Live from TEDxYYC 2019: Part 1 of 2

Welcome to TEDxYYC 2019!

Welcome to the tenth annual TEDxYYC, the biggest and boldest event we’ve planned yet! We’re sharing our thoughts live from TEDxYYC as we experience the talks firsthand, with our audience.

TEDxYYC 2019 Event Theme:  You Are Here

You’ve made it here, but where are you? Context is everything, and we’re all just trying to figure out what “here” really means. Establishing where we’ve come from, and where we are now, will be what launches us into the future.

We’ll celebrate ten years of ideas worth spreading right here in our city and look forward to the impact we’ll have in the years to come. What will it feel like to be part of that energy, and where will these new ideas take us? Today, you get to find out.

This morning, students and speakers gathered for the VIP Student Experience, for a chance for 15 lucky students to enjoy some one-on-one time with our TEDxYYC 2019 speakers. These young members of our community will be the next generation of new ideas, and we’re so pleased to create an opportunity to connect them with these inspiring leaders from such diverse fields. Our VIP Student Experience winners also enjoy front row seats at the event.

Session 1 speakers & performers

The first thing our audiences noticed was the tremendous balloon installation created onstage by our Artist-in-Residence Maria Galura. What a fantastic way to kick off our event! Her balloons filled the stage to the rafters, and we were thrilled to have her add impact to our event.

Host Tim Tamashiro

Our host for the day, Tim Tamashiro, welcomed our attendees with excitement and energy, getting everyone ready for the incredible day ahead. A TEDxYYC speaker last year, Tim stepped into the role of host for 2019. We’re so delighted to have him leading our attendees through the day!

Scott Gravelle

Scott Gravelle is a tech disruptor rethinking old problems with new robots. He spoke to our audience about the carbon footprint of modern commerce. The cardboard box is helping kill our environment. Billions of cardboard boxes are produced each year in North America, and drastic shifts in consumer behavior (including the expectations of fast deliveries, selection demand, low prices, seamless return processes) have resulted in a significant increase in cardboard landfill waste. As Scott shared with us, the solution lies in the backend. We need to consider how the workflow of natural systems can inspire a more eco-friendly commerce industry and challenges us to rethink our own habits.

He challenged the audience to change how we think about the shopping we do online. Online shopping depends heavily on shipping and packaging, and as consumers, we can start thinking about things differently. We have power over modern commerce to change retailer behaviour. He says, “Just because it goes in a blue bin, doesn’t mean it doesn’t end up in a landfill, so we have to think about this differently.” He says he wants us to start asking online retailers not just for service, but for guidance and new thinking about what we should do with the box when we’re done.” We can all play a part in asking retailers what should be done with the packaging we receive our items in.

Douglas Cardinal

Douglas Cardinal is an Indigenous architect exploring land and space use for future generations, and he asks an important question about the use and planning of the spaces we live in. Knowing we shape our environments and our environments shape us, what kind of environments do we want to create? How can we create spaces that allow cultures to come together and be celebrated? Douglas has spent his career working on projects that are thoughtfully planned with an eye on future generations. We have the power of creation, and we can create a better future and life for all of us. Douglas says it is important that we not only tell the stories of the past but make plans for the future.

He says architectural form is inspired by the spirit of nature. When we make plans for the future, we must make plans for people, animals, plants, all the life givers. He shared that Pierre Elliott Trudeau said the following about the Canadian Museum of History designed by Cardinal: “I feel that this vision is what we need for the nation, to bind people together and speak about our land which we all love.”

Alanna Bluebird-Onespot

Our first performer of the day, Alanna Bluebird-Onespot,  is an Indigenous spoken word poet who leads youth through art and healing. Alanna has written over 200 poems so far, and took the stage to share her work with us. With musical accompaniment, she brought gravity and a dramatic feel to the TEDxYYC stage. We were honoured to have her bring her energy to our event this year.

“I am the wisdom that you carry from a past life/ carrying generations of strong DNA / A light that guides your path which is only seen by the unknown/ a character that helps you to create relationships with others ” ~Alanna Bluebird-Onespot

Barb Higgins

Barb Higgins is an award-winning journalist who turned her curiosity to the effects of toxic stress. She asked a simple question. “What is healing?” She says that our bodies speak the language of stress and that stress in our lives turns up in our bodies, through physical symptoms. As we experience stress and trauma, our bodies store up stress as though in a bucket. Addressing our physical symptoms often takes us on an unexpected journey of the stress we have experienced and absorbed through our lives. Raising awareness of how the stress we experience reappears in our health and physical symptoms affects our lives is key to unlocking this connection. The most striking, and difficult, thing about this connection is that we often don’t recognize it, for enormous lengths of time.

