May 7, 2010

TEDxEast: play, dream, create - session 2

musician suzanne vega kicked off the second session with three songs before TEDxEast organizer julianne returned to the stage to thank TEDxEast attendees for their concurrent financial support of TEDxKibera in the slums of nairobi.

columbia business school assistant professor malia mason spoke about mind wandering, calling it "an efficient way to leverage our most precious resource." her theory included a metaphorical watchdog who periodically causes our minds to wander by reminding us about open goals. clearly caught off guard, she had a somewhat awkward Q&A session with the host afterward in which she revealed that her "watchdog" was always on the lookout for TED talk topics.

company XIV took the stage next, outfitted with classical costumes and wigs. accompanied by a piano, two guitar players sang a baroque rendition of "bad romance" by lady gaga. three dancers performed in time and captivated the audience, mostly because their music and dancing were unique but partially because one of the dancers had an ongoing wardrobe malfunction. lesson learned: adults will still act like children under certain circumstances.

brazilian CSR expert helio mattar gave a long allegorical talk about a woman named akatu (also the name of his institute in sao paulo). the contrasted description of the world her parents grew up in and the world she knows was meant to show the audience what might be possible if we begin to take sustainability, responsibility, and community more seriously. mattar's talk (i think unintentionally) made several references to other topics discussed during the first session including car sharing, reduced work week, and gandhi. he shared the 4 ways akatu's world differed from her parents': 1) consumption to improve well-being, not just for the sake of consumption, 2) people consume to live, not vice versa, 3) people search for the meaning of life, not consumption, and 4) friendship, love, art, and emotion are central to humanity. after going significantly over his time limit, he closed by serenading host rives with "somewhere over the rainbow."

ellen gustafson gave probably my favorite talk of the day, not only because she brought the kind of humble-yet-passionate energy that i love so much, but also because she talked about a topic close to my heart: food. ellen eloquently highlighted the inextricable connections between the epidemics of global hunger and obesity. on the heels of her success with FEED, she launched a new initiative today called the 30 project, which seeks to foster long-term ideas for food system change by bringing together thinkers and doers on all sides of the food/hunger activism movement. with shout outs to michael pollan, food inc., and jamie oliver, she definitely got me listening. so exciting to see other young people taking the reigns on this problem -- can't wait to help her! money quote: "our world now has one billion obese people and one billion hungry people -- they're not different problems." (VIDEO of her entire talk)

richard saul wurman, founder of TED, took the stage next for an endearing (if meandering) talk. he started by sharing the (now famous via internet meme) way to open a banana like the monkeys do -- from the bottom. his talk then turned into a series of memorable quotes like "we think we're a human species, but we are zoos...full of wee beasties" and "everything is walking distance if you have enough time" and "the more famous the person, the shorter the introduction" and, the supreme generalization, "everything is interdependent and made of everything." sporting his shape-up shoes, richard teared up as kelly and rives led the audience to sing him happy birthday -- he turns 75 this year. to celebrate, the break featured TEDxEast cupcakes provided by BCakeNY.

click here for session 1
click here for session 3

No comments: