x = independently organized TED event

Theme: The Case for Optimism

This event occurred on
September 15, 2021
11:00pm - 11:00pm MDT
(UTC -6hrs)
Vail, Colorado
United States

Here it is. The speaker lineup: The Case for Optimism. At this very special TEDxVailLive, we’ll celebrate the clear-eyed and the bold of heart, those who don’t shy away from the most intractable-seeming problems but rather step toward them to make the case that, even now, hope is possible.

The lineup includes singer and rapper Lizzo, former NFL quarterback Alex Smith, podcaster Hrishikesh Hirway, among many others.
Session 1: Imagine if...
Molly Wright
Alex Smith
Wendy McNaughton
Zach King
Susan Graham
Sir Ken Robinson
Saad Blamla

Session 2: We think we have time...
Steve Pinker
Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Liam Young
Josh Giegel
Rishy Kesh

After a year of upheaval, people everywhere are angry, suspicious, distrustful … often with good reason. And yet, might it be possible to emerge from the current fiery moment stronger than before? Wiser? Happier? With the careful combination of visionary ideas, strategic planning, hard work and lucky timing, we think so. Together, we’ll host the conversations that matter, focusing on building a brighter future for everyone.

As always, we can’t announce everything right now, so stay tuned for some delightful surprises. COme for the speakers, stay for the conversations.

OBVIO online
Vail, Colorado, 81657
United States
Event type:
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Speakers may not be confirmed. Check event website for more information.

Alex Smith

NFL Football Quarterback
Former NFL quarterback for 16 years, Alex Smith played college football at Utah & was an All-American. He led his team to victory in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl. He was selected first overall by the San Francisco 49ers in the 2005 NFL Draft. In 2011, he led the 49ers to their first NFC West division title & playoff win since 2002 & the team's first NFC Championship Game appearance since 1997. He joined the Kansas City Chiefs, where he guided the team to four playoff runs & one postseason victory. He received three Pro Bowl selections during his Chiefs tenure & led the league in passer rating for 2017. Traded to the Washington Football Team in 2018, he suffered a life-threatening injury to his right leg that nearly resulted in amputation. He completed a lengthy rehabilitation process & started as quarterback in 2020, leading Washington to an NFC East division title & earning him NFL Comeback Player of the Year. He retired regarded one of the greatest comebacks in NFL history.

Hrishikesh Hirway

musician, podcast creator
Song Exploder, which I created and launched in 2014, was named Podcast of the Year by Quartz. in 2015. Vulture called it “probably the best use of the podcast format ever,” and the New York Times wrote, “In the world of beautifully produced podcasts, Song Exploder is the beacon. It’s a show filled with serious lines of honesty, cinematic production and peeks inside the creative process.” I make music under the name The One AM Radio & in the band Moors. I also compose music for film, television, and podcasts; most recently, I wrote the score for the video game The Red Lantern. I also serve the Library of Congress as an advisor on Digital Strategy. I’ve spoken about my work at places like the Google Design Conference, the AIGA Design Conference, IDEO, Yale University, Maine College of Art, Pinterest, Etsy, the Sundance Film Festival, the Sydney Opera House, and SXSW. Originally, I’m from Peabody, Massachusetts. These days, I live in Los Angeles. - “How I Work” on LifeHacker

Jarrett J. Krosoczka

author, illustrator
arrett J. Krosoczka is the New York Times-bestselling author/illustrator behind more than forty books for young readers, including his wildly popular Lunch Lady graphic novels, select volumes of the Star Wars™: Jedi Academy series, and Hey, Kiddo, which was a National Book Award Finalist. Krosoczka creates books with humor, heart, and deep respect for his young readers—qualities that have made his titles perennial favorites on the bookshelves of homes, libraries, and bookstores. In addition to his work in print, Krosoczka produced, directed, and performed in the audiobook adaptation of his graphic memoir, which garnered both Audie and Odyssey Awards for excellence in audiobook production. Krosoczka has been a guest on NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross and has delivered three TED Talks, which have accrued millions of views online. Young creatives can also hear Krosoczka weekly on SiriusXM's Kids Place Live and catch his wildly popular web show on YouTube, Draw Every Day with JJK.

Josh Giegel

Engineer, technologist
Josh Giegel is the CEO and Co-Founder of Virgin Hyperloop where he is leading a world-class team of engineers making the hyperloop a reality. VH built a full-scale prototype in 2016 capturing the attention of governments worldwide. Today, Josh is leading the development of paradigm shifting electromagnetic, high power, autonomous technology, bridging the engineering work with unparalleled passenger experience, and working at the highest levels of government to develop a regulatory framework for hyperloop technology. Previously, at SpaceX, Josh developed the world’s first reusable rockets and led the successful testing of six different rocket engines. Josh shifted his focus to power the earth with revolutionary waste heat-to-power energy technology, leading research activities at Echogen Power Systems. Josh is passionate about the power of engineering to create solutions that enable people to live their lives how they want – where they want - sustainably.

Liam Young

director, architect
Liam Young is a speculative architect and director who operates in the spaces between design, fiction and futures. He is cofounder of Tomorrows Thoughts Today, an urban futures think tank, exploring the local and global implications of new technologies and Unknown Fields, Described by the BBC as ‘the man designing our futures’, his visionary films and speculative worlds are both extraordinary images of tomorrow and urgent examinations of the environmental questions facing us today. As a concept designer he visualizes the cities, spaces and props of our imaginary futures. His fictional work is informed by his academic research and has held guest professorships at Princeton University, MIT, and Cambridge and now runs the Masters in Fiction and Entertainment at SCI Arc in Los Angles. He has published Machine Landscapes: Architectures of the Post Anthropocene and Planet City, a story of a fictional city for the entire population of the earth.

