Update. August 2nd 2013: My talk will not be part of this year’s event. I will continue working on it so that it stands ready to be delivered whenever the opportunity shows itself
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The Renfrew Collingwood TEDx will take place on October 19 2013. My audition for this event was a short preview to my planned talk. Here is what I’ve said:
I am surrounded by teenagers busy working each on their mosaics: some breaking ceramic tiles to the right size and shape; some mixing mortar for their peers. With a sample in my hand I am delivering an enthusiastic speech about the fascinating aspect of telling a story through one by one laying of coloured pieces on our cement base. As part of my routine I am asking one of the kids, “What’s the story on your tile?”
He looks me in the eye and with a blank expression on his face responds, “Whatever”…
“How do you spell whatever?!” I ask him in the same breathless enthusiasm.
He is like “Aam,… Double you, Eitch, Ey,… Whatever…”
“There you go! Almost gotcha!”
In the summer of 2010 I was invited to participate in this community based art project here in Collingwood. It was an excellent opportunity for me to practice my skills in human interaction and design for public space. What I got from this process was a first hand experience in community engagement.
The city is our most complex tool and we are probably its most important component. I am intrigued by the interaction between mechanism and organism. My training in Israel as product designer led me through a local landscape architecture office. In my two years there I managed to implement my interest in design for urban space.
Design requires sensitivity and awareness to all ability groups. In my early thirties, I was living in Tel Aviv. A guy approached me asking for directions. He was dressed up in a suit. His tie lifted his neck wrinkles to his smoothly shaved chin. The long and healthy life he’d already had radiated through his transparent skin. After showing him on a map where we were and where his destination was I asked him whether he was considering using transportation or walking.
“Why, do you think I’m too old to walk?” he asked with a smile.
“No, it’s just that riding requires a different route than walking. It’s not a huge distance but even people my age might choose to ride it.” I said.
“How old are you?” he asked
“Thirty three”. I said.
“Oh,” his face lit in recognition: “I’m ninety.”
In the fall of 2010 I signed up for yet another unknown adventure. The urban design program at Simon Fraser University felt like a fascinating opportunity to expand my skills in the field. In the first session of the program I knew I was in the right place. We were going to explore what balances are required between the built environment and the people using it.
The city is both an extension of our bodies and an environment that requires learning and practice. In Collingwood I had the fortune of working with people and participating in a few processes that made me feel connected. My interest in the city as a human made kind of nature brought me to realize that it’s not about me; it’s not about you: it’s about our connection and what we make of it.
A platform like TEDx is a fantastic opportunity to engage in a discussion that can spread further away from the space in which it happens. So what is my talk going to look like? In October, I’m sure you’d like to hear the rest…