I’ve been planning to start a weekly blog for some time. I’ve been gathering ideas for topics, researching other blogs and reading advice on how to produce a good blog. I want the blog to be related to technology and innovation. And at times to be relevant and topical, influenced by what is happening in the world around me.
I attended a viewing party of TEDx Toronto last Friday at MARs Centre. I was inspired and energized by the talks and thought this would be a great topic to start my blog. Alchemy – the coming together of things of little value to produce something greater than the sum of the parts. I found a number of the speakers really inspiring. I could carry on the conversation. Right!
Then Sandy came into our lives. And as the electricity goes off and on in my home, and the wind howls outside, and rain has been falling for days, I question what is the most relevant thing to talk about this week. Or are they somehow connected.
The speaker at TEDx Toronto that impressed me the most was Jon Dwyer (CEO Flax Energy). He heads up a company making a number of products from flax seed – bio diesel fuel, flax meal and animal feed. As the electricity in my home goes off and on, I’m reminded he started his talk with how the invention of electricity, and use of petroleum products to make it, has influenced the advances in industry and technology that shapes our lives today. Coming from Newfoundland, and generations of fisherman, he knows first-hand the impact of running out of a natural resource, where the depletion of the cod stocks severely impacted the economy of eastern Canada. Yet I found that his premise was uplifting instead of being full of fear. That we should be working on producing sustainable alternatives to oil. That the way up and out is to invest in producing products that can be an economic substitute for products made from oil.
I found Susur Lee’s (Owner / Chef LEE & Bent), discussion of how his life has informed his process of creating fusion food enthralling. His journey of a love of food began in Hong Kong, with a mother too busy or unskilled to cook well at home, and a father who took him to restaurants as motivation and reward. He then discussed further life experiences, where he observed the world around him (and the food), adding and adapting it into his current experience, and then building on producing better and better food.
Barbara Arrowsmith Young (Director Arrowsmith Program) showed a great deal of professional and personal courage in talking about her life experience that led her to develop methods to work with children with learning disabilities. She was born with a block in her brain that left her learning disabled, and was able to overcome this and create cognitive training that literally improves brain functioning. Proving that you can shape your circumstances, rather than have it shape you.
I don’t think the intention of these speakers was to present that Alchemy often comes from necessity – or a storm raging at the door. Maybe it’s just what my own current perspective wanted to hear. Though its food for thought that our own perfect storms tend to propel us towards innovation. And wouldn’t it wonderful if we could find a way to harness this ability to create before the storm occurs.
In closing, I want to also add that my thoughts and prayers go out to the people who are at the heart of Sandy this week. The people whose lives will be damaged or permanently changed. I wish you well in rebuilding.