TEDxKavala transforms a historic warehouse into a space for new Macedonian ideas

TEDxKavala team members show off their logo on a beach in Kavala (Photo: TEDxKavala)

TEDxKavala team members show off their logo on a beach in Kavala (Photo: TEDxKavala)

In the coastal city of Kavala, Greece, a team of TEDx’ers wanted to create an event that would be worthy of their historic city, a hub for culture, creativity and new ideas. As they planned for their first event, held this March, they came across the perfect metaphor for Kavala — and their event — a ship sailing on the Aegean Sea. “Life is like an endless sea,” they wrote in a blog post about the event’s artwork. “We sometimes sail on high currents of serenity and bliss while at other times we fight against huge wild waves in an attempt to survive … After every storm the sun rises; it is the time to start all over again, to reload forces and energy and resume our journey … The ‘ship’ of the first TEDxKavala [will] hopefully mark a restarting and a reloading of life.”

TEDxKavala's event artwork (Photo: TEDxKavala)

TEDxKavala’s event artwork (Photo: TEDxKavala)

The ship became their nautical mascot, and with the theme in mind, they set on creating an event that honored not only Kavala’s past and present, but also imagined its future. They drew from the minds around them, inviting a biologist of fisheries, a builder of robots, an architecture collective that designs micro-houses for the homeless and many more big thinkers in Macedonia. Organizer Konstantina Karezi put it like this: “It was necessary that Kavala, our beautiful ‘Blue City,’ with its long history in culture and commerce, saw the organization of its own TEDx, particularly now at times of rapid changes that dramatically alter our lives — and not always [for] the better.” Karezi and her team wanted the first event in Karzi to re-energize their community, to highlight innovative ideas coming out of Kavala and from all over the world — in an effort to “re-load” excitement for creative thinking coming out of Macedonia.

The Kavala Municipal Tobacco Warehouse, venue for TEDxKavala (Photo: TEDxKavala)

The Kavala Municipal Tobacco Warehouse, venue for TEDxKavala, on the big event day (Photo: TEDxKavala)

The event took place the city’s former municipal tobacco warehouse, an elaborate Ottoman neoclassical building which now acts as a venue for exhibitions, performances, lectures and more. TEDxKavala took advantage of the building’s multiple stories, inviting the Technological Institute of Eastern Macedonia to showcase their research and experiments on the first floor and letting the other floors showcase (other) big ideas from their speakers and city.

Volunteers prepare materials for the main TEDxKavala event. (Photo: TEDxKavala)

Volunteers prepare materials for the main TEDxKavala event. (Photo: TEDxKavala)

“I wanted badly for all the attendees to feel and share with me the spirit and the enthusiasm of a TEDx event,” said Karezi. “There were a lot of people who were deeply touched by some of the talks, others who expressed their gratitude for having been there and others who got inspired and decided to change their lives the very next day. I will always remember that in such difficult days for Greece and especially for the suburbs, the whole city become a team and hosted the most unique and unprecedented event in the history of the town,” said Karezi.

TEDxKavala's venue was filled with swings (Photo: TEDxKavala)

TEDxKavala’s venue was filled with swings (Photo: TEDxKavala)

TEDxKavala swag (Photo: TEDxKavala)

TEDxKavala swag (Photo: TEDxKavala)

Attendees register for the event (Photo: TEDxKavala)

Attendees register for the event (Photo: TEDxKavala)

Volunteers pose for the camera (Photo: TEDxKavala)

Volunteers pose for the camera (Photo: TEDxKavala)

Attendees take a break outside (Photo: TEDxKavala)

Attendees take a break outside (Photo: TEDxKavala)

The view outdoors (Photo: TEDxKavala)

The view from outside (Photo: TEDxKavala)

There were snacks (Photo: TEDxKavala)

There were snacks (Photo: TEDxKavala)

Audience members watch a talk (Photo: TEDxKavala)

Audience members watch a talk (Photo: TEDxKavala)

A speaker delivers a talk (Photo: TEDxKavala)

A speaker delivers a talk (Photo: TEDxKavala)

A speaker delivers a talk (Photo: TEDxKavala)

A speaker delivers a talk (Photo: TEDxKavala)

Musicians Argyris Bakirtzis, Kostas Bakirtzis and Kostas Koutsoupakis join the children’s choir of Municipal Conservatory of Kavala for a performance (Photo: TEDxKavala)

Musicians Argyris Bakirtzis, Kostas Bakirtzis and Kostas Koutsoupakis join the children’s choir of Municipal Conservatory of Kavala for a performance (Photo: TEDxKavala)

Nametags at the event (Photo: TEDxKavala)

Nametags at the event (Photo: TEDxKavala)

Kavala's own Kafetopio Coffee Roastery serves up drinks driving the event (Photo: @Kafetopio)

Kavala’s own Kafetopio Coffee Roastery serves up drinks driving the event (Photo: @Kafetopio)

Audience members react to a talk (Photo: TEDxKavala)

Audience members react to a talk (Photo: TEDxKavala)

The team poses for a photo (Photo: TEDxKavala)

The team poses for a photo (Photo: TEDxKavala)

The TEDxKavala team celebrates onstage (Photo: TEDxKavala)

The TEDxKavala team celebrates onstage (Photo: TEDxKavala)

You can learn more about TEDxKavala at their website or follow them on Facebook or Twitter.

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