Lizzo .

Lizzo, singer, rapper, songwriter, flautist
Three-time Grammy-winning superstar Lizzo has become a household name, with more than four billion global streams and a Platinum debut album. Melissa Jefferson (born April 27, 1988 in Detroit, Michigan, U.S.), known professionally as Lizzo, is an American rapper and singer. She is a founding member of indie hip hop groups The Chalice, Grrrl Prty, The Clerb, Ellypseas, and Absynthe. Her debut album, Lizzobangers, was released in 2013. In 2015, she released her sophomore album, Big Grrrl Small World. Aside from singing and rapping, Lizzo has also worked as an actor: she served as a voice performer in the animated film UglyDolls (2019) and appeared in the crime comedy-drama film Hustlers (2019). In 2019, Time named Lizzo as "Entertainer of the Year" for her meteoric rise and contribution to music.[3] In addition to her three Grammy Awards, she has also won a Billboard Music Award, a BET Award, and two Soul Train Music Awards.

Molly Wright

Molly Wright is a 7 year old, Grade 2 student originally from Manchester, England, now residing in Queensland, Australia. She made her acting debut in 2021 in the lead role of Aria in the feature film Kidnapped. In July 2021, Molly became one of the youngest ever TED speakers after she delivered her Thrive by Five TED Talk for Minderoo Foundation at The Sydney Opera House, directed by Michael Gracey (The Greatest Showman, Rocketman). Molly is an aspiring wildlife warrior, performer and budding social activist. With the help of her parents, she runs Molly's Wildlife Warriors: a group of 40 children who raise awareness and funds for Currumbin Wildlife Hospital in Queensland, Australia. Molly's extra-curricular activities include dancing, musical theatre and piano. Molly is also an avid reader, and proud big sister to brother; Freddie, and Dalmatian puppy; Matilda.

Saad Bhamla

curiosity-driven scientist
Saad Bhamla is an Assistant Professor in the School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering at Georgia Tech, where he runs a curiosity-driven lab that explores research questions in organismic biophysics, soft matter and frugal science. Prior to joining Georgia Tech, Saad was a Dean’s Postdoctoral Fellow in Bioengineering at Stanford University (with Manu Prakash), where he also completed his PhD in Chemical Engineering (with Gerry Fuller). Saad is a prolific inventor and his most notable inventions includes a 20-cent paper centrifuge, a 23-cent electroporator and the 96-cent hearing aid. Saad's work is recognised by numerous awards including an NSF CAREER, Innovation in MedTech Award, and INDEX: Design to Improve Life Award. Saad is also a National Geographic Explorer. Outside of the lab, Saad loves to go hiking with his partner and two dogs (Ollie and Bella).

Steven Pinker

Cognitive psychologist Steven Pinker
Steven Pinker is the Johnstone Family Professor in the Department of Psychology at Harvard University. He conducts research on language, cognition, and social relations, writes for publications such as the New York Times, Time and The Atlantic, and is the author of twelve books, including The Language Instinct, How the Mind Works, The Blank Slate, The Stuff of Thought, The Better Angels of Our Nature,The Sense of Style, Enlightenment Now, and the forthcoming Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters.

Susan Graham

Environmentalist, entrepreneur
Susan Graham cofounded Dendra Systems. Empowering ecosystem restoration at scale, Dendra uses automation and intelligence to fundamentally shift the rate and scale at which ecosystems can be restored and provide the infrastructure for robust management and investment in the natural world.

Wendy MacNaughton

Illustrator, graphic journalist
Wendy is a NYT best-selling illustrator & graphic journalist based in San Francisco. Her books include Meanwhile in San Francisco, The City in its Own Words (Chronicle), Lost Cat: A True Story of Love, Desperation, and GPS Technology (Bloomsbury), Pen and Ink: Tattoos and the Stories Behind Them (Bloomsbury), Knives & Ink: Chefs and The Stories Behind Their Tattoos (Bloomsbury),, The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert. Before all that stuff, she studied art and social work, worked as a copywriter in advertising, a campaign director for non-profits, a bookseller in a used bookstore, and a counselor on a suicide hotline. She also created the national campaign for the first democratic elections in Rwanda, health education materials for nomadic tribes in Northern Kenya, and a short film in Eastern Congo. She lives in Potrero Hill with her partner (and frequent collaborator) the writer Caroline Paul, two cats and a dog.

Zach King

ZACH KING — The LA based filmmaker known for his clever magic tricks and “digital sleight of hand”, is one of social media’s most prominent content creators. With a combined social reach of over 105+ million followers, Zach’s magical content has delighted fans all over the world. Zach has been featured on The Ellen DeGeneres Show, Good Morning America, Adweek, and People. His company, King Studio, has partnered with brands such as Disney, Apple, Sony, Nike, Coca-Cola, and many others. Recently, Zach has expanded onto the TikTok platform, where he has seen incredible growth. With over 68 million followers alone on TikTok, Zach continues to inspire and motivate young filmmakers to create anything extraordinary, and pursues his love of short form content.

Organizing team


Vail, CO, United States
  • Alessandra Nicole