Barb shared her experiences working in journalism, covering trauma, and her move to politics, with the realization that the exposure to stress along the way created health issues for her. The science of our nervous system can explain the connection. Our nervous system is our body’s command centre, and it affects every part of our bodies. She spoke about the fight, flight, or freeze reactions that direct our reactions to situations. When we disconnect from ourselves, we miss how stress is affecting how we react and function when stress exists in our lives. How can we look after our nervous system when stress is such a big part of our lives? She has changed her focus to absorbing issue-based news and avoid the chaos and trauma of direct event reporting. Paying attention to our bodies is how we will be able to heal from the stress we live in, and through this, Barb says we too can experience our own body’s wisdom.

Maria Hoover

Maria Hoover is a local designer who merges cutting edge electronics with high fashion. What if we could change what we’re wearing based on our needs, without having to physically change our outfits? She has created over 100 outfits in leading edge fashion tech. In her talk, called Hacking the Runway, Maria led us through an exploration of what can happen when you combine fashion and technology. From Calgary, they have built a global community in fashion tech, experimenting with designers and engineers on the other side of the world.

Artists, designers, and engineers work constantly to try new ideas and push the boundaries of what is possible. Designers help the tech become invisible, while engineers help bring the ideas to life through technology. She says, “fashion tech is going to change how we wear our clothes and it’s just getting started.” She notes that she is able to utilize the tools and equipment that their community has available at Maker Space to make the imaginable possible.

Cowtown Opera

The best little opera company in Calgary brought us a gorgeous performance to help show our audience a different side of opera. Stuffy? Elitist? Not in the hands of this talented group. Beautiful voices filled the room, with the audience held captive by the sound. To our delight, two of the singers were dressed in fashion tech pieces from speaker Maria Hoover. By the end of their performance, they had the audience spontaneously clapping along in thunderous approval.

Saima Jamal

Saima Jamal spoke about the power of the local community in creating social safety nets. She says that kindness can be a first response, rather than a last resort. She spoke about being moved by an emotional photo to work to support refugees and newcomers in our communities. It helped her realize the degree to which the Syrian refugee crisis brought large numbers of newcomers to our city, most of whom lacked crucial emotional and community support. She asked us to imagine what it would be like to leave your home and flee a new country, only to arrive and have no idea where you are or what to do next. Imagine that you can’t source what you need or even speak the language of those around you. Then, instead, imagine if we could welcome newcomers with support and community, ensuring that warmth and encouragement were the first impressions upon arrival. There are so many necessary supports that families need in order to feel at home, to feel safe, and to be able to communicate in their new communities.

When people reach out with the language of kindness and love, there are no barriers. And the more thoughtfully we engage with newcomers, the more lessons we learn about how to interact with people with respect. Family, culture, and religion are the ties that bind these families together when they lose everything else. Getting over the fear of “other” is so key to allow communities to step forward and assist new families in meaningful ways. Understanding that the need still exists, two years later, is what fuels Saima to keep working in these crucial areas.

Matthew Kennedy + Mark Erickson

The owners of Studio North spoke about the intersection of architecture and community and introduced our audience to the idea of laneway housing. Housing in North America places a focus on independence, but the rest of the world is strikingly different. Other parts of the world focus on family and shared spaces. They gave an example of family compounds in other countries that are shared by entire families, adding homes as the families grow. Interdependence is the focus, with shared resources helping to benefit everyone in the family. Interesting also was the observation that the elders were held in the highest regard in the community, very differently than we see in North America. With so much wisdom and experience to share, why wouldn’t communities want to keep seniors close to their families, benefiting from their guidance?

Matthew and Mark brought this concept back to Canada, and asked – why don’t we do the same thing here? Why not design for growing families, creating laneway homes to keep senior members of the family close by? Exploring this new way of living can change neighbourhoods and communities in a positive way. It adds diversity and adaptability to how we live together and allows for the exploration of healthy interdependence.

Casey Berglund

Casey Berglund is a purpose-driven wellness coach transforming the lives of visionary leaders. She talked about how important it is to say “yes” to what we’re meant to do. We need to let our bodies lead. There are two sensations: expansion and contraction, and your true nature is expansion. Sometimes especially in moments of growth, the expansion comes through truly surrendering to the contraction. This expansion or contraction is our body’s reaction to uncomfortable situations. This can often be emotions or feelings we need to engage with rather than ignore. Recognizing the tension that occurs in our body when we are faced with discomfort is important.

Our bodies guide us to the truth of what we need in any given moment.  We need to stop saying yes to what we think we should do, and say yes to what we are meant to do. We need to meet discomfort with acceptance and love, which allows us to meet others with the same compassion. Leading the audience through an exercise of breathing, allowed us all to recognize what we felt in that moment and what sensations were in our body. Instructing us to recognize these feelings without trying to block them or change them allowed us all to consider what it would be like to approach our wellbeing in this way.

During the break, audience members will enjoy a complimentary light lunch and all our lobby activations. We’ll be hosting an Alumni panel onstage, to discuss the TEDx experience. Those who have signed up for the Literary Walk with Shaun Hunter will be meeting outside.

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 2019 at Jack Singer Concert Hall at Arts Commons!