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TEDx Mile High recreates the eighteenth century salon tonight

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Every TEDx event is many things, and all of them are happening at once. A cross between a theater and a lecture hall, the discussion series follows a creative combination of performance and insight, becoming a circus for the mind. And tonight, local chapter TEDx Mile High will reinvision an abridged version: Introducing the TEDx Mile High Salon.

Started in California more than a quarter decade ago, the original TED nonprofit focuses on the capital-letter concept it calls "Ideas Worth Spreading." Interpreted widely, the concept promotes arts, culture and activism through example -- and through its local TEDx affiliate, that means Colorado examples. This group, which startedjust last year, has adapted its schedule to include both the formal (and all-day) TEDx lecture series and the shorter salon it begins today.

"We look for presenters who have transformative ideas, that have the potential to shape the future," curator Jeremy Duhon says. "These are people we believe can inspire, educate and stimulate change."

The difference is in application, not intention. Both events showcase local artists, innovators and think tanks either performing or presenting their ideas for live audiences, but the salon concept, used in other TEDx chapters across the nation, allows the public additional time for reaction and response. After watching or listening to the night's performances, the 300 people in the audience can ask questions about what they just experienced. Instead of longer lectures, the three-hour event will be split between performer time and audience time.

Unlike last year's sold-out full-day event in the Ellie Caulkins Opera House, tonight's salon is in the more open, more intimate RedLine Gallery, which holds roughly 1,500 fewer people. "There's just something that you miss without a venue like this, something really approachable and appealing about the salon experience," Duhon says. "We want people to be able to interact with the entire experience, and the goal is that they walk away and directly change something in their lives as a result of what they see or hear during the evening."

Aside from the performances themselves, the night includes music, drinks and food. And though it's sold out, don't worry: The organizers will post videos of all four speakers and three performers on the TEDx Mile High website after the event. And, of course, there will be another all-day TEDx Mile High event later this year.

Tonight's salon highlights the following Coloradans:

Dr. Allen Lim, former director of sports science, Team RadioShack, "The Misadventures of an Entrepreneur"

Libby Birky, co-founder of SAME Café, "Action update: Tangible Changes that Followed the 2011 Event"

Shannon Galpin, founder, Mountain2Mountain, "The Power of Voice"

Michael Huemer, professor of philosophy, CU Boulder, "A Look at Rational Irrationality"

Xiren, rock/pop artist

Theo Wilson, internationally ranked slam poet

Todd Siler, visual artist, inventor, writer and polymath

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