Apr. 23, 2018 12:45 pm

TEDxPhiladelphia is back with a new format: discussion-based salons

The theme of the first event, to be held this week, is social entrepreneurship.

Technologist Brigitte Daniel speaking at TEDxPhiladelphia 2015.

(Photo via

Generocity is serving as a media partner for TEDxPhiladelphia salon events.
You know TED for its succinct, explanatory talks from international experts on everything from the criminal justice system to modeling.

Local organizers have hosted independent TEDxPhiladelphia conferences, tours and other one-off events irregularly for the past eight years, all tied to the TED mantra of “ideas worth spreading.” Past TEDxPhiladelphia conferences have yielded powerful talks from local leaders in the arts, politics, activism, economic development and more.

For instance, the 2015 conference, themed “And Justice for All,” featured ROAR for Good founder Yasmine Mustafa on the privilege of American citizenship

… former Lenfest Foundation ED Stacy Holland on fixing Philly’s school system

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… and Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority ED Gregory Heller on social impact real estate.

After that 2015 conference, though, the all-volunteer organizing team took a hiatus due to “a little bit of burnout” and to search for funding and determine best next steps, said Witty Gritty founder Michelle Freeman, who was involved in planning the 2014 and 2015 TEDxPhiladelphia conferences.

Now, TEDxPhiladelphia programming is back with a bimonthly salon, kicking off this Tuesday, April 24, at Pipeline Philly.

The format will be more participatory and action-oriented than your typical panel event or, yes, TED conference. For one, there are no formal speakers. Attendees will watch a previously filmed TED Talk on a specific theme, then break out into smaller groups to discuss how they could each incorporate the talk’s lessons into their own work.

This month’s theme: social entrepreneurship, coinciding with Generocity’s editorial theme for March.

For organizers, the salon model is an easier lift with a quicker turnaround than a full annual conference, said Chris Anderson, a new volunteer who also works on Philly tech company Guru’s marketing team (and is not to be confused with the TED organization’s curator of the same name).

The goal is “creating this connective tissue between communities, not only as a one-off event, but in some ongoing way, and the salon model seemed like it lent itself really well to that, where we could have smaller events that focused on very specific topics and we could bring together people who are doing work within those topics,” Anderson said, to reduce silos and “hopefully accelerate the impact of their work.”

Tickets to the April event are sold out, but you can stay in the know about future TEDxPhiladelphia salons by joining the group’s mailing list here — and be on lookout for news of the next TEDxPhiladelphia conference, to be held in Spring 2019.


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