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Monday, July 21, 2014

Creating Collaboration: TEDxColombo 2014

Speakers of the evening: (From Left to Right) Isura Silva (Manager- Sarvodaya Fusion),
 Shamal Boyagoda (Operations Manager - MAS),
 Dr. Harsha De Silva (Member of Parliament - UNP),
 Trishma Pinto (Compere),
Aman Ashraff (Director - Ashraff Associates),
Aamina Nizar (Photographer - Aamina Nizar Photography),
 Lonali Rodrigo (Founder - House of Lonali)

In a world sworn by the mannerisms of a status quo, the only way to break out would seem to lie in the hands of select individuals who strive to make a difference- a difference that we can all relate to. TEDxColombo this year took you out from the norm and into a world of creative inspiration with its latest offering, “Creating Collaboration”. Set against the backdrop of books and the evening sky at the British Council Library, Creative Collaborations had an interesting balance of speakers, on a variety of topics ranging from sustainable leadership, social entrepreneurship, photography, fashion design and the importance of youth exercising their voting rights.
Lonali Rodrigo, was first up with sentiments on how waste can be an opportunity. Lonali is a fashion designer who creates her designs from an unlikely source. Her amazing work revolves around transforming what most clothing factories would otherwise have destroyed, into clothing fit for the runway. Her work started with a mere project during her degree where she used cloth labels, bra straps and old torn out jeans to create masterpieces in clothing and stationery. Her message to the audience conveyed that if you have the imagination and dedication even waste can be a great sustainable opportunity. 

TEDx Colombo Team
TEDx Colombo Team
Isura Silva is a social entrepreneur with a passion to create rural social entrepreneurs. Not just ordinary social entrepreneurs but village leaders equipped with the latest in ICT technology and knowledge on how to revolutionize the way communities educate and do business. For 5 years, his organization trained 5000 students on basic IT and English education and also leveraged smart devices to disrupt how youth (rural millennial) educate and do business. His bold idea of creating jobs through IT is gaining amazing traction and he hopes to create over 10,000 IT related jobs at a village level by 2017.
Dr. Harsha De Silva, an economist and Member of Parliament, looked into the issue of how most young people effectively stay away from all things politics. He used a latest study to show that Sri Lanka as a nation has been unable to win the trust of the youth- that though the youth seem to be happy, there is a great disparity between what they want (mainly in terms of education) and reality. And yet the vast majority do nothing about it- with only 41% of youth voting. He stated that it was not that young people don’t care: they do care: for at the end of the day- it’s their lives. He spoke about how youth need to care and identified mutual beneficial trust as a way forward. He also advised on how the youth need to collaborate for progress: because progress builds trust and trust builds more progress. Dr. Harsha finally emphasized the need for youth to take charge and do it for themselves, for as he said, ‘it’s your life’
Shamal Boyagoda, Operations Manager of MAS Holdings; took us on his Journey to the Wilderness (Antarctica) and how it brought out the concept of Sustainable Leadership.  Shamal began his speech on a light note, giving a brief description of his work. He then walked the audience through his journey in Antarctica and his first hand witness of global warming, going on to elaborate his view of sustainable leadership which was conceptualised during the journey. To capture the essence of sustainable leadership, Shamal ended his talk on a thought provoking note with an old saying that- “we don’t borrow our time from our parents. We borrow it from our children.”
Aamina Nizar, a professional photographer began her talk saying that ‘A photograph is an imitation of life’. This she elaborated with a misadventure she had with food, during the beginning of her career. Flipping through scenes of India, a mishmash of food, life, and politics Aamina stated that “Photographs take you places,” and that “Photographs can influence your opinion”. You may not always be there, but you can be taken there. She spoke about how pictures can be more powerful than words, but a photograph without context is dangerous as it only requires shifting the angle. Aamina critically examined photography musing that people don’t deconstruct photographs anymore, though they are dependent on the images around them to understand the world. She then called for the audience to not just read articles that people have posted online and wait for the photographs to come to them. It is time to stop taking the picture and instead look at the world out there.
Aman Ashraff is an advertiser and a creative individual. His beliefs convey that an idea is when a wave of inspiration hits and crystallizes: it can change a nation or state a humble message. In a line of career where being inspired and creative is a constant necessity, Aman mused on his search for inspiration and finding it in unlikely places. While he derives inspirations, from comic books and movies, he reiterated his firm belief in connecting with people and talking to people, from which he derives a great source of inspiration. He also showed an advertisement of his that was a result of such inspiration. He urged the audience to talk to the people around them, learn from them and thereby understand them. Although everyone has preconceived notions about people from different walks of life he stressed the need to go out and learn from people, no matter who they are. Learn about people. In doing so, you only learn more.
TEDxColombo videos will be soon available online, where you can access the full content of these inspiring and thought provoking talks.
About TEDx, x = independently organized event
In the spirit of "ideas worth spreading," TED has created TEDx. TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. The event is called TEDxColombo, where x = independently organized TED event. At TEDx Colombo, TEDTalks video and live speakers will combine to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group. The TED Conference provides general guidance for the TEDx program, but individual TEDx events, including the one at hand, are self-organized.

About TED
TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California almost 30 years ago, TED has grown to support its mission with multiple initiatives. The two annual TED Conferences invite the world's leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes on a diverse mix of topics. Many of these talks are then made available, free, at TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani, Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Isabel Allende and former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The TED2014 Conference takes place in Vancouver, British Columbia, along with the TEDActive simulcast in neighboring Whistler. TEDGlobal 2014 will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

For information about TED's upcoming conferences, visit

TED's media initiatives include, where new TED Talks are posted daily; the Open Translation Project, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as translations from volunteers worldwide; the educational initiative TED-Ed; and TEDBooks, short e-books on powerful ideas. TED has established the annual TED Prize, where exceptional individuals with a wish to change the world get help translating their wishes into action; TEDx, which supports individuals or groups in hosting local, self-organized TED-style events around the world; and the TED Fellows program, helping world-changing innovators from around the globe to amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.
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