Tired of the two-dimensional view most people have of his hometown of Flint, Michigan, Kevin Simpson is spearheading TEDxFlint, scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 23 on the campus of Kettering University. “General Motors and Michael Moore are the two connections people make when I inform them I am from Flint,” said Simpson.

Simpson is part of a team of five who are organizing the first TEDx event in Flint. His co-conspirators are Dr. Doug Melton, associate professor of Electrical Engineering at Kettering, Brian Beck, audio/visual technician in Kettering’s Video and Satellite Operations, Daniel Kurin, a senior Electrical Engineering major at Kettering, and Alex O’Dell of University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and organizer of TEDxUofM.

The event will take place in McKinnon Theater in the Academic Building at Kettering, from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., with seating limited to approximately 150 attendees. Participants can apply to attend TEDxFlint on the upcoming website www.tedxflint.com.

TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share ideas worth spreading. At a TEDx event, TED Talks videos and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where “x” equals “independently organized event.” The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx programs, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. To learn more about TEDx visit: http://www.ted.com/tedx

TED is a small nonprofit devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading” that was started in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope and scale have become broader and includes two annual conferences in North America and one in Great Britain, in addition to a TEDTalks video site, the Open Translation Project and Open TV Project, TED Fellows and TEDx programs, and the annual TED Prize.


The TED Conference structure challenges the world’s most fascinating thinkers and doers to give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes. These talks are released under the Creative Commons license on TED.com for free. The TED philosophy is belief in the power of ideas to change attitudes, lives and ultimately, the world.

TEDxFlint is a “collaboration to make ‘ideas worth spreading’ a reality in Flint,” said Simpson. The Flint native, who split his time between Virginia and Dubai during 2009-2010, was inspired after attending TEDxDubai in October 2009 and collaborating with Bon Education Founder Anna Batchelder on live blogging and tweeting at the event.

Simpson left Dubai wondering how the TED experience could be brought back to his hometown. Within weeks he applied for a license to bring the first TEDx event to Flint. The license was approved in December of 2009.

The theme of TEDxFlint is Focus.Learn.Innovate.Nurture.Transform. Each of the Flint speakers will incorporate one of the words from the theme into their talk, according to Simpson.

Simpson hopes TEDxFlint will inspire those who attend to collaborate and to take their new ideas and put them into action. “I want the world to know the intellectual capital Flint always has had, and the global impact we have beyond GM and Michael Moore,” he said, adding “I would like this event to become an annual gathering and a driving force to create and expand businesses based on the notion of ideas worth spreading.”

“I witnessed firsthand the impact TEDxDubai had on the individuals who attended, everything from new collaborations, to ongoing TEDx meet-ups, and new businesses formed. I know the same and much more can result from TEDxFlint,” Simpson said.

With multiple universities and college in the Flint area, Simpson felt it made sense to approach one to be the host venue. Early in 2010 he was contacted by Kettering student Daniel Kurin, who expressed interest in serving as an organizer. Kurin suggested Simpson contact Dr. Doug Melton, an avid TED and TEDx follower, to serve as a faculty organizer.

Melton was thrilled by the idea of having a TEDx event in Flint. “I’ve been a TEDster for a while, so I was happy to collaborate with Kevin and Daniel,” said Melton.

Choosing speakers for the event “was a collaborative effort by the organizers,” said Simpson. “We sought to put together a diverse team of folks from Flint who are local and/or serving nationally or internationally. Identifying speakers who fit the theme were important, plus, we wanted folks who were known in the city and those who were up and coming,” he added.

“There are 16 total speakers from a variety of backgrounds and disciplines, including entrepreneurs, community organizers, artists, educators, youth and college professors,” Simpson said.

TEDxFlint speakers are:

Stephen Arellano
Jamie Burton-Oare
Erin Caudell
Daniel Cascardo
Troy Hale
Dr. Steve Livingston
David McGhee
Blake Odom
John Rhymes
Dr. Bahram Roughani
Sophia Taylor
Stephanie Calip Todd
Dayne Walling
Andrew Watchorn
Dr. Toyia Younger
Dr. Geri Alumit Zeldes
Patrick Cronley
Stephen James
The Steelheads
Natasha Thomas Jackson

Current sponsors of TEDxFlint include:

KDSL-Know Do Serve Learn
Kettering University
Center for Educational Improvement
Flint Crepe Company and Green Stewards
Prime Studios LLC
Hoffman’s Deco Deli and Café
Words of Steele
Dort Credit Union

TEDxFlint can be found at:

Email: tedxflint@hotmail.com
Facebook Group:TEDxFlint 2010
Twitter: @TEDxFlint
You Tube: www.youtube.com/tedxflint
Flickr: http://www.flickr.com/photos/tedxflint

TEDxFlint entertainers, including spoken word, music and comedy are: