Saturday, 7 January 2012

How It All Began

It was 4 years ago this September that I moved to Waterloo to go to university. During my first year, when you met someone new, the conversation almost invariably started with "So, where are you from?" I met people from around the world, China, Norway, Korea, Italy and across Canada, BC, Newfoundland and everywhere in between. Of course, I'd have a hard time trying to explain exactly where I was from. It was hard for most to comprehend that I didn't have any neighbours for most of the year, or that the largest town near me didn't have stoplights, just a really big stop sign in the middle of town.

One thing I immediately noticed, was that no one seemed to have the same love that I did for tiny little Killaloe and surrounding area. For some reason, Mississauga and Hong Kong just didn't create the same vivid memories that I had. Can you blame them? I've always been told that there are two kinds of people in this world. There are people that are from Killaloe, and there are people that wish they were. I quickly realized I'm lucky to be in the first group.

What does TEDxAlgonquinPark have to do with this?

TEDxAlgonquinPark is a project that Paige Afelskie and I have been working on. TED is a nonprofit devoted to "Ideas Worth Spreading". Every year, they hold 2 conferences with renowned expert speakers on very niche topics (I've included 3 of my favorites below. The best way for me to describe TEDtalks is for you to watch one.) As these TED talks gained popularity around the world, a new idea sprang forward. What if every community could experience these conferences, and start positive, innovative discussions around the issues in their community. And so, TEDx events were born (x denotes an independently organized event). These events are modeled on the original TED conferences and have so much community backing, they become as high quality as the originals.

Paige and I started working on TEDxAlgonquinPark in October. We're working on a vision that will incorporate different aspects of Algonquin Park, specifically ideas focusing on conservation, recreation and forestry within the park. In our hometown, people rely heavily on the park for their livelihoods and recreation. Directly, many of our friends have jobs working in the interior or campgrounds, or their involved in the lumber industry in sawmills surrounding the park. Many of our friends from further away look at the park primarily as a place for tourism. And everyone has a shared interest in keeping the beauty of Algonquin Park intact for generations to come.

Megan Summers

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