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Looking beyond what you think you know

by Katya Teague February 9, 2016
Looking beyond what you think you know

TEDxConcordia’s event featured 10 speakers who challenge social narratives

The Concordia students who organized Saturday’s TEDx event, rightly titled Looking Beyond, advertised the conference on their website as one that would seek to understand “the matter that lives below the tip of the iceberg.” This description, however, was just the tip of the iceberg.

The TEDx event featured 10 speakers and three TED talk videos. Photo by Mikael Theimer.

The TEDx event featured 10 speakers and three TED talk videos. Photo by Mikael Theimer.

A little over a year in the making, the conference featured 10 speakers and three TED talk videos that touched on a range of topics, from the power of hypnosis to the power of data. It was meant to encourage the audience to challenge social narratives, make connections, look beyond the data and never stop learning, said Alan Mathieu, the director of content and program.

“It’s about awakening the visionary within us all,” said Hussain Shorish, TEDxConcordia’s president.

“It was a new experience,” said Kevin Kuppek, a Concordia student who had only ever heard a TEDx talk online. “The word ‘amazing’ pops to my mind.”

The in-person aspect of the talks played a role in the power of the conference since TED and TEDx talks are easily accessible online. Audience member Joaquim Miro said what was truly incredible was the discussions and connections that were already happening among audience members during the lunch break.

“It sparks innovation, it sparks conversation and I think even relationships that can really grow from it,” he said. “I find it absolutely inspiring.”

Some of the speakers helped audience members to look beyond the now, down the paths to a better future for their bodies, for urban infrastructure and for the world.

“We’ve totally extracted nature from our lives,” said speaker David Côté, the co-founder and president of the culinary business Crudessence which prides itself on serving “living” foods. He explained that people are becoming “domesticated” by virtue of the foods they eat. He urged listeners to “re-wild” themselves by eating foods that can grow in nature without the help of humans. Essentially, it’s food that’s super healthy and often raw, like veggies, sprouts and nuts.

Some speakers discussed their own career paths to emphasize the immense importance of following passions and reaching for opportunities.

“Everybody has these passions when they’re a kid and sometimes they get forgotten,” said Dax DaSilva, the founder and CEO of Lightspeed, a Montreal-based company that provides retailers with a cloud-based point-of-sale system. “I’m here to tell you that these passions are important. These passions are your secret ingredients. Igniting them can help you make your life complete,” said DaSilva.

Photographer Mikaël Theimer talked about his first-hand experience at looking beyond first impressions and prejudices.

Inspired by the blog Humans of New York, Theimer created Portraits of Montreal. He takes pictures of strangers and asks them questions. The answers often confirm that he cannot trust his initial assumptions about people and neither should anyone else.

“What is essential is invisible to the eye,” said Theimer. “Humans are like icebergs—your eyes can only ever reveal the tip of who they are.”

He asked to take a picture of a man named Michel Pepin and was invited to witness and capture on camera the life and reality of a poet with multiple sclerosis enjoying and finding meaning life. Theimer described the experience as “liberating.”

He took a picture of a man named David and his dog Diamond. He learned that David was homeless not because of his heroin addiction, as he’d been clean for two years, but because he sold everything he owned to have two tumors removed from Diamond to save her life.

Theimer’s takeaway: “There are no strangers; only friends you haven’t met yet.”
To learn more about TEDxConcordia’s upcoming events, visit tedxconcordia.com.

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