TEDx makes its Winnipeg debut

Ideas worth spreading” make their way to Winnipeg as the first TEDx Winnipeg event is set to take place at the Winnipeg Art Gallery on Sept. 15.

The motto is a central part of the non-profit TED organization, started in 1984, that focuses around technology, entertainment and design (hence the name).
TEDx events challenge the world’s best thinkers and doers to “give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes.” The popular website includes over 900 talks on various subjects.

TEDx events are independently organized and modeled after TEDtalks.
Eric Johannson, director of programming and community partnership for TED, said the criteria for choosing speakers for the Winnipeg event was simple.

“We asked ourselves what are people doing that people want to hear about?,” he explained.

In order to be chosen, speakers had to be unique, have an interesting background and have a valid subject to talk about, he said.

The seven speakers are set to talk about topics ranging from women re-shaping the world to how to use the least amount of energy while travelling.
“It’s important to have a local feel,” Johannson said, “but TED is about being bigger than just us.”

Wade Barns, CEO of Farmer’s Edge, is set to speak about how to feed a growing world at the upcoming event.

“There’s an idea that we’ll run out of land to feed the world, but my belief is that we don’t have enough talented people to cultivate the land,” Barns said.
Globally, there are some fundamental changes needed to make a difference, he explained. These include investing money wisely and teaching better farming techniques in Third-World countries.

“Agriculture is an art,” Barns explained. “You can buy the best genetically modified seed and have the best equipment, but you need talent.”
Barns said speaking at TEDx Winnipeg is a chance to step away from businesses pitches and share his opinions. He said he wants people to understand that there is a big difference between charity and providing a viable option to poverty.

“For me, what I am talking about is what I would say over coffee,” said Barns. “It’s exciting to think someone would take one of my ideas and do something with it.”

University of Winnipeg graduate student and scheduled TEDx lecturer, Megan Prydun, said Tedx will give her the opportunity to speak about social issues in Winnipeg based on her experiences as a social worker.

“I was elated and shocked that I was considered someone worth listening to,” said Prydun. “It’s such an interesting platform which brings people together to talk.”

The 26-year-old received a bachelor’s degree in social work from the University of Manitoba in 2007 and is currently doing a master’s in developmental practice at U of W.

Prydun is planning to discuss the newcomer experience for refugees in the city.
“I want to focus on telling a story about relationships and human beings, instead of just issues,” she said.

Prydun said spending over a year working in several African countries as a social worker changed her perspective on the world and human suffering.

In Winnipeg, she worked as a crime prevention facilitator for Newcomers Employment and Education Development Services (NEEDS).

Through NEEDS, she said she saw many obstacles faced by refugees including past traumas, social barriers, poverty, isolation and gang recruitment.

At the very least, she said, she hopes her talk makes people think about the newcomer experience in a different way.

“I am really excited to hear the talks, hear different perspectives and talk to the people coming to see what they got out of it,” said Prydun.

According to Johannson, getting people talking is what the event is all about.

“Half the fun of learning something new is sharing that experience with others,” he said.

To go along with the event’s theme of connectivity, there will be a break between speakers to give people a chance to talk about the ideas being presented.

With all of the tickets sold for this year, Johannson said he has no doubt that Tedx Winnipeg will become an annual event.

“It’s about momentum,” he said. “Once people have heard about TED, and experience TED, they like TED.”

For those who weren’t able to score a ticket, there are still ways you can be involved, Johannson said. There is an iphone app currently in the making for TEDx Winnipeg and videos of the talks will be posted on the event website tedxwinnipeg.com.