Ideas Worth Spreading

By Amanda Debenham, Communications Officer, Edmonton

In Alberta, there has recently been two exciting opportunities for sharing innovative and inspiring ideas with hundreds of people: TEDxCalgary and TEDxEdmonton. TEDxCalgary and TEDxEdmonton are spin-off events from TED, a nonprofit organization started in 1984 as a conference bringing together people from technology, entertainment, and design.

Calgary held its fifth TEDxCalgary event on June 4. With the theme Breaking Through, the event focused on a diverse group of speakers sharing their stories of powerful breakthroughs in thoughts and actions within their fields, which ranged from agriculture and food, to education and medicine, to global conflict, leadership and collaboration.

In Edmonton, more than 200 people, including myself, attended the second TEDxEdmonton on June 11. Participants filled the Rice Theatre in The Citadel to listen to 10 speakers share their unique ideas and passions about innovation, as the theme this year was Seeds of Innovation. The day's presentations were broken into three sessions: Transformation, Unstoppable, and Provocative. Some of my favourites included:

  • Jessie Radies, who is the founder of Live Local Alberta and owner of The Blue Pear restaurant in Edmonton. She focused her talk on the importance of supporting the local economy, and how making a few small changes in the way we spend our money, we can significantly change our community.
  • Todd Babiak, a journalist for the Edmonton Journal, spoke to us about the importance of story. Through personal anecdotes, thought-provoking ideas, and much humour, he reminded the audience we all have a story to tell, and should be the ones to do it.
  • Aaryn Flynn, Studio General Manager of BioWare spoke about BioWare's approach to innovation, which relies on diversity of teamwork within the company.
  • Minister Faust was the last speaker of the day, however, his topic would have been great as the first speaker. Called "The Cure for Death by Small-Talk", his suggestions would have been helpful to use during the networking opportunities in between sessions.  He recommended to the audience different ways to approach small-talk, which many of us avoid due to the repetitive and uninspiring conversations that result from it. His advice was to not ask "what do you for a living?" but "what do you do for fun?" As we left the theatre, many of us were asking each other that very question, which I am certain led to long and engaging conversations.

For the second consecutive year, the University of Alberta's Student Design Association created a fantastic stage display, which provided a unique setting to properly reflect the day. Their inspiration was Edmonton and they plotted points of interest from around the city using streams of light.

For those who couldn't attend the event '€” it sold out in four hours '€” it was also live-streamed the entire day. You can also view pictures from the event at TEDxEdmonton's website and on Facebook. Also, there are more than 900 TED presentations, known as TEDTalks, from around the world posted online and available to watch for free.

TEDxEdmonton 2012, is taking place next June. The planning committee has already booked the Citadel's 500-seat MacLab Theatre, which is a significantly larger venue than previous years.

It was an inspirational day spent with exciting and engaged Edmontonians. I am already looking forward to TEDxEdmonton 2012, and so should you. Will you be there?