I had the great opportunity of attending TEDxToronto 2013, the 5th edition of this independently organized TED event in the city, and my my second TEDx (the first being TEDxUSP 2010 in São Paulo). Held at the Koerner Hall, it was carefully organized around the theme “The Choices We Make”.
A great selection of speakers made this edition a huge success - I honestly could not find a single disappointing talk (and I was not the only one). The artistic performances had a strong local appeal, making them a bit harder to grasp for newcomers like me. But the audience really enjoyed, so I guess it is all about living a few more years in this lovely city.
If I had to choose a favorite talk, I’d be torn between Darrell Bricker (former Director of Research for Canada’s Prime Minister and CEO of a leading social research firm), who presented a novel perspective of the country’s economics and demographics, fully backed by statistics and census data; and Mark Bowden, who impressed the audience with a live demonstration on the impact of body language on public acceptance.
It is interesting how a few of those presentations interact: Mark makes a point in how those visual cues are an important part of communication and how social engagement can be improved by them, even though they might be cast as lies - and it was just after Debbie Berlin-Romalis talked about how her work with terminal children with cancer taught her that telling the truth is the core component of dealing with such a delicate matter.
There was no shortage of sad stories, such as Ti-Anna Wang’s life as an advocate for Chinese dissident families (including her injustly imprisioned father) and Mark Henick’s pledge for mental health care backed by a vivid portrait of clinical depression. On the other hand, seeing Dr. Ivar Mendez connecting on-stage to the remote presence robots he and his coleagues use to bring medical care to remote communities in Canada and Bolivia brought happiness back to everyone’s souls.
Overall, the talks brought a great perspective on how a person’s choices can impact the lives of so many others, and one can’t help but think about his/her choices in the same light. Talks
should be available soon (“this October”, says the official Twitter account) can be watched online, and here are some photos as well.