Creating electricity from dirt, empowering 300,000 kids to become musicians in Venezuela, inhaling chocolate without calories, designing mobility on demand solutions for the worlds' cities, integrating left brain nirvana with right brain analysis, reverse mentoring (Kids teach elders), redesigning eldercare, celebrating Alzheimers, designing zero cost medical diagnostic systems for developing countries, and being bathed in world-class music.. these were just some of the left-brain/right-brain experiences that 250 of us enjoyed at Fidelity's FCAT center in Boston when we attended the first TEDx Conference in Boston on July 28th. This first TEDx Boston was masterminded by TEDster Sean Belka, who is an SVP at Fidelity Investments and one of my Visionaries.
TED is a conference and networking phenomenon that was started by Richard Saul Wurman and has been continued by Chris Anderson. The conference features Inspirational talks on a broad range of topics and networking with amazing people. TEDx provides the opportunity for loyal TEDsters to run free mini TED sessions in their locale, taking advantage of the proven TED format and featuring TED Talks (videos from former TED conferences) as well as their own live TED Talks by local visionaries and creative thinkers in many different fields of endeavor.
The theme of TEDx Boston was "Revolutionary Ideas" and most of the presenters were local. Among the "aha!'s" I took away was how a well-blended environment that merges left and right brain thinking is required to support innovation and creativity. The presentation that stuck with me the most was the incredible TedTalk by Jill Bolte Taylor, a neuro-anatomist from Harvard University. She provides an amazing look at how our left and right brains function as she tells the personal story of how it felt to lose her own left brain function.
Among the innovations described at the conference, one of my favorites was a talk by Hugo Van Vuuren, a young man who is the director of the Idea Translation Lab at Harvard. He described an innovation that came out of his lab in which a challenge was given to a group of students--how to provide electricity cost effectively to 500 million people in Africa. After researching power generation solutions, the students came up with a known technology--microbial fuel cells--that can create small amounts of energy from dirt! They have designed bags with cathodes, ion barriers, fuel, and anodes, that can be buried in the dirt, watered and hooked up to low power LEDs to create light!
If you have the opportunity to attend a local TEDx conference, or to sponsor one, jump at the chance!