This article appears in the August 2019 edition of Portsmouth Living magazine.

Your guide to a very special local event — Friday, Sept. 13, at the historic Music Hall

Storytelling is at the heart of TEDxPortsmouth. Also humanity. Arts and science. Curiosity and kindness. Big ideas. Unexpected epiphanies. The capacity for hearts and minds to make a difference in our communities, in our world.

So that’s what will be going on, all day long, at The Music Hall on Friday, Sept. 13.

But what’s the story behind this epic, eco-friendly, all-day inspiration-fest? And how did TEDxPortsmouth grow to become one of the largest of the thousands of TEDx events held across our planet each year? Here is your quick primer for TEDxPortsmouth 2019.

Who, What, When, Where … Go: First things first. This once-a-year happening is on a fast track to sell out, so to get your tickets head straight to the website at

The big day (mark your calendar: Friday, Sept. 13, at Portsmouth’s historic, majestic Music Hall) features inspiring speakers, rousing artistic performances and great local food. TEDxPortsmouth is a local, independently organized event inspired by the world-famous TED Talks. The thought-provoking, no-turning-back-now theme for the local talks is: “Point of No Return.”

Meet the speakers: Who will your favorite be? The snow scientist? The New England humorist? The student-artist crafting a nontraditional education? Perhaps the neuropsychologist or the future-focused technologist?

Chosen following nearly 100 auditions, “this group of 16 speakers is particularly conscious of the current state of our world,” says Rebecca Dawson Webb, head of TEDxPortsmouth’s speaker team. “Their talks offer paths to a better future.” To learn more about them, visit the 2019 Speakers page at While you’re there, watch a few of the 2018 talks — they are all terrific.

Meet the hosts: Introducing each speaker and emceeing the event will be a dynamic mother/son duo familiar to many locals — Kathleen Soldati, author, marketer and former executive director of the Portsmouth Historical Society; and Emmett Soldati, a local entrepreneur and founder of Teatotaller, a Somersworth, NH, café that is a hub of LGBTQ+ programming, social justice and community gatherings.

Sponsors make it all possible: Kennebunk Savings Bank and Kane & Co. are this year’s Gold sponsors. But the event would not be possible without the support of dozens of other sponsors and in-kind helpers from throughout our communities. You’ll find more information about them on the Partners page at Strong sponsorship support has enabled organizers to reduce(!) ticket prices this year to $85.

There’s even a Professional Development program for local businesses: As a unique shared experience focused on listening, learning, interacting, innovating and more, TEDxPortsmouth is perfect for team building. That’s why a limited number of discounted tickets have been made available to businesses purchasing 10 or more for their employees. Local educational publisher Heinemann is a big TEDx fan that this year bought 50 tickets!

“TEDx is about exploring big ideas and searching our collective consciousness for ways to make our lives better,” says EVP & General Manager Vicki Boyd. “The spirit of inquiry that TEDx fosters resonates with the way we approach our work at Heinemann.”

History in the making: Now in its seventh year, TEDxPortsmouth is steeped in history and focused on the future. It started small and has grown each year under the guidance of longtime organizer Crystal Paradis, who this year handed off to co-organizers Anna Goldsmith and Amy Sterndale. They have been working behind the scenes with a team of 30 dedicated volunteers since late last year.

In 2018, there were more than 3,600 TEDx events — from Portsmouth to Paris, Tehran, Moscow, Beijing and beyond. This year, the organizers invite you to come see what all the excitement is about as you ponder the meaning of your own personal “Point of No Return.”