I am writing this blog from the last night of the annual TED conference in Southern California. You might be asking, who or what is TED? TED is a nonprofit devoted to ideas worth spreading and every year they bring together some of the world’s greatest innovators, thinkers, doers, and all around problem solvers to share their ideas. Now your next question is probably “What is a local councilmember doing at such an event—can politics and problem solving coexist?”
That is exactly why I am so excited to be here. The live TED conference takes place in Long Beach, but I attended TEDActive in Palm Springs which is a live simulcast of TED and offered at a fraction of the cost. The line-up of 33 speakers from 14 countries consists of individuals who could speak and captivate audiences for hours on end, but at TED they are given 18 minutes or less to share their idea in what is referred to as TEDTalks. Some of the most amazing speakers included 13 year old Kenyan Richard Turere who invented “lion lights” to protect his family’s cattle from attacks, Stewart Brand of Sausalito who wants to de-extinct species, and a wide array of others ranging from robotocists, musicians, artists, economists, educators, inventors, and a yo-yo champion.
Other than the speakers, I have had the opportunity to meet some amazing people from all over the world. On the first night here I had the privilege of teaching some individuals from Ghana, Lebanon, and New York City (of all places) how to make S’mores around the outdoor fire pit. I followed that up with an interesting discussion on voter turnout with someone from Australia where voting is compulsory.
TED is all about ideas and in government we are in desperate need of ideas and innovation. Fortunately, my employer sponsored my attendance at TED, but I hope to apply my experience to business, politics, and life in general. The great thing about TED is that these amazing talks are not just limited to attendees, but are free for all to view and I encourage you to visit www.ted.com to view some TEDTalks on your own.