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Independent TED talks center on downtown's creative scene


Lucy B. is a builder who uses imagineering to dream up her designs; Breyden T. is an inventor, dedicated to building a better robot; Ethan D. is a self-taught computer programmer and app designer.
They are 9, 10 and 11 years old.
Danielle Ford is a proud single parent who hopes to destigmatize the words “young mother.” Joy Hoover is a philanthropist who uses cupcakes to forge friendships with adult entertainers. Jennifer Magnolfi is a co-working expert who specializes in creating productive collaboration spaces.
These are not national figures, they are local women — real-life innovators in the Las Vegas community.
In the coming month, two TEDx talks will be held downtown, featuring the aforementioned speakers and others. TEDxYouth@18bArtsDistrict will take place Saturday, Nov. 17, at Theatre7 and will focus on children and their innovations. TEDxFremontEastWomen will be held Dec. 1 at Arts Square and will focus on Las Vegas women who are entrepreneurs.
TEDx talks are independent spin-offs of the national creativity conferences held in Palm Springs and Long Beach, Calif., each year, where speakers gather to speak on the subjects of technology, entertainment and design for 18 minutes max. Topics range from quirky to useful to emotionally moving. At $8,000 a pop, tickets to the annual events can be cost prohibitive, but all talks are available to watch free online. Top videos include thinky topics such as "metals that breathe," "how schools kill creativity," what you can learn during a plane crash and "how to spot a liar."
Alexia Vernon, a co-organizer of TedxFremontEastWomen, has a background in women's studies from UNLV and works as a media and speaking coach for women. Her co-founder Jessica Tomlinson works for Allegiant airlines as a cultural engagement manager and runs Tribal Truth, a support network for women. Vernon and Tomlinson were inspired to create the event to showcase female voices in the community, which Vernon said often go unheard. She and Tomlinson specifically selected women who would share the good and the bad, and not sugarcoat the details of their lives.
"We were looking for women who were comfortable being vulnerable and authentic," Vernon said. "Women who would let you see them fully, not just the media accomplishments and the big awards."
Included in the program's lineup are Sarah Evans of Tracky, Stacey Hall of The Hall Institute of Intuitive Wellness, Jacqueline Jensen of Ticket Cake, Kim Schaefer a writer with the Downtown Project, and others.
Monera Mason is a mother who homeschools her children and wanted to bring more opportunities to the children of Las Vegas. Speaking at a TEDx event, she said, looked good on college and magnet-school applications.
Typically, she says, TEDx youth events are held in prestigious neighborhoods.
"Across the country, it's all in high-end neighborhoods like Palo Alto," Mason said. "Very few are done in an urban core."
Included in her program are Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh, community activist and CityLife contributor Hektor Esparza and Downtown Project's Claire Byrd.
Both events are influenced by downtown Las Vegas, specifically the influx of people and ideas associated with Tony Hsieh and his revitalization plans.
"The Downtown Project has been a catalyst to get all different sorts of organizers to throw things out there and inspire people," Mason said. "There's a lot of collaboration and commection that's happening downtown."