January - November 2019
TEDxMcAllen stemmed from the idea to provide a global platform for my community to re-write the narrative about the Rio Grande Valley. The Rio Grande Valley (RGV), a region at the southernmost tip of the Texas-Mexico border. The slue of political and media attention due to the declaration of a “State of Emergency” at the border has thrust the RGV into the national spotlight, further fueling anti-immigrant rhetoric This event gave a voice to the thought-leaders in the RGV, so that they may tell their stories and share ideas that are worth spreading.
It was due to the creativity and dedication of the core group of 13 organizers that made this event possible. As the Co-organizer and Co-Curator, I helped to direct the organizing of the event. A big shout-out goes to my Co-organizer, Co-curator, and partner in crime Marcos Silva.
Our first objective was to find a theme for the event. We used a silent + sharing ideation technique that led to our theme: We Are Dreamers
The organizers were split into different committees: guest experience, production, fundraising, marketing, and speakers. Committee members then created a timeline of objectives leading up to the event. We used large calendar printouts and colored sticky notes so different committees could easily collaborate on the various objectives.
We organized the different committee's objectives from April to November
With a detailed timeline in hand, it was time to announce the event to the public and find our speakers. After receiving 200 nominations, we were able to narrow down our speaker line-up to 12 inspiring individuals, that we announced at a speaker reveal party.
Speaker reveal party at The Yard
Our speaker line-up came from varying fields: Humanitarians, scientists, entrepreneurs, and activists to name a few. To communicate the diversity of talent, I created vector designs to visually represent our speakers and their backgrounds. Check out their bios here.
Listen to some of their talks here
Once the speakers were selected, we had weekly rehearsals for them to practice their talks and receive feedback from our team. We used the analogy of providing their audience with a gift—an idea. This idea served as the through-line throughout the narrative of their talks.
The Day of the Event
With the many hours spent coaching speakers, planning the guest experience, and building partnerships, the day had finally come. The day was split off into four speaking blocks, two activity breaks, and lunch at a local five-star restaurant.
400 attendees had applied to attend the event. However, our TEDx license limited us to 100 attendees. We wanted everyone to have a chance to take part, so we decided to live stream the talks through Facebook Live so schools and the general public could tune in.
This is not your typical tote bag. Filled with a coffee thermos, custom socks and an envelope with tickets to different experiences across the region
A custom sock design based on the Serape , a traditional Mexican blanket
A photojournalist shares their story about the importance of having diversity behind the lens.
Advocating for bilingual revolution
Memories in the RGV was a way to share where our favorite gatherings (red) traditions (blue), joyous events (white) took place
While the 360-camera was a crowd favorite, the activity breaks also included coffee with an astronaut, yoga, a photo gallery, and more
“If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.”
– African Proverb
Our goal from the beginning was to provide a platform so people from the RGV could write their own narratives. One of our speakers Sister Norma Pimentel, a leading humanitarian for immigration rights, was asked to share her story at a TEDWomen conference. Trying to change a narrative is a large and ambitious goal, but I believe that the power of a collective community effort can turn the page and begin to write a new story.
This event was a huge undertaking with many different moving parts. Although I wished we had a graphic designer on the organizing team, I am grateful that I was able to pick up this skillset throughout the project. On a personal note, I learned about the challenges of keeping a work-life balance during big projects. In preparing for another TEDx event, I would create a more detailed list of objectives so as a team we could be better prepared and plan accordingly.