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TEDx Williamsburg Conference to Feature Archaeologist, Former Rikers Inmate

By Serena Dai | October 24, 2014 11:46am | Updated on October 27, 2014 8:49am
 TEDxNew York will debut at the former Williamsburgh Savings Bank next month.
TEDxNew York will debut at the former Williamsburgh Savings Bank next month.
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Weylin B. Seymour's Facebook/Mercedes Noriega Photography

SOUTH WILLIAMSBURG — The latest local TED conference is looking to reflect the diversity of ideas in New York City — from a former Rikers inmate turned prison advocate to an urban archaeologist uncovering city artifacts.

TEDxNew York, a local version of the TED idea conferences, will debut on Nov. 1 at Weylin B. Seymour's, the former Williamsburgh Savings Bank at 175 Broadway.

Co-organizer David Webber said that this TEDx aims to "paint a picture of New York in broad strokes."

"We wanted to represent New York as the global capital, as a hub for culture and thought leadership, and as a place of neighborhoods where people live their daily lives," he explained. "We wanted to show what New Yorkers can learn from each other."

During the daylong conference, about 400 participants will gather to hear 18 people speak about their ideas and stories.

Presenters include Alyssa Loorya, an urban archaeologist who has followed around construction crews in hopes of telling the history of New York through artifacts, and Ben Wellington, a city planning lecturer at Pratt University who blogs about city data.

Ismael Nazario, a prison reform advocate who spent 300 days in solitary confinement at Riker's as a teenager before conviction, will also be speaking at the conference.

The conference is intended to help New Yorkers break out of their industry bubbles, Webber said.

"It's so easy to just get stuck in your own world," Webber said. "Conferences like ours encourage us to break out of our silos, to meet people we don't usually cross paths with."

Applications to attend the conference are still open. Tickets cost $100, though a 50 percent discount is being offered to students, teachers and others in need, Webber said.