TEDxVail takes place in Beaver Creek Friday | VailDaily.com

TEDxVail takes place in Beaver Creek Friday

Caramie Schnell
Pack ice, or frozen seawater, is the danger in the Northwest Passage. In 1992, Ocean Watch worked between floes and found open leads while transitting the passage west to east. David Thoreson will talk about the adventureJan. 9 in Beaver Creek at TEDxVail.
David Thoreson Images | Special to the Weekly |

if you go ...

What: TEDxVail conference.

When: Friday. Registration opens at 3 p.m., sessions begin at 4 p.m.

Where: The Vilar Performing Arts Center, Beaver Creek.

Cost: $100 in advance, $120 at the door (includes access to all sessions, live performances, snacks and dinner).

More information: Purchase tickets at http://www.vilarpac.org. Visit http://www.tedxvail.com to learn more.

Nine speakers will get between three and 12 minutes each on Friday to share an idea they believe is worth spreading. That’s the premise of TEDxVail, an independently organized local TED event designed to spark discussion and connections among the speakers and attendees.

This is the fifth year part-time local resident Kat Haber has hosted the event.

The theme of this year’s event, which takes place Friday afternoon and evening at the Vilar Performing Arts Center in Beaver Creek, is “Naturally.”

“TEDx events are typically an expression and conversation generated from and for the community,” Haber said. “We used that title last year and it fit. It allows for a broad range of topics, everything from technical and scientific, to adventure talks, conservation, writing, art, music — all of the things that make a TEDx event interesting. The beauty of Vail is what brought us here naturally to begin with; we thought it made sense to stay with that theme.”

Along with speakers, the event will include films, music, dance and more.

“It’s kind of like Cirque du Soleil for your mind,” Haber said.

Previously the event focused on women, but this year Haber opened it up to men as well.

“I do think the solution for a lot of the challenges we face today will take all of us to figure out,” said Haber, who lives in Homer, Alaska, during the summers. “Even though I’ve been a champion for women and girls for most of my life, I know clearly that just restricting an event to one sex doesn’t really provide the full range of possibilities.”

To make the event even more inclusive and appealing to a wide variety of folks, speakers from each generation will speak — a few poets in their 20s on up to Susan Strong, who is in her 70s. Strong will talk about how “speaking American can save America.”

“It’s about using language and can-do solutions to address our problems,” Haber said.

“If you want to reach the widest range of people you have to source from the widest range of people,” Haber said. “A 57-year-old man might not see things the way I do. I try to find people who can relate to other people so when their great idea is presented out there, it’s not just a great idea but also the people in the audience can say, ‘Hey, I can relate to this person and I might try activating that idea in my own world.’”

Haber and her volunteer team have recruited outstanding individuals from various fields whose talks all tie into the theme.


Eagle County local Dr. Jill Squyres is the only local speaker on the docket. Squyres, who practices in Eagle, volunteered at last year’s TEDx event and then cornered Haber.

“I told her it was my dream to give a TED talk, and she told me to pitch her and I did,” Squyres said.

Day after day, Squyres listens to her clients talk about intense loneliness, which inspired the talk she’ll give.

“There’s this epidemic of loneliness in our culture right now in spite of the high level of electronic interconnectedness,” she said.

Part of the problem is people who feel like they’ve opened their hearts to friends and then the friendship has later turned sour.

“It makes people hesitant to reach out and form close friendships again,” she said.

Her TEDxVail talk will challenge audience members to think differently about friendship and offer some creative solutions to banish both loneliness and “frenemies” from their lives.


Two-time world champion freestyle kayaker Emily Jackson will also speak. Jackson, who learned the value of self-acceptance at a young age, will give a talk on how each one of us can be our very best, as a mom, spouse, athlete and all around human being, and how we can take steps to make sure we never compromise ourselves.

“Her talk, Unstoppable, is unbelievable, and it’s all real and fantastic,” Haber said. “She’s charming, she’s a new mom and she has her whole family here with her. They started Jackson Kayaks.”

Haber stopped by Alpine Quest Sports to let them know Jackson was in town to give a talk this week, in case any of the employees wanted to attend, Haber said.

“They lit up,” Haber said. “It was like Michael Jackson, it’s that level of celebrity in the kayaking world.”


David Thoreson, an adventure sailor, photographer and writer, lives in Keystone during the winter. He’ll be talking about his journey as an “accidental explorer.”

“I grew up in a little town in Northwest Iowa on a lake there,” he said. “I had a dream to sail the world’s oceans. I’ve ended up sailing to both polar regions and the Northwest Passage twice.”

The first time Thoreson went to the Northwest Passage it was 1994 and he couldn’t get through because of the ice.

“Then 13 years later we sailed through never touching one piece of ice, and I saw a dramatically changed environment,” he said.

While Thoreson is very used to public speaking — he was an Unlimited Adventure speaker at the Vail Symposium a few years back — he’s used to having a bit more time on stage. His talk on Friday is nine minutes.

“The TED experience challenges you to refine your story, refine your images,” said Thoreson, who is very much looking forward to Friday, he said.

“That’s what’s so inspiring about TED; you get to meet a lot of people you wouldn’t get to and have discussions with — slam poets, linguists, writers,all kinds of folks. The whole experience, for me as a presenter or anyone who is participating, is going to be off the charts.”


Chef Ryan Hutmacher is traveling from Chicago for the event. As founder of Centered Chef, Hutmacher travels the country facilitating corporate wellness workshops that teach his concepts on healthy eating to employees looking for balance between their high stress jobs and personal health. He also works with hospitals and their patient populations, empowering them with food concepts that nourish them physically while also lifting their spirits.

“My talk is about making an impact on our nation’s health epidemic in a very obvious way, but integrating non-conventional techniques that stir up much more than a homemade pot of soup,” Hutmacher said. “I feel that people these days gravitate towards food as a distraction or an escape from their busy lives. For the past decade, I’ve been applying my own life lessons around people and health into the unique work I do as a chef.”

The bottom line, Hutmacher said, is people need support.

“I’ve found ways to shed light on a support system that’s always been there, we’ve just been to distracted to see it,” he said.

Ocean Pleasant is the 17-year-old founder of REAL magazine, a new national youth culture publication whose mission is to empower and engage the next generation by using what youth identify with most: media. Her talk, Empowering Youth Through Media, is expected to inspire the young and not-so-young alike.

Tricia Swenson, a TV8 executive producer and Jill Lammers, the vice president of the Vail Valley Partnership, will co-host the event with Haber.

For a full list of participants, visit http://www.tedxvail.com.

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