what ways have you seen the event grow?
HBK: Each year there is more and more demand for tickets. We sold out again the day the tickets went on sale! [This] showcases the curious nature of our region's citizens.

JCS: You and Eric are passionate about Cleveland's revitalization and bringing TED here seems to be a part of that. Tell me how it's been important for the city.
HBK: Through TEDxCLE we have had the opportunity to share stories with those within the region as well as outside its boundaries. Our speakers have seen their talks syndicated nationally and in some cases, globally. It's wonderful to be a part of a group of people that is working tirelessly to change the narrative around what it means to be a Clevelander in the modern age.

JCS: Let's talk about this year's theme, "Untold." The premise is exploring stories in Cleveland that "need to be looked at differently, more intensely." I love that! How did your team come up with that?
HBK: Each year as we reflect on the previous year and think about future programming we ask ourselves, "Is there a need for another TEDxCLE event?" We want our event to be useful, to accurately reflect the zeitgeist of our city. We try to present topics that are not being explored. When we began TEDxCLE that was an easier task. There were far fewer events. The good news is that our city has changed. There is a wealth of wonderful programming that one can experience throughout the year. This, however, does make it a fun challenge for us to pull together topics that are fresh. By choosing a theme like "Untold" we forced ourselves to dig deep, do more extensive research than ever before. We are so excited about this year's line up. It's truly a fabulous group of speakers.  

JCS: You're a native Clevelander. How would you describe Cleveland? Why is it a good time to be here?
HBK: This city is drastically different from the Cleveland of my youth and even the Cleveland I came back to seven years ago. Cleveland is vibrant. A city of creators and doers. It's so much more passionate and optimistic now that when I returned. I used to get asked all the time, "You lived in Boston? For a decade?! And you chose to move back to Cleveland? Why?!" Nobody asks me "Why" anymore. We are world-class. We are not without our issues, but what city is? I think it's exciting to be a part of this city right now. One person really can make a real difference.

JCS: What makes a TED speaker dynamic and unforgettable?
HBK:  Not all TED Talks include a personal narrative, but creating the possibility for universality really works at our event. The audience wants to be inspired -- how can each speaker share a bit of brilliance? How can audience members use what inspires them at the event to fuel their own dreams for themselves, for our community?

JCS: What do you want this year's attendees to walk away with?
HBK: The confidence to tell their stories and pursue whatever it is that they are most passionate about. Everyone has a story to tell. I hope our event inspires people to share. To remove the obstacles that separate us from our goals and each other.   

Photo of Hallie and Eric at TEDxCLE 2014 by Jeff Downie.