the distance of blue

“For many years, I have been moved by the blue at the far edge of what can be seen, that color of horizons, of remote mountain ranges, of anything far away. The color of that distance is the color of an emotion, the color of solitude and of desire, the color of there seen from here, the color of where you are not. And the color of where you can never go. For the blue is not in the place those miles away at the horizon, but in the atmospheric distance between you and the mountains. ‘Longing,’ says the poet Robert Hass, ‘because desire is full of endless distances.’ Blue is the color of longing for the distances you never arrive in, for the blue world.

We treat desire as a problem to be solved, address what desire is for and focus on that something and how to acquire it rather than on the nature and the sensation of desire, though often it is the distance between us and the object of desire that fills the space in between with the blue of longing. I wonder sometimes whether with a slight adjustment of perspective it could be cherished as a sensation on its own terms, since it is as inherent to the human condition as blue is to distance? If you can look across the distance without wanting to close it up, if you can own your longing in the same way that you own the beauty of that blue that can never be possessed? For something of this longing will, like the blue of distance, only be relocated, not assuaged, by acquisition and arrival, just as the mountains cease to be blue when you arrive among them and the blue instead tints the next beyond. Something is always far away.”
Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost

Reflections on Emergence

I just took down all the “get tickets” links for Emergence on and changed the language to be past tense. This means we have reached the point in time where we have largely accomplished what we intended to do when we started planning this event. There are so many people to thank for this that even writing an update is an intimidating idea.

The short form is that the event was the combined forces of an engaged city, exceptionally supportive partners, courageous thinkers, brilliant performers, and some of the most outstanding organizers I have ever had the privilege to work with.

The longer form is that it has been a significant amount of work, and it’s not over yet. The fruit of this is not just the day, but of course the photos and speaker videos (talks) from the event, which give the ideas worth spreading a far larger wingspan. This year’s theme was very strong, and the speakers were equally as strong and brought it to a new level. We are fortunate to have these brilliant minds asking the hard questions and exploring possibilities.

Effectively doubling the size of the event (from 400 people to 772) meant that there was more hands needed on deck, and a different strategy for marketing and communicating about the event. We made a new communications plan, a new marketing strategy, designed a new website, made a new eNewsletter campaign, made stretch goals for media relations, developed a great relationship with a new media partner, increased advertising spend, designed and activated new volunteer roles, and broadly participated in more community engagement through our Salon events. We had an open house for people interested in getting involved that attracted even more people than most TEDx events.

So much has developed over the last year that it’s difficult to articulate it all short of writing a book. Putting on an event of this scale requires serious attention to detail, vision, time, energy, and perhaps most importantly, relationships. I am deeply grateful for the people I worked with, as well as the opportunities and experiences; quite simply, I was challenged and I grew.

Those who worked on TEDxVictoria have a lot to be proud of; we have accomplished a hell of a lot. The potential of the team is massive, and this was demonstrated.

Other reflections

  • For serious conversations, email is bad and texting is worse
  • For the best relationships, telephone/skype/google hangouts provide tone, which is essential to understanding one another on an emotional level
  • When working with volunteers, emotions largely govern energy, which determines the power of the team
  • Social nights are important with the team
  • I still like building and designing highly functional websites
  • I got excited when I saw other team members post on our blog
  • Most of my responsibilities were prior to the event
  • Proof, proof, proof
  • Speaker coaching is time well spent, and understanding that aspect has given me more insights on how to market speakers/talks
  • The stage design was brilliant, on-theme, dynamic and powerful – I was impressed by how it came together
  • I took the image above from the balcony the night before the event
  • The night before the event is a lot of work for the day-of crew
  • The day-of crew does so much work it’s difficult to comprehend
  • We were spoiled at the after-party, which was also a tonne of work by another talented crew
  • No matter how much social media you do, you’ll always feel like you can do more – same as with the recording label
  • The McPherson is a beautiful venue
  • The Zone has been an awesome and creative media partner
  • Royal Roads University is a kickass Title level sponsor who put myself and 3 other organizers through their Strategic Leadership Program as part of their support for the event
  • Our presence at Rifflandia was awesome and our booth looked better than ever
  • We did a free event about the future of citiesĀ in city hall’s Council Chamber
  • We had absolutely incredible emcees
  • People are still hungry for this type of event according to ticket sales
  • Change is inevitable; attitude makes an extraordinary difference in times of transition
  • People grow when you give them the chance
  • There are so many chances to develop professionally as a volunteer – many of these are opportunities that are not available at the workplace or school
  • Some of the TEDx rules inhibit the potential of partnerships and events; this may be by design, and it can be frustrating
  • Watching so many TED talks on the Internet and then seeing new talks in-person felt like being at a live recording of the Internet
  • I am forgetting something, but that’s okay
  • One thing leads to another



Lost really has two disparate meanings.

Losing things is about the familiar falling away, getting lost is about the unfamiliar appearing. There are objects and people that disappear from your sight or knowledge or possession; you lose a bracelet, a friend, the key. You still know where you are. Everything is familiar except that there is one item less, one missing element.

Or you get lost, in which case the world has become larger than your knowledge of it. Either way, there is a loss of control. Imagine yourself streaming through time shedding gloves, umbrellas, wrenches, books, friends, homes, names. This is what the view looks like if you take a rear-facing seat on the train. Looking forward you constantly acquire moments of arrival, moments of realization, moments of discovery. The wind blows your hair back and you are greeted by what you have never seen before. The material falls away in on-rushing experience. It peels off like skin from a molting snake.

Of course to forget the past is to lose the sense of loss that is also memory of an absent richness and a set of clues to navigate the present by; the art is not one of forgetting but of letting go. And when everything else is gone, you can be rich in loss.

-Rebecca Solnit, A Field Guide to Getting Lost

Apply to speak at TEDxVictoria

photo by Brian Van Wyk
photo by Brian Van Wyk

Today is the last day to apply to speak at TEDxVictoria 2013: Emergence. I hope that, if you have a good idea, you’ll consider applying.

But wait, what is hope?

Hope is the understanding of what it would be like if a good idea turned into action. This is the chance to take a great idea and amplify it through one of the strongest thought leader networks the world has ever seen. Do you want to change the world? At TEDxVictoria 2013, several people may do just that, as several have done at prior TEDxVictoria events. You could be one of the people who plants the seeds for hope.

Get ready to inspire. Give hope. Get ready for emergence. Good luck.

TEDxVictoria 2013: Emergence – Apply To Speak