“Look to Arendal”

Mark November 3rd in your calendar. The event that makes even hardened New Yorkers say, “Look to Arendal,” has an ace up its sleeve this year.

— We are opening the doors in twenty minutes.
Any last questions before we kick off?

Volunteer coordinator Tove Hardaway looks at the black and red dressed group in front of her—the crew! She is holding the task list for the next 12 hours.

— Let’s do this! Peter Esenwa shouts eagerly. Nearly a hundred volunteers applaud. Some have joined before; others have not.

Before a TEDxArendal event, even the most experienced crew members don’t know exactly what they’re getting into.
And that’s where the magic lies. This is not the event for control freaks who like to handpick each talk based on a meticulous schedule. Here, you’re in it from start to finish.

Experiences from people to people

— It’s an experience, Linn Juul-Petersen says, with a glimpse in her eyes. She is the head of it all. Handpicked for the role, she holds a personal license for TED and is responsible for ensuring that everything runs smoothly. If any TED rules are broken, she’s the one who gets an earful from the New York office.

However, that’s not the reason she speaks English to the crew. Behind the scenes are people from all over the world. Speakers, volunteers, partners, and guests have different backgrounds, knowledge, and, most importantly, “ideas worth spreading.”

Franka Fleckenstein moved to Arendal from Berlin with her husband last year and is a prime example of the volunteering people that TEDxArendal attracts. She holds a commercial pilot’s license and a bachelor’s degree in economics and management and is currently doing a master’s degree in innovation and management. Volunteering is a way to gain insight into the Norwegian work environment, which she finds very useful.

— I love everything about TEDxArendal. The creativity beforehand, the excitement during the event, and most importantly, working with people who think outside the box.

If, by any chance, dark clouds were to loom over the event, the crew even has a meteorologist who can forecast the entire scenario. Anton Matsuik moved to Arendal from Ukraine after the war with Russia broke out. He is known as someone always ready to help, and the rest of the team benefits from his presence.

— Here, I can be useful, be a part of the local social- and work life, and maybe new opportunities will arise.

The whole spectrum

Linn Juul-Petersen smiles towards the crew as she welcomes even more. TED stands for technology, education, and design, she explains, but we could definitely include an extra “h” for humans.

— For me, it’s about the small, magical moments between the people who create TEDxArendal. We invite people to join our internal Crew community and give people the environment to see each other, talk to each other, and become each other’s cheering squad when things get intense around them. We do the same with the speakers. After a few days together, they get to know each other, they cheer for each other, and they have each other’s back as they do their talk.

— By creating this, we also create an atmosphere at our event that lets our guests feel welcomed. We try to touch upon the entire spectrum of feelings during 12 hours of TEDxArendal.

Linn talks about everything from anger to joy, from laughter to tears, from taste to smell, and from hunger to satisfaction.
— We created the 12-hour concept to give our guests a chance to empty their mailbox and their minds before lunch before coming to TEDxArendal, ready to be inspired. From the moment they enter the doors of TEDxArendal, they are our guests. And we take good care of our guests, she smiles.

Win-win for partners and audience

When the audience enters the doors of a TEDxArendal event, they only see the tip of the iceberg. Hours of creativity and joy of creation lie behind it. It’s al created by the help of volunteers and partners.

— DNB has been a partner for many years. It has given the bank and our employees many important new contacts. Our customers appreciate that we support initiatives in the local community and find it great to be able to participate in the event. DNB is an innovative bank that identifies with TED, says Bjørnar Larssen, Bank Manager.

What all partners have in common, is that they enjoy the fun, the collaboration, and the creativity that comes with it. Assistant Bank Manager in Sparebanken Sør, Didrik Rannekleiv, wants to put Arendal on the map.

— TEDxArendal is a fantastic event that aligns perfectly with Sparebanken Sør’s vision of creating sustainable growth and development for the region. Together with the amazing TEDxArendal team, we want to be a partner in creating great experiences for both the organizers and the audience. TEDxArendal truly puts Arendal on the map, and contributes a lot to the positive changes we see in Arendal and the region.

