ONE-MAN BAND Rick Adam spreads joy to TEDx attendees at last year's event, at the Jackson Theater. This year’s event is Saturday, March 4. (Photo courtesy of TEDx Sonoma)

TEDx Sonoma County, the short-form lectures made popular by the likes of Bill Gates, Jane Goodall and Stephen Hawking, is returning on Saturday, March 4, to the Jackson Theater in Santa Rosa. This year’s theme is “This Is Us,” reflecting the topic of inclusion. 

“We will be gathering in person, full strength, for the first time in three years—though we will continue to offer people the option to tune in virtually, either individually or with a watch party, at home,” said TEDx Sonoma County board member Linda Streb of Healdsburg.

“TEDx events are specifically designed to inspire and bring people together,” Streb said. “The board’s goal is to leverage the power of this unique platform to foster deeper connections and provide people with more exposure and understanding of their neighbor’s ideas.”

TED talks are styled in the form of short, direct talks of 18 minutes or less. TED began in 1984 at a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design lectures were combined. Today, TED talks cover almost all topics—from science to business to global issues, in more than 100 languages. 

The annual TED Conference takes place each spring in Vancouver, British Columbia, though independently run TEDx events help share ideas in communities around the world. This will be the eleventh year of TEDx Sonoma County.

This year’s theme, “This Is Us,” reflects the board’s decision to “reposition and expand the event to include a wider representation of voices,” said Streb, and enable a greater number of communities to benefit from ”ideas worth spreading”—the slogan of the Technology-Entertainment-Design concept that gave rise to TED talks.

TEDx TALKER Melissa Nelson, of the Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa Indians, will speak on ‘Native Hands, Native Lands’ at the TEDx Sonoma County lectures on March 4. (Courtesy photo)

Among this weekend’s speakers is Melissa Nelson of The Culture Conservancy, on “Native Hands, Native Lands” or Indigenous rights and revitalization; educator Larkin O’Leary of the Common Ground Society on fostering differences; and clinical psychologist and author Jonah Paquette on “The Happiness Factor.” 

Another of the 13 speakers is Dr. Ed Lu, who was a NASA astronaut for 12 years, flew aboard the Space Shuttle twice, and on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station, where he did a six-month tour. He is the co-inventor of the Gravity Tractor, a controllable means of changing the trajectory of an asteroid.

Tanya Knipplemeir and the UPside Dance Company are known for modern dance and performance art in unconventional settings, and are also scheduled on the program. 

Full details about this year’s speakers are available at 

“This Is Us” will take place from 1–4:30pm at the Jackson Theater on the Sonoma Country Day School campus in Santa Rosa. There will be two roughly 90-minute sessions with an intermission in between. Registration for attendance is currently ongoing, at 

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