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Susan Cope: Event Planner, TEDx Buffalo Organizer

Get to know a Buffalonian...

A few weeks ago, event planner Susan Cope launched an effort to secure a franchise for a TEDx event here in Buffalo. TEDx event are seminars inspired by the nonprofit group TED’s annual conferences (—the motto is “Ideas Worth Spreading”—in which thought leaders make presentations on cutting-edge ideas in any number of subjects. Last week, Cope’s application for a franchise was approved by TED, and she hopes to stage TEDxBuffalo this fall.

What’s a TEDx event? Why is it a big deal?

In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At a TEDx event, TEDTalks video and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. These local, self-organized events are branded TEDx, where x = independently organized TED event. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events are self-organized. (Subject to certain rules and regulations.)

It is an opportunity to gather inspirational minds and great ideas in Buffalo to inspire people to work on rebuilding our community and creating a sustainable infrastructure.

What sort of topics do you imagine a TEDx event in Buffalo might cover?

All of the topics covered will be based on technology, entertainment, and design. Presenters will give 18-minute talks about their experience and projections in the field in which they are experts.

How do participants carry the discussion and energy forward? What’s TED’s record on spurring action in other places?

The reason TED works is because the goal of the event is to bring together thought leaders, captains of industry, and talented people from a diverse range of fields. During the event the attendees make connections and are unified by the talks that are presented, spurring into action organizations and plans to make what seems impossible, possible.

Since I am bound by the TED regulation of 100 attendees at the event, attendance will be based on an application process to ensure we are hosting the proper group of participants. WNYmedia has generously offered the use of their resources so we can live-stream the event for anyone who is interested but unable to attend.

The most recent example of why TED works that I can give you is Jamie Oliver. In 2010 he was the TED Prize winner. Jamie Oliver’s wish: “I wish for your help to create a strong, sustainable movement to educate every child about food, inspire families to cook again and empower people everywhere to fight obesity.” Since being awarded the prize, numerous resources have been made available to him to start a “food revolution” in America.

Will there be beer?

Did you say beer? Why yes, I would love a beer. I am not sure that it would be appropriate to serve alcohol during the actual presentations, however there will be a reception following conference for attendees to network, mingle, and drink beer.

You’re an event planner, so I imagine you’ve seen your share of rubber chicken dinners and atrocious behavior. What’s the key to bringing off an event smoothly?

My favorite meal, the rubber chicken! In my experience the key to flawless event execution is all in the pre-planning. Hiccups are always going to occur the day of the event, but being detailed-oriented prior to the event occurring is the most crucial item for a flawless event.

Share a nightmare story?

Recently, I have been so swamped with work and I was hosting an event here in Buffalo. Somehow in the midst of my chaos I managed to order the breakfast and lunch catering for the wrong day. Food for 75 people and no one the enjoy it.

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