Photo ©The Ponder Room

At the beginning of every year there are a few events that I cement in my diary straight away. TEDxPerth is one of them. A day hearing stimulating ideas and meeting fascinating people, why wouldn’t you? Here’s a summary of just a few of the inspiring talks I heard.

Photo ©The Ponder Room

This year represented the 7th TEDxPerth gathering, having started at UWA (University of WA) and moved to the larger Perth Concert Hall a few years ago. The theme was The Age of Wonder and wonder we did. Below is a summary of the talks that caught my attention. They will be up on YouTube in a few weeks, so make sure you check them out.

Drisana Levitzke-Gray

Levitzke-Gray reminded us what a privilege it is to have your health, particularly your hearing. This was bought home from the outset when she started her fifteen minutes using sign language. For once the bulk of the audience felt on the outside, something she and others live with every day. It was a powerful eye-opener about life without hearing. Her talk touched on the pressure she feels to be nice, compliant and not make a fuss. How difficult that must be. Most of all though I appreciated her message of  “I don’t need your inspiration I want you to be my ally.” She pointed out that we can do simple things to help, like asking the GP to put captions on the television set in the waiting room.

Photo ©The Ponder Room

Morse-code short film

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Throughout the day we also saw a series of short movies. This short documentary raised awareness about this dying language of morse-code. As the population ages the number of people with this knowledge is dwindling. It would be such a shame if it died out altogether.

Hannah Moore

Moore explained the importance of being able to join up large datasets. Given my own research background, I can fully appreciate the leaps and bounds we can make with health records that map over one million children. The validity behind the resulting child health prevention policies is mind-blowing. Crystal-ball gazing would be a thing of the past. One example was finding out that pregnant women who have flu injections can decrease the rate of stillbirths by 50%. Moore asked us for support and to strongly advocate for joined-up data. Put simply she said, “our data can save lives”.

Elise Reitze and Rosie Taylor

These two female musicians were fascinating.  They realised that only 5% of all music produced in Australia is by women. Consequently, they started an organisation called WOMPP. It began with 6 members and now has 464 active members. They were proud to say that the number of female nominees at the 2018 WAM rose from 12% to 57%. As they say, from little things big things grow.

Photo ©The Ponder Room

Joshua Portlock

Portlock bought us images of the future, George Jetson style. Most of all he stated that “the sci-fi dreams of our childhood are now possible”. One example is the fact that Uber is already considering airtaxis for up to four people. Portlock’s own approach uses drone technology. By modifying drones he was able to create electric aviation. No more smelly fumes and emissions when a plane takes off. The approach is currently part of a worldwide competition. Portock and his partner are in with a chance. For one thing, instead of just building a “motor” they built a whole small plane incorporating the new technology. We wish them well.

Photo ©The Ponder Room

Helen Street

Street is an applied psychologist who had us questioning the constant pressure to win. One comment that has stuck with me is “winning is a judgement made by someone else” so true. She also said that a meaningful life is not a competition, and a system that has to have winners and losers is not okay. It was an interesting discussion and something to ponder for sure. It was also interesting to hear that if you manage to live into your 80’s, your contextual wellbeing and feeling connected is more important than diet, exercise etc. I’ll definitely be looking up her talk again.

Simone Vitali

Vitali introduced us to the adorable Sunset Frog. Using the frog as an example she spoke about the fight of every species, along with how the demise of one species has a knock on effect to others. One of the most powerful demonstrations of the day was when she played the sound of the very last of a species. As the silence on the tape drew on, the auditorium also fell silent. It was a lot to take in and she urged us to act, that the world needs us to help make a change.

Photo ©The Ponder Room

These are just a few of the talks on the day. Besides the talks on the stage, at each break audience members had the opportunity to hear some of the guest speakers talk in more detail. We could also spend the time checking out the demonstrations or listening to a few other brief talks.

Oh and you could also partake in the delicious and plentiful food options. The food alone is worth the visit.

With my brain full, and a few new business cards in my pocket, I left pondering:

  • Next time I go to my GP, hospital, dentist etc., I’m going to check out the waiting room from the perspective of someone with hearing problems;
  • Instead of saying ‘you are my inspiration’ I’ll consider how I can help the person go about their day to day life;
  • Next time I hear about a species on the brink of collapse I’m going to listen and consider how I could help, rather than ignore the messages. I’m going to look up the situation of rhino’s and giraffes as I think I heard they were in trouble;
  • I’m going to take more notice of females in the music industry;
  • I’ll be less judgmental about drones as they hover near my place;
  • I’ll reconsider my negativity towards My Health Records;
  • TEDxPerth continues to be one of the most inspirational events each year. It will definitely be in my calendar for next year. I urge you to watch this years talks when they come online and I really hope you can make it along next year;

A massive thank you goes out to all the volunteers, organisers and coaches for yet another inspirational day.

For more information and to sign up to the newsletter go to TEDxPerth . Videos of the talks will also appear there.

Glennys Marsdon
Most kids grow out of asking ‘but why’, Glennys didn’t. So she trained as a psychologist and established The Customers’ Voice, consumer psychology consultancy in 2000, where she researches why we do what we do. After losing her partner in 2005 she understood the importance of making the most out of life, and began The Ponder Room blog, to help people do just that. By ‘having a go’ she now has a monthly column in a magazine, three non-fiction books published, been nominated for a Telstra Business Women’s Award, and profiled by US internet guru Seth Godin in a worldwide competition about people making a difference. She firmly believes in living a positive life and following your passion.