Two impresarios with a lively love for Salem are organizing a significant event here.  Creative partners Carlee Wright and Brian Hart will co-curate the second all-day TEDxSalem on Saturday September 13.

This year’s theme is moxie.

For those unfamiliar, TEDx is an international cultural phenomenon of idea sharing, in which events are designed around speakers and topics meant to open minds and spark conversation.  A key phrase used by the movement is, “Ideas worth spreading.”

“TED” stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design and “x” represents an independently organized event operated under license from TED, a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization.

In the case of the 2014 Salem incarnation forged by Wright and Hart, “We’re designing the whole thing to be an experience from the moment you walk in the door to the moment you leave at the end,” Wright says.  Included will be breaks with activities, music, food and drinks.

“We take care of you, no one needs to do anything but put themselves in our hands,” Hart adds.  Of the breaks or “resets,” he says, “it’s going to be a full and stimulating day, and you’ll need time to process what you’ve heard.”

“People need a good healthy dose of play,” Wright puts in, “to help settle all that extra knowledge.”

Wright and Hart have been leaders in cultural efforts such as Cherry City Derby Girls, the Culture Shock Community Project and the Before I Die project.

“Carlee really appreciates the human-technology interaction part,” says Richard Surroz, a tech innovator and one of this year’s speakers.  “I love her passion for bringing Salem to the forefront.”

“Brian is one of the most community-committed people I’ve ever met,” says speaker Jessica Amos.  “He loves Salem.  He’s dedicated to helping people see how awesome Salem is.”

The two might sound like “moxie” personified, a term with synonyms like, “determination” “pep” and “know how.”

The day will include 14 speakers addressing “moxie” from a vast swath of perspectives and ecperiences.

“It was really hard to limit it to 14,” Wright says of all those who wanted to participate. “They were all amazing… but we’re shooting for the best topics and the best talks.”

A committee did the brutal work of selecting the winning applicants and continues to work with them as the big day approaches.  “When they get up on that stage we want it to be the best talk of their lives,” says Hart.

Speakers will be coming in from as far as Seattle and Coeur d’Alene, and Wright says, “It’s really cool to be exposed to ideas from other states.  We’re not endorsing any particular position; we just present the ideas and let people take what they want.  It’s like a brainstorming session; these TED events actually get your mind working.”

Speaking of the $50 admission, Hart says, “It’s an incredible value.  We’re designing this to be a life-changing day.  And in every detail we try to see how to make each moment extraordinary.”

Part of that experience will be musical offerings from groups such as The Slants, the Portland purveyor of “Chinatown dance rock” and the drumming of the Willamette Taiko Club.

“TEDx and the promise behind it,” says Amos, “is that it helps people expand and grow.  Not just in knowledge, but also in understanding what’s possible in the world.  Salem is a very underappreciated town, which is why expanding beyond what is expected is so important.”

Talks to anticipate include, “Brain Science,” “Bitcoins,” Aquaponics” and “Understanding Synaesthesia.”

Perhaps the breadth of these suggests why Wright and Hart say they expect the day they’ve devised to “shatter expectations.”


TEDxSalem 2014

September 13, 2014

9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Historic Elsinore Theater

170 High St. SE, Salem OR


$50 includes catered lunch, snacks and 

beverages, music plus surprises