Kansas City is Cool. While this is not their official slogan the number of times the phrase comes up reminds me very much of the Austin is Weird. In deed there is a lot going on in the city and it has a great density of culture and food to people along with the most miles per-capita of freeway for U.S. cities. I was secreted in by Mike Lundgren one of the principal organizer of TEDxKC to help open eyes to the possibility of Mass Transit without wheels on the ground and present a refreshed and updated version of The Wire. As I was wandering the streets in search of BBQ and a Town Topic burger I found out this notion of Mass Transit in Kansas City is actually quite a controversial thing right now. I was hopeful for a small and understanding TED crowd.
Instead TEDxKC turns out to be one of, if not the largest TEDx event out there. Well over 2,000 attendees. This gigapan shows the view I had from stage. This was a pretty incredible site but there was also a second theatre full of people next door watching a live simulcast.
That many people interested in the creation, heroism, enlightenment, education, inspiration, provocation, profound creativity and humor of the speakers, artists and musicians. And that is pretty much how the night went in that order. There is a TEDx joke that goes you either leave TEDx feeling like you need to do something with your life or as if you have done nothing at all, and from the energy in the lobby afterwards it was clear that this was a "go do something" crowd.
The event video is produced by the local PBS station KCPT (kcpt.org) and they edit these up into a program they air 20 or so times a year. However if you would like a peek into the live experience the livestream is still up. There is a link right from the TEDxKC home page, tedkc.org.
All speakers were amazing. My talk begins at 2:54:00 and there is new information there over the TEDxAustin talk. Also you can witness one of those amazingly rare moments when there is technical difficulty in a TED talk. I feel it was handled well. It won’t last long I am sure they will be able to piece the talk back together with some editing. In other media we were also asked to come onto an hour long local NPR talk show "Up to Date" with Steve Kraske. This is a call in show and I was amazed to hear the woman who called in during my segment tell us she lived in Columbia, rode Metro Cable and said it was amazing! Here is the website for "Up To Date." You can also listen here.
I shall also offer for fans of Mass Transit and The Wire that as Cities go, Kansas City is way ahead of the curve. They have one of the best street car plans I have ever seen right up to the amazing wisdom to not charge a fare (Go KC! That really is the correct most cost effective way to do this). Of course it is still a very expensive 60 ton bus and up until now opponents really had no answer to the binary trap of we can do this or nothing. Now they have seen The Wire. It is up to them now to bring their desires to the City Governance. (although I have many contacts to stay in touch with and am happy to evangelize) But if I were them I definitely would start by complimenting them on amazing work improving and providing infrastructure and ask that all the really good work on the streetcar be preserved except the last step. Instead of a giant heavy fixed route bus. Let’s take that planning and bolt down the first major Urban Cable line in North America!
As always thanks to Michael McDaniel and all the awesome designers who have worked so hard on The Wire vision! I am honored to be your spokesperson at things like this.