Internet entrepreneur Will Lucas spends a lot of time with his head in the Cloud.
He thinks Toledo would be better off if more area residents were to find their way to the same spot -- an enormous server on the Internet where language, location, age, and other defining factors are less of a barrier to true global communication, deal-making, and invention.
"Historically, Toledo has not been a technologically progressive place," said Lucas, whose downtown business, Creadio, tailors background music to suit clients including The Andersons and McDonald's.
"Technology is like the Gold Rush. We don't have much of a choice but to become more technologically proficient," he said via cell phone from the Philadelphia International Airport last week, waiting for a flight out to Silicon Valley.
Rather than move away to a hipper tech setting, Lucas, a Toledo native, wants to bring the Gold Rush to this Black Swamp metropolis.
So Lucas turned to TED, a tech-savvy non-profit where ideas are currency and the Cloud is the burgeoning marketplace.
TED -- the acronym stands for Technology Entertainment Design -- was born more than 25 years ago near Silicon Valley but now resides in New York. From the Big Apple it sends ideas out like the sun's rays via the Internet, ideas gathered during its licensed, Chautauqua-like gatherings where visionaries and doers have up to 18 minutes in the spotlight to share ideas.
The first TEDxToledo will kick off at 1:30 p.m. Thursday at the Healthcare REIT headquarters, 4500 Dorr St. Some 100 people will be in the audience.
For five hours, attendees, who paid $100 per ticket, will have first-hand exposure to local movers and shakers in science, medicine, law, business, arts, and entertainment.
"There's so much power in ideas," said Ashley Mirakian, a marketing wiz for the Toledo Symphony and Toledo Opera, who worked with Lucas and Rhonda Sewell, Marc Folk, John Eikost, and Sarah Skow to plan TEDxToledo.
"If you leave this experience empowered to do one thing that embodies the theme, 'You Will Do Better,' the whole region will benefit," Mirakian said.
Emily McManus, another Toledo native who now manages the TED Web site, concurs.
"Everybody in Toledo has an idea," she said.
TEDx is one of the TED brand's most successful spin-offs, with some 1,300 events presented each year around the world.
Bowling Green State University, the University of Michigan, and Detroit already have mastered the complexities of producing TEDx events.
"One of the things that is magical about a TEDx is, it shows what's going on in that community, what great stuff is going on that you might not know about," McManus said.
Basically, the process begins with sharing ideas at the local level, then sending videos of TEDx talks to headquarters, where McManus and her colleagues view and rate them, for possible posting on the big TED site.
There, some 17,000 videos are on view for free. TED also produces the TED Radio Hour, which is broadcast at 9 p.m. Sunday nights on WUOM-FM 91.7, Ann Arbor's public radio station.
McManus notes that among the top five videos posted on the TED site, three were generated at TEDx events such as Thursday's.
Some of those top videos will be shown during the Toledo program as well, one of the requirements TED makes when it licenses a local event, for which it charges no fees.
Thursday's speakers will include:
●Dr. Blair Grubb of the University of Toledo College of Medicine, known work for his research and work in autonomic disorders and a published essayist who explores doctor-patient relationships.
●16-year-old poet Nichole Kanios.
●Photographer Robin Sulier-Charney, whose photos and her work in outreach for a local cancer center share the quest to affirm human dignity, person by person.
●Jelani Jefferson Exum, a faculty member at the UT College of Law and a recognized expert in sentencing policy, comparative criminal law, and the impact of race on criminal justice.
●Naturalist Bob Jacksy, who uses photography to reveal the stories of human impact on nature, whether in the inner city or in one of Metroparks, where he has worked for 18 years.
●Alvin Compaan, a UT physics and astronomy professor, who has been part of the solar-energy explosion that has provided Toledo with a new economic base, and who has built a family home with off-the-grid power sources.
●Flutist Brandy Hudelson, who has built a reputation as a musical innovator bringing techniques from other cultures into Western music.
●Inverness Club Chef Michael Bulkowski, who is renowned for his championing of locally grown ingredients at the former Revolver restaurant in Findlay.
Already, these speakers and others on the tightly scheduled program are pushing various boundaries and finding great rewards within their particular fields.
TEDxToledo will offer a chance for them to hear each other and for everyone in attendance to soak up this banquet of personal testimony and reports.
"I was looking for a way to bring people doing similar projects together," Lucas said of his 2011 call for participants.
For information about TEDxToledo, visit tedxtoledo.com.
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Sharing big ideas on the local level.