Seriously, I can't believe it's been a week since TED 2006 ended. Clearly time to finish up these posts ...
First up in the morning was Sir Ken Robinson, senior advisor to the J. Paul Getty trust, expert on creativity and education, and author of Out of Our Minds. Wonderful, hilarious, engaging speaker! Key messages:
Creativity: The process of having original ideas that have value.
If you're not prepared to be wrong, you'll never come up with anything creative.
Creativity is as important as literacy in education. We squander the potential of kids all the time by neglecting this.
Scene: Elementary school classroom. A young girl is drawing.
Teacher: What are you drawing?
Teacher: But no one knows what God looks like.
Girl: They will in a minute.
Slightly Peeved Aside: You can read an recent interview with Robinson in BusinessWeek. There is a URL for Robinson that links to the speaker bureau he is registered with. They want you to register to read his full bio which I think is ridiculous.
Gregory Colbert was the next speaker. Colbert is a photgrapher and documentary filmmaker who has spent the last 15 years exploring the relationship of people and animals and capturing those relationships on film. To that end he has created the beautiful exhibit Ashes and Snow, a combination photo gallery, film centre and advocacy platform. Ashes and Snow travels in a nomadic museum of ship containers. It is currently in Santa Monica, but will soon be traveling to Vatican City.
Colbert's mission is two-fold. The first, to create a universal bestiary (wikipedia), one that features the totemic animals from each continent. The second, to create the Animal Copyright Foundation, an entity that will collect, on behalf of animals and nature, 1% of all media buys that use animal images and distribute them to conservation efforts around the world. Colbert's contention is that advertisers and their agencies benefit from animal images all the time, but they don't give back to preserve them and/or their habitat. Incredibly beautiful photography. Incredibly ambitious programme. (No website for the Animal Copyright Foundation as of yet.)
Jamais Cascio, founder of WorldChanging.com, spoke (under the session banner "The Future we will Create") about the challenge of getting people to change their behaviour. He main theme: make the invisible, visible. People need to understand their impact, from the miniscule to the mighty. Items like energy meters in homes which can show a household how much energy they are using and just with the simple change to energy-efficient bulbs or turning down the heat a degree, they can make an impact.
On a larger, global scale, Cascio is advocating a program where environmental crimes can be documented, collected and solutions can be brought forward. Inspired by Witness (a program that supports the documentation of human rights abuses), Cascio calls his program "EarthWitness" (working title) and wants to focus on empowering local communities to get involved in the solutions to solve local environmental abuses. Very much oriented towards problem-solving as is the overall tone of WorldChanging.com.
One of the most powerful speakers of TED was Majora Carter, MacArthur Fellow and founder of Sustainable South Bronx. Carter is a passionate empowered woman who has seen and experienced the negative impact that environmental neglect can have on a neighbourhood and its people. She founded Sustainable South Bronx to get one of the poorest and most environmentally abused areas of New York engaged in urban renewal. Through SSB, a greenway has been created in a previously industrial-blighted area and an Ecological Restoration Training Program has been started to train local residents in riverine and estuarine restoration, enabling residents to use these skills both to support their own neighbourhood as well as take them elsewhere where they are both in demand and highly paid for. Majora's vision for SSB and for community renewal is truly inspiring ... so much so that Al Gore, on the spot, offered her a place on the board of directors for a soon-to-be-announced major environmental initiative in the US. Outstanding!
The last speaker of the conference was Al Gore. He had already given a talk on Wed night about the current Climate Crisis. After a wry and witty bit of stand-up (Al, where was this passion, charisma and personality during the 2000 campaign?!?!), Gore got down to brass tacks. Throughout the conference, he said that attendees had been requesting specifics on what they could do to reduce their individual impact on the environment in the immediate short term. He had the following 14 suggestions (I have taken these from Bruno Giussani's blog "Lunch over IP" - I didn't get them all down in my notebook at the time - thanks, Bruno!):
- reduce emissions from your home (installations, better design)
- reduce emissions from cars (hybrids etc)
- be a green consumer ("you have choices with everything you buy, from appliances to food")
- live a "carbon neutral" life ("it's easier than you think: use the carbon calculator, then reduce, and offset the rest")
- make your business carbon neutral ("it's not as hard as you think")
- integrate climate solutions into all your innovations, independently of your sector of activity
- invest sustainably, "in companies and funds that are part of the solution"
- become a catalyst for change, learn, teach others
- raise awareness by promoting "An Inconvenient Truth" (the documentary that follows Gore as he travels around the world warning about greenhouse gases; it will come out in May)
- send someone to Nashville who can learn how to give my slideshow in your community ("I'm going to conduct a course this Summer to a group of people that can then use and remix my slides and my talk in their commmunity")
- become politically active, "speak up, make democracy work"
- urge the US to join the rest of the world community in capping and trading carbon emissions (the Kyoto treaty)
- help with the mass persuasion campaign when it launches this Spring
- let's rebrand global warming (he suggests "climate crisis")
Tom Rielly, as always, gave a very funny, very irreverant sum-up of the conference which is likely only amusing to the folks who endured the whole of TED. Suffice it to say, I have never laughed as hard as I did during those last 10 minutes of TED. [Photo: cherot]
So, that's it. An amazing four days. Eye-opening. Scary. Incredible. Breathtaking. Can't wait til next year.
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