On Saturday, November 12, 2012 Vancouver hosted it’s 3rd annual TEDx Vancouver event at the Chan Centre on the University of BC campus.
This year’s event was attended by over 1,000 people and was considered, by all accounts, to be a great success.
The theme of TEDx Van was “Frontier”. Pretty cool, right? I thought so too. I felt that “most” of the speakers were really great. I enjoyed the energy and the messaging that was delivered and, all in all, I enjoyed the event.
Some of the presenters really had a wonderful message to convey. Nolan Watson, for example, was really great. He spoke with passion about his passion and purpose and he kept the auditorium wrapped up in the story in a way that would make TED organizers proud.
So too were speakers like Kara Pecknold, Dr. Kate Moran and Seth Cooper. Their message was delivered with passion and enthusiasm and an un-wavering belief that what they were going was making a difference in the world. (and I thought so too)
I was somewhat less enthused or engaged by Jai’ Aquarian and Erin Marci’s account of their journey to build the Temple at Burning Man this summer but I can completely see where others would get a lot of their talk and their shared experience. Perhaps after I embrace my inner-camper I might change my mind.
There was a hitch to the day though. The last speaker to appear before the lunch break was not on the roster and, quite frankly, after speaking with several other attendees, I don’t think he belonged at a TED event.
Jose Figarroa fled El Salvador and sought refugee status in Canada in 1997. Recently he, and his family, have been threatened with deportation. While Jose spoke with great passion I felt a little bit like the TEDx organizers were trying to manipulate me.
TED is ideas and inspiration. It’s about sharing ways to make the world better. What it’s NOT about it politics. Why then was Jose given the stage? I’d love to know and I hope that TEDx organizers and volunteers have their fingers on the pulse of the net to look for commentary about their event. I would venture to guess that I am not the only one questioning this decision.
I was also disappointed, as were others I spoke to, with Shahrzad Rafati, CEO of Broadband TV. Her speech, far from inspiring people to be active members of society, encouraged us to watch more video. I get it. I know it’s her business. I know that she believes in the power of the media. Great. But the messaging was weak at best and delivered in such an over-the-top manner that it just put the audience off. It came off as more of a CEO sales pitch then an “idea worth sharing”.
By far my favourite of the day was Victor Lucas. I liked him so much that I will write a post just about his speech in the next couple of days. Suffice to say, for now, that Victor held the audience’s attention in a manner that embodies all that TED has to offer. He is a master story-teller with an important message and his “idea” is definitely “worth sharing”.
No account of the day would be complete without a mention of the other 3 in my top 4. Sean Aitken is a home-grown idea man, from North Vancouver. I loved this passion, his purpose, his commitment to not settle for what society may, or may not, expect of him. His One Week Job Project was an odyssey that enlightened him and everyone who watches his work. If you have a teenager, they really ought to see Seth’s videos.
I also loved Christopher Gaze. Talk about engaging! He silenced a room of 1000 20-50 year olds with, of all things, Shakespeare! I have a minor in English Literature and he taught me more about ol’ Willie S in 15 minutes than I learned in a full university course! I’d love to figure out a way to rent him out to my teenager’s English class.
Finally, but certainly not an after-thought, was Romeo Dallaire. Most Canadian’s know him as a war hero and many American’s would recognize his book “Shake Hands with the Devil” which was turned into a movie called “Hotel Rwanda” in 2004, staring Nick Nolte as Dalliare.
After what he’s witnessed and what he’s lived through Dallaire is able to get up on stage and mesmerize a group with humour and passion and an enormous sense of purpose. He makes you want to go out and save the world, ask questions, vote and encourage others to do so. He was just amazing and even if it had only been him at TEDx Vancouver, the event would have been worth every penny.
All in all I loved my TEDx experience. I hope that next year I may be on the stage rather than in the audience and that’s what I’ll be working toward. If you were at TEDx leave your thoughts and comments below. I’d love to know what you thought.
Until next year!