"How do we think our way through the messes we’re in, when the way we think is part of the mess?" – Nora Bateson
This quote, from a recent post by The Ethics Centre, perfectly describes why we called our latest event "Yes, and..." and followed an improvisational approach in selecting our speakers and performers.
What resulted was, in our view, a rich and interactive tapestry of talks by our speakers and deep conversations among our participants. We asked people to lean in to the conversation and acknowledge the courage that it took for others to share their ideas by saying, YES. That word simply acknwledges that the idea has been heard, even if it's not completely or unquestioningly agreed with. The AND is then the opportunity to engage in a civil conversation with the other, seeking to understand more and to add our own perspectives.
The "Yes, and..." theme also deliberately acknowledged that our current world — and the solutions being pursued within it — feels distinctly improvisational. There are many, many deep issues that need to be resolved with greater intentionality and coherence, but we don't seem to be there as a society: whether in our own city, province, country, or globally.
On a day of great tradition with the coronation of King Charles III, we had our own kings on stage with the non-traditional and magical performance of drag kings Shane OnYou and King Neptune, who told their very personal tale of how their efforts to connect with others of all genders and sexualities through story had been met with hate, homophobia, and threats of violence. It was a tale that started sadly, but eventually showed a glimmer of hope as others in the land stood up to the hate with love and support. Other speakers acknowledged and explored this duality of our home city and province: high levels of education and financial affluence, and also some of the most vitriolic politics of division within Canada.
We started our event with an unusual playing of Oh Canada by Rev52, which closely followed our multi-racial land acknowledgement by Calgary Poet Laureate Wakefield Brewster. Our licencee and co-founder, Rahim Sajan, had just celebrated his 30th anniversary of arriving in Canada as an immigrant. He (and we) are only too aware that what Canada feels like is different for every Canadian, whether born in the country or having made a choice to become Canadian. The video has an important thread running through it: the story of Canada is an unfinished one, replete with both good and bad moments, and still having many chapters to be written by us as citizens. We hope that our event contributed to the thinking of our participants by sparking some of that thought around our intentionality as a city, province, and nation.
Our choice of speakers was intentional: to represent the diverse voices of our community. Our volunteer team was equally diverse, and more, representing countries of origin from across the globe, but all of whom have decided to make a home here in our city and contribute to its future. That is our ethic of pluralism — not just recogning that it exists here, but choosing to deliberately cultivate it.
Our Interactions Partners
Beyond the stage, we strive to bring thought-provoking interactions to our participants to engage hands as well as minds. These are curated with equal care to our speakers and performers, and each interaction plays its own role within the event. Among the many organizations who contributed to the amazing interactions of the day, we'd like to highlight a few.
The University of Calgary, and the community engagement team in particular, for arranging interactions from various parts of the university. This included the Schulich School of Engineering (race cars and robots); the Arnie Charbonneau Cancer Institute (exploring and splitting DNA for good, anyone?); the School of Architecture, Planning and Landscape (SAPL); and the Schulich Soundstage. Our apologies if we accidentally missed any!
The University of Calgary Graduate College, with special thanks to Micky Ahn, Charlotte Bourbon, and Dusan Nikolic who arranged and led the group of scholars who participated. We have collaborated with the Graduate College on a few occasions, and it was great to have a selection of their scholars roaming in The Ampersand to share their research interests and approach.
Calgary on Purpose, who hosted a series of discussions during our interaction breaks on how we start to be more intentional about Calgary's purpose. Both they and we agree that our city needs to spark a wider conversation on how it gets more intentional, one citizen at a time.
A Celebration of our Volunteer Team!
No event like ours can succeed without the energy and intellect of our volunteers. People are often surprise to learn that we — like all other TEDx organizing teams globally — are entirely volunteer. Our main article photo celebrates all of them, more than 35 strong! It takes many hours and lots of brain power to conceptualize and execute an event like this, and our volunteers are the energy that powers us. The group that came together for "Yes, and..." is one of the most exceptional teams we've ever worked with. From those who led our social media, marketing, communications and logistics, to all those who helped on the day with registration, food service, and wayfinding, all put their hearts and minds to work to make for a positive experience among our participants.
Thank you to all, and an equally big shout out to our outstanding photo team led by Kate Rhodes. Their consumately professional work captures the spirit of the event in ways that no words can, and we'll be highlighting them and their work in a soon to be released Event Photo Team page dedicated to them! All of the event photos will be on our Flickr page soon.
Thanks to our Partners...
Our partners are just that, in the truest sense of the word. They are not merely sponsors or funders, but are selected for their alignment with our ambitions as an organizing team and the TEDx mission of celebrating "Ideas Worth Spreading". Special thanks to Aspen Properties, for their hosting the event in the magnificent The Ampersand building, and our team within The Edison. We also saw several new partners come aboard for this event, including The Kaizen Institute (Canada), Keyera, The Calgary Chamber of Commerce, and Red Point Media (publishers of Avenue Magazine). Please visit our Partners page to learn more about them, and all the others who help support our work!