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TEDxModesto Gets A Piece Of Oakdale
Interfaith Ministries CEO and Oakdale community member Elizabeth Wight will be one of seven guest speakers taking to the stage at Gallo Center for the Arts, today, Sept. 27 as a part of TEDxModesto. - photo by Photo Contributed

Standing center stage and speaking at the Gallo Center for the Arts is likely not a place Elizabeth Wight envisioned herself five years ago. Today, however, Wednesday, Sept. 27 it is exactly where she will be, as she and six others participate in the Inaugural TEDxModesto event organized by Josh Boyd.

According to a press release on the TEDxModesto website, the idea for the event was prompted following numerous low rankings the city of Modesto received on varying ranking lists. An Oakdale community member, Wight is the CEO of Modesto-based Interfaith Ministries. She will be joined on stage by: Sherry McIntyre, Erica Ormsby, Eric Jung, Sam Pierstorff, Emmanuel Escamilla and Galen Carroll. Each will be addressing topics they are both passionate about and that are pertinent to the Central Valley.

“Josh Boyd, the organizer, let me know that he had applied for a license to bring the event to our area in the summer of 2016,” Wight said. “For TEDx specifically, I feel like TED-ed and TEDx are a huge part of our current culture.”

The ‘x’ in TEDx indicates an independently organized event granted licensing permission from TED (Technology, Entertainment and Design). ‘X’ events are local gatherings hosting dynamic speakers and offering a unique community gathering. As it is with a TED talk, the TEDxModesto speakers were asked to keep their segments at 18 minutes or less.

“The requirements and guidelines are extremely detailed and an event takes months of planning, financial sponsorships, and a rigorous screening of topics and speakers,” Wight said of the local event. “In some areas, people would apply to be speakers but in this case, we were all invited. TEDx isn’t really about “great speakers,” it’s about sharing great ideas, or “ideas worth spreading,” to use the official language.”

Wight spent the better part of the past year preparing for her 17-plus minutes of the unique event. The topic she was asked to speak on is that of hunger in America and what that looks like.

“The idea that hunger doesn’t always look the way we expect it to in America, so we can be quick to dismiss it as a problem that doesn’t apply to us, but that fighting food insecurity ethically on a local level impacts lives in unexpected ways.

“This is deeply important to me, both on a personal level, as someone who has experienced food insecurity,” she continued, “and professionally, as I work to address hunger every day in my profession.”


According to the speaker, the event will be filmed and edited before it’s released for public viewing, a process which can take several weeks.