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TEDxPaonia: Ideas take center stage

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Photo by Tamie Meck Zach Krapfl, a Paonia-based engineer and designer of electric bikes, speaks about changing the future of transportation Saturday at the TEDxPaonia event at the Paradise Theatre. Krapfl was one of 16 speakers, all of whom either live in

Paonia is known for many things: ranching, coal, orchards, wineries and scenery. But on Saturday, Paonia became a place of ideas when the Paradise Theatre presented TEDxPaonia.

"Today you are part of a groundbreaking effort to celebrate Paonia as a place that ignites creativity, curiosity and connection," said host Rob Miller in his introduction. "Paonia is known as a destination for outdoor recreation, farming and coal mining. But rarely are we acknowledged as a thought hub."

Miller described speakers as either living in or having close ties to Paonia, and said it is "something of a secret how many wildly intelligent and visionary people call this place home."

The event sold out two weeks in advance, with many tickets going to people from outside of Delta County and the North Fork Valley and from as far away as Denver and the states of Texas and Illinois.

The day's theme was "Pushing Through the Pavement" (think flowers growing up from hairline cracks in the concrete).

Sixteen speakers gave engaging presentations in prose and poetry, video, song, dance, instrumentals and photography. Topics ranged from the concepts of time and place, by writer Craig Childs; "rhythm and shifting our perceptions," with percussionist and rhythm enthusiast David Alderdice; building our own sacred shelters, by architect Doug Beall; the future of transportation, by engineer and electric bicycle designer Zach Krapfl; and Crested Butte resident Marcie Telander on how the community was divided between old-timers and newcomers in the 1970s, and how they came together through ritual and celebration and stopped strip mining from destroying a treasured landscape.

Cedaredge journalist and 2011 National Magazine Award finalist Christie Aschwanden explained "how envy can guide your path to success," and Paonia resident Hal Brill, co-founder of Natural Investments and co-author of "Investing With Your Values" and "The Resilient Investor," spoke on "how to thrive in turbulent times."

Dev Carey, an educator and founder and co-director of High Desert Center for Sustainable Studies in Paonia, brought the audience to tears of laughter in his thought-provoking presentation "on doing dishes and bureaucracy." Carey described how people feel frustrated and ineffective "in the face of bureaucracy." He suggests that we are the ones who create it, and posited that we can also change it. People create bureaucracy naturally, and out of habit, said Carey, whose biggest insight into the matter came while watching groups of people sharing living space and how they respond to messes in the kitchen. "I concluded that the messy-kitchen scenario is a repeatable, predictable pattern that mirrors the bureaucracy-creating patterns that I've observed time and time again," said Carey.

The seven-hour event, the first TEDx event on the Western Slope, was broken into four segments, each ending with a previously-recorded international TED video. In "My Solar Powered Adventure," balloonist Bertrand Piccard explains how his circumnavigation of Earth in a hot air balloon is leading to new innovations in solar-powered flight. Jae Rhi Lee talked about her mushroom burial suit, and photographer Sebastian Salgado spoke of "the silent drama of photography" and how it led to his personal healing and the healing of a section of the Brazilian rainforest.

Once they are edited to meet the TED format, videos will be posted on the TEDx website in the coming weeks, according to co-organizer Elaine Brett.

It was a busy week for the Paradise, which last Thursday hosted Rocky Mountain PBS Colorado Experience and the films "Cinema on the Plains" and "Ladies of the Mines." Colorado Film Commissioner Donald Zuckerman and RMPBS producer Mariel Rodriquez-McGill both attended the event, said Brett, with the nonprofit Friends of Paradise Theatre. "They were blown away by the audience and the enthusiasm and the Paradise Theatre."

On Orange Sunday, the theater was opened to the public for viewing of Super Bowl 50 on the big screen. Fans watched as the Denver Broncos defeated the Carolina Panthers 24-10.

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