Top five moments at TEDx ChCh 2013

04:11, Oct 31 2014

The TEDx 2013 Christchurch event featured 18 speakers and entertainers spread over more than 10 hours. Here are my top five:

Five. Jessie Hillel

The 12-year-old's first few notes exploded into the Auroa Centre auditorium with such force that almost everyone was taken aback.

How could such power come from a child so small?

For those with better things to do than watch New Zealand's Got Talent, a TV talent show from earlier this year in which Hillel placed second, Saturday's performance was a revelation.


Four: Ellis Emmett
An unexpected treasure that TEDx Christchurch curator Kaila Colbin found on a sea floor somewhere. He's a Kiwi adventurer and documentarian who is much better known overseas than here because NZ television networks haven't seen fit to air his programmes until recently. His latest effort, Descending, is playing now on Sky TV's  Travel Channel (Wednesday, 8.30pm). But it wasn't his excellent lifestyle that mattered. It was his decision to always confront his fears head on. This is a guy who fears heights, so climbs mountains, a guy fears sharks, so swims with them. A lesson for us all.

Three: Slavko Martinov
What would you do if diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer and given not long to live? Martinov spent 10 years researching and making a mockumentary called Propaganda that recently won gold at Mike Moore's Traverse City Film Festival.  It purports to be a North Korean analysis of western culture but actually ''attacks the moral attenuation, political manipulation and hyper-consumerism'' of western society. Best of all, Martinov led a standing ovation for Christchurch resident Eugene Chang, who acted in the film and did the Korean language translations. He was labelled a North Korean spy and snubbed by his church as a result. Stand up for free speech.

Two: Janette Sadik-Khan
New York City's Transport Commissioner didn't visit Christchurch and didn't do a video cross either. Rather this was video (find session 2)  from TEDx's 2013 archive about how her department transformed NYC's streets with bike and bus lanes and a lot of paint. Pride of place is Times Square, which is visited by 350,000 people a day. Cars were banned and people invited to visit, walk and hang out. Times Square is now one of the Top 10 retail locations in the world, Sadik-Khan said. Of the many thousands of archived videos available, this was an interesting choice for Christchurch. Mayor elect Lianne Dalziel was in the front row and presumably got the message that what works in NYC might work in Christchurch. The message was be bold.

One: Stuart Candy
Profiled in The Press recently, Candy is a futurist who doesn't predict the future. Rather, he sees the ''future is plural'' and helps governments, cities, and clients imagine their possible futures. This is exactly the sort of thing Christchurch needs - nuanced, immersive and substantive discussion of where we want our gappy city to go. I have to go back to Candy's video to catch all of his meaning, but he was trying to say, I think, that Christchurch has yet to think deeply and rigorously about its future and decisions already made may not be good enough. He didn't mention it, but the 100-day blueprint came to mind. We are remaking a city based on decisions made in secret in just 100 days. Is this wise? Even if we're best to keep the blueprint, shouldn't we think harder what goes in between the anchor projects?

See all of the TEDx ChCh videos here.

Photo of Jessie Hillel by Neil Macbeth

The Press