U of C's first TEDx event happening March 30

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The first-ever tedx at the University of Calgary will be held in the MacHall Ballroom on March 30. Ten speakers will be at the event, themed "Building a Legacy."

tedx is a localized version of the Technology, Entertainment and Design annual conference held in California, which invites innovative speakers to give short presentations on their cultural and scientific ideas. Formed in 1984, ted events are now held in North America, Europe and Asia and have been streamed online since 2006. The ted website receives over 700,000 hits per month.

Devoted to the mission of "ideas worth spreading," the ted website describes tedx as "a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a ted-like learning experience."

Among this year's speakers at the U of C is a composer, a naturalist, an astronaut and an Aboriginal storyteller.

Students' Union vice-president student life Matt Diteljan is one of the main organizers.

"Each of the speakers was carefully chosen and has ties to the university and the community," said Diteljan.

One of the requirements for all tedx conferences is that only 100 participants are allowed to attend.

The attendees were determined through an application process on the event website, which required applicants to explain why they wished to be involved and what kind of legacy they wanted to leave.

"We really wanted to make sure that whoever wanted to be there the most got to attend," said Diteljan.

U of C professor, music composer and speaker at the event Zachary Wadsworth approves of the application process.

"It's pretty clear they're not looking for a lecture. They want to foster interesting conversations between people," said Wadsworth.

Wadsworth's talk will touch on the value of art in society.

"Music doesn't feed the hungry, but what it can do is help the soul and entertain," said Wadsworth. "There are legacies that don't fix the world, but improve the world."

Wasworth hopes that the diverse group of speakers will be able to show an array of legacies.

Angela Dione and Angel Guerra are the founders of Market Collective, a monthly showcase for local artists in Calgary. They plan to speak on how one person's ideas can grow to impact local and global communities.

"It's a huge compliment to be asked to be involved in any type of talk like that," said Dione. "Schools are a place for exchanging knowledge, and the way that is done [is always] changing."

Guerra and Dione support tedx at the U of C because of its out-of-classroom approach to learning.

"It's hard to learn in an institutionalized setting. A lot of education and knowledge is found in the 'grey zone,' not in the black-and-white institutions," said Guerra. "It's such a sterile environment."

Brian Keating is an environmentalist and U of C professor. He helped establish the Wechiau Community Hippo Sanctuary in northern Ghana and is a long-time public presenter. He will be speaking on global sustainability at the tedx U of C event.

"We're living in the age of creativity and innovation. We must all become environmentally conscious," he said.

Keating hopes he can draw from his legacy to "give students an inoculation for enthusiasm for hope for a greener tomorrow."

"I've never really gone to work -- I just did what I felt had to be done," he said.

Although applications to attend tedx U of C are now closed, the speakers' messages will be streamed live via the tedx U of C website and uploaded to both the main ted website and the tedx U of C website after the event.