Brian’s idea of a good time is volunteering at Sundance Film Festival every year. He doesn’t even care much for the celebrity sightings. He’s a true lover of film — you know, the friend who might recommend the most obscure, foreign works? That’s Brian.
Carlee, on the other hand, is a punk rocker. She’s the one who’ll tell you, yes, Punk Rock Bowling is a thing. Because she’s been to the annual Las Vegas festival, where she saw Dropkick Murphys.
There is one key thing that bonds these two, and that is a love for Salem. That love is why Carlee Wright and Brian Hart make a great team of co-curators for TEDxSalem.
Some may think that no one really loves Salem. We might tolerate it and find it comfortable and convenient and a safe, affordable place to raise kids. But love? That’s quite a strong word.
The kind of love Brian and Carlee have for Salem isn’t the blind, naive type. It’s the honest, committed, persistent type. They know there’s work to be done. And with enough investment and faith, Salem could be a great city. It’s not easy work, but it’s meaningful.
TEDxSalem is among the greatest investments Brian and Carlee will make in Salem. They had long been leaders in many cultural efforts like the Cherry City Derby Girls and Culture Shock Community Project when Brian came across Candy Chang’s TED talk.
It was 2 a.m. and he was in bed with his iPad when he first watched Candy Chang talk about the Before I Die wall. Inspired, he emailed the video to Carlee. To his surprise, she was also up in bed. She immediately wrote back. She was in.
That’s how their company, Be, was created. They raised the funds then literally raised the wall and it was a huge success. The two continued to think of other projects to pursue. TEDx was definitely on the table, as a distant, ambitious goal.
They decided to attend TEDxConcordia together and as they watched the event come together, the more they realized Salem needed this event and the more confident they became that they could pull it off.
The application for TEDxSalem was approved in May, and Brian and Carlee decided to put the event on the fast track — an ambitious six-month planning period.
“It needed to happen now,” Brian said.
“Salem needed it,” Carlee said.
The co-curators’ eyes sparkle when they talk about the potential impact of TEDxSalem.
“Their brains will be on fire,” Brian says.
Carlee: “The good kind of fire.”
In all seriousness, though, Brian and Carlee want TEDxSalem to be a game-changer. The event that people talk about for a long time. The site where new meaningful friendships are forged. They want it to shatter expectations.
Name: Brian Hart
Occupation: Producer at Allied Video Productions
Born in: Salem
Volunteers as: Event director for Cherry City Derby Girls, among tons others
Alter ego: Superman
Prized fashion item: Silver disco pants, gold suit
Name: Carlee Wright
Occupation: Entertainment reporter at Statesman Journal
Born in: Victoria, British Columbia
Volunteers as: Sociocraftologist at DIY Studio, among tons others
Former life: Fashion designer
Prized fashion item: Shoes. OMG, shoes.
— Saerom Yoo, TEDxSalem storyteller