A global experience in a small Saskatchewan city

Heather Cline delivers her TED Talk on the power of personal objects to a crowd of over 100 people at the Central Library during TEDxRPLCentralLibrary. Photo by Rigel Smith.

Heather Cline enjoyed TED Talks long before she was asked to give one.

The local artist felt “excited” and “privileged” to share a topic she’s passionate about with an audience of over 100 people March 21 at TEDxRPLCentralLibrary. TED Talks are short public talks given around the world on specific topics within a given theme.

“I was at the TED Talk to talk about something I’m very passionate about which is valuing original artwork and objects beyond our disposable, contemporary approach to owning things,” Cline said during a networking break after her speech at Central Library in downtown Regina.

TED, which stands for “technology, entertainment, design,” is a nonprofit organization devoted to spreading ideas and connecting people through talks. TEDx events, like TEDxRPLCentralLibrary, are independently organized events granted through a free licence. The events include live speakers, previously recorded TED Talks and networking.

For Cline, the idea she shared was one she had been sitting on for a while.

“It was an incredible opportunity because this is a topic that I’ve been thinking about a lot lately,” said Cline.

“There’s been this whole wave of purging and downsizing and cleaning out your home, which I don’t think is a bad thing, but it has a very specific agenda that is very opposite to the idea of cherishing and protecting personal objects.”

Cline believes more people should think about the power of their personal objects

“First and foremost as an artist, I think a lot about why I make objects and how I want them to live in peoples’ lives and their homes,” said Cline. “I don’t want them just to be sitting in a backroom shelf, I want them to be present and affecting peoples’ lives.”

The crowd in the Regina Public Library Film Theatre listens as Heather Cline delivers her TED Talk about the power of personal objects. Photo by Rigel Smith.

Megan McCormick, organizer of TEDxRPLCentralLibrary, loves organizing the event, now in its third year. She believes TED and its mission fits well with the Regina Public Library (RPL).

“The cool thing that I think connects really well with libraries is the TED motto is ‘ideas worth spreading,’ ” said McCormick. “In [the RPL’s] mission, vision, values it’s, ‘a gathering place where people and ideas meet’ and I think that could almost be the TED motto.”

McCormick has organized all three of the sold-out TEDx events with the RPL. All TED Talks are eventually posted on the TED YouTube channel, which has amassed almost 300,000 videos and three million subscribers. McCormick said this helps the library share ideas with a wider audience.

“We hold our event in the film theatre and we have 109 seats, which means we have 109 people and that’s where we’re maxed out at,” said McCormick. “It’s just really great we can provide a vehicle for those messages to get out to the world and have other people learn about stuff outside of our walls.”

This year’s theme, “viewpoints,” was built on the past themes, “engage” and “create.” McCormick said sending the invitations to the usually unsuspecting speakers is one of her favourite days.

“It’s great to attend a TED event in the audience, but it’s also really special for the speakers,” said McCormick. “If you’re someone with an idea in the city I think it’s a really special opportunity.”

McCormick said the biggest challenge is making sure the event is relevant to downtown Regina. That’s why the speakers are always local people.

For Cline, who lives and works out of a backyard studio in Regina, the event was an opportunity to introduce a new idea to a wide audience.

“I was able to work my way through the topic that I care about in a way that I hope was approachable and universal, and that reached past the audience who already love and understand and care about original artwork to maybe people who hadn’t really thought about that being a possibility in their lives,” said Cline.

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