Saturday, November 21st marked the 5th (and final – for now) annual TEDxVictoria Conference, clustering around 700-800 people at the McPherson Playhouse on a mild Victoria (fall) morning. This year’s topic was fitting – almost an homage to forward thinking while TEDx is on break – tackling the issue of Impact. Coming in many forms, impact stems from social concerns and efforts to impactful technology, and surprisingly, impactful development of the arts as well.
I won’t go into the semantics of the event, but rather, overview the relevant speeches and topics that came out of TEDx this year. More specifically, I want to talk on three talks that captured the definition of impact; in youth, technology, and community. First on our watch list was Nathan Kuehne, a Grade 12 student that closed up the first session of TEDx (Innovate). Nathan is quite an anomaly – a smaller interest in science and his science fair led to the creation of a self-diagnostic test for PKU (phenylketonuria) while searching for a potential detection method for cancer through home urine analysis. His success in developing an at home kit is a breakthrough for those affected by PKU, giving them the chance to prevent and protect against disability development through high levels of phenylalanine buildup. The most notable part of this story, aside from the pending patent, UVic lab space, and medical career plans, are Nathan’s origins as a Victorian schoolboy from Glenlyon Norfolk School. Nathan’s abilities and creation is a true testament to the innovative and caring potential of homegrown talent; a small spark that can become a catalyst.
Next up on my notes was Shivani Siroya – an LA based TED fellow and the Founder/CEO of InVenture, a mobile tech and data company focusing on credit score technology. Her goal, aptly stated, is “Making emerging middle class visible through mobile technology.” How she’s currently doing this is as stated before – through credit score technology. InVenture works on application development for instantaneous access to credit ratings and credit services, helping the underprivileged and the middle class gain access to borrowing services faster than ever before. Her work has spread across the globe (current testing ground in Africa), and with partners like Google Ventures and Female Founders, Shivani and InVenture’s innovations create opportunity for enhancing lower-middle class and underprivileged service accessibility across Canada.
Last but not least is a local legend – former VicPD and now BC Transit Media Spokesperson Mike Russell – who gave his insights into his time at the Victoria Police Department. Mike led us through the redevelopment of VicPD’s online and in-person community presence; from a state of distrust and uncertainty to regained footing within community and a sense of connectedness. His work speaks volumes on the connected pockets of the Island; from Oak Bay to Oaklands to Brentwood to James Bay, we have communities that stick together through common themes and projects. Whether it be placemaking and sustainable living, or artistic and eclectic environments, communities centralize across different platforms and through different organizations. VicPD’s work to regain trust within those communities was no small feat – it took the effort of listening, learning, and engaging over countless hours. It speaks to social impact in the spectrum of trust the Victoria Police Department moved through – from foe to friend in a digital space and within physical communities, an engaged body greases the cogs of a stagnant machine in order to re-accelerate.