TEDSummit 2016 – Hope, Wisdom, Insight, Inspiration


Banff Kinnear Centre for Creativity and Innovation

It was an experiment of sorts, unlike recent TED Conferences in Vancouver, or the companion TEDActive conference which used to be held during the same time in Whistler. Instead of the daily dose of TED Talks (live at TED, simulcast at TEDActive) in two locations, TEDSummit 2016 combined some 50 live talks with a choice of 90+ workshops at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity from June 24th to 30th.

This was also the first time that every aspect of TED was fully represented. From TED/TEDx staff, to past TED and TEDx attendees and speakers, TEDx organizers, TED-Ed Innovative Educators, TED Fellows and TED Translators. Nearly 1,000 people, representing 70 different countries, were in attendance, and as you might imagine, the conversations were rich with varying cultural, gender and age perspectives, yet all focused on the notion of Ideas Worth Spreading, and how those ideas could change society.

Juan Enriquez at TEDSummit 2016

Jen Brea at TEDSummit 2016

The live talks were held inside the Eric Harvie Theatre, and the speaker lineup was, in general, outstanding. Veterans of the TED stage (TED Speaker Juan Enriquez) were combined with many first time presenters (TED Fellow Jen Brea) in a series of 6 sessions, detailed in the TEDSummit program.

Lunch Discussion at TEDSummit 2016

Post-it Notes at TEDSummit 2016

Conversations happened everywhere, from communal lunches to the breakout sessions where ideas were made manifest by way of Post-it Notes spread across the exterior windows. The only downside was the fact that so many engaging topics were held at the same time. A sampling of diverse workshop topics:

  • The art of engaging conversation
  • More than one way to solve a social problem
  • Restorative communities
  • Confronting the refugee crisis
  • Discovering your signature story

The magic that occurred during the 6 days (4 days of TEDSummit plus 2 day of TEDx Global Forum) is hard to describe, but very much based on the combination of attendees from multiple TED factions, the many thought-provoking talks, and the numerous breakout sessions that provided a forum for discussing issues that affect society on a global basis. This was far more meaningful than just watching talks, and the conversations were much deeper and challenging as a result.

After 30+ years of TED, and 8  years of TEDx, it’s apparent that the goal is to use these platforms to affect social change in a more direct way, not just spread ideas that hopefully will cause such changes to occur. This is a tall order, despite the fact that TED videos are viewed over a billion times per year, and that the TEDx infrastructure now spans 3,000+ events each year. The point is, while millions of people are touched, the ability to move ideas to action has been out of TED’s hands. In the end, changing the world is up to us!

Mountain View in Banff

Bridge Across River in Banff

Catch all the visuals in the TEDSummit Flickr albums.