THE BLOG

TEDxToronto: We Need You to Listen

09/04/2012 12:00 EDT | Updated 10/03/2012 05:12 EDT

You can say a lot in 18 minutes, but it helps if somebody's listening.

This year, TEDxToronto is looking for delegates to attend our biggest conference ever on October 26 at the Sony Centre for Performing Arts.

Our theme is "Alchemy," which we define as the seemingly magical process of taking ordinary common elements and combining them to make something extraordinary, of great value.

We've put a lot of thought into the people who will appear on stage, vetting hundreds of speakers to select a truly extraordinary group. With talks from the likes of SlutWalk co-founders Heather Jarvis and Sonya Barnett, in vitro meat advocate Isha Datar, and celebrity chef Susur Lee, there are bound to be sparks on stage, but the real magic will happen in the audience.

That's because we think about who's going to hear these talks, too. It's the interactions within our audience that have pushed TEDxToronto from being just another conference into a one-day thought leadership experience that inspires real change.

We're looking to facilitate intellectual chemistry between our delegates, speakers, and those who will watch the talks at livestream viewing parties across our city, and our nation.

TEDxToronto is a megaphone to amplify the best ideas in the city and we are looking to build an audience of people from different backgrounds and different areas of expertise. We want people who are filled with passion and committed to a variety of projects. We want you to inspire each other, while our speakers inspire you.

Our past conferences have shown us that you never know what kind of chemistry will occur when the right people meet.

Where else can a 20-something artificial intelligence researcher hear the thoughts of a six-year-old girl who is changing how we think about technology and education?

Where else can you meet a 30-something urban planner who moonlights as a contemporary circus artist, like one of our volunteer programmers?

Where else would a 23-year-old geologist spend a day listening to the thoughts of a world-leading cyber security expert, or hobnob with a digital strategist?

It's an opportunity to learn new things, to think big, to feel good about the future of the planet, and the city where we live.

I can tell you that the experiences I've had as a member of the global TED audience and TEDxToronto conferences have profoundly impacted my own opinions and outlook.

I think back to some of my favourite TED talks, like Hans Rosling on whether certain religions have higher birth rates, or sculptor Janet Echelman on the importance of taking imagination seriously, and I remember how badly I wanted others to hear what they each had to say.

I think about exiled Iranian artist Shirin Neshat's talk about her views of her homeland, pre- and post- revolution, and think about other strong women who can be inspired to affect political and cultural change.

At TEDxToronto, I've learned about the value of admitting to your own mistakes from Dr. Brian Goldman, who encourages the medical community to talk about where they've gone wrong so that they're able to learn and improve.

I've thought about how I can be a leader because of past-speaker Drew Dudley, and how I can be more awesome, courtesy of Neil Pasricha.

All of us who put together TEDxToronto have been inspired to try and harness the potential of big ideas. But we need you to help spread the message.

TEDxToronto is not about networking or resume fodder. It's about being inspired to share ideas and create new ones. A one-day crash-course in becoming an intellectual and creative evangelical.

So please apply to be a part of the TEDx experience. If you can't make it to the conference, excerpts from this year's talks will be available on the Huffington Post Canada.

Come be a part of the Alchemy on October 26. Delegate applications close September 10.