TEDActive 2012: Full Spectrum

A 3 minute read written by james May 1, 2012

TEDActive 2012 logo on a red background

I have been incredibly fortunate these past few months. Not only have I had the wonderful opportunity to join the team here at Yellow Pencil, but I was also lucky enough to spend almost 4 weeks in the U.S. attending two incredible conferences. As a TEDxYYC event organizer and committee co-chair, I had the opportunity to attend TEDActive in Palm Springs, California in late February, early March.

The TEDActive conference attracts more than 700 people from more than 50 countries to exchange ideas, participate in inspiring workshops, and experience a live simulcast of the TED2012 conference. This year was my first year attending TEDActive and I'll definitely be back again next year. The experience was like nothing else — the 100+ person community collaboration projects, the late-night pool-side group discussions, the inspirational TED talks from Long Beach, and the incredible community of TEDsters make an event like this so special.

I had the privilege of meeting some incredible individuals during my time in Palm Springs. Most of them were TEDx organizers from other cities all over the world. A TEDx event differs from the main TED event in that it is a licensed event where pre-recorded TEDTalks and live speakers combine to spark deep discussion and foster innovation in local communities. And hey, there might be one coming up near you! Check out the TEDx event schedule to find out.

The Attendees

Here are just a few of the inspiring TEDActive attendees I met:

Anwar Dafa-Alla

As the head organizer of TEDxKhartoum, Anwar is the most prolific TED Talk translator in the world – he has translated more than 600 TED talks into Arabic.

Yahay AlAbdeli

Yahay AlAbdeli of TedXBaghdad organized the first TEDx event in Iraq, TEDxBaghdad, to standing ovations from a worldwide audience.

Ryuta Aoki

Co-founder of TEDxKids@Tokyo, Ryuta Aoki created a platform for children, their parents, and adults dedicated to enriching the lives of children. TedXKids@Tokyo gives them the opportunity to share ideas and inspiration.

The Talks

The people I met were amazing, and their stories truly inspirational. Better yet, all my new friends and I got to watch the live stream of the main TED2012 event in Long Beach, California. Here are my favourites from this year:

Bryan Stevenson: We Need to Talk About an Injustice

In an engaging and personal talk – with cameo appearances from his grandmother and Rosa Parks – human rights lawyer Bryan Stevenson shares some hard truths about America's justice system, starting with a massive imbalance along racial lines: a third of the country's black male population has been incarcerated at some point in their lives. These issues, which are wrapped up in America's unexamined history, are rarely talked about with this level of candour, insight and persuasiveness.
— TED.com

Bryan's talk was so moving, engaging, and inspiring that TED curator and host Chris Anderson took to the stage afterwards and asked for a pledge from the audience to help Bryan's foundation. Within 15 minutes, $1.2 million had been raised. That truly speaks to the power of TED.

Brené Brown: Listening to Shame

Brené Brown is a research professor at the University of Houston Graduate College of Social Work. She has spent the past ten years studying vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame. She spent the first five years of her decade-long study focusing on shame and empathy, and is now using that work to explore a concept that she calls Wholeheartedness.
— TED.com

Brené's TED talks have impacted thousands of people's lives. After speaking at TEDxHouston on vulnerability, her talk went on to gain over 4 million views, and spark a discussion like no other TED talk before with over 820 comments from around the world. In 2012 she was invited to the main TED stage in Long Beach to fill everyone in on how that video changed her perception of vulnerability.

Other talks worth noting include:

Impressive, no? They manage to squeeze that, plus over 40 more talks, and 2 days of TEDx workshops into a five-day conference. To be honest, I'm still taking it all in. Even though TED just wrapped up in California, there are plenty of TED and TEDx events taking place around the world all year long. The next major event is TEDGlobal2012 in Edinburgh, Scotland in June. If you can't make it to Scotland, chances are there is a TEDx event near you. Check the TEDx event schedule and get involved. Trust me, it'll change your life.