Companies that identify themselves with TED’s Technology, Entertainment and Design focus and wants to help spread “Ideas worth spreading” by being a partner can contact Linn at linn@tedxarendal.com.

Creative madness and fun

At a TEDxArendal workshop, there are always crayons and big posters. No ideas are too small, and none are too big.

—Maybe we should have some acrobats dangling from a crane in the square; you can suddenly hear before other crew members join in:
—Great idea! Or how about an opera singer sailing in on a fleet in Pollen, surrounded by people in kayaks with lights? Lots of lights!

—Or how about both, a third person might say.
—And we should have a disco!

Undoubtedly, when Linn talks about creating an experience, she means it!

Collaboration is key

— TEDxArendal loves collaborating with local artists and talents of all kinds and genres. She says that the opportunity to create the most imaginative experience often comes around dinnertime when guests are sent to have dinner at all the city’s restaurants surrounding Pollen.

If you’re going to attend something for 12 hours, it’s evident that you’ll need something to eat. And that is achieved through—yes, you guessed it—collaboration.

— A fantastic collaboration with restaurants in Arendal enables us to include dinner in the ticket despite being a non-profit event with a modest ticket price.

From vision to stage magic

— Oh wow.

The first guests are entering “Store Torungen” on a rainy November day in 2022. They walk backwards up the stairs to their seats. It’s hard not to be mesmerized by the universe that has been created. Yes, we’re literally talking about a part of the universe.
Dag Tynes and the rest of the crew create a spotlight where the speakers can shine. Regardless of whether the world was coming to an end, Dag is the type who would say, —The show must go on. But the giant globe hanging above the stage does not come to an end. It was specially ordered from England, along with the other planets.

Dag has created events like “P3 Gull” and the royal family’s state visits abroad. It often starts with an idea, which can come at the strangest times and places.
— Many stage visions come to me in the morning shower, at the store, or when I’m working on other events, he says.

The universe we created for TEDxArendal in 2022 was a vision created when TED in New York mentioned a previous TEDxArendal stage on Instagram. They wrote, “We are always excited to look into the universe of TEDxArendal’s stage design.”
— That comment was enough for the image to be created and later brought to life.

Past and future connected

Therefore, it may not be surprising that when Arendal celebrates its 300th anniversary in 2023 and TEDxArendal turns 10, they introduce new, unforgettable elements that ensure the anniversary event won’t be forgotten anytime soon.

Let us introduce TEDxArendal 2023: Pusnes Maritime Workshop.

— This building must be used. Here, we can showcase Arendal’s history and the beginning of a new industry. Pusnes Mechanical Workshop is a magical building that is a stage in itself. For me, it feels like taking the guests to Brooklyn and the harsh industry of the post-war years, Dag explains.

The plans for TEDxArendal 2023 were presented to the TEDxArendal partners in March. It’s essential to have them on board with new. Crazy ideas to be able to pull it off together. The plans met great enthusiasm.

Personal, unique, and custom-designed

Last but not least, TEDxArendal talks hit the mark. Behind the selection of every speaker, the program committee has gone through several rounds of discussions and reviews.

— Every year, the committee receives around 150 nominations. A lot of people dream of doing a TEDx talk. Some people nominate themselves, while others are nominated by others. We also have a list of over 300 names saved from previous years. We keep them because even if they haven’t made it through the needle’s eye before, they may fit the program later, says Co-Organizer and Head of Program Erik Bøylestad Nilsen.

The main goal is to create a diverse program that resonates with everyone in the audience. Not everything appeals to everyone, but everyone should be intrigued by something—preferably by most of it.

Linn, Erik, Dag, Franka, Anton, Didrik, Bjørnar and the rest of the TEDxArendal team are looking forward to November 2023.

— We know that we can achieve what we want, and as long as everyone wants it, it will be amazing! We are excited to open the doors to a unique venue with an impressive 12-hour program for 1,000 guests on November 3rd.