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TEDx brings ‘positivity’ to Big Sky

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An independently organized version of TED Talks, called TEDx, is coming to Big Sky on Jan. 27. The second annual TEDxBigSky will feature seven hand-picked, inspiring people at the Warren Miller Performing Arts Center. The speakers will share ideas and personal stories related to the 2018 event’s theme of “positivity.”

The 2018 event will feature a woman whose life was transformed by her mother’s death, and subsequent journey through her father’s Alzheimer’s; a Nepalese mountaineering guide; the founder of a media outlet devoted to uplifting news; the co-founder of an innovative technology startup company; a passionate outdoorsman; and special guest, musician Martin Sexton.

Stay tuned in to upcoming issues of EBS to get to know the 2018 presenters. EBS will feature Q&A interviews with the speakers in each issue leading up to the event.

The 2018 TEDxBigSky is sold out, but you can email to put your name on the waiting list. Visit for updates and to view all of the TEDx videos from last year’s inaugural TEDxBigSky event.

Eduardo Garcia


Eduardo Garcia is a chef, outdoorsman, athlete, motivational speaker and the co-founder of a national food brand, Montana Mex. During a backcountry hike in Montana’s Paradise Valley in October 2011, Garcia was electrocuted by a buried high voltage power source, and suffered extensive, life-threatening injuries.​ ​Today​, Garcia is the subject of the award winning documentary “Charged”​ and is​ working on a number of media projects including “A Hungry Life”—a  ​TV​ concept which follows him into the wild places of the world as he creates exceptional food over a campfire. He is also a spokesperson and athlete for the Challenged Athletes Foundation, an organization that provides support to people with physical disabilities so they can pursue active lifestyles.



Explore Big Sky: Given the extreme nature of the challenges you have had to overcome—among them losing your hand and a portion of your arm after a hiking accident and being diagnosed with cancer during your recovery—you seem like a perfect candidate to speak at TEDxBigSky, the theme of which is “positivity.” What does positivity mean to you?
Eduardo Garcia: For me, “positivity” is a descriptive word that is little brother little sister to a much grander concept which I see as “opportunity.”

EBS: Outside of your own experience, can you provide an example when you have witnessed the power of a positive mindset?
E.G.: Every day I see positivity in action, but the first one that comes to mind is my dad’s passing on Nov. 25. Led by his example and desire, we did not see his passing as a negative thing. We partied—he called it the fiesta finale. There were tears, but we rejoiced for a week.

EBS: How has your injury affected your passion for cooking and execution of it?
E.G.: It put the brakes on my career in a way. Once I was sort of out of the weeds, my focus was on physical recovery; the emotional recovery took much longer. My passion for cooking was pretty solid going into my injury and my passion and drive to be in the food industry remained. The proximity I came to seeing death, and dying, was significant enough that I wanted to make sure I am only engaging in industry, life and practice [in ways] that are truly creating the person I want to be, to build community and be part of the greater good.

EBS: How would you describe the man you were before your hiking accident and subsequent battle with cancer, and the man you are today?
E.G.: I’ve always been family oriented and community driven [and still am]. After my injury, I became far less tolerant of wasted time, argumentation … I really just doubled down on the guy I was. But there were a lot of weak links in who I was, and [I told myself] I have to kick out these factors that are inhibiting me from being the person I want to be. I made a conscious effort to be a better person where I could.

EBS: How would like the audience at TEDxBigSky to feel after hearing your talk?
E.G.: Charged.

Rylan Peery

Rylan Peery’s mission is to develop solutions supporting the economic regeneration of communities, a theme he explored extensively while studying at Stanford University. His professional journey began by working at a Silicon Valley venture capital firm. From finance, Peery embarked on a journey as an entrepreneur, co-founding a technology startup, GiveBack; consulting on business strategy with Fortune 500 clients; and rolling up his sleeves as a front-end web engineer at the co-operative that is CoLab Co-op today. Peery now enjoys collaborating with his peers to support mission-driven entrepreneurs, educators, activists, and organizers to co-create a brighter future one human interaction at a time.


Explore Big Sky: What inspired you to give a TEDxBigSky talk?
Rylan Peery: As a father of five young children I have some concerns about the direction both our planet and our culture are headed in. In particular there is a great deal of media emphasis in certain quarters on promoting values that are in my opinion contrary to the good of our communities and our country.

EBS: The theme of TEDxBigSky is “positivity.” What does positivity mean to you?
R.P.: For me, positivity points back to questions of intentionality. If I am committed to working for the greater good, to sharing a little gift of myself in each daily interaction, then I’m living a positive life. For me, positivity is fundamentally oriented towards generating, creating, giving, sharing, teaching, offering. Toward cultivating the mindfulness, the self-awareness, to know when we’ve fallen from this place.

EBS: Your professional mission statement is to co-develop works that address the transformation of society, community and the planet. Can you explain this in layman’s terms?
R.P.: Transformation of our communities occurs one human-to-human interaction at a time. My work is fundamentally rooted in empathy, in understanding human needs, and in exploring whether there is a role for technology to play in helping to meet those needs. I see technology at its best being in service to our own intentions to live positive, generative lives that benefit community and planet.

EBS: What is your ideal vision of the world?
R.P.: My dream is that we can collectively orient our positive intentions toward serving the common good. Each of us being willing to own our respective contributions and to take personal responsibility for positive change in our own world and then to extend that to worlds outside our comfort zone.

EBS: What advice would you give to someone who is struggling and having difficulty shifting to a more positive mindset?
R.P.: A great deal of my life has been spent seeking an answer to this question. It’s something that I still grapple with because often when we are struggling we are also the weakest to take action to shift our patterns. For me there is a short list of things I do to help in this regard: vigorous exercise, cold baths/showers, walks in nature, yoga/meditation, acts of generosity, whole foods meals, getting enough sleep. Those are my own pillars.

EBS: How would you like the audience at TEDxBigSky to feel after hearing your talk?
R.P.: I hope that the audience comes away feeling a sense of shared purpose, a sense of inter-connection, and the potential for collective action for the common good. 

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