Why TEDxPiscataquaRiver?


Clark Knowles


Perhaps you’ve heard about TED Talks and TEDx Talks or seen some of the VIDEOS on YouTube or elsewhere on the web. Perhaps you’ve found the videos and the speakers engaging enough to regularly visit the TED website or have subscribed to the TEDx channel. The crowds in the videos seem to be energetic, laughing and learning as they listen to the array of speakers on all sorts of subjects, but if you’re like most people, you probably aren’t sure how one might attend a TED or TEDx event, or what the difference between the two types of events are. While TED events are held twice a year under the TED banner, a TEDx event is independently organized, but in the TED universe.

This year, the fifth annual TEDxPiscataquaRiver is being held at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth on September 8th. We decided to ask local participants in the TEDx experience to ponder their experiences and help us answer the question “Why TEDxPiscataquaRiver?” This week, we’ve asked a former presenting speaker, a former participant, and a current volunteer to give us their thoughts.

Former presenter Sara Curry 

Sara Curry - Bikram Yoga Portsmouth

Sara Curry is the owner of Bikram Yoga Portsmouth and Vice-President of SATYA —Seacoast Area Teachers of Yoga in Action. Her TEDx Talk, “On the Mat to Recovery” (viewed nearly 13,000 times!) can be found HERE. When we asked Sara about her experiences, here’s what she had to say:

"My first experience at TEDxPiscataquaRiver was as a spectator. It was an inspiring, exciting community event. The presenters exposed me to people and ideas outside my social bubble and field of expertise. I still quote speakers and ideas from that day.

"As a participant, I had an amazing experience working with the staff at TEDxPiscataquaRiver. They were thorough and helpful and have forever impacted the way that I present and speak.

"Beyond all of that, my favorite part of TEDx each year is getting to listen to my neighbors' quirky stories and specialties. Last year, listening to the secret life of native bees, I was blown away by how much there is to know about the natural world beyond my limited perspective. Listening to the talk on Dungeons and Dragons, I got a glimpse into a world I was never a part of before and gained a new understanding of another's life experience and the deep value of a "child's game." Last year, I completely understood why a third presenter became a part of a cult.

"The nerd in me loves to know what others know and to look at the world through another's eyes. I look forward to the experience every year.”

Audience Participant Trevor Barlett

Trevor Bartlett

Trevor has been involved in the arts community in Portsmouth for over two decades, including long stints at the regions oldest surviving historic theaters, The Music Hall and the IOKA Theater in Exeter, and many days organizing for and participating in the Portsmouth Halloween Parade, an independently organized Halloween parade that ranks as one of the liveliest and best in the country. He’s currently curating the movie series at The Prescott Park Arts Festival

Trevor says:

"To see a World in a Grain of Sand

And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand

And Eternity in an hour…” —William Blake

"All great journeys start with a spark of inspiration. TEDx Piscataqua is the hearth around which we, as a community, as a village, may circle to see that spark turn to fire. It's a hell of a thing. It's the light of global concerns shone through a prism of local attention. A gathering of the motivated and the mindful, people who make an art of taking action. You can feel a quickening, a crackling in the air, in yourself, when you're in a room with them. Speakers and attendees alike, these are all people defined by intelligence, dedication, and boundless curiosity. A day spent in their proximity is nothing less than an affirmation of the profound wake we can leave as we move through the world. Listening to their stories, hearing first hand what they are thinking about and what they are doing, becomes through the course of the day a provocation to find your own voice, to tell your own story. To discover how, as part of a greater whole, you personally, with whatever your own talents, tools, field, or focus may be, can seek make a real difference. And to do just that.

"Also, there's free sandwiches.”

Returning Volunteer Gail Knowles

Gail Knowles

Gail has been volunteering at Seacoast Area Organizations since she moved to Portsmouth in 1989. Among other volunteer activities, she’s wrangled Girl Scouts, re-caned chairs on Star Island with ISHRA —The Isles of Shoals Historical and Research Association, designed logos, coached, and kept the “book” for many of softball games with PGSA —the Portsmouth Girls Softball Association, and been a youth group facilitator and PRIDE volunteer with Seacoast Outright.

She says: "I first came to TEDxPiscataquaRiver as an audience member in 2015. I was lucky enough to win a ticket through the lottery and was really impressed with the speakers and the way the audience came together as a mini-community throughout the day. Since the space is small, and the audience is a mix of curated guests and tickets holders, I figured the best way to stay in the loop was to get involved.

"In 2016, I did some graphics work, like this word cloud above and I volunteered during set up, helping with whatever needed doing (a picture above shows Gail using a blow-torch to heat seal the cords for participant lanyards), but this year I’ve taken on a bit more in terms of volunteering duties. I’ve been working to keep the website up to date, to make sure our sponsors information is easy to find and explore, and I’ll be back again on the set up and event days to move boxes, chairs, and help things go as smoothly as they can. I love this town and our local community and by volunteering with TEDx, I can see people I don’t normally get to see, listen to speakers that have ideas I’ve never even thought about, and I get to remain involved with people that are helping shape the art, tech, and business worlds of my community. When you get to know me, I’m helpful, but I’m kind of nosey, and I’d rather be a part of this, than on the outside looking in, wondering what all the fuss is about. Volunteering here helps keep me up to date!"

Join us in our next “Why TEDxPiscataquaRiver?” when we’ll talk with another group of people from previous and current TEDxPiscataquaRiver events to see why you too should be excited to become a part of this vital local resource. Click HERE for more information about tickets and how to get involved. Click HERE to see who will be speaking this year.