TEDx + Brooklyn + Instagram = iPhone paradise.

This weekend, 85 intrepid Instagrammers took to the streets of the Gowanus neighborhood in Brooklyn for a guided tour of the history, industry, and architecture of the area — organized by the team of TEDxGowanus.

We’re digging the snapshots that came out of this adventure (and a few others from Brooklyn TEDx’ers) — photos that show off the gritty beauty of one of Brooklyn’s great industrial hubs. 

You can find more photos from the Instameet through the tag #gowanusinspiried.

(Photos: @caabo, @holidayhaus, @plasticdust)

TEDx in weird places: 5 TEDx events you have to see to believe

A TEDx event surrounded by penguins? At a bowling alley? During Burning Man? All real things.

You don’t need an auditorium, seats, slides or even a stage to share new ideas. All you need is some enthusiasm, good ideas, and a willingness to take risks and change the world. With over 7,000 events since TEDx’s start in 2009, you have to believe that some have taken place in really strange places. Here are five of our favorites:

1. TEDxEverest: A TEDx at 21,000 feet
imageFor the 60th anniversary of Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s first ascent of the tallest mountain peak,
TEDx’ers Nate Mook and Eiso Vaandrager (seen above) brought TEDx to Mt. Everest — bringing talks to an audience of international climbers, local sherpas, and good friends at Everest’s Advanced Base Camp.

2. TEDxKalamata: TEDx goes ancient
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This July, TEDxKalamata claimed a TEDx first — the first TEDx held at an archeological site: the ancient ekklesiasterion (assembly hall) of Messene, Greece. Using the remains of this ancient theater as a backdrop, 50 volunteers and 18 speakers came together to imagine a new future for Greece and the world.

3. TEDxMaastricht: TEDx by train
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Earlier this month, TEDxMaastricht in the Netherlands held a very interesting event: a mini TEDx on a train heading from Maastricht to Amsterdam and, later, from Amsterdam to Maastricht. Via the magic of the TEDxMaastricht team, the last car of a Dutch intercity train was transformed into a venue for great new ideas, with 16 different speakers giving talks on the railway.

4. TEDxBrooklyn: Rental shoes, lucky strikes, and new ideas
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For two years straight, TEDxBrooklyn, a TEDx event sharing ideas from the über-hip New York City borough, has held their event in a bowling alley. While all the speakers may not be championship pin-crashers, attendees have gotten the chance to try out their bowling skills at the event’s fun after-parties.

5. TEDxBlackRockCity: A TEDx takes on Burning Man
imageFor three years, TEDxBlackRockCity has brought TEDx to the desert.
Embracing the collaborative, creative environment of the annual Burning Man festival, TEDxBlackRockCity showcases some of the best ideas that this radical community of artists, innovators, creative thinkers has to offer.

A dad and son send a take-out container to space: The Brooklyn Space Program at TEDxYouth@BFS

At TEDxYouth@BFS, self-described “tinkerer” Luke Geissbuhler introduced TEDx’ers to The Brooklyn Space Program — a DIY space mission launched by Luke and his 7-year-old son Max. With some creativity, research, and ingenuity, the pair turned a Thai food take-out container into a spacecraft that traveled to altitudes above 100,000 feet and battled 100 MPH winds and temperatures -60 degrees Fahrenheit — all so Max could learn by doing, not just watching.

From Luke’s talk:

[The Brooklyn Space Program] is a project I did about 2 years ago with my son Max that took us about 8 months to complete, off and on. Essentially, we built a spacecraft out of a cell phone, hand warmers, some foam insulation, and a Thai food takeout container … Reaching the upper stratosphere at 120,000 feet, this homemade capsule could travel 4x higher than a jet liner; photograph the blackness of space, the curvature of the Earth; and safely land again in an hour and a half.

People ask me all the time how I knew how to pull off this crazy mission without any engineering or science background, and all I can tell them is that I’ve done an awful lot of tinkering in my life … I was kind of the poster child for project-based learning — it was often the only way I could learn something.

Above, watch the amazing footage from the Brooklyn Space Program’s initial launch, and watch Luke’s whole talk about nontraditional learning and the DIY space mission here.

The Map Your Memories project: TEDxWilliamsburg speaker Becky Cooper creates a cartography of people’s lives in New York

If a map is a filter, the goal of it is to make people stop and think about what’s noise and what’s essence. And so I wanted these letterpress-printed maps to actually be the objects that force people to take the time to reflect on their life in the city. —Becky Cooper at TEDxWilliamsburg

When Becky Cooper got her first job out of college — working to make a giant map of all the public art in Manhattan — she soon realized that the makeshift maps she made on napkins and left on her desk, chronicling trips to dinner, shows, and work, were much more interesting than the ones she saw in books. Because these maps told a story, built a cartography of her life in New York: her invisible Manhattan. They, as she says in her talk at TEDxWilliamsburg, “told a story of Manhattan as it is actually lived and it is actually experienced.”

This led her to wonder about other people’s invisible cities — the mental maps of their lives — where they had their first kiss, where they met their best friend, where they rented their favorite apartment, their worst. She wondered how she could collect these memories; how she could expand and match her maps with the maps of other New Yorkers — to show Manhattan “as it actually exists.”

So she letterpressed 300 hand-drawn, blank maps of Manhattan, and left them around the city, with instructions asking brave participants to map their memories and mail them back to her. She inscribed each map with a mission statement:

"Maps are more about their makers than the places they describe. Map who you are. Map where you are. Map your first snowfall. Your favorite cup of coffee. Map the invisible. Map the obvious. Map your memories."

None came back. So Becky took a different approach. She gave them to people she met in person: people on the subway, on benches, in stores. Maps began to return to her, telling stories about first dates, first loves, first apartments, finally becoming comfortable with who you are. And they told Becky something about her city. From her talk:

And I realized that these invisible cities that I was getting back were invisible cities of emotion. And that if I were to get a complete map of Manhattan — it isn’t that I am trying to map a fixed coordinate … because a city … is not a fixed coordinate, but an evolving relationship between a place and its inhabitants … [and] at the end of it all, that’s what I thought I was trying to map — the heart of the city.

Becky is still collecting maps. To contribute your own or see what others have mapped, visit the Map Your Memories Tumblr, and to hear Becky’s whole story, watch her talk below:


(Photos via TEDxWilliamsburg & Map Your Memories)