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A TEDx collaboration that put Portland on the map.

The offspring of the world-famous TED talks, TEDx events are independently organized local events all over the globe. This is the story of a Portland-grown partnership that has made our town’s TEDx different from all the others.

In 2013, its third year in existence, TEDxPortland was already a success. They’d doubled the attendance over the first two years, sold out in a week, and had moved to a larger space.

But when cofounder/curator/host David Rae was leaving the venue, he was disappointed to see that people had left their event programs behind. In the trash.

As he was mulling over the problem, he happened upon a beautiful hardbound Nike year-in-review product book, and asked what world-class company had produced it. The answer was Premier Press. A family-owned business right here in Portland, Oregon.

David arranged to meet with us and see our facility. When he described his grand, pull-out-all-the-stops ambition for the upcoming event book, we realized what our partnership could mean. As sponsors, we had the opportunity not only to support, but to be a tangible part of an event we loved. So we said, “Let’s do it.”  

And we did. TEDx and Premier Press, together with design firm Enjoy the Weather, created a 160-page book so extraordinary that it won the prestigious 2014 Benny Award.

Since then, we’ve tried to outdo ourselves every year, using all our best materials, techniques, and technologies. But it’s not only a thing of beauty to cherish; it’s a way to keep the TEDx inspiration alive. The book has ample space for note-taking so people can go back and reflect on the impressions they had at the time.

One year there was an indented section in the book – and A-to-Z guide to Portland with a perforated checklist on heavy stock. Attendees have taken up the habit of collecting autographs from the speakers on their respective bio pages. And this year’s book includes a blank postcard, on which attendees can write a letter to their future selves, drop it off as they leave the event, and receive it in the mail next year.

David says, “This book is a treasure. When you receive it at the beginning of the event, it sets the tone for a first-class, one-of-a-kind experience. Each year, you can add a new volume to your library. And afterwards, for years to come, it’s something you can pick up, touch, feel, reread, and be transported back to an experience in your own personal history. That’s something you’re not going to do on Instagram.”

“This book is a treasure. When you receive it at the beginning of the event, it sets the tone for a first-class, one-of-a-kind experience.”

David Rae

Now in the 7th year of our partnership, David says:

“We’re so lucky to have the whole team at Premier. Their level of professionalism is incredible. My production manager, Andy Gordon, answers my emails at 1am, and is my operational magician. I call him ‘Commissioner Gordon.’

“Account director Eric Farrara is my caped crusader. And none of it could happen without the support of the ownership team, Juli Cordill and Joni Feryn. Over the years, we’ve become like family. I can say with supreme confidence that there’s no other TEDx event in the world that does what we do here in Portland with Premier Press. Not New York, not Tokyo, not Milan. Not even the original ‘Big TED’ organization in Vancouver, B.C.”

That said, any city that wants to copy us is more than welcome to do so.

After all, that’s what TED is all about: ideas worth spreading.