Thoughts on TED


I was excited to see that Victoria has been playing host to a TEDx event for the past couple of years, learning about it unexpectedly when I found out my next door neighbour spoke at the event last year.  The schedule offered a cross section of local and invited speakers, definitely something to check out.

Those familiar with the TED concept know that TED’s reach has extended into an extensive online presence– I watch TED talks online, have the app on my phone, and a large selection are available on Netflix as well. Given this I was a little curious about attending in person – I was hopeful that I would find the energy and dialogue that you really only get being in the room with colleagues. As it happened, it delivered handily. Plus, waffles!

I began the day with an auspicious conversation with a nice gentleman that had come down from North Saanich for the day. He had the pleasant affability of a favourite uncle but was obviously big on issues in his community; we covered agriculture, amalgamation and buying local all while waiting for the doors to open. I got the sense by the buzz that the diverse crowd was equally keen.

Some highlights for me:

Asha De Vos, blue whale researcher from Berkley, CA had some great insight on her work and had all of us non –TED talkers felling a little better about what we had done with our lives (or rather had yet to). It was entertaining to hear expressed what a lot of people are probably thinking when they go to TED- “how am I going to catch up to what these people have accomplished?!” I appreciated the graph she used showing the average age of Nobel Prize winners – I might still have time!

Talking “making makers” with David Lang from San Francisco, combined with Ann Makosinski’s pictures of her building cardboard inventions at age five got me thinking about setting up an improved workbench and tinkering spot for my boys.

Vicki Kleu and Austin Sawyer, combined with the aforementioned Ann Makosinski had me and my neighbours in the aisle agreeing that they were light years ahead of where we were in high school…


Young people with big ideas.

The image of organizers and volunteers gathering on stage at the end of the day was great and the spirit of the community was really on show.

There was a lot of content that resonated with me and some that challenged me – I was encouraged to think critically about what I heard. In my opinion these events aren’t there for you to stand in awe of unattainable brainpower but to recognize these are amazing things being done by motivated, positive, approachable people. Watching presenters that were moved to the point of tears by the passion they had for their subjects was inspiring and at the same time a personal challenge to do more.

I thought the Conversation Space concept was a great idea and it was excellent to be able to access the speakers after their talks. I asked a few conversational questions as well as a couple of pointed ones, and enjoyed the dialogue.


Lots of energy up in the Conversation Space.

All told a great day out and huge credit to the organizers and volunteers for making the event happen. Looking forward to next year.

Getting fired up, and giving credit where it’s due

This blog really came about as an extension of my desire to get engaged at the civic level, become well grounded in the issues and participate in some constructive discourse. I had an awakening about this some years ago but my mind focused on the project when I went to work for a municipal government. I saw how much of a role the structure and vitality of a community was driven by municipal policy and how disengaged a significant portion of citizens were. Municipalities govern the things we interact with every day- shops, community centres, parks, roads. I started to look at what was going on around me in a different way (and became unusually focused on garbage collection and rezoning signs). At the same time, I was reading up and seeing how civic issues manifested themselves on social media.

I was very fortunate when working at the City to have one of the best coworkers around, in the online world he goes by NWimby. He is an accomplished blogger, an award winning community volunteer and now, a municipal councilor. He and I had many discussions about the constructive use of social media and I admire his work greatly. Not to say that we agreed on all topics- I do miss the regular hockey vs. soccer debates! As I undertake my new community focused blog I wanted to take a moment to acknowledge Patrick, his insight and his commitment to his City. You can be assured I will continue to follow him from this side of the straight.

It’s been a great time to plug in to the political side of issues here as my arrival has coincided with the municipal election period. I’ve taken the opportunity to meet and speak to councilors, attend meetings and review the candidates’ online presence (notable for its scope and professionalism- this surely is the new difference maker in campaigning). The discussion and dialogue coming out of the elections is invigorating- the big issues of amalgamation, sewage and municipal resources all coming to the fore. Before arriving in Victoria I developed an impression that the amalgamation issue was somewhat of a non-starter, even for initial discussion. The results of the various municipalities’ referenda seem to indicate otherwise, and it seems as if the province has heard that message. I’m very interested to learn more and hear from neighbours on this.


One issue is of particular interest to me as a Biologist, and you can be sure I’ll have some thoughts here:

group of deer

Hey, there’s an election issue in my back yard.

My big realization through following the campaign issues is how much I’ve got to learn. There are a lot of complex issues to explore and it’s given me a pleasantly swimming head. I find myself fired up to find out something about everything, so the reader may see this manifest itself in all manner of odd topics in the posts to come. Have feedback on topics not to be missed? Make sure you let me know right here.

As always, a good bike ride always serves to focus my thoughts: