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TEDx

Big ideas come together

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Jace Laakso isn't the type of person who believes fate will resolve the future, but after organizing TEDx UMontana he's given the notion some thought.

"I don't believe in those things, but everything just fell into place, like it was supposed to happen," Laakso says.

TED, which stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design, started in 1984 as an annual conference focused on "Ideas Worth Spreading," conveyed via short lectures and artistic performances. The events are limited to 100 attendees but all of the content is made available via the TED website. TEDx events are locally organized spinoffs that follow the same format. Since 2009 more than 5,000 TEDx lectures have happened around the world.

When University of Montana student Lance Pellerin approached Laasko in February with the idea of hosting a TEDx event, Laakso thought it'd be as easy as finding a couple people to speak on a stage somewhere on campus. "Little did we realize how much work this was going to be," Laakso says.

Before he knew it, between 40 and 50 people were involved somewhere along the six-month process to help pull things together. When the call went out for speakers, about 125 people applied for nine slots. All the speakers are from the University of Montana. A few of their talks cover similar topics, but unlike most TEDx events there isn't one central topic.

"Our goal was to take the best speakers with the biggest ideas with the best topic. So we were hoping a theme would grow from that but nothing real solid emerged," Pellerin says. "If we do one next year we'll start with a theme and go from there."

The event is scheduled for Sept. 19 at 7 p.m., but the event is already sold out. Roughly 1,000 people applied for tickets and were entered into a lottery. For those who missed out, organizers have arranged to broadcast the event in the UC Theater on UM's campus, and online at umt.edu/tedx.

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