Well hello again! Now that I’ve had some time to “percolate,” to borrow Dave Pensato’s lauded phrase from my story today, it is time to make my full TEDx wrap-up.

In short? I had a great time. I met some great folks, got in on some really energizing discussions, and was consistently impressed by the quality of talks on the stage. And I left feeling very positive — which is unusual, because despite my love of ideas, I am generally fairly cynical about the human species.

Organizers mentioned how the breaks were designed to facilitate discussion. And I think that they were extremely effective at that — the quantity and sheer quality of between-talk chats was refreshing and, sometimes, exhilerating.  More than anything, I appreciate that the breaks were long enough to actually have those talks. Fifteen minutes would not have been enough; it always felt like we had lots of time to really get chatting about what we’d just seen… and a lot of other things, too. The state of politics in Winnipeg seemed to come up often.

So without further ado, I present the Double Em Martin awards for Outstanding Performance at an Independently Organized Manitoba-based TEDx Event:

Best Feedback

Norm Lee from the TEDx Manitoba organizing committee called me this afternoon to chat about my blog yesterday. We had a nice chat, which probably could have been nicer if I hadn’t also developed a cold exactly halfway through TEDx, and am now dripping fluids all over the place and not thinking clearly on Tylenol Cold PM so, yeah, sorry ’bout that Norm.

One thing I should add to yesterday’s post — because I am always afraid of lacking clarity — is that by no means was I implying that I felt there was any prejudice on the part of TEDx organizers. Not at all. They did a great job, and Norm and I chatted about some speakers that had to make last-minute cancellations which would have brought more diversity to the line-up. Hey, these things happen.

In writing yesterday’s post, my hope was simply to make the observation, and raise a discussion -  because I think this society doesn’t have the discussion about true inclusiveness enough (especially in the media, but that’s another post for another time), and how important it is for us to consciously and constantly work to correct the fact that many voices are not given equal time and space to be heard.

Norm mentioned that they intend to bring more diversity to future events. I think that’s a wonderful commitment — and I appreciate that he gave me a call and engaged the discussion directly, because it creates an opportunity to create real synergy in that dialogue.  As I mentioned to Norm, perhaps one idea to consider going forward is how to develop broader networks to generate speaker ideas and contacts, so that there will be a more diverse selection of speakers to pick from in the event of last-minute cancellations in the future.

Worst Feedback

Someday, I hope to understand the mindset of a person who will call you, and I mean actually call you on the telephone, and tell you you “need to go back to journalism school” and make a few choice ad-hominem attacks (which I shan’t repeat, they were unfortunate) all because you didn’t write out an acronym on first reference. Why do people do this?

Granted, the story was written pretty muddily, especially for people unfamiliar with TED, and of course this morning I woke up and had no fewer than five ideas for a stronger lede and opening paragraphs, because that’s how it works, and actually I originally explained the acronym clearly but it got messed up in editing and it wasn’t fixed, and the acronym aspect of TED is a bit obsolete now and… whatever. Why am I even defending myself? Dude, I appreciate the correction, but why do we have to be jerks to each other?

The Golden Martin Award for Melissa’s Favourite TEDx Talk

WINNER: Scott Stirton, Intelligent Buildings

RUNNER-UP: Robert Sawyer, Creating The Future

A tough category, this one. Too many gems to choose from. But in the end, I have to go with my gut and pick architect Scott Stirton’s talk. See, I freely admit I know very little about architecture and environmental design; what was great about Stirton’s talk is that I left it feeling like I really knew more. He did a fantastic job of making his ideas both accessible and fun - comparing the Manitoba Hydro building to a camel was genius — and I loved how he zeroed in on the fact that sustainable architecture hinges on building an environmentally authentic experience.

This ski hill in Dubai is not an authentic experience.

In a country like Canada, so challenged by the competing realities of environment and human needs, Stirton’s talk was a clear call to how we can rethink the relationship between those things, meet the needs of both, and make it look pretty, too. Well done, Scott — and though I haven’t done an actual count, my impression is that he dominated the Twitter quote-machine yesterday, too.

Quote of the Day

“We don’t get the cows fatter if we just weigh ‘em every day.”

- Former farmer Les Foltos, memoralized as “cow guy!” in my program guide, presenting the world’s best and most succinct explanation of why a laser-beam focus on improving test scores does not a good education system make

Talk That I’m Probably Too Dumb To Understand

Kerry Stevenson’s talk, How 3D Printing Will Change The Way You Think, was neat. And it did produce the runner-up to the best quote of the day (“You can print MEAT!”). I didn’t know that 3D printing existed, and it is very cool, but I’m not sure I follow his statement that if you upload plans for an object in one part of the world and print it in another, that you are essentially “teleporting” it. To me, teleportation would require the actual matter being moved from one spot to another, and that isn’t the case here. So in this talk, I think there was a gulf between the present and the future that my mind didn’t manage to leap, and instead just got a little lost.

Talk I Wasn’t Expecting to Love, But Did

WINNER: Len Brownlie, Helping The Swiftest Be Swifter

RUNNER-UP: Nicole Buckley, Canada Alive In Space (I have a long-standing phobic terror of the very idea of space)

At first blush, I wasn’t immediately fascinated by the subject of Len Brownlie’s talk, Helping The Swiftest Be Swifter. I’m not a sporting girl, or one interested in highly specific physical achievement, and other talks grabbed me more: HIV researcher Frank Plummer’s talk on evidence for natural immunity to HIV, for instance. And Robert Sawyer, who was amazing.

To my surprise, I was absolutely smitten with Brownlie’s talk. I was so engaged that I think I outright gasped when he explained how the wind-tunnel showed how much drag could be reduced by taking a decal off a bobsleigh helmet. More than anything, the idea opened up a world of wonders for me: I was envisioning these athletes, trying the wind-tunnel again and again, making small adjustments, measuring little improvements. It sounded like so much fun.

This talk, to me, turned out to be one of the things I had to actually see to really grasp, and engage. I’m really glad I did.   

The “You Had To Be There” Award for Best Small Touch

Lunch. No, seriously. I don’t want to elevate the contents of a lunch bag over all the great ideas on stage, not at all, but like — that was a really really good turkey wrap. Damn, that was tasty. So good. I’m still thinking about it today and wondering what about it exactly made it so tasty, because I’ve made some wraps in my time and they were never that delicious.

EDIT: Oh no, I just got Tweetered. Now I wish I hadn’t used the word “great” and “dude” so liberally. And actually posited some thoughtful ideas of my own. What all you new visitors must think of me!


4 Responses to “The Double Em Martin TEDx Awards”

  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by TEDx Manitoba and TEDxSecondCity, TEDxME. TEDxME said: The Double Em Martin TEDx Awards » nothing in winnipeg: Norm Lee from the TEDx Manitoba organizing committee cal… http://bit.ly/i7x2SB [...]

  2. Back to journalism school my foot. Loved your write-up in the Freep today. I know I was flabbergasted at the quality of the event, the organizers did such a great job.

    And there’s nothing wrong with the words “great” and “dude”. Pshaw.


    “Dude” is probably one of my favourite words in the universe. It’s surprisingly versatile.

  4. [...] crew who were digging in as well. Not too shabby.The Winnipeg Free Press’ Melissa Martin wrote up a pair of great recaps, as well as an article about “Fast Flying Ideas at Conference” relating [...]

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