TEDxSomerville Celebrates City’s Reinvention

[Updated 8/24/15: This year’s TEDxSomerville event has been postponed to September 27 and will now be held at Tufts University. See below for more details.]

When the organizers of this year’s TEDxSomerville event were mulling over the theme, they kept going back to the idea of Somerville transforming itself. But that didn’t quite encapsulate what they wanted to convey. It wasn’t until they hit upon the idea of reinvention, and paired it with a new venue at Assembly RowTufts University, that they knew they got it right.

Somerville is “changing the nature of what it is as a city,” said Devin Bramhall, TEDxSomerville’s speaker curator. “Assembly Row plays a big role in this reinvention. It’s bringing a commerce to the city that it didn’t have before, in a centralized way. They’re a community, and in their little eco-system, they kind of represent the reinvention of Somerville as a whole.” While TEDxSomerville will no longer be held at Assembly Row this fall, it is still a major partner and supporter of the event.

Craig Foley focused on real estate and green buildings at TEDxSomerville.

This year’s TEDxSomerville event takes place on Sunday, September 27 at Tufts University’s Aidekman Arts Center with an after-party at Assembly Row’s Slumbrew. Tickets are back on sale at a few different price points ranging from $40-$75. “Everyone who wants to be there should be there,” Bramhall said.

Bramhall knew that with the city undergoing so many changes, she wouldn’t have any trouble finding speakers from in and outside of Somerville to address the reinvention theme. She was right. This year’s speaker line-up includes folks working in tech, artists, musicians and entrepreneurs, just to name a few.

One of the speakers, Dillan DiGiovanni, is a local wellness coach who has also been a regular contributor to the Beat. “He’s talking about transforming himself and also how that played a role in transforming his professional life and then helping others. I can’t think of a better story. It has all the things in one,” Bramhall said.

The crowd was riveted by the Esh Aerial Arts performance at TEDxSomerville.

Selecting the speakers isn’t an easy task, but it is an enjoyable one. In addition to sorting through the applications and picking people to give talks, Bramhall trains the speakers on the TEDx formula and guidelines.

“My job is really to make sure there’s a diversity of ideas, of people, so that there’s a really exciting program for the audience that represents a broad range of ideas and thoughts and backgrounds,” Bramhall said. “It’s the hardest and also the most fun part. It’s almost like a human math problem.”

In addition to the TEDxSomerville speakers, there will be a large artistic component to the event curated again by Jesa Damora.

“We’re really integrating the art into the overall experience,” Bramhall said. “Because of how great Jesa is at curating art, you’re going to be inspired in every way possible. You’re going to see beautiful visual art. You’re going to meet these amazing speakers with ideas that are going to sort of challenge your everyday thinking about things we take for granted.”

The TEDxSomerville scene from above at Brooklyn Boulders Somerville.

Bramhall first got involved with TEDxSomerville during last year’s event when she was introduced to C. Todd Lombardo, who originally brought the series to the city. Although they barely knew each other, they ended up co-hosting, and when Lombardo had other commitments this year, Bramhall stepped up with Damora and Jennifer Garrett to keep TEDxSomerville going.

“I went on the ride of my life,” Bramhall said. “Putting on any TEDx talk is colossal. It was so much fun. I think to put on a TEDx talk, you have to be excited and passionate.”

Passion is a huge reason TEDx is back in Somerville for the third time (the first event was held at the Armory in 2012). The positive reception from the community and feedback from the last two events motivated this year’s organizers to produce another TEDx in the city.

“Somerville is a city of artists, a city of inventors, people working in government, they’re all trying to do something of meaning and substance. They care about whatever they’re doing,” Bramhall said. “The people of Somerville are all doing things so they’re attracted to other people who are doing things. We’re speaking to the Somerville audience.”


Sunday, September 27, noon-4:30 p.m.
Tufts University’s Aidekman Arts Center
40 Talbot St., Medford
Tickets: $40-$75

P.S. Get a glimpse at what to expect at TEDxSomerville 2015 by checking out the Beat’s recap of last year’s event.

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