The pandemic did not do TEDxWestshore 2020 any favors. We started out with plans to go live at one venue - a series of experiences led us to believe that the customer service there would not meet our expectations.
We moved to another venue - the AMC theatre. What a fun place - seating, parking, sound - an ideal set up. We had catering ordered for the day, all the physical stuff was ready. Then the pandemic hit. AMC's amazing events people were afraid of what would happen to their business as the pandemic went on that they gave us the money back.
We then pushed out the date to October, hoping for a better Covid situation. The Rialto theatre was as Tampa as you can get and we loved that space so very much. But alas, the pandemic continued.
Out of concern for everyone's safety, we decided to go virtual. The speakers got to pick - would they do the virtual event or wait - knowing that no one knows how long that wait could be.
Talk about a tough decision. We refunded all of our sponsors (several were small businesses and we just couldn't consciously keep their funds), and fielded many complaints from people who did not want a virtual event. It was not a fun time. Tears happened. The pandemic did not make some folks kinder - just braver behind a keyboard.
Eventually our 6 speakers had their day.
Their talks are live on TED.com. We couldn't be happier for them.
We also learned a lot. We learned that we are all a little exhausted of the virtual world and craved that time together - many people just wanted to be outside of their homes and interact with others. We learned that we all have varying definitions of success and failure. And we learned to persevere and keep going.
We also learned about our country - what is working and what is not. We watched social injustice and social justice unfold alongside you. We watched the election. There was so much to process; many nameless emotions.
Last year our theme was The Spark. It almost fizzled. 2021 is The Fire. We are building on our spark. We continue. Let's build an amazing fire in Tampa together.