The second annual TEDxStJohns conference — tonight at the Sheraton Hotel — is already twice as big as last year’s.
An offshoot of a lecture series — “TED” stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design — that started more than two decades ago in California, the local edition carries on the tradition of sharing ideas through talks by both local and visiting speakers, says Chris Gardner, the event’s director.
“We create an entire series of TED-like talks throughout the night,” said Gardner. “This is licensed from TED, so TED has granted us the licence to use their format and their ideas to create that night of ideas worth spreading.”
Last year’s even drew 200 people, while this year’s event sold out its 400 spots. The theme this year is “Have” — a word with many connotations in Newfoundland and Labrador, said Gardner.
“If you say the word ‘have’ to most Newfoundlanders, they think about have or have-not provinces,” he said. “We’re going to touch on that. But if you ask someone somewhere else what it is they have, they may give you all kinds of different answers. For instance, Dr. Andrew Furey from Team Broken Earth, he’s talking about his medical teams going down there and providing health care for people in Haiti since the earthquake. And if you ask them what they have, they’ll probably tell you they don’t have proper medical care. We touch on the theme of ‘having’ from many different points of view.”
Speaker Leah Eichler of Toronto is one of those points of view on the list of presenters. Eichler, the founder of technology and media company Femme-O-Nomics, said she wants to change the way people use social media networks and make them more collaborative. One of the organizers of TedxStJohns invited her on the strength of Femme-O-Nomics’ own social media application, “r/ally.”
“If you look at the way technology has evolved, it’s really fostered a fabulous amount of communication,” she said. “We communicate in ways that we probably didn’t imagine 10 years ago. That communication has been exciting, but it’s time to take it to the next level. We’re inundated to some degree, with a lot of digital noise, and it’s very hard to stay on top of, and communication needs to be streamlined.”
Other presenters tonight include Cathy Bennett, CEO of the Bennett Group of Cos.; Kevin Blackmore of Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers; and Dr. Natalie Bridger, pediatrician and clinical chief of infection prevention and control for Eastern Health.
The event is run as a non-profit organization of volunteers, noted Gardner, and planning for next year’s event will begin as soon as this year’s conference wraps up.