Technology and innovation at the heart of TEDx Manitoba

With space for only 100 people, event aims to be intimate, inspirational

Norman Lee, head organizer of February’s TEDx Manitoba event, hopes to spur innovation among the 100 people who participate in the conference. Cindy Titus

One hundred lucky Manitobans are about to be given the chance to make big changes at a local level by meeting some of the world’s most innovative minds.

TEDx Manitoba’s theme is “Emergence: Culture, Technology and Community” and will take place on Feb. 15, bringing world-class speakers to Winnipeg to promote new ideas to local leaders and help them make connections to foster social and economic change.

“We always want other people to perceive that Manitoba gets it when it comes to innovation,” said Norman Lee, head of the organizing committee for the event, which plans to have 20 different talks in the all-day session. 

“This is about innovation,” Lee stated. “(We) want people who are innovative thinkers (in the audience) ... people who want both their feelings and ideas challenged.”

Standing for technology, entertainment and design, TED is best known as a not-for-profit website with the goal of spreading ideas by posting videos of speeches and talks from influential people on a variety of topics.

Modeled after internationally successful TED annual conferences, TEDx events are individually organized to have more of a regional impact.

Designed to be an intimate experience, the event will only have space for 100 participants, but will also be streamed live to the TEDx Manitoba website.

To be considered, hopeful attendees must submit an application form by Nov. 15 and the successful applicants will be selected shortly afterward, according to the TEDx website.

The selection committee will be looking for participants from diverse backgrounds who are willing to interact with others and will ultimately utilize the information provided by the speakers.

A leader in the technology field, Kerry Stevenson is one such speaker for the event.

This is about innovation. (We) want people who are innovative thinkers (in the audience) ... people who want both their feelings and ideas challenged.

Norman Lee, head of the organizing committee, TEDx Manitoba

Stevenson is excited about computer printers that use algorithms to create three-dimensional objects. The printers use code that is sliced into layers, somewhat like a loaf of bread, and then use the code to physically reconstruct the object from a given material.

Stevenson was recently emptying his pool and the hose had a large hole in it. Because it was a Sunday evening and no stores were open, he went to his specialized printer, which had a spool of ABS plastic attached, and created a tube adapter to repair the hose.

“I cut the hole out (of the tube) and put the two ends on the adapter and it worked perfectly,” explained Stevenson. “I didn’t go to the store, I just thought it up.”

It is his belief these printers are going to start popping up in stores like Future Shop within a few years.

Innovative ideas, like Stevenson’s, are what captured Gillian Grodzik when she was introduced to TED talks at her friend’s cabin last summer. She spent evenings watching TED videos and was inspired by the passion that the speakers had for their topics.

A yoga instructor at Peg City Yoga, Grodzik says her practice has changed her life drastically, cultivating a deeper connection to her own self.

It is this change and passion that she hopes to share with other members of the audience if she is one of the lucky attendees.

“My trust in imagination and that anything is possible came from watching (TED talks),” Grodzik explained. “I realized it was an amazing resource.”

Published in Volume 65, Number 11 of The Uniter (November 11, 2010)

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