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Xchanging ideas
The first ever TEDx event in Savannah takes local ideas global, and vice versa
Frank Spencer spearheads the local TEDx event

This week Savannah joins a fast-growing list of cities around the world that will host an independent TEDx event this year.

TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design) is a non–profit with a mission to spread “ideas worth sharing.” Its goal is to bring together notable people from the three fields to talk about things they feel are important.

Founded it 1984, it has grown into a globally recognized event that has hosted talks by notable figures ranging from Al Gore to former Talking Heads frontman David Byrne.

TEDx is a recent development, but one that, judging by the response so far, is welcomed by creative communities around the world. It gives those interested in hosting a TED–type event in their hometowns an opportunity to license the event – sort of like franchising a chain restaurant that serves up heaping plates of intellectual fodder.

TEDxCreativeCoast, which takes place this Friday at Meddin Studios, was the brainchild of local futurist Frank Spencer, a partner at the firm KedgeForward.

“This is a great opportunity for us to showcase the creative energy, the technology, the start–ups and the mindset that’s growing in the city,” Spencer explains.

Energized by the surprising success of last November’s inaugural Geekend Conference here in Savannah, Spencer saw an opportunity to build off the momentum of that event.

“We’re not trying to compete,” says Spencer. “We’re hoping to add to that, and add to the conversation, and most importantly, to connect people in a multi–disciplinary kind of way.”

Although he considered creating a new event, as had the Geekend founders, the decision to license a local TEDx event, buying into an established brand, seemed like a wise move.

“It’s a way to hook into a brand that’s already working, and hook into an idea that’s exactly what we want to do,” says Spencer.

There are other advantages to his decision as well. Because the TEDx concept is growing so quickly, it has created a network of license holders around the world who are beginning to reach out to one another, sharing ideas.

A contingency of people from TEDxAsheville will be making the trip to the Savannah event, and likewise will welcome a delegation from Savannah to their event later this year. The end result is that the success of Savannah’s creative, small business community helps attract attention – and potentially new investment – to the city.

“It takes Savannah outside of Savannah and markets it in all of these places, which increases our ability to attract business here, to get new ideas for Savannah and to take our ideas outside of Savannah,” says Spencer.

The theme of this year’s event is “Designing Creativity” and features a cross section of speakers who will all bring their own unique expertise – from graphic designers to entrepreneurs, and educators to social media buffs.

Many of them are coming from well beyond the Lowcountry to take part in the event, which thanks to the internet will also be broadcast around the world.

There are currently viewing parties confirmed among groups at the University of Aruba, as well as with other TEDx groups in Washington D.C. and in Canberra, Australia.

The limited number of tickets available sold out in a matter of hours, but if you’re interested in joining in the conversation, there are also several viewing parties being set up around the city, including all–day events at the downtown business incubator Thincspace, and on campus at Armstrong and Georgia Tech Savannah.

True to Savannah style, there will also be an afterparty at Cha Bella, where even folks who weren’t able to attend will be able to talk with participants.


When: Friday, June 18, 9am–6pm

Where: Meddin Studios, 2315 Louisville Rd.

For more info on speakers, viewing parties and more: