A TEDx By Any Other Name

“What’s in a name? That which we call a TEDx, by any other name would delve as deep.”

Okay, so I’m no William Shakespeare. But the legendary English playwright perfectly captured the essence that what a thing is, is far more important than what it is called.

TEDxNavesink’s vision for creating a collaborative community of forward thinkers has remained unchanged, but many will be surprised to learn that their name has not. TEDxSandy Hook is a name that’s foreign even to many of the group’s core organizers, but it was from this past that TEDxNavesink was born.

“Sandy Hook offered a natural ‘hook’ for what was to be our first TEDx event,” said Executive and Artistic Director Brian Smiga. “Sandy Hook is iconic on any map; easy to identify where it juts out toward New York; strategic in the history of America; the site of America’s first lighthouse and first weapons testing grounds; a place where radar, wireless communication and the transistor were perfected. It’s an ironic mélange of nature, beaches, tidewaters, decay, and beauty.”

These unique characteristics and the area’s rich history made it an ideal location for a TEDx event. “We had secured permission to rent the theater,” said Smiga, “and the combination of the ferry to New York City and the sunset views would have been stunning.”

But on October 29, 2012, that all changed as Hurricane Sandy made landfall and pummeled the Jersey Shore.

“The day after Superstorm Sandy, despite Sea Bright and Sandy Hook being off limits, I kayaked over to check on the theater,” he said. “It was the lowest lying and therefore the hardest hit building on the Hook. The baby grand piano had floated off the stage and into the pit. All the new seating and electronics were ruined.”

With the theater out of commission, Smiga said the decision to change plans was immediate. “We were quickly welcomed by Brookdale Performing Arts. We were lucky because at the time, they were the only venue that would take us.” With the TED organization’s support, the conference was moved from the spring of 2013 to September of the same year.

The question remains though: why was ‘Navesink’ chosen as the new name?

“Two reasons,” said Smiga. “We didn’t want to be associated with Sandy; we wanted to be about the region and the future. We wanted to express the promise of the entire region, where the Navesink Highlands and the Navesink twin rivers symbolized the tidewater promise of the ‘country shore’ where we live.”

He went on, “We liked that Navesink is derived from an indigenous Lenape name, and was turned into NeverSink by the English. We believed that Navesink expresses our brand promise, so much so that when it came time to form a non-profit and create additional events and services beyond TEDxNavesink, we decided to name our non-profit: The Navesink™.”

Sporting a new name, TEDxNavesink’s inaugural event was rife with inspiration from the previous months’ struggles, as well as the determination to rebuild stronger than ever. “Sandy caused us to want to be the first TEDx conference about life on the shore,” Smiga explained. “We wanted to celebrate the history and future of the Jersey Shore, and to look forward to renewal…not back at the storm.”

TEDxNavesink’s evolution continues as it gears up for its third annual ideas conference. Titled Accelerators, the event will be held on April 11 at Monmouth University’s Pollak Theatre, tripling in attendance from previous years.

In addition to talks by leading thinkers from around the country, attendees will experience visual art exhibits, complimentary lunch, and all day coffee service provided by Rook Coffee. Early ticket holders can even enjoy special lunch sessions with speakers, featuring continuing roundtable discussions and Q&A.

Seats are filling up fast, so don’t wait. To become a part of TEDxNavesink’s growing community of influencers, doers, and forward thinkers, click here and purchase your ticket today!