The Billings incarnation of a wildly popular speaking circuit returned on Saturday with a new venue and a fresh crop of presenters.
TEDx Billings marked its third installment of the daylong event, which was held at the Billings Studio Theater. Ticketholders were treated to 10 live speakers and videos from the TED universe, all aimed at illuminating that light bulb above people's heads.
The acronym stands for technology, entertainment and design, and encompasses the goal of the presentations. The "x" means the event is independently organized, and Liz Welch has been at the helm for three years.
"We kind of reach out to speakers based on an idea, and craft it around that," Welch said.
She explained the speakers as experts in their respective fields, touching on issues that are "relevant."
The first three speakers brought variety to that relevancy. First, Billings police officer Matt Lennick explained the ongoing community policing program that focuses on repeat alcohol infractions.
Modeled after a similar venture in San Diego, the Billings program pairs resource officers like Lennick with a social worker to advocate treatment, rather than jail, for repeat offenders. The goal is to avoid the revolving door of arrest, jail and release, which is something Lennick saw prior to the program.
"We were still getting the same businesses, and they were reporting the same crimes from the same individuals," he said.
The program has seen some success in the downtown area. Lennick said they've been able to get 25 people to volunteer for detox or treatment.
The second presenter, Kiah Abbey, took on the idea of civic engagement from the millennial view. She's a staff member with Forward Montana, a youth-oriented political group based in Bozeman.
She explained to the mostly older crowd that millennials — those born between 1982 and 2000 — represent a growing voting group that has grown up suspicious, or even disenfranchised, with political authority.
While Abbey urged civic engagement in various forms, she also spoke about the power of relationships. She said that civil, engaged groups can help create a smooth transition between the old political guard and the new.
"We're facing unique problems as millennials, but I think if you raise your expectations, we're ready to meet them," she said.
The day progressed in that way, with speakers touching on a variety of stories and ideas. Anna Paige shared a heartfelt, personal story about losing a cherished dog.
Paige eventually found and became attached to another pup, only to find that it suffered from cancer. In the sometimes frantic search for a remedy, she learned a lot about herself.
While TEDx Billings is an independent event, Welch said that the TED organization demands certain criteria, such as plagiarism checks and carefully chosen presentations.
Now three years in, Welch said that the red and white TEDx logo is likely to return for another installment.