Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Reflections from TEDx Toronto 2014

Hello blog world!

Recently I attended my first ever TEDx Conference in Toronto this past Thursday. It was a truly inspiring event with a broad range of speakers covering everything from the cosmos to singing as a giant group of over 1000 people to understanding racial profiling in the police force and coming out to your family as a lesbian comedian who is half Swiss and half Pakistani.

I really wanted to share some of my thoughts and major take aways from some of the excellent speakers. The theme was brilliant - relentless pursuits - it was all about dreams that we chase but may never achieve. It pushed the delegates and online viewers to ask how far are you willing to go for the chance to be happier? Some of the interesting take aways and talk for me include:

  • The idea of taking responsibility to challenge barriers we face. "If you had a chance to save an entire species, would you turn away?" - Gabriela Mastromonaco (Curator of Reproductive Programs and Research, Toronto Zoo)
  • Nav Bhatia (Raptors Superfan) challenged everyone to step outside of their comfort zone and engage with spaces where you are not welcome. A fun fact is that the Toronto Raptors are the #1 franchise in the NBA to have reported the largest number of ethnic community attendees and have been #1 for the past 5 years! I've always been a huge advocate and supporter of diversity through sport and the arts so this message certainly hit home for me. 
  • "Ordinary people have the most extraordinary stories to tell" - Colin Boyd Shafer (Founder of Cosmopolis Toronto). His work was breath taking and encapsulated contemporary immigrant life in Toronto. A link to his project and website is here. He set out to photograph someone from every single country of the world now living in Toronto. He asked participants to be photographed in areas where they felt most at home and another photo with something that reminds them the most of home. For Colin, photography captures a moment of self-expression. I had a chance to speak with him after and found out that he is a fellow Queen's Alum and an awesome person :)
  • The crew at Tedx :) 
  • GMOs and the right to know about genetically modified organisms being used in your food is a campaign launched by the inspirational 15 year old activist Rachel Parent (Founder of Kids Right to Know). An interesting debate between the benefits and harmful side effects of GMOs.

  • BabyTaxi is was by far the coolest app in development as a means of helping deaf and hard of hearing people to communicate with others. Tarek Sayeed (Founder of BabyTaxi) asked us to look at disability as an opportunity to make the world more accessible
  • The last interesting venture for me was the policing literacy initiative which promotes mediated discussions between police officers and those who've felt or have been discriminated against by police. Jamil Javani is the founder of the initiative and I truly believe this has the potential to be a step in the right direction towards equality in the eyes of the law. 
  • Also the music at the after party by Dj Divsa was absolutely incredible! 

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