This summer, while poking about Edinburgh, I saw it: its wet, yellow gleaming edges, and stocky black lettering. A beckoning call, partnered with a “You’re not good enough to get in!” Maybe you too have wandered across a TED conference sign. Maybe you too have dreamed, been seduced to believe that maybe, just maybe, someday you’ll be invited in.
That someday came for me this past Saturday. Upon dutifully and excitedly filling out forms, I had outwitted 275 other applicants and had become one among a hand-selected crowd to belong to TEDxSFU.
And what a really fantastic event: aside from getting to watch and learn about Taiko drumming during coffee breaks, I heard from all sorts of local guests. Here’s a two-sentence breakdown of some of my favourites of the day:
Shawn Smith encourages sustainable international giving, so that instead of just dumping money and stuff on problems overseas, we think about how we might encourage community growth at its heart. Think: giving scholarships through Education Generation to university students in India or Peru so that they can give back to their own communities by becoming doctors, teachers, policy-makers, and so on.
Trisha Baptie knows from having spent several years working on streetcorners in Vancouver’s DTES that the sex trade means violence against women. Rather than fight to create safer working conditions, however, Baptie’s Honour Consulting aims to abolish the sex industry altogether (porn included), through re-directing criminal prosecution, away from sex workers and towards Johns—including Pickton, whose trial Baptie has covered as a journalist.
Quyn Lê was blinded at two, fled Communist Vietnam at 9, drifted at sea before being held as a refugee on an Indonesian island for four years, and was labelled with cognitive development problems as a suddenly ninth-grade student upon arriving in Canada. Turns out, Lê just didn’t know the language, couldn’t read it, and was suffering from some serious culture shock—all things she has had to work through in order to start her own practice as a Registered Clinical Counsellor.
Duane Elverum, an educator at Emily Carr University of Art and Design, co-founded CityStudio Vancouver, a “10-year project [uniting] students and instructors from Vancouver’s 6 public universities and colleges with City Hall on a long-term collaboration to design and implement real-world sustainability projects that help Vancouver reach its Greenest City 2020 targets.” And, he’s looking for folks like us (teachers, employers, employees, students, Vancouverites) to get involved.
At the end of the 8 hour day, new TEDxSFU umbrella in hand, I was left a bit overwhelmed, but if you’re like me, these sort of events do exactly what they’re meant to do: bring us from a place of depleted enthusiasm, to a place of thinking we ought to guiltily pile at least three more activities to our list, to a recognition of how we might infuse others’ encouragement (and ideas) into the cool things we’re already doing.
What is it that you’re already doing? Need a bit of a morale boost? Here’s my virtual TEDxSFU high-five to you! You’re doing well, my friend.