On April 18 I participated in a TEDx conference at my local community library in Westport, CT. TEDx programs were developed to help independent organizations create their own TED-like events in the spirit of TED’s mission, - ideas worth spreading. As is the case with TED, TEDx talks should be carefully curated, compelling and short, lasting no more than 18 minutes.
Imagination was the overall theme of the Westport Library conference. Five different speakers applied the theme to their various talks, ranging from Imagining Risk to Boredom - A Source of Inspiration. Imagination as a Journey of Survival and Discovery was the title of my own talk. I’ve given many seminars and taught semester-long courses on the subject. But, boiling down your key message into a meaningful, 18-minutes-or-less TED talk is quite a challenge. It forces you to think really hard about the very essence of the story you are telling, as well as why the audience should be interested in what you have to say.
I focused my talk on the role of imagination during times of major economic and societal change. At such times, when survival and discovery are at a premium, imagination is badly needed to help us accept the need to deal with a fast-changing present, as well as to encourage us to take the necessary actions and embark on a journey toward an uncertain, and possibly perilous future.
I followed the wise advice once given by Leo Tolstoy - Describe your village, and you will describe the world. Part of my talk was about Westport, the village or town where I’ve lived for the past 24 years, and in particular about our community library with which I’ve been closely associated for most of those years. But first, I talked about IBM, which while not quite a village, was for me a kind of extended family for over 40 years, from the time I joined in 1970, - right after school and shortly after my 25th birthday, - until my retirement in 2007, followed by an additional 3 years as a consultant.