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Lauryn Chotiner speaks during a past TEDxYouth@Lancaster event.

TED talks have a format: take an idea worth spreading, condense it into a talk no longer than 18 minutes from one speaker on a stage.

A new format, TED Circles, will bring more people into the conversation. Lancaster County will host some of the first circles in the pilot program. The first one is Thursday, Sept. 12 with more coming in October and November.

The local TED Circles will be organized by TEDxLancaster. The local group’s executive director Bob Vasile went to TEDSummit in Edinburgh in July, where he learned about the pilot program and signed up.

At a TED Circle, a small group of people will gather to watch a TED talk. Afterwards, they’ll have a discussion.

“The purpose is to see different perspectives and viewpoints in a safe and welcoming environment and inspire debate and not exclusion,” Vasile says.

TED Circles program is still in a pilot phase, so it’s not something the organization ready to discuss, says Melody Serafino, co-founder of No. 29, a New York communications firm.

But Vasile had more to share about TED Circles.

At the Lancaster Public Library circles, the groups will watch and discuss “The disarming case to act right now on climate change” by Greta Thunberg. The 16-year-old activist recently made headlines as she traveled from Sweden to a United Nations climate summit in New York in a boat, carbon-free.

At the Manheim Township Library talks, the groups will watch and discuss “Gene editing can now change an entire species — forever” by journalist Jennifer Khan.

Vasile picked these topics because they’re timely and the talks are compelling.

Organizers want to keep the groups small, 10-15 people. The circles are free to attend. To sign up, visit tedxlancaster.com.

Vasile would like to add more circles and is looking for additional sites throughout Lancaster County.

Aside from the TED Circles, the last TEDxLancaster event was just for speakers 21 and younger. On June 30, 10 speakers shared their ideas on stage at the Ware Center. The talked about manipulating computers with your mind, embracing pain and dealing with the stigma of mental illness. More than 200 people attended.

Plans are in the works for TEDxLancaster 2020, the seventh in Lancaster County, but no date has been selected.

The 2019 talks and more from Lancaster's events can be found online.