This Friday, TED is throwing this big TEDCity2.0 event in New York -- looking at the past, present and future of cities. For our Editor’s Picks this week, we’re hosting our own tribute to urban innovation with four talks that explore some of the big questions facing our cities today. Each speaker has worked on a challenge unique to their community, and their solutions may surprise you — from houses that float in Boston Harbor to streetlights home to carbon dioxide-sucking microalgae. Here’s how they’re shaping the city of the future:
Turning urban youth into global citizens: Angela Jackson at TEDxProvidence
Angela Jackson saw the lack of opportunities for New York’s most disadvantaged children and knew she had to help improve the quality of public education. The Global Language Project gives students the chance to become proficient in a foreign language, equipping them with useful skills, broader cultural horizons and the chance for a better future.
Glowing streetlamps that absorb CO2 with algae: Pierre Calleja at TEDxLausanneChange
French biochemist Pierre Calleja has invented a streetlamp which doubles as a habitat for microalgae that consume carbon dioxide. In fact, microalgae are responsible for producing half the oxygen in our atmosphere. These beautiful lights are not only practical, but this symbiotic technology could help in the fight against rising carbon emissions and climate change.
Pop-up houses improve South African slums: Andreas Keller at TEDxWWF
Andreas Keller set out to improve the appalling conditions of South Africa’s slums. With effective insulation, proper ventilation, and solar power replacing dirty fuels, iShacks provide a much healthier and safer temporary accommodation for some of the poorest urban citizens in South Africa. And, the program helps locals get involved in the design and management of their neighborhoods.
Floating neighborhoods reimagine coastal living: Brian Healy at TEDxBoston
Sea levels are rising, and coastal homes are now at risk of flooding. Architect Brian Healy thinks we can avoid disaster by building our houses right on top of the water — an idea so crazy he thinks it just might work. He shows off his designs for floating residential complexes built out of lightweight concrete tubes. With communal living spaces and even wetland courtyards, neglected city harbors could become lovely places to live
The TEDx platform is special because ideas shared through it cross disciplines, contradict, and influence each other in unexpected ways. The TEDxStellenbosch stage has played host to artists and scientists, anthropologists and environmentalists, adventurers and designers. Convening these leaders in one room and breaking down institutional barriers has been an incredible experience and quite frankly, a privilege. We have seen attendees become speakers, and speakers become life-long friends.
TED and TEDx have always been about more than just the ideas shared from the stage. It is the co-mingling of a diverse range of people from different fields, institutions, backgrounds, and even continents that make it so special. However different they may be, TEDx-ers have one thing in common - open eyes and an endless curiosity about the world.