Live from TEDxYYC 2018: Part 1 of 2

Jun 22, 2018

Welcome to TEDxYYC 2018!

What an exciting day! We kicked off the day with the Student & Speaker Breakfast at Hotel Arts, giving students the chance to meet and chat one on one with this year’s speakers. They had a rare opportunity to learn more about the speakers’ journey to TEDxYYC, and find out more about their topics of focus for the day.

At 12 noon, the doors opened and audience members entered Jack Singer Hall, enjoying lobby activations from our many partners.

Once all seats were full, a video showing images of TEDx events from all over the world played on the main screen, bringing energy to all watching. We heard how global the TEDx community really is, with members all over coming together to create inspiring events that exist simply to share ideas worth spreading. Mayor Nenshi joined us by video to welcome TEDxYYC to Calgary and send his best wishes for a fantastic day full of inspiration.

Emcee Barb Higgins kicked off this year’s event with a warm welcome to guests. What a moment when she asked the crowd how many attendees were attending their first TED event in person – hands went up all over the audience and we realized just how special this day was going to be.

TEDxYYC 2018 Event theme: Adjacent Possible

The theme for today’s event is Adjacent Possible, the concept that there are possibilities far beyond what we can see today. Every decision we make, every step we take, opens new opportunities that we never knew existed. Ripples of possibility can spread farther than our imagination, meaning we must never think we see the end of an idea or how far we can go with a thought. Just take the next step, and see what happens.

Here’s what we’ve seen so far!

Session 1 speakers & performers


Tim Tamashiro

Passion meets purpose, the power in finding your Ikigai

Tim spoke of his journey to find his true purpose, sharing how with some reflection, we can all find the gifts that we can share with the world that the world will thank us for. A visit to Okinawa clarified the concept of Ikigai for Tim, and he saw it as an important idea to share with others. Ikigai simply means your life’s worth. Do what you love, do what you’re good at, do what the world needs, and do what you can be rewarded for. Tim found that his Ikigai is to delight. This is what he can put out into the world, and get back.

What’s your Ikigai? How do you find it? Start part time. Consider the concept of side hustle versus side helpful. Ikigai is a verb, find what it means for you – to serve, create, delight, nourish, provide, teach, heal, connect, build. Ikigai equals time affluence plus gifts plus rewards. #tryIkigai

Sophia Lebessis

The art of survival:  a modern day Inuit odyssey through the arts

Sophia greeted us by explaining her Greek/Inuit background, which gives her unique experience and voice. She spoke of the significance of Inuit art, and how prevalent it really is in the Canadian art scene, though we may not know very much of the history. In truth, there may be pieces of history that our society ignores, when it could choose to learn and embrace them instead.

Her Greek father and Inuit mother met and lived in an Inuit town, raising Sophia in the culture of Inuit art, especially the idea of someone from an Inuit background sharing these pieces with the world. Sophia spoke of the challenges of bringing this art to the rest of the country, meeting expectations from those who already thought they knew the stories behind each piece. Her work as a gallery owner at Transformation Fine Art has allowed her to step into an important role, awakening the curiosity of a country to this enormously important legacy.

Farima Berenji

Award winning performer, teacher, artist shares passion for dance and its history

Farima introduces us to the idea that just as an artist can create art with canvas and paint, so can we create art with our bodies when we move, especially through dance. Our ability to perceive, understand, and remember is lifted by embracing dance and the stories that are passed down through history and family. She grew up in Iran, and has brought traditional dance from her roots in that country, and made it relevant today. Dancing and whirling can be a daily practice that can be as impactful as meditation in a person’s life.

Farima can feel her ancestors coming through her when she performs the sacred dances, and is a passionate believer in the power of dance to move through us to connect body and soul. Dance can connect individuals to one another as well, bringing people together into a community. Dance and spirituality share an important connection of ritual and expression, inviting beauty and harmony into our lives.

Le Cirque de la Nuit

Immersive performances create unforgettable moments for audiences

The music started and we were treated to a specially choreographed performance by Le Cirque de la Nuit, offering movement and performance and energy. Dance and perfectly synced routines brought the music to life, putting a smile on the faces of every audience member watching. This hugely talented group brought us brilliant story and stunts, drawing us all into their performances as we watched an artist find his inspiration to create. The audience cheered and whistled watching the energy on stage.

The entire performance was broadcast on the large screen so we could watch all the players as they brought their characters to life. Without a single word spoken aloud, we were drawn in and entirely captivated by Le Cirque de la Nuit.

Sue Mylde

Tactile, hands-on learning still crucial for early childhood development

Sue took the stage and immediately brought us together by encouraging the audience to move their hands and act out a few simple motions together. This led into her message of how important it is for us all, but especially our children, to use our hands and embrace tactile learning. In order to learn, we must play. We must actually use our hands and immerse ourselves in our actions and play in order to actually experience things. Her experience leading education and group experiences at TELUS spark makes her a passionate ambassador for tactile literacy and playing in order to learn and develop. As a parent, she is all too aware of how important it is to bring this into our lives, especially as we share life with our children.

Children learn through what they do, and touch. Imagination and contextual learning cannot be encouraged by devices alone. Virtual experiences will never replace being able to experience and learn in real life. Sue highlighted how the use of devices in very young children is actually interferes with their development of both skill and communication. Her appeal to the audience is to be aware of the devices we use, and how we use them. Are they necessary in today’s age? Certainly, but it should be at our choosing and with awareness, so we allow ourselves, and our children to fill our hands and lives with far more.

Artists in Residence

Bianca Manuel & Gabriele Kuzabaviciute ask, do advancements in digital communication affect the ways we live and share experiences?

Bianca and Gabriele spoke about how we share ourselves, and our lives, with others around us. They introduced the idea that we are not who we think we are, not who others think we are, but we are who we think others think we are. Our awareness of how we are being perceived by others often overshadows our own ability to interact with the world.

They spoke of how our behaviour online, the data trails we create, end up creating our online identity. They called the internet of things the fourth industrial revolution and discussed how this is just the beginning.  In closing, they encouraged the audience to change their devices to grey scale as a reminder to limit phone use, and to act as a deterrent to mindless use.

Aaron Goodarzi

Radon in our homes, the science behind the danger

Aaron brought us immediately to attention speaking of radon, and how exposure to it can be very dangerous over time. Radon reacts in our bodies by breaking down our DNA, causing damage our bodies cannot heal from. The alpha particles move through our body in powerful ways, driving the growth of cancer. It’s a category one carcinogen. Aaron enlightened us that 10-40,000 Canadians succumb to radiation caused lung cancers a year. Radon accumulates in structures – outside it may not be dangerous, but the way it collects in our buildings and homes is unnatural and very dangerous.

Radon is measured in becquerels, and radiation is all about dose. The amount you are exposed to is what matters. Aaron used the example of dental X-rays and to help give the audience an illustration of how much radiation we can be exposed to without harm. Aaron told us the history of how scientists first discovered radiation was dangerous, and how exposure could actually accumulate and cause serious damage. The more light that was shone on the topic, the more we learned. In modern times, we still need to understand why we still have issues in our homes and buildings, and to raise awareness of how important it is to test our homes and rectify issues. We need a movement to ensure we can evict radon entirely from our homes all across the city, province and country.

We’ll see you after the break for more exciting speakers and another performance – don’t miss our next post, brought to you live from TEDxYYC 2018 at Jack Singer Concert Hall at Arts Commons!

Read part 2 of 2 here.

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