A prelude to TEDx: The Hague’s local TED Club transforms into TEDxHague

In September 2008, before TEDx existed, now-TEDxTheHague organizer Yolanthe Smit asked her friend Ralph Oei if he was interested in starting a TED Club in their hometown of The Hague.

"I thought we could meet every month on Sunday afternoon to watch three TED Talks centered around a theme," she said, "and invite a bunch of people to watch them with us and talk about what we saw."

So they took over the attic of a local tennis club, discussing ideas worth spreading with friends and strangers.

"Our first meeting only drew one other person," Yolanthe said, "A toastmaster with a Ph.D. in biomedical science — but quickly, our numbers grew."

"We met on snowy evenings, with onion soup and piles of blankets; we met in the tennis club and in a local art gallery. We thrived on conversation and new ideas and our connection with our city and with the greater world."

For almost a year, The Hague TED Club met once a month — on the second Sunday of every month. Then, in 2009, TED introduced a new program called TEDx, encouraging people across the world to host their own TED-like events, inspired by ideas worth spreading in their own towns, cities, countries.

When TEDx was introduced, our meetings became official,” Yolanthe said.We got a logo with an ‘x,’ and moved our now-named TEDxTheHague to Berg Kleijn Communicatie, an advertising communications agency in The Hague.

“Attendance has been growing steadily ever since,” she said, “[into] a diverse, international group of people sometimes coming from far beyond The Hague.”

Since their first TEDx event in 2009, TEDxTheHague has had event after event, with a count now in the double digits. A highlight for Yolanthe was their simulcast of TEDGlobal2011 in Edinburgh, for which they incorporated seven local speakers, transforming what once was simply a TED Club into a truly local TEDx.

Wednesday marked TEDxTheHague’s 30th TEDx event. For more information on TEDxTheHague, including information on attending one of their events, visit their Facebook page.

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