Saturday, 3 October 2015

TEDx Christchurch 2015

What a ride!
I was lucky enough to be given a ticket to this event at the last minute. Next time, I'll definitely get one.
What a day, what amazing speakers and inspiring people.
A quick reflection on my education today. I say quick, but it's hard to say it all in a short space. Bear with me.

The Opening by Te Pao A Tahu, a Christchurch based kapa haka group was fantastic, and my only negative comment is that it wasn't long enough. I could have listened to more of them. They had fantastic harmonies and they had a life to them that is not always seen in performances.

Michele A'Court grabbed my attention so well that I went a bought her book in the first break! Two comments stood out for me. One, you don't have to be perfect, you don't have to be right, speak out anyway and two, don't tell anyone you don't know how to do something. Give things a go more often - by the time they work out you didn't know, you will know. Love this - I'm doing that a bit anyway now!

Ian Wright from Wrightspeed said we must challenge the status quo to enable change. He told us we sometimes ask the wrong questions - a theme that carried through the day. Instead of asking how do we make more efficient cars and taking what we already have and making it better, he asked how can we save enough fuel to save enough money and be efficient. His work with replacing diesel engines with turbine powered generators, battery packs and electric motors is fascinating even though I wouldn't say I was into that sort of thing too much!

Rod Oram, a journalist took us through a range of explorers who were all trying to conquer nature, rather than learning to live well within nature. He told us about his trip to the South Pole and I particularly felt the quote on the cross on Observation Hill that was placed there in remembrance of Scott's party - " To strive, to see, to find and not to yield". He talked of biomimicry and of a biodegrable, recyclable, solar-powered aircraft and of the first living building in New Zealand - Tuhoe's Te Uru Taumatua. He spoke of Gus Speth from the World Resources Institute who says the biggest issue in the world is greed, selfishness and apathy. A very sobering talk.

Slavko Martinov gave us a sneak peek into his new project -  a Best in Show, but with chickens! Had us all in fits of laughter and is worth waiting for. More coming at his Pecking Order website.

Bridget Frame talked about philanthropy and the study she has done into non-earthquake grants in Canterbury. It was a sad talk realising that over half of the grants are from gaming money - every $10,000 grant requires $200,000 gaming money.

An inspiring story from Robyn Twenlow and her daughter Analise who has Tourette's Syndrome. Robyn has formed the Tourett's Association New Zealand and is an amazing advocate for all people with Tourette's. Her main push today was to lobby the government for those with Tourette's to be able to access funding for physical disabilities. Her daughter was outstanding and ended with "I have Tourette's, get over it". A standing ovation followed.

Dr Swee Tan has already been the subject of a book by an amazing young author, and today just reinforced what an amazing man he is. His research through the Gillies McIndoes Research centre has the world looking at new ways to cure cancer. He took us through how he managed to help people with strawberry birthmarks and how his research into that led him to be able to make the link to cancer stem cells. Having had cancer and having many friends and family with this terrible disease I applaud his work and know it will help others in the future.

Jason Kerrison. What can I say? I am biased as I taught him music at school - not that he came to class much as he was quick to admit in a lunchtime conversation today! But today, he opened himself up to the public by putting some unfinished work out there. He is basing his second EP on the Golden Ratio and has different lengths of songs to that effect, rethinking the duration of a song. Giving us all permission to present unfinished things, works in progress, is a great gift and I know from talking to others at lunch that this was taken on board by many.

A quick interlude let us know there will be a TEDx for youth conference in December. I have already told my daughter I will get her a ticket. Awesome.

An interesting talk from Carolina Izzo gave us an insight into the care and effort taken into restoring the dome in the Isaac Theatre Royal. A beautiful building and one I have spent much time in over the years. It is wonderful to see the dome looking so spectacular - thanks to this woman and her team.

The Sintes Brothers gave us a quick interlude with stunning tap dancing - getting us on our feet and clapping and tapping along.

Max Suckling talked about how they are using nature to combat insect invasions. His work with using pheromones to stop moths mating, and hence moth infestations is now being looked at with ants. Using pheromones instead of pesticides can only be a good thing for the world.

Architectural Designer, Craig Jarvis, delivered an amazing talk about sustainable homes. His explanation of the difference between energy efficient and actual sustainability was made very clear. He talked of Biophilia, the love of life, and how true sustainability is very hard. He asks "Are we fulfilling our love of life and our connection with nature?" and told us that "Our children spend more time building tree houses on iPads than on trees". He talks of biophilic spaces and the more biophilic the space, the more happy the employee. He has built his family a design to improve their quality of life and talks of homes that are good for our souls.

Eric Liu told us to think about our lives as citizens and how we use Power, Imagination and Character as the core of everything. His definition of power is "capacity to ensure that others do what you would have them do". He encouraged us to have more power, to be included in the voice of people. He talked of cultivating a culture - an example being the Gap Filler in Christchurch. We all should be a social contributor to the community. He talked about rights, particularly with the latest shooting in the US. He said there is no right without responsibility.

The last session began with Matt Vickers who told the story of his wife, Lecretia who fought to have the right to die on her own terms. This was particularly close to me and I found myself very moved by his story. Time the government considered the euthanasia laws.

Another interlude gave us a fascinating video called "The writing's on the wall". A great clip that shows how we view things from very different angles.

Finian Galbraith gave his speech about the pronunciation of Maori words, which I have seen a couple of times before. His words remind us that it is important to keep the language alive as no other country speaks it. He says "the Treaty is a licence to be here and with that comes responsibility". A theme that crops up a lot today.

The last message was from Julian Arahanga and Ladi6 as well as one of the cast from Songs from the Inside. This moving tale was about how they put the programme together ad how music has the power to change your emotional space. It can cut through cultural barriers and doesn't define rich and poor. To empower people you need to push them out of their comfort zone and you need their trust. The series really shows "when good people are gathered for a good reason, great things can happen". One of the inmates form the first series talked on stage - "from a cage to the stage" - and told of how the programme was a bridge to a new life. "I believe because you believed in me". A special moment.

Special things

  • If it wasn't for Tania, I wouldn't have had this day. Thanks so much.
  • I helped a woman at lunchtime today and she gave me a card. A card that thanked me. I was blown away and felt special by that one small gesture . Later in the day, I passed this on to another woman, who gave me a gift from her goodie bag. She was blown away by it, as I was at lunchtime. Random acts of kindness and thoughtfulness go a long way. You can check the card out (and order some for free) here.
  • The people were amazing - so many volunteers made the day special. Thanks to them and to the organisers. It was stunning.
Only one thing made it not quite right for me today - I would go with someone else next year. I found it hard to up to strangers and talk about the sessions, but so desperately wanted to talk about each session and how it had impacted on me. I had one man who came up to me just raving about a speaker - he just had to talk to someone about it. I felt like that but didn't have the courage to do the same thing. Next time maybe.

What a day!


  1. It sounds like a wonderfully wide range of learning today, thanks for sharing.

    1. Thanks Meg - it was a huge range, and all very inspiring. Lots to think about! Glad I can share it with people.

  2. Great way to start my day. Thanks Sue xx