Fear of bogeyman disconnects children from nature

Ninety-nine human beings learned what it takes to connect better with nature, strangers, family and co-workers during Red Deer’s first annual TEDx conference on Thursday.

Ninety-nine human beings learned what it takes to connect better with nature, strangers, family and co-workers during Red Deer’s first annual TEDx conference on Thursday.

TED — Technology, Entertainment and Design — is an independently organized conference held around the world to increase the power of ideas. Eleven speakers, most from Central Alberta, shared a range of ideas on how to increase connectivity.

Jim Robertson, executive director of Waskasoo Environmental Education Society/Kerry Wood Nature Centre, has studied the loss of connecting with nature among children. Over the last couple of decades, a disturbing trend has emerged where fewer children are playing outside, Robertson said.

“Some ideas are self-evident — that nature is good for the kids,” said Robertson. “But it’s good for the world.”

If children don’t go out in nature, then they won’t care if there are any threats to it, he added. And studies have shown that individuals who play an active environmental role as an adult found some passion for nature as a child.

Robertson added it’s unfortunate that in this day and age, many parents won’t let their children play outside for fear of the bogeyman.

Helgi Eyford, diversity strategist for Alberta Health Services in Calgary, also spoke about strangers, but in a different way.

He said it’s not about talking to people we may be OK to talk to, like in the bar. It’s the ones we don’t want to talk to — like those with a different religion or culture.

“Talking to strangers is not only unavoidable for businesses that want to succeed and want to grow, but it’s essential to who we are as human beings,” Eyford said.

That emotional connectivity is so important, according to Anita Dosaj.

Dosaj, an international leader in the area of emotional intelligence, executive education and leadership coaching, recently moved to Red Deer and runs a business called SuccessLab with husband Peter Gregg.

There is a real science behind connection, said Dosaj. “If we do not have empathy for one another, then how are we going to connect and exchange ideas?”

The key to having effective communication is trust. “Trust is about making yourself safe and others safe,” said Dosaj.

Red Deer College instructor Lynda Adams shared her site-specific theatre piece developed since earlier this year.

The Canola Project brought together artists, farmers, scientists and to explore the diversity of Central Alberta and the farming practices that continue to change the human and geographical landscape. Farmers are like artists in that they are industrious, sentimental and inventive, Adams said.

The Canola Project has been selected to present an aspect of the work at the 30 Plays for 30 Years series in New York City in August 2012.

All presentations were videotaped and will be unveiled in about a month’s time at www.TEDxRedDeer.com and on YouTube.

Amber Haustein, spokesperson for the local event, said they hope to hold this again in 2012 or 2013. TEDx International requires that the event be capped at 99 people, but 147 applied to attend.

That’s pretty good, she added, noting that Calgary had about 120 people apply.

“It’s to bring our community together, give everyone a chance to open up discussion about things that are important to Red Deerians,” Haustein said.

ltester@bprda.wpengine.com

— copyright Red Deer Advocate