Portsmouth

Gearing up for TEDxPiscataquaRiver at 3S Artspace

by Clark Knowles

The 3S Artspace in Portsmouth NH, is nestled between the town’s historic district, working port, and the newer construction of the changing North End. The building is a multi-use facility that each month hosts a wide variety of entertainment for its Seacoast audiences. With it’s modern aesthetic built into and around the bones of an old industrial building, 3S is a nexus for Portsmouth’s vibrant artistic, musical, and foodie communities. Here, old-school working class Portsmouth meets new tourist-friendly Portsmouth; traditional and modern art; acoustic and electric music; spoken word, theater, comedy, dance-parties, and gamer-nights. It are these qualities that make it the perfect spot to host TEDxPiscataquaRiver and the eclectic mix of speakers that the event offers to the community each year.

TEDxPiscataquaRiver, part of the larger TED and TEDx movements all over the world, draws local, regional, and national speakers to Portsmouth each year. With the goal of provoking in-depth conversations about community issues and solutions, the day-long event compels its audience to view old problems through new lenses. The TEDx goal of innovation and action allows the organizers to blend vital local experience, knowledge, and insight across a wide range of subjects linked by a common theme. The theme for this year’s event is “On Your Own Terms.” The team of organizers is busy assembling their group of speakers, corralling an army of volunteers, and marshaling the materials and pixels that will shape the 5th annual event held, for the fourth year, at 3S Artspace, a building and organization that has made itself a part of the local community on its own terms.

3S Artspace hosts TEDx

All over the country, in towns like Portsmouth, NH, one might hear a longtime local resident saying something along the lines of “this town has changed.” Wander into any coffee shop in Portsmouth and you’re likely to hear discussions about how those changes have affected Portsmouth. With one foot in the industrial, working-class city of the 20th century, and the other foot in the boutique, luxury-apartment, service-oriented economy of this century, Portsmouth is doing what it has done since it was incorporated in 1653: change.

The citizenry of Portsmouth and the surrounding Seacoast towns and communities, exist in a sort of consistent act of revision. The word revision is tricky. Often it’s employed in such a way to infer that the original “work” isn’t yet finished. But broken down, the word RE (again) and VISION (to see), simply implies that one needs see something again. In blending its new economies with the old, natural spaces with manmade, historic buildings with new construction, Portsmouth is undergoing constant revision. And each time a piece of the puzzle is refined, changed, torn down, or rearranged, the local community is asked to adapt and change too. The city and its people create the terms and live with the outcomes.

Organizations like 3S Artspace are born of these sorts of ever-colliding forces of the old and new. The founders looked at the old, run-down industrial space wedged between train tracks and a cemetery, bordered by an Auto-parts store, suites of offices, and a Dry Cleaners, and saw their revision: a quirky hub of arts and commerce, classical and punk, local and national. They forged a new identity on their own terms and invited the community to enjoy the results. This year, TEDxPiscataquaRiver will bring its speakers to the 3S stage and fill the performance and gallery spaces with an audience ready to be challenged, changed, and inspired as they go about their individual acts of revision. The larger TED community is devoted to “ideas worth spreading” and on September 8th, 2017, TEDxPiscataquaRiver at 3S Artspace, will be the place where many of those new ideas are forged.