By Julia Averbuck, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Walking into Teatro Tom Jobim (Tom Jobim Theater) in the Botanical Gardens on the morning of Wednesday, August 22nd, the hustle and bustle was visible. Just outside the theater, people of all ages, who for the most part had never met before that morning, chatted excitedly before the TEDxJardim Botânico started.
TED – which stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design – started out in 1984 as a conference in Long Beach, California, which still takes place each year, to bring together people from the fields named in its title.
Nowadays the California-based nonprofit has taken its mission of “ideas worth spreading” beyond the golden state, with a global TED conference in Oxford, England each year and several TEDx events. The X in TEDx designates an independently organized TED event.
This franchising model, where TED selects groups of people looking to organize local conferences and lends them their name and techniques, allows hundreds of TED conferences to take place each year. Just in 2012, there will be 76 TEDx events in Brazil and 2,640 events worldwide.
TEDxJardim Botânico’s theme was “Na medida do impossível” (“Within the limits of the impossible”). The conference hosted fourteen speakers divided into four categories: to express, to transform, to participate and to astound.
Each talk followed the TED standard of eighteen minutes and addressed a broad range of issues from civil rights in Brazil to eating offal as an integral part of reducing waste. With the exception of Alberto Goldin, an Argentinean psychologist who has been living in Brazil since 1976, the speakers were Brazilians who had started their own businesses or ran initiatives across Rio and Brazil.
Perhaps the highlight of the day was speaker Tatiana Leite, the founder of start-up Benfeitoria. Tatiana’s company is a crossover between crowdfunding and crowdsourcing and the only one of its kind in the world that does not charge commission.
Tatiana’s talk focused on the idea of wikieconomy, an economy based on collaboration and partnerships as opposed to purchases.
There were about 300 attendees present, selected from a pool of over one thousand. Attendees had to apply through the TEDx’s website during the months of June and July.
According to UFRJ medical student Alexandre Oliscovicz, he decided to apply because of a fellow medical student, Carlo Renner, who was also in attendance, but several of their friends had not been selected to attend.
In addition to relishing in the talks, attendees were also encouraged to get to know each other and participate in additional activities during breaks. Ana Couto Branding, a marketing company focused on branding, ran a workshop during breaks for fifty participants.
Prior to the event, TEDxJardim Botânico’s organizers created a Facebook group where speakers and attendees could interact. The group is still up and running after the event to facilitate contact between the participants.
By the end of the day, the theater was abuzz with energy from the participants, speakers and organizers. As the organizers stepped on stage one last time, they invited everyone to move onto to Baixo Gávea for a celebration.