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TEDxToronto 2010 A Call to Action

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@Vidafine had the privilege to be invited as one of the few media partners to cover TEDxToronto 2010 yesterday, an idea sharing and inspirational event. The one day conference is an independently organized local fan-based TED event from the world famous TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) talks of this generation. With organizers and partners that include Jet Cooper, TheBizMedia, Phizer, and idea couture, this year’s TEDxToronto was no doubt in good hands.

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Anyone can attend, as long as you’re chosen through a simple application process where you describe your reasons for why you want to attend. The team at TEDxToronto had the grueling task of shortening the list of 800+ applicants down to 200. While it may seem exclusive, we get individuals who really want to be there, and since the tickets are free, financial concerns are essentially non-existent. A few perks amongst the attendees include a loot bag full of freebies including a Belkin iPad case, healthy lunch wraps provided by Freshii, coffee, and even a chocolate bar from Soma. Free Honey Glazed Pumpkin Seed Chocolate Bark and Vitamin Water aside, what everyone really attended for were the talks:

“An Idea is the most powerful and virulent tool.”

An idea is exactly what TEDxToronto is trying to conjure up. With speakers such as Bruce Poon Tip, Dr. Catherine Zahn, Neil Hetherington, Dave Meslin, Neil Pasricha, and Tonya Surman, the TEDxToronto organizers, with @DariusBashar as the Speaker Lead, have put together quite a lineup of influential and idealists of our age. If you don’t recognize their names, click on their profile links and I’m sure you’ll have heard of, or possibly even been a part of their organizations.

The mission of Vidafine is to inspire readers like you to go out and change the world. TEDxToronto’s theme this year is a call to action. “After all, an idea without any action behind it merely stays as an idea. This theme is a challenge to both speakers and attendees to transform their ideas into tangible action that will make a positive difference in their communities.”

Vidafine tracks social trends prevalent in today’s society in order to better understand how such trends are shaping the world today. The speakers of TEDxToronto spoke a great deal to the common trend of #Community – fostering growth within the groups around us, whether in person or online and coming together to really change this world.

Dr. Catherine Zahn has already done a tremendous amount for the advancement of health education and research and she is only getting started. Recently she took on the role of president and CEO of the Centre of Mental Health and Addiction in Toronto. Dr. Zahn talked about how 1 in 5 people will have a brush with mental health or addiction issues in their lifetime. The overall message, it can happen to us and it’s happening to people all around us now. While there are genetic predispositions to illnesses such as bipolar and schizophrenia, the symptoms of people with similar genetics can be very different. “Mental illness doesn’t damage individual lives, it brings down societies and governments.” By putting a face to the name of the illness, it’s real and it’s easier to care. What drew me to CAMH even before this event was their innovative approach for treating mental illness. By cultivating a community of acceptance, CAMH offers housing for people who live with mental illness alongside people who do not. We have come a long way from realizing that we can no longer ‘coup’ up mentally challenged individuals.

Her Call to Action: Discuss, Discover and Demand all things about mental illness.

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Neil Hetherington, is the youngest CEO of a Habitat for Humanity headquarters in the world. He had harsh words to say about Extreme Makeover: Home Edition because it eliminates all dignity for the families involved. In order to work towards eliminating poverty in this world, we need to form partnerships with those who suffer from sad poverty. “It’s not a cry for help from the individuals that need it, instead they’re saying ‘Will you build with me?’” Habitat exists with the power of its volunteers alongside families in need to build houses for the families to live in. While the disparity between the poor and rich continue to grow in North America, this gap has actually decreased worldwide. The average work wage between the rich and poor has decreased from 135 times to 45 times in the past few years. While it is an improvement, it is still completely absurd to think that the richest countries in the world have individuals making 45 times more than the poorest. Let’s work to lessen this gap.

His Call to Action: Don’t start up another non-profit or charity, there’s an ocean of them out there. Volunteer with a sustainable organizations or jump on a movement. It’s only when we move away from the lights of the shore that we can see the stars.

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The smell of gasoline, broccoli, etc. What do these things have in common? They all appear in Neil Pasricha’s book dubbed “The Book of Awesome.” The secret to the book, formulated from the 1000 Awesome Things blog is about finding joy and happiness in the often times overlooked things this world has to offer. I’ve read so many of his blog posts and found that I connect to nearly each and every one of them. Neil engages the reader by building an instant connection through something we all have common experiences from, whether it be the free refills waitresses give you without asking or wearing underwear just out of the dryer. “Sometimes the best things in life are free.” He talked about the 3 A’s of Awesome – Attitude, Awareness, and Authenticity. The only guaranteed thing about the future is that it won’t go according to plan. The inevitable or terrible things can and will happen in life. We can whirl, twirl and swirl in our sadness, sorrow and grief or face the world with dry eyes. It’s all about Attitude. Awareness speaks of the new found wonder that children have when exploring the world. As adults, we often forget this and although that charm is still there, being aware that there are amazing things in this world is key. Authenticity involves just being yourself and sharing who you truly are with the world.

His Call to Action: Living life with great Attitude, having a childlike Awareness of the beauty around us and striving for Authenticity, then your life will be Awesome.

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Ideas are but the beginning. We can talk all we want about changing the world, but if we only talk about it, we have accomplished little. A call to action brings about not only dramatic change to our society, but begins at a real push to do more with our own lives. It starts with you.

After listening to the talks, you can’t help but be inspired. Your call to action has. What are you going to do about it?

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