Global Issues TED Prize

$10K grant from City 2.0 awarded to TED Fellow Faisal Chohan, during TEDx Workshop

Posted by: Kate Torgovnick May

Crossposted from the TEDx Tumblr: What do a zombie apocalypse, the spread of cholera, a burger box and toilets all have in common?

All of them were mentioned this morning during the City 2.0 pitch sessions, hosted as part of our TEDx Workshop leading up to TED Global 2012 in Edinburgh, Scotland.

There were four compelling projects proposed:

Photo: Bret Hartman

Daniel CerVentus, of TEDxKL, pitched the “While We Wait” project — designed to make city dwellers’ “dead time” for public transportation, quite common in Kuala Lumpur, just a bit more fun and communal. Using choose your own adventure stories (like a zombie apocalypse flowchart) and conversation prompts, While We Wait gets people talking to one another. After all, why not slay boredom and build community in one fell swoop?

Photo: Bret Hartman

Faisal Chohan, a Senior TED Fellow, pitched Saaf Pindi — a mapping project with a mission of improving sanitation, and therefore preventing cholera, in Rawalpindi, Pakistan. Cholera is the second leading cause of death in South Asia, made particularly rampant by unsafe sanitation conditions. In fact, only 18% of Pakistanis have access to proper sewerage infrastructure. Chohan proposes using open mapping technology to track where un-treated waste is being dumped into rivers and canals near people’s homes. Subsequent stages will include mapping hospital reports on water borne diseases to keep citizens informed.

Photo: Bret Hartman

“Who can really deal with the ