November 6, 2009

TED India - day 2, session 5: redesigning community

banny banerjee talked about embrace, the low-cost infant incubator that's making a splash in social enterprise circles.  the org and its leader, TEDIndia darling jane chen (VIDEO of her short TEDFellows talk), have already been mentioned multiple times by other TED speakers.

margaret stewart, head of design for youtube, shared the elephant and the frog as metaphors for traditional and new media, respectively.  traditional media is like an elephant in that it has very few offspring, but they are heavily nutured.  frogs, on the other hand, lay a lot of eggs, letting nature take its course to ensure only the "best" offspring survive.  the frog's reproductive style is an apt metaphor for the new media explosion and the democratization of media.

architect shamsul wares walked us through photos of a vacation home he designed.  since its owner would only be using it on the weekends, the house and grounds were designed to be used by community members during the week.  the design was utilitarian with simple exposed brick and concrete, but the design made brilliant use of the light.

kavita ramdas, director of the global fund for women, talked about three women (well, one is a lesbian folk band in croatia) that have inspired her.  she briefly alluded to some of the inequalities women face, but just generally.  although the talk was good, i have to say i found some of her comments to be a bit predictable.  i wish she would have shared a bit more about the specifics of what the GFW is doing and/or given the audience some innovative ideas on how to help.  favorite quote:  "activism needs to be like cooking a rice cake.  you need heat from the bottom and the top."

we then watched a short film (VIDEO) that asked "can we make taking the stairs fun?"  the filmmakers laid down oversized piano keys on the stairs of a subway station that chimed when stepped on (a la the movie "big").  the footage of commuters encountering the piano stairs was delightful!

sunitha krishnan was undoubtedly our most buzz-worthy speaker of the morning (VIDEO), as her personal story about human trafficking brought the audience to tears (WARNING:  recap is graphic).  she mentioned that human trafficking is the 3rd largest organized crime, which made me wonder what the other two are (drugs and weapons?).  krishnan was gang raped as a young child, but instead of acting like a victim, she has channeled her anger into her organization which saves victims of human trafficking giving them shelter, vocational training, and a new lease on life.  her graphic and heartwrenching stories of the young children were piercing.  she recalled rescuing one girl -- no older than 10 -- who had been so badly and repeatedly raped that when they found her, her intestines were protruding and she required 32 stitches.  krishnan has been beaten over 40 times on her missions to save victims, and she lost a staff member who was murdered on a rescue mission.  she says her biggest challenge is overcoming the stigmas society puts on victims of human trafficking.  i really liked that at the end of her talk, she gave the audience a direct edict:  tell this story to 2 people and ask them to tell others.  by giving the audience a discrete and non-imposing task, she really inspired us all to act.  after her talk, krishnan shared that her organization was going to be evicted.  within minutes, a generous tedster stood and offered $10K if ten other tedsters would do the same.  angel donors quickly stood and received an ovation from the entire TED audience.  very moving.

after some moments of silence to reflect on krishnan's talk, we finished the session with mukul deora's contemporary electronic music and dancers.  others may not agree, but there was something palpable and incredibly sexy about the closing performance.  it took my breath away.  loved it.

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Swetha said...
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