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Joel Hunt grew up in a home where international humanitarians often visited, and planned to go abroad and "save the world" after he became a physician's assistant.

But it hit him while working at the Fourth Street Clinic, which provides free medical care to Salt Lake City's homeless population: "I could help here," Hunt told nearly 200 gathered for a TEDx event at Salt Lake City's Leonardo museum, and others gathered at three simulcast sites.

"The same desperate need I was looking for in other countries was right in front of my face, in my own city," said Hunt, who began taking medicine to the streets after realizing many homeless people won't go to a clinic.

Hunt was one of 14 Utah residents —there were two teams of two — who gave short talks about bridging divides during the Saturday's TEDx event in Salt Lake City.

Dut Bior, a refugee who was one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, talked about his non-profit that raises money for education, 15-year-olds Devun Hansen and Shandel Payne talked about youth activism, and Moudi Sbeity and Derek Kitchen talked of including even those who disagree in the conversation about marriage in Utah.

Sbeity and Kitchen are plaintiffs in the lawsuit seeking to allow same-sex marriages in Utah.

This was the third TEDx event in Salt Lake City, and others have been organized around the state. TEDx events are community-organized versions of the international TED conferences, which began as a way to share ideas 25 years ago in California.

"Thinkers and doers," according to, are invited to give short, generally 18-minute talks, at TED conferences and the talks are posted for free viewing online. Attendees at three upcoming TED events in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Vancouver and Whistler, British Columbia, are paying from $4,250 to $6,000 each for tickets.

The Salt Lake TEDx event sold out its nearly 200 $50 tickets within four hours of going on sale, said spokeswoman Camille Winnie. Those who didn't get tickets could go to one of three free-of-charge venues that simulcast Saturday's talks.

"We're doing it here as a way to motivate and inspire the local community," Winnie said.

Carrie Messerly, of Heber City, called the event "revolutionary, especially for Utah, where we tend to have a closed-minded society."

She listens as often as she can to TED talks, and was hoping to make personal and business connections with people she met Saturday.

Nicholas Hutto, of Salt Lake City, said the event made him "more open, connected to the community."

Hunt, who provides mobile medical care to Salt Lake City's homeless people, said he has come to realize "It is not about me.

"I cannot save the world. I cannot save them (the homeless)," Hunt said. "It's about us as a community of people … bringing hope to others."

Twitter: @KristenMoulton