TEDx Comes to the Yukon

Who is this TED, and why does he talk so much?

You’ll soon find out because TED’s local counterpart TEDx is coming to the Yukon Arts Centre as an all-day event January 5th.

TED began as an acronym for Technology, Education, and Design and originated as a one-time conference in 1984 to bring together ideas from various disciplines. It has since grown into a global set of conferences under the tagline “Ideas Worth Spreading.”

TEDx refers to TED-like events that are planned and coordinated locally and independently of the TED organization.

TED is best known for publishing its characteristically dynamic and entertaining live presentations online, free to anyone. Since the launch of TED.com in 2007, talks have been viewed over a billion times.

Among TED’s regular viewers is Whitehorse organizer Nigel Allan, who explains why he was moved to bring TEDx here:

“TED talks are so interesting and inspiring and they’re presented in a unique way because they’re only 18 minutes long, so I thought this would be a great thing to do in the Yukon.”

Allan gained enthusiasm and the support of Yukon College. Facilitator Lyn Hartley, who attended TED in 2012, became a co-organizer.

A TEDx promotional video asserts, “Getting access to great ideas hasn’t always been so easy. You could only get in the loop if you were rich, educated, literate, and a man.”

As we all know, the Internet has partially closed the gap on some of these issues, with help from some minor players such as the printing press, radio, public education, universal suffrage, etc.

However, the fundamental problem with the Internet has always been that amid the abundance of great ideas out there, there’s a lot of not-so-great stuff too. It’s hard to know if you’re drinking from the fountain of knowledge, or from Jim Jones’ Kool-Aid pitcher?

Sometimes, great ideas are simply the ones that matter to your community. Sometimes, trustworthy ideas are brought to you by people you already know (sometimes, writers start to sound as if they’re making a TED presentation).

TEDx Whitehorse will feature eight talks by Yukoners, and two speakers from outside Yukon. Among the local talent will be Heather Grantham, speaking on the topic of “Creating Leaders through the promotion of awesomeness,” with specific reference to the unique experiences of girls in rural Yukon.

Brendan Hanley, Yukon’s Medical Officer of Health, will examine the culture of risk taking in the North.

As he explains, “If you look at a variety of health outcomes, there’s a frontier-esque pattern of risk taking behaviour, whether it’s traffic accidents, alcohol, serious accidents and substance abuse.”

This pattern of risk-taking hasn’t been well explored, Hanley says. He’ll open up this topic in his TED talk. “Is it the long cold winter that makes it conducive to risky behaviour, or is it just that we have an active population?”

Among the outside speakers is Dennis Embry, president of the Paxis Institute in Tucson, Arizona. Embry lectures frequently on children’s brain development and social policy and practice. Yukon’s Health and Social Services will assist in hosting Embry.

The other non-Yukon speaker is Judah Pollack, an expert in leadership development. He has designed and delivered a leadership program for the U.S. Army. Pollack’s talk is titled “In defence of the liberal arts—the importance and power of narrative.”

TEDx will provide a different experience from the segments provided online. The day-long event allows participants to revisit themes throughout the day and make links from one talk to the other through discussion.

“The idea is that you come all day and listen to all the talks and have that opportunity to network and discuss and get involved during the breaks,” Allan explains.

There will also be musical acts, and food is provided. And if you’re truly missing the solitude of the Internet, TEDx events are also required to screen official TED.com talks at the event.

But, as Allan says, “TED talks are usually pretty entertaining. I think our speakers are going to deliver a good presentation and it will come together as a fun day.”

TEDx Whitehorse will be held on January 5, 2013 from 10 a.m.–5 p.m. at the Yukon Arts Centre. Tickets are $50 adults, $30 students (plus GST) from Arts Underground and Yukon Arts Centre. More information is available at www.tedxwhitehorse.com.

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