This year TEDx turns ten. As a celebration, TED is hosting five worldwide gatherings of TEDx organizers for workshops. The North American workshop was held in Mexico City and was aptly named TEDxWeekendCiudadDeMexico. It also happened to fall on a weekend during Spring Break, which tipped my scales towards wanting to attend.
As I’ve written before, I’ve played more a figure head for TEDxOU the last few years as my role at OU has continued to evolve. The logistics for the event are fairly locked in at this point, but I continue to consult and maintain the license while I-CCEW curates the event. For me, TEDxWeekend was seen as good opportunity to reengage and hopefully find some new inspiration, and I was lucky enough to be joined by Susan Moring, who has been the lifeblood of the event for the past several conferences.
When we first arrived on Friday, we were broken up into teams. We had a casual lunch of pizza. A TED staple is the picnic backet-style lunch. I always enjoy that they think through even the smaller details such as meals. Often at TED, you are handed a basket with something like eight sandwiches, eight potato chip bags, and eight sets of silverware. The objective then become to either find seven people or find someone with a basket. It’s an easy twist on the common box lunch. Pizza is similarly a shareable meal. Unbeknownst to me, one of the toppings was chapulines (grasshoppers toasted and marinated in salt and lime).
The pizza came from a restaurant called Pixza, which plays multiple major roles in the Mexico City community. First, they make their crust out of blue corn, which is locally sourced. Pixza also feeds and employees homeless youth.
So, yeah, I couldn’t NOT try the chapuline pizza. One word to describe it: salty. Possibly satisfying?
Our lunch groups formed teams for a city-wide “treasure hunt.” This walking more than two miles across Mexico City, veering in-and-out of traffic, in order to solve five puzzles scattered amongst various monuments and historic areas in the town.
The trip took us to the Museo Rufino Tamayo (a contemporary art museum), The Angel of Independence, the Monument to the Revolution, and Museo Mural Diego Rivera. I was quite impressed by the level of commitment necessary from the team’s volunteers to pull off something with this scale.
That evening was the TEDx birthday party at the Interactive Museum of Economics (MIDE). First off, what a cool opportunity to get a night night of this museum. It was quite beautiful lit up. Second, if TED does anything right, they throw great dinners. They one included a live band, dancing, a TEDx piñata, and of course birthday cake.
Saturday was dedicated to a full day workshop. We heard from Will Davis, head of TEDx Development at TED, and Jay Herratti, Executive Director of TEDx.
We also had break outs to discuss areas of interest as they relate to organizing. I’m on the lookout for new ways to rethink TEDx, so I hopped into a discussion about TEDxAdventures led by Kat Haber, which is an informal activity created at TEDxBeaconStreet that sends attendees on pre-event activities to experience something more than a dark auditorium.
From the TEDx blog:
Two weeks before the first TEDxBeaconStreet in Boston, the team hosted 14 pre-event Adventures, including a bike tour of the city, a look behind-the-scenes of a Harvard biochemistry lab, and a journey on a lobster boat. The Adventures were a great success, allowing Bostonians of all ages to experience the fascinating things taking place right in their backyard.TED Blog
It was also great to better understand where the other organizers were with relation to history of TEDx. Surprisingly, TEDxOU was one of the “elder statesmen” of the event. We’ve existed since 2012 and 2019 will be our eighth event. Most organizers were planning their first event or had complete one or two. There were a few of us who have been in the biz for awhile (TEDxUCLA, TEDxTucson, TEDxCancun, TEDxVail, TEDxOrlando, TEDxTucson, etc.) and that was cool to drink from their deep wells of knowledge as I continued to ask how they’ve kept it fresh throughout the years.
That evening we hopped on a bus and toured Anahuacalli Museum, a concept by Diego Rivera, which also houses his private collection. This event was on another level of enjoyment.
The museum was special, the weather was cool, and the band that night was pretty unreal. Shout to Gran Sur for gracing us with their alt rock.
The event ended with a walking tour of the ancient city Teotihuacan. I was amazed by the number of people who role out to climb the pyramids here. We happened to go on a Sunday, which is the most busiest day as it is free to Mexican citizens on Sundays.
We were treated a lunch at a local restaurant afterwards, though I had to skip out early in fear of missing my flight. Which reminds me to pass along my biggest Mexico City tip: use Uber. I heard this multiple times before going there and had my suspicions but more often than not this was a very efficient means of transportation. In a city the size of Mexico City, I don’t know how I would have got around otherwise.
Thanks again, 1.) to TED for coming up with the idea for the TEDxWeekend but 2.) thanks to the volunteer team that hosted us and threw a wonderful TEDxWeekendCiudadDeMexico. Oh, and last, thanks to the photographer Leopoldo Smith Murillo who was kind enough to hang around for all the events. Most of the photos here are his and are available on Flickr under a CC BY-NC-SA license.