Interview with Sabeen Perwaiz Syed

April 13, 2015 2 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Arash Kamiar interviews the Executive Director and Co-organizer of TEDxJacksonville.

Last year's theme "Unknowing". This year's theme, "In to the Machine"

Each year there is a new theme. What were the last themes and what’s this year’s theme?

Last year’s theme was (un)knowing and this year’s is In to the Machine.

Do you think you’ll ever have a year when the theme is something like “upholstery”. I don’t mean “Upholstery – Beyond the Existential First Layer? “ or “Upholstery – The First Layer of Everything”.I think your group would do an amazing job breaking down “car maintenance” or “baking bread”. Just say you’ll do it.

The “first layer of everything” or “the first layer” is a good theme. I’d like to nominate it for next year.

I like it. Maybe getting down to the basics?

Sabeen with TedxJacksonville's 2014 emcees:  Hope McMath, the Executive Director of the Cummer Museum and NPR's Al Letson, the creator of State of the Re:Union.

Have you already picked out who is speaking?

 No we haven’t. Our speaker applications just opened up and we would encourage everyone who is interested to fill out an application.

Will you let me speak?

The rules wont let me. TED is really strict and wants to make sure there are no partners on the stage.

How does someone other than me get to speak?

 Anyone considering should apply to speak at  They have until June 30th to do so. The speaker selection committee will announce the lineup by mid- July.

How does someone attend TedxJacksonville?

Attendees will also need to fill out an application on our website.

One of the criticism I’ve heard (or thought privately) was how TEDxJacksonville can be unintentionally elitist. One, you have to apply to attend. Two, The cost to attend is a “little” more than the price of a movie ticket. What are your thoughts on this and do you think there is a way to expand the work you are doing so that it can be accessible to more people?

$100 is not cheap but you have to remember we don’t get paid and every donation received and every ticket sold goes towards the cost of the event. We want to be able to provide one live event a year. We are also looking intro streaming this event so more to come on that. We do offer lots of affordable events throughout the year, the cost of these ranges from free to $25. I would encourage everyone to check out our yearly calendar.

Asking people to apply wasn’t an easy decision. We don’t want people to come just because their friend is coming or because it’s a cool thing to do. We want to them to come because they are willing to do something with the ideas and listen with an open mind. It’s always a tough balance. But we do appreciate the feedback because it allows us to make changes along the way.  

Anything Else?

Thank you for being a wonderful partner!

TEDxJacksonville's next salon is on April 18, 2015 at Jacksonville University


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