By Lauren | October 9, 2014 | 0 Comment
On October 2nd, I had the privilege of being one of the 1,000 people selected to be a delegate to attend TEDxToronto. The day was jam packed with great speakers, performers, and even fun, engaging things to do between all that on our breaks. Such as Samsung creating personalized t-shirts for attendees, and Mastercard having an interactive photo booth asking us to share what we love about Toronto. It was overall a great day; I met some great people, and left with a lot of ideas that are worth spreading.
As a delegate I feel responsible for spreading these ideas on to all of you that may have not had a chance to attend. Below is a brief recap of the speakers and performances that graced us with their presence, and I will be uploading the talks as they are released by TEDxToronto to this post, so please keep checking back.
Toronto Symphony Orchestra
How many events do you attend where they kick off with a 70 piece orchestra? Not very many, but expect the unexpected at a Tedx event. Although not the most energetic way to kick off the day, was definitely amazing to hear the musical styling of our very own symphony orchestra in Toronto.
A University of Toronto professor who shared with us his adventures of living in the South Pole, the dryest and darkest place on earth, only receiving a sunrise and sunset once in a 12 month time. He spoke about what it was like to be one with just the environment, nothing else around but the stars and the ice, and what it was like coming back to the real world upon his return. He left us with the thought that by exploring you find yourself. Which I couldn’t agree more.
Coming out delivering a talk about zoos, I wasn’t sure how I’d feel about this but Gabriela completely changed my perspective. Many people have this impression that zoos are horrible places, they take animals out of their natural habitats and put them on display, when in reality, zoos are the insurance until their habitat is stable and there isn’t a risk of extinction.
Gabriela talked about her work as part of the Reproductive Programs at the Toronto Zoo and how they have worked together with other zoos to reverse or stop extinction of wild animals. She added in this astounding fact that 35 animals were once extinct in Canada and now exist again because of zoos, and challenged us to look up your favourite animal and see how many are left on the planet. Leaving us with these final and powerful words, “If you had a chance to save an entire species from extinction, would you turn your back?”
The first standing ovation of the day and a talk I’m pretty sure blew away the entire audience. Although I fully expected Nav to come out and only talk about the Raptors, he talked about so much more. Bringing us on a journey of his life as a Sikh and the challenges he has faced while here in Canada. How people can be so un-accepting to a different race. How people can jump on a stereotypical bandwagon without even stopping to think about it.
Nav has set out to make Sikhs more accepted, but not only Sikhs, also those of other religions and cultures that now call Canada their home. He wants to teach children to be accepting right from the get-go. Telling us that if he could just have the chance to sit next to someone or talk to someone, he knows he could change the perception so many have about Sikhs. He proved his point at the end of his talk when he left us with, “look at me now, what do you see?”
Colin Boyd Shafer
This photographer set out to do something that no one has done before, photograph a person from every single country in the world that now call Toronto their home. He wanted to tell the extraordinary stories of ordinary people through photographs. Colin left us with the challenge to ask questions as everyone has their own extraordinary story!
This 15-year-old environmental activist blew everyone away and received the second standing ovation of the day. Other then the fact she made most of us feel severely unaccomplished considering she was doing so much at such a young age, she was really had you thinking about what goes into our food. If scientists “claim” GMOs aren’t bad for us, why don’t they put this on the label along with everything else? The most powerful point of this presentation for me was when she stated that, “the real reason for hunger is poverty, the world produces enough food already.”
This was probably one of the highlights of the day which was very unexpected. Choir!Choir!Choir! hit the stage to since a Patti Smith classic where they had the entire audience join in with them and sing along at the chorus. There’s no better sense of community then 1,000 delegates singing along to start off a great afternoon.
Although this demo wasn’t quite like the rest of the speakers, Tarik had a brilliant idea inspired by a grocery store trip where he saw a deaf women struggling to communicate with a grocery store attendant. After that incident Tarik dedicated his life to changing this. An alarming amount of people don’t know sign language, so how can we change this from being such a communication barrier? Tarik developed software that allows for someone to simply use sign language in front of the camera and it would translate that into English. He left us with the challenge to, “turn disabilities into opportunities.”
David came out and chatted about things that really could blow anyone’s mind. Speaking about artificial intelligence and how far computer technology has come. David talked about how the possibilities are endless with technology and some of the amazing research they have been conducting to develop things that make life easier– from robots, to self-driving cars. He even chatted about how facial recognition will become so powerful that you’ll soon be able to search for your own cat in a cache of cat photos using an image rather than a search term. Technology will be able to scan a photo and pull data that is much more details then “cat”, “dog”, etc. He even left us with a very “wow” moment when he stated, “one day you may look at a selfie as your new medical checkup.”
Sabrina’s talk was one of my favourite of the day. Being a comedian and all, she obviously knows how to take over a stage and captivate an audience, but Sabrina did much more than just make us laugh. Talking about her experience growing up as not only someone with a culturally diverse background, but also as someone who eventually came out of the closet through her comedy acts. Sabrina uses comedy to educate people on the issues that happen everyday around us surrounding racism, inequality, and homophobia, and although everyone laughs with her, you leave thinking “wow.”
Jamil came out and spoke about something I wasn’t expecting, policing and how police officers and member of law authority treat those of different demographics– whether cultural, or where people live. Although I always knew this was an issue, I’ve seen police take advantage of their power, I never knew that this issue existed still and right in our backyard to the extent that Jamil explained. Sharing stories of his life, and times he’s had run-ins with the cops and been subjected to being questioned, and a subject of interest when all he was simply doing was walking down the street like anyone else. Jamil’s talk really opened my eyes and made me see how this NEEDS TO STOP!
John came out and talked to us about not just print media, but how it has shifted our future, and how print used to inform, and engage. Now with TV, social media, and other platforms, the audience’s attention has shifted. People are being surrounding by things from all directions, and the interest in regular news has changes to the interest in entertainment, which has reduced public participation. Younger readers aren’t reading the newspaper, and once when the news was the one predictor for a voter, today social media has shifted that.
How do we make the youth care about news and politics again, and when people begin to see the lack of engagement as a problem? John stated that, “we need schools to teach kids what’s going on in our communities and teach them to care.” “We are sleep walking towards the future, and this isn’t the world you want to be the author of.” Very thought provoking, and left you with the question, “how can we change youth engagement?”
Throughout Pantea’s presentation I found myself shaking my head yes to a lot of her points. Like me, she was someone who didn’t excel in science when in school, and didn’t like it, but later in life grew an interest in it when she realized how great it was outside of the textbook and desk learning you get in school. Pantea brought up interesting points of how much science costs, and how scientists are forced to experiment with limits because of this. Basically there could be a cure for cancer out there but the compounds to try and find it cost too much to use them to test as much as possible to find that cure. Why is their a cost on science anyways? Pantea created a company called Synbiotic which is an open science platform enhancing accessibility of the life sciences. Overall she delivered a very different and new viewpoint on science!
Margot works at Sick Kids, and when people came to her asking if she could answer the question on if you could see the impacts of Post Tramatic Stress Disorder on the brain, she didn’t know if she wanted to find the answer. This was something she never thought about, but as a scientist felt obligated to find an answer. Through testing, she delivered the answer to that question. What the brains of those with PTSD look like when exposed to different photos and memories, vs. everyone else’s brain. Margot left us with the question of, “What questions are you being asked that you don’t want to answer?”
Anna puts herself into Pride & Prejudice through virtual reality to introduce herself to the TEDx crowd. Anna chatted about how virtual reality can tell a story and create an environment that you’d never be able to experience outside of your imagination. This is the future of storytelling, and an eye-opening talk about how virtual reality will soon be in everyone’s homes as oppose to just in IT conferences, and offices. This will be a shift like you’ve never seen before when virtual reality hits the masses. Anna really made us think with her talk, because the average person has never really thought about virtual reality. She left us with an inspiring quote, “the best way to predict the future is to invent it”. Now if that doesn’t make you think, I don’t know what does?
Adam van Koeverden
Adam came out and joined the TED stage by first giving a big shout out to all the Mom’s out there that have supported him. Adam told his inspiring story about when he decided he wanted to become the best kayaker in the world. He started at an Oakville club and quickly his coaches wanted him to start training more, and more. His Mother told him that she would only get up to drive him to practice if he wanted it bad enough, and he got up himself, brought her coffee, and showed the initiative. “If I want to do something, it’s my foot on the gas pedal. If I don’t put my foot down, the car won’t move,” was the quote Adam used to describe it.
Adam told the tale of moving down under to train without any plan. He luckily found random expert kayakers at a local club and tagged along like a third-wheel to learn from them. He took control of his future, and clearly it paid off as he is now an Olympic medalist. Adam’s talk really left you with the feeling and assurance that if you want something, really, really want something; you are going to have to make it happen on your own!
The funky Maylee Todd hit the stage with her hot pink hair and sweet dance moves. A great performance to end of a great day and would strongly encourage anyone to check out her music as it’s innovative, fresh and something different!
Were you at TEDxToronto? Share with me your insights, best takeaways from the day, etc. in the comments. If you weren’t there, share with me what your favourite talk is from the videos I’ve posted, and remember folks, spread these ideas around!