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Tenney starts a ‘Know-How’ flash-talk series

January 9, 2014

Drawing upon Mammoth’s odd blend of interesting, creative and self-reliant people, Elizabeth Tenney has put together three nights of free, “flash-talk” lectures.

The free lectures, which Tenney said were based on the popular TED Talks series online and in worldwide conferences, open Tuesday, Jan. 14, at 6:15 p.m. at Rafters Restaurant & Lounge.

A second round of lectures is scheduled for Feb. 11 and Feb. 25, she said.

“These are short talks and absolutely to-the-point,” said Tenney, a well-known Mammoth civic innovator, volunteer and member of the town’s Planning and Economic Development Commission.

She said the TED-style flash talks have proven to be a popular concept in lecture series in both Reno and Portland, Ore.

Mammoth, she said, seems particularly well suited for such a program, given the nature of the population.

“I was thinking about this all summer,” she said in an interview this past week. “We have incredible local talent here. We have people who are self-reliant, creative, resourceful and ingenious in many fields.”

In the first round of flash talks, which are to be just six minutes each in length, Tenney will introduce Sean and Joyce Turner of Mammoth Brewing to discuss the art of brewing beer; Eastside wedding pitfalls presented by Sandra DiDomizio of Green Fox Events; and how to fight a wildfire by Fire Chief Brent Harper and former Hot Shot firefighter Wendilyn Grasseschi.

Also on the Jan. 14 bill is a how to train at high elevation by Mammoth Track Club coach Andrew Kastor and Olympic medal-winner Deena Kastor; how to win a race by Robin Morning, a member of the 1968 U.S. Ski Team; how to master three fundamentals of great skiing by Jack Copeland, the former director of the Mammoth Mountain Ski School; how to avoid a heart attack at altitude by Dr. Dennis Schumacher; and how to capture Sierra light with a camera by photographer John Dittli.

The following programs are just as crowded, Tenney said. “You wouldn’t believe how many people have offered to give talks,” she said.

Tenney said after giving the flash-talk idea more thought, she sent a feeler email to about 20 of her pals, and the response was a bit overwhelming.

“People are really jazzed about this,” she said, “and it’s not just Mammoth. These are people from Bridgeport to Lone Pine—the whole Eastern Sierra.

“I know from over the years how people are here; our isolation actually works for us. I’ve never heard anybody say ‘We can’t do this.’ We figure it out.”

Also in the Eastside DNA is a kind of do-it-yourself entertainment ethos, which for many years gave an impetus for residents to make do with what they had, to get through the long, cold winter nights.

This project, she said, comes out of that spirit, with a template based on TED, a nonprofit devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading.”

TED Talks started in Monterey in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, and Design.

The TED Talks typically run up to 20 minutes and also feature flash-talks as well. In the case of Mammoth, the cutoff is six minutes.

The Rafters program is free, but Tenney said organizers would ask for donations to benefit local nonprofits Wild Iris, Disabled Sports Eastern Sierra (DSES), and the Mammoth Hospital Auxiliary.

For those who can’t make it to the talks, Tenney said Mammoth videographer Dan McConnell will record the program and post it to YouTube.

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