TEDActive 2012 Projects recap

This year at TEDActive hundreds of participants, both online and on-site, joined together to brainstorm innovative answers to six different Project questions. Here’s what happened:

The Process
Attendees jump-started the brainstorm online, creating a project-specific Facebook group as a conversation platform. On-site at Palm Springs, the excitement around the Projects was infectious. The week began with an immersive pre-conference experience and an idea-sharing Builder’s Breakfast, opening the question up to the community at a Picnic Lunch. As ideas coalesced around the Project Wall, the community went out to mingle and celebrate at three breathtakingly scenic Project House Parties. After the final meetings, the entire community raised a glass to the ideas that emerged as the lead facilitators delivered short, inspiring talks during the Project Toasts.

The blog posts, thoughts and story of each project were all recorded on a dedicated page on TED.com. Every project was manned by a facilitator to encourage conversation, a storyteller to capture and represent ideas, and an amplifier to take those ideas to the wider community.

Total Project Stats:
3 weeks
1279 total members participating in the Projects
2561 posts, comments and likes

Questions, Conversations, Insights

TEDActive Community and Commerce Project:
Question: In a networked society, how do we create community value?

“We have a program in Oklahoma City that is just now expanding to Tulsa called “Keep It Local.” It’s a little $10 saver’s card that only local businesses can join … I’ve used my 2012 card eight times already, saved $11.32 … But the LARGEST win is they have created a community around how cool it is to support local business, art, and culture.” — Adam Croon

Conversations: Growing the question further, the group asked: How might organizations and businesses create a sense of purpose? How might consumers create a sense of purpose?
Insights: Create a new kind of price tag that reflects not only the monetary cost of an item, but also tells consumers who made it, where it was manufactured, and under what conditions.

TEDActive Giving Project:
Question: How do we get individuals, businesses and communities more engaged in the act of giving?

“What if we turned giving into a game? If there was a virtual world where our on screen action was reflected as action in the real world? If the real world action was reintegrated into the game interface? What does giving look like as an iPad app?– Brian Thompson

Conversations: The group’s consensus was that we need to learn the behavior of giving. Peter Diamandis’ talk on our abundant future stirred discussion. Participants debated whether crisis or hope was a stronger motivation for giving. In the 24-30 age range, there was a strong desire to see the value in their gifts and understand where their contributions might be going.
Insights: Create platforms that allow people to donate their skills and time to programs and causes in their field, which they are already highly enthusiastic about.

TEDActive Progressive Ideas Project:
Question: How can we bring a great idea to scale?

“As I try to bring ideas to life outside of institutional frameworks the thing I’ve found most useful is to try to create organizing frameworks and methodologies around non-institutional initiatives. Institutions have an inherent bias-to-action that individual actors don’t always demonstrate. — Scott Cooper

Conversations: How big is too big? The group went on to identify the basics for bringing an idea to scale: a first step; mentors; a support system; momentum; measurable results and marketing. As a result, two separate concepts of scale were identified — scale could mean growth for monetization, or it could be focused on spreading ideas (without direct regard for financial compensation). Through all the discussions one key insight emerged: To scale an idea, let go and relinquish some control so others can participate in helping it grow.
Insights: Mentor and adviser networks can be huge helps for sharing advice, new innovations and critical introductions. Create a formal network of advisers for start-ups, organized by the different stages an idea goes through in order to scale.

TEDActive Urbanization Project:
Question: How do we better manage energy consumption in the city of the future?

“One way to better manage energy is to help people understand how much energy they are using in real time and to make sure the units are quantities that people understand. For example, a meter in the shower can show you how many 8 oz glasses of water you are using as you shower. — Miriam Stone

Conversations: The Urbanization Project began their journey on site with a visit to a wind farm in Palm Springs, where the group was shocked to discover that the huge expanse of 3800 turbines were not enough to power the city of Palm Springs. As attendees began to realize the massive efforts behind producing energy, the first question they sought to answer was “What stops you from saving energy?” They identified four categories of barriers to saving energy: convenience and habit; lack of education and awareness; prohibitive costs; and inefficient solutions. Overcoming these barriers can be difficult, and a key finding was that those who do, take great pride in their energy efficient solutions.
Insights: Build energy-efficient homes to reduce barriers of effort. If low-income housing were constructed to reduce energy use, this demographic that suffers from less educational opportunity and prohibitive costs would have a greater opportunity to conserve energy.

TEDActive Health Project:
Question: How can we use collective wisdom around health to improve quality of life?

“I feel that I am my own and my children’s best advocate. I have to do research and decide if I agree with the care we are being provided. — Chris Schranz Bayer

Conversations: The TEDActive Health Project began their journey in Palm Springs by surveying everyone to discover where people go for wise advice about health. Answers were hugely diverse, ranging from Google to Mom. However, one general insight stood out — the decision of where to go for information was largely based on trust. People also expressed fear about losing objectivity, thinking that too many opinions might cause them to lose their own perspective.
Insights: Create a health calculator — a device that allows people to see how creating healthier habits might affect their lives. For example, help someone visualize how quitting smoking today instead of quitting a month from today might affect their life.

TEDActive Color Project:
Question: How can we use color as an effective tool?

“What if computer keyboards were colorized and we typed in color? Could our brains adjust to learning how to read color as well as we naturally read the alphabet? Think how different today’s media would look…the written language of color. — Betsy Solfisburg Quinn

Conversations: The Color Project began their journey in Palm Springs with a bike ride to local thrift stores, where everyone committed to exploring new colors they normally wouldn’t wear. This prompted the question: What are personal, political and social influences that form our relationship to color? On the second day, the group shared ideas on how color might be used in businesses and organizations. How can color amplify an idea? How might color build a team? Can color give confidence to those who don’t believe they are creative?
Insights: Color can demonstrate a set of beliefs, but this changes with culture. For example, green used to represent financial services, but is now typically associated with the sustainability movement.

For more info on the Projects, please visit the official TEDActive 2012 Project page.

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