Clockwise from upper left: Ken Low, Lauren Voisin, Glenda MacQueen, Cheri Macauley
Recently, we had another of our more than 150 speakers pass away. That reminds us that we, as humans, have a finite amount of time on this earth. But our ideas can continue living on, influencing others.
In our work with TEDxCalgary, there always is an immediate focus on a given annual event where speakers are appearing on stage, live in front of our participants. That energetic connection between speakers and participants is magical to watch as the ideas flow, are reflected upon, and then continue to animate subsequent discussions during our interactions. In each case, a speaker has been able to pass along an idea that will continue to live in some measure in all those who have heard it. We record the talk of each speaker so that the ideas they have shared at our event can continue to spread, informing and influencing many more than could ever have attended the actual talk in person.
Sadly, four of our amazing speakers have passed away since we started hosting TEDx events in 2010.
Most recent to pass was Ken Low, who was one of the speakers at our very first event, Humanity 3.0: Leadership the World Needs Now. Ken was a wise and influential guide for many of us (including TEDxCalgary co-founders Rahim and Jonathan) who were able to take the Leadership Calgary program throughout the years. Ken's deep and prescient thinking, now carried on by the Human Venture team, challenged all of us to question our individual "orienting story" that frames and influences our world view. In the famous metaphor of The Matrix movies, questioning via various adaptive frameworks is the red pill that awakens us and allows us to look for deeper causal patterns in our workplaces, communities, and societies. That, in turn, permits us to be more effective in planning and carrying out approaches that accomplish meaningul change.
Perhaps not surprising given his devotion to deep study of the adaptive frameworks all around us, Ken was initially dubious about trying to distill all his accumulated wisdom into an 18-minute TEDx talk. You'll see some of that struggle in his first talk with us back in 2010, Artifacts to Help Explain Human Learning Ecology. We recognized Ken's dilemma, and ever since have described our talks as "trailheads" to honour the view that a TEDx talk is not a full or complete answer, but merely the start of a journey of exploring the idea shared. Only the persons, communities, or societieis receiving it can choose to pick up an idea and take it forward, and their journey with it will be uniquely their own. Ken came back in 2017 at our Origins Salon to amplify on the theme and share his more than 40 years of Original Wisdom with our participants. We'll be forever indebted to his work, and know that aspects of it are being carried forward by everyone who graduated from the Leadership Calgary program over the years, or who continues to advance the foundational work of the Human Venture research project.
Where Ken was able to accumulate and share his wisdom over many decades, the incredible Lauren Voisin had less than a decade and a half to shine brightly amid us. When she gave her talk How I Found My Signal Through Colouring Outside the Lines at our 2017 Signal vs Noise event, she was a mere 12 years old but so full of profound ideas and youthful energy that she was completely infectious to our entire team and inspired all the speakers around her, including battle-experienced military officers and long-term astronauts. She took the stage and delivered an amazing talk that will continue to resonate through the ages, and we hope that her wisdom and poise well beyond her years will continue to inspire many generations.
Dr. Glenda MacQueen
Dr. Glenda MacQueen's talk at our 2014 Wilderness event explored the inner wilderness we encounter during times of mental illness. Before it had become part of our more regular societal discussions, her talk Lost and found inside yourself gave our participants a unique set of insights into the struggles of those trying to live with psychotic episodes, post-traumatic stress, and depression. Informed by her career as a world-renowned clinical scientist, her talk highlighted that while treating these illnesses on a population level is often our focus, it's especially important to be able to influence the course of these illnesses in adolescents and youths whose brains are still elastic and developing. Her exploration of brain science helped all of us appreciate how research and new treatments in the field are breaking down the stigma of mental illnesses, helping shine light on the wilderness being encountered by an increasing number of us in modern society.
Already a well known community activist in Calgary when she gave her short talk A Little Library at our City 2.0 event in 2012, Cheri's enthusiasm for little free libraries was one of her "Three Things for Calgary" (an initiative championed by newly elected Mayor Naheed Nenshi, another of our original 2010 speakers). At the time, this wasn't as ubiquitous as it seems today, when many of our neighbours and communities may host several of these in a given area of the city (and yes, both Jonathan and Rahim are known to make frequent stops to browse, select, and contribute books back during our respective walks). Apart from her efforts to expand the distribution of these colourful libraries across the city, Cheri contributed her ideas and energy to many different community projects during her lifetime. Today, you can take a peaceful moment to sit and reflect with Cheri on the rich tapestry of our city among the trees of Cheri's Grove, along the banks of the Bow River on St. Patrick's Island.
Each of these incredible speakers made their mark upon us as an organization. May their ideas continue live on.