Burlington`s first TED event – ideas worth spreading – held at Performing Arts Centre.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON May 28, 2012  TEDx Burlington came and went – some 100 people plus filled the Community Room of the Performing Arts Centre and then trooped up Locust Street to ThinkSpot!  after the three hour event,  where they munched on sandwiches and continued the conversation.  In a couple of weeks the Burlington ideas worth talking about will be up on the TED web site and those of you who couldn’t score a ticket will be able to see what the rest of us took in.  We will let you know when the presentations are available for the rest of the public.

Some very powerful statements were made.  There was some difficulty managing the time allotted to each speaker – they were supposed to be limited to 18 minutes and that didn’t work with the one session, to the point where the impact of the point the speaker was making was lost.

The live presentations were interspersed with feeds from some of the really great presentations done in the past by other TEDx’s

TEDx is about ideas that are worth talking about and the story Arthur Fleischmann told of his daughter Carly was amazing – but was it an idea worth talking about?  It wasn’t an idea – it was the story of a man and his autistic daughter who has made tremendous strides and as a teenager has come to the point where she can communicate with people like us.  The story is truly magnificent and we will pass it along to you when they have been prepared for internet loading –  it wasn’t an idea that revealed anything to me other than the courage her Father has shown as he walked with his child.

The Josh Nelson story was told – Josh wasn’t able to make it to the live session.  Dramatic, tearful, the story of immense personal courage.  But was it an idea worth talking about?

Scott Graham told about bullying and the damage done.  He mentioned more than half a dozen students who had committed suicide. – the two woman beside me could not hold back the tears.  It was very hard to listen to and they didn’t return after the break.

TED was a concept developed to take ideas that people had; ideas worth talking about and give them a public forum.   Two of the ideas that came out of past TED sessions held in other cities are set out for you below.

Both are quite short – one is a great idea about how we can solve a serious problem with getting clean water that people can drink during a crisis when water is available only in plastic bottles.  This is something that is really worth talking about.  The Mayor was in the room – will he order a dozen or so and have the Emergency Measures Service people try them out?  He should.

Derek Sivers told of the way we identify where we live with street addresses and the way the people of Japan describe where they live.  It is certainly very different and as you listen to the explanation you realize that it wouldn’t work here but it works there – why?   An idea worth talking about?  Yes most certainly.

Of the seven presentations seen Sunday afternoon in an event that was about an hour too long, were any likely to make it onto that list of presentations that will be watched again and again by people around the world?   Other than the comments Patrick O`Neil made about how we in North America tend to use our heads and brains instead of our hearts and maybe the comments Deb Pickfield made about complacency – but other than that – probably not.

One needs to be fair.  Spencer Campbell deserves buckets of credit for taking the initiative to bring TED to Burlington and then doing all the calling around and setting up that makes events like this work.  It was announced at the first annual TEDxBurlington event – which would suggest there will be another TEDx held in Burlington.  Only time will tell if that proves to be the case. Should there be another

An interesting observation. Four times a year the Mayor of Burlington sponsors a speaker – all the seats available are usually filled for hour and a quarter presentation made by very informed, qualified speakers – several with national and international reputations.  The crowd that usually attends the Mayor’s Inspire speakers event was not the same crowd that was in the Community Room this afternoon, which suggests there is a larger audience than we have seen in the past for quality events that engage the mind.  For that reason alone Spencer Campbell should begin now to prepare for the next session of TEDxBurlington.   Is there a personal Spencer Campbell agenda here?  Isn’t there always?


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