Now that the videos are up I’m going to post my favorite talks from this year’s TEDx Kyoto event. First though a word about the event as a whole. A lot of praise is due to Jay Klaphake and his team of volunteers for organizing this again this year. It was on the whole a great success and most of last year’s teething troubles had been cleared away. The presentation was a lot smoother, technical hitches gone, and when I used it, the simultaneous interpretation service from Japanese to English was pretty good. Unfortunately though Mewby found the English to Japanese interpretation largely unusable… For me though I only have one remaining gripe. That guy with the beard who comes on every year and has everyone practice their standing ovations. I’d rather he didn’t do that.
On the whole though I enjoyed the day, not only for the talks but for the chance to mix, mingle and share opinions with many of the other assembled guests. Here follows my own personal choices for best talks. I dare say it’s a little idiosyncratic, as judging from other people’s comments there were many popular talks/performances that didn’t do much for me at all, and at least one that did get a (spontaneous) standing ovation that I absolutely hated. So don’t be too surprised, if you attended the event and can’t find your favorite talk here. You can find them all on the TEDxKyoto site and enjoy them here.
Aileen Mioko Smith – Citizen Activist – “A Call to Action towards Nuclear Safety – Everyone has a Voice”
Basically I decided to attend this year’s TEDx event when I saw Aileen, Brian Williams and Alex Kerr on the speakers’ list, and on the day none of them disappointed. Aileen has been campaigning against nuclear power for 30 years and has all the facts and figures at her finger tips. Her speech painted a very clear picture of both the choices and the dangers lying before ordinary citizens in Japan: either sit back and let the powers that be restart nuclear power throughout the country, or take a stand and refuse to let this happen. You can watch her speech below. It’s in Japanese, but it’s very clear Japanese.
Brian Williams – Parabolic Artist – “A New Vision”
What is a parabolic artist? I think our old friend Brian Williams can explain that best. In a finely choreographed speech, using many of his own artworks as examples, he tells the story of how he created (or recreated?) an art form that enmploys our natural 360 degree range of visual awareness, to fully immerse the viewer in the scene depicted. Brian explains it better. Watch him here:
Alex Kerr – Japanologist (great job title!) – “New life for old towns through sustainable tourism”
If you have read Lost Japan, then you will know that the work Alex Kerr details in this talk is something he began a long time ago. In an inspiring account he presented us first with a problem – the severe decline of rural populations – and then with a possible remedy. In contrast to local/national government programs which seek to remedy everything with concrete, Alex Kerr has been working with old traditional properties and renovating them in a way that respects both their heritage and the need for modern comforts. As it turns out a lot of people would like to stay in such rural retreats surrounded by natural beauty. So creating a comfortable/traditional place for them to stay acts as an attraction to the area and that has a knock-on effect for the local economy. You can learn more about these wonderful transformed properties here:
Gear – Silent Storytellers
Billed as “Techno-Storytellers” in the event brochure, Mewby & I both thought this troupe of circus entertainers were going to be rubbish, and so we were pleasantly surprised when they were a lot of fun! Watch their mime and juggling skills here:
Patrick Linehan – Diplomat- “Different”
My final recommendation today is my very favorite. From his job description, I was expecting Mr. Linehan’s talk to be of a serious nature, and I suppose the topic was quite serious, but not serious-faced. With wry and gentle humour he discussed the importance of embracing diversity, of being different and celebrating our differences. His was a personal tale, and a moving one but ultimately full of joy. If you watch any of these videos watch this one. It’ll put a smile on your face for sure:
Film-maker, Megumi Nishikawa discussed her documentary Hafu, about the experience of half-Japanese people here: Explorations…
Naturalist, John Gathright spoke movingly about the therapeutic benefits of tree-climbing for kids here: Out on a Limb