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TEDxMcAllen

January - November 2019


Context


TEDxMcAllen stemmed from the idea to provide a global platform for my community to rewrite 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 thrusted 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.


Project Scope

  • Co-developed the vision and scope for the event

  • Organized and managed objectives for 13 core organizers within 5 committees

  • Fundraised and managed a $25,000 budget

  • Selected 100 attendees from 400 applications and 12 speakers from 200 applications

  • Live-streamed and recorded speaker presentations reach a regional and global audience



It was due to the creativity and dedication of the core group of 13 organizers that made this event possible. As the Co-Curator, I helped to direct the organizing of the event. A big shout-out goes to my Co-curator, and partner in crime Marcos Silva.


Organizing

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


Organizers were split into five 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


Speakers


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.

Once the speakers were selected, we hosted weekly rehearsals 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), and 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 exhibition, 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 the narrative of their region. 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 the power of a collective community effort can turn the page and begin to write a new story.


Reflection


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 skill set throughout the project. On a personal note, I learned about the challenges of keeping a work-life balance during big projects. In preparing for TEDx event, I would now be more prepared in what areas should receive more or less attention.

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