Foto: Outi Autere

Deeper Understanding of the World

The second ever TEDx Tromsø event was held on the 10th of September in Verdensteatrer, the oldest movie theatre in Norway. This venue allowed for almost 200 curious listeners to gather together and find out ideas worth spreading – what TED is all about.

The city, 300 kilometres north of the Arctic Circle, was sunbathing in the early September light after two weeks of non-stop rain. Around half past five, a bustle gathered around the old cinema – right in the heart of the sunny city. People dressed in smart-casual attire and came alone, with partners or in small groups comprising people of all ages, at different stages of their lives and, guessingly, from different fields. All wanted to gain access to the event, which was long since sold-out. The atmosphere was obviously excited, expectant and Connected.

A few minutes after six o’clock, the auditorium was filled with applauses. People were clapping as though the excitement was bursting out of each clap, the tension from nearly 200 people hanging in the air, almost tangible. This was the start of the TEDx Tromsø event, one which lasted almost four hours and included nine speakers; seven live presentations and two “TED Talks” videos.

Technology, Entertainment and Design

TED started as a single conference for a small audience in California in 1984, covering fields in Technology, Entertainment and Design (generating the initials: TED). Short, powerful talks by the world’s most inspired thinkers fascinated, inspired and touched the audience in such a way that this one-time conference has grown into three separate conferences held annually, alongside occasional special events. Furthermore, the conferences are now broader and open to inspirational speakers from any Field.

Since the mission of TED is “Ideas Worth Spreading”, there are a variety of programs and initiatives – such as TED Talks and TEDx – that help the ideas to be spread world-wide. TED Talks is an online platform showing all the presentations given at the conferences. The speeches vary from just a few minutes to around 18 minutes long (short), making them easy to digest. The possibilities for viewing these brief bulletins are unlimited; at the breakfast table, on a bus, while waiting for class to start, during a run, etc. The TED Talks collection is full of inspirational speakers from different fields, and after watching one, the need soon arises to watch more and more! The fact that this eventually leads to a desire to participate, is what TED is all about.

Then there comes TEDx. The TEDx Program grants free licenses to bring inspirational conversation to a local level by organising and coordinating independent TED-like events (TEDx events). These events can combine live presentations and TED Talk videos to get idea-searching souls under the same roof such that they can connect and Converse.

Free cup of coffee

Four hours, nine different stories, 200 listeners. There is no doubt that more listeners wanted to attend this glorious event, but sadly the size of the venue was limited. The theatre was glowing with golden semantics but the set was made ready to receive the day’s presentation topics. It was built so that it was easy for the listeners to focus on the stage without getting lost in the good spirited and monumental paintings on the walls. Mixing contemporary ideas with this ‘golden oldies’ set demonstrated perfectly how things can be novel and innovative even when they have an old base as a Foundation.

The inspirational evening was filled with talks on architecture, immigration politics, creative entrepreneurship, everyday heroes, marine litter, human network, hope and connection. It was all about people; going all the way from a free cup of coffee on a train to the agony of life seeking asylum. In went from how life can change after helping a single person, to studying microscopic plankton life on a global scale. It showed the invisible sector between consumers and businesses and the revolution of evolution. Most importantly, it touched.

Forwarding the passion

TEDx follows the original idea of TED, which was to have a few speakers and keep the speeches short. Short talks give ground for thinking, questioning and becoming inspired. Occasionally, this approach has been criticised for over-simplifying the topics and showing only the perfunctory side of the subject matter. However, the idea of these talks is not to give straightforward answers but instead to open the mind to feeling. Ideas are just ideas until they are put into action, so it is no coincidence that the chosen speakers are the most inspirational speakers in the world. There is a clear causal connection, to forward the passion, to forward enthusiasm and to forward affection in order to create a feeling. Feelings lead people to act, and acting leads to change, an essential part of growth and living. That is what powerful talks are for – to help people to help themselves.

TEDx Tromsø’s live speakers were as follows:

Architect Erik Stenman from Ghilardi+Hellsten

Lawyer Cecilie Hellestveit

Creative Industries Expert David Parrish

Creator of the Rock Mot Rus-festival Svein Spjelkavik

Design Anthropologist Anna Kirah

Doctor of Marine System Ecology Kriss Rokkan

Culture Builder Rosie von Lila

Hopefully these presentations will soon be transferred to TED Talks online, where they will be accessible for everyone, no matter whether you’re living in Northern Norway or Southern New Zealand. Ideas worth spreading are worthy in spite of location, personal characters or language. Furthermore, TED Talks can be brought to non-English speakers world-wide via the Open Translation Project, which relies on global volunteer effort to enable inspiration beyond language boundaries. This project now translates to more than 100 languages using over 20,000 translators. “Sharing is caring”.

All good must come to an end – or must it?

After almost four hours, the event concluded with massive applauses. The audience stood as they gave hands and reactions were roused even in the streets outside, as people stopped to listen to the applauses, intrigued as to what was happening in the venue. Curiosity is the mind’s natural way of Learning.

Despite the conclusion of the presentations, the night was not over. It continued as the venue filled with the murmur of topics and off-topics. The sunny day had turned to night and there were colourful northern lights dancing in the sky, clearly seen even in the centre of this inspirational city. The atmosphere, both among the audience and the speakers, was relaxed yet filled with even more excitement. Indeed, the evening’s ideas were not simply limited to the 200 strong audience, but they were ideas worth spreading. They were spread to wherever people journeyed to next; they were shared, discussed and continue to evolve. Throughout the evening, minds wandered back and forth, connecting. A mind does not wander without a reason, it tries to find answers and it tries to understand – to gain a deeper understanding of the world.

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Text: Outi Autere