BIL Brings the Inclusivity and Awareness that TED is Lacking

by March 27, 2015
filed under Activism
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The Vegan Project’s Zoe Peled gave a BIL talk about how marketing can influence the way people perceive animals and products. Image by Georgia Straight.

BIL 2015 is a TED-like event where local social entrepreneurs, technopreneurs, and community activists come together to discuss their research or involvement in the host city. However, unlike TED it’s an inclusive event where ticket prices are by donation and anyone can sign up to speak on the day in smaller designated areas. This year, BIL 2015 Vancouver was held at the Imperial on March 21-22.

In Vancouver the main stage speakers spoke of antidotes and defenses to rise above our current paradigm – an individualistic, consumeristic lifestyle basking in the ideals of capitalism. While most won’t verbally express themselves as capitalist polemicists, what they spoke about presents a viewpoint outside the norm. This is important as we cannot thrive as humans if similar ideas are in constant circulation. So when the BIL 2015 speakers took the main stage, the emerging ideas of the 21st century began to pour out: Community engagement, environmental sustainability, proactive individualism, political action and expanding one’s awareness.

In two talks held on Sunday March 22 – How Transformational Festivals Just Might Help Save the World by Jeet-Kai Leung and Sustainable Community/Eco-villages: Deep Green Relationships, Not Sticks and Bricks by Raines Cohen – both emphasized the importance of building strong community bonds.

In the former, Jeet-Kai discussed the importance of how transformational festivals create mass collaboration and remarkable realities where individuals become inspired through the work of others, thus discovering their own desire in finding a purpose. Aren’t we all just trying to make sense of our existence? Transformation festivals have evolved from trance festivals to arenas where artists and engineers alike build sustainable, artistic communities and test new avenues to bring humanity back to the humane.

In the latter, Raines discussed the importance of building community relationships as a solution to decreasing our carbon footprint. Environmental degradation is a collective issues and should be corrected by the group, not the individual. Each talk placed great importance on developing relationships with others to combat the depletion of our environmental and individual alienation. The goal to forming these bonds is at the heart of the individual who must become aware.

Guiding us through how to become more proactive in our awareness, I found two other talks important to attend. The first – What if We Could Hack ‘The Force’ from Star Wars and Experience if For Reals by Michael Lutinsky, and the second, Entering the Belly of the Beast: From Activism to Politics by Lynne Quarmby. In the first, Michael discusses that the goal in harnessing ‘The Force’ by stretching out your awareness past your “thinky-thoughts,” into the space that is still. He discussed that it’s easy to become jailed up in your thoughts, but how your focus should be on the world outside your mind.

The second talk was led by Lynne, the Green Party’s new MP for Burnaby North. Lynne discussed her environmental activism and why she joined the Green Party (because civil protests didn’t offer sufficient results), urging us to set aside our political disillusion because the time is now to get involved and facilitate change. She also suggested we research our local MLA and MPs, communicate with them directly in order to hear them speak their ideas/values and attend local political debates during election time. Doing our own research instead of relying on the opinions of the media will help us make more informed decisions, she said. These are ideas that I am totally down with as I attended a few local municipal debates in the fall and felt that I gained a lot from going.

All in all BIL fostered a good discussion on how to reconcile the issue developed in our current paradigm. It’s time that we collectively begin involving ourselves in our neighbourhoods, our communities and maybe even our politics. We should no longer rest on the proclaimed laurels of others because this next century depends on the collective involvement and not the achievements of the individual.

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