Sunday, October 9, 2011

JBI CEO Bordynuik speaks at Buffalo's Oct 11 TEDx conference

TED comes to Buffalo to inspire innovation

By Stephen T. Watson
Published:October 8, 2011, 12:00 AM
Updated: October 8, 2011, 10:04 AM

There’s an organic dairy farmer, an executive with a company that converts plastic waste into alternative fuel, and the designer of an educational program for school drop-outs.

And a guy who wants to bring back Buffalo’s beer culture.

They’re part of the hodgepodge of presenters set to take the stage at Tuesday’s cutting-edge TEDxBuffalo conference.

The daylong session brings together a carefully selected crop of speakers and audience members, from a variety of backgrounds, in an effort to encourage brainstorming and idea-sharing.

“All the speakers have kind of started something outside the official channels,” said Kevin Purdy, a freelance technology writer and the main TEDxBuffalo organizer. “It’s basically folks who have done it — or have a mission to something — on their own.”

TEDxBuffalo is the local version of the national TED, whose speakers have included former Vice President Al Gore, Microsoft Corp. Chairman Bill Gates and anthropologist Jane Goodall.

Local organizers have worked for months to put together their program, with an eye on spurring innovation and follow-up movement after the session.

“The whole TED philosophy is big thinking, big ideas, and getting a conversation started with action behind it,” said Tricia Marcolini, another organizer and Canisius College MBA student who works in the information technology department of CertaPro Painters.

TED — short for Technology, Entertainment, Design — is a nonprofit committed to “Ideas Worth Sharing.”

The group is best known for conferences that attract a range of speakers from the business, cultural and scientific worlds. TED shares recordings of those TEDTalks through its website, YouTube and iTunes.

In addition to the conferences TED hosts around the world, the group licenses events under the TEDx brand.

Purdy obtained a license for TEDxBuffalo in May.

He and a team of organizers started with a list of up to 60 potential speakers and whittled that down to the 12 participating on Tuesday. “We’re trying to connect the innovators, sales people [and] motivators together,” Marcolini said.

Patrick Lango has received notice in the New York Times and other outlets for his handcrafted approach to dairy farming in Cattaraugus County.

Another speaker, John Bordynuik, the founder of Plastic2Oil, has developed a technology to convert plastic waste to ultra-low-sulphur fuel at a plant in Niagara Falls.

And Stacey Watson is a founder of Buffalo’s Drop-In Nation Education Center, where 73 percent of its graduates start college, job-training or a job one year after finishing the program.

These presenters — as well as Ethan Cox, who wants to “embeer” Buffalo, and the other scheduled speakers — are linked by a theme of, “You saw a need and got it done,” as Marcolini put it.

The conference is taking place at Canisius’ Carol & Carl Montante Cultural Center.

TED requires its partner conferences to limit attendance to 100 guests, so organizers worked hard to find audience members from different backgrounds.

“The idea is to see what happens when you mix up the crowd and mix up the speakers,” Purdy said.

People who weren’t invited to the conference but still want to see the action have options.

TEDxBuffalo is holding live viewing parties at four sites: the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus, the University at Buffalo Honors College, the Sugar City arts collaborative and the Main Washington Exchange.

Also, the sessions will be streamed online and they will be archived for later viewing.

Purdy and the other organizers say they hope the spirit of TEDxBuffalo doesn’t end with the close of the conference Tuesday afternoon.

“TEDxBuffalo hopefully throws a whole lot of different thoughts at people, and hopefully you come away with a better idea of what’s going on in Buffalo and the wider community,” Purdy said.

Visit to watch the streamed or archived videos and for more information on the conference, the viewing parties and how to win admission to the event through a photo contest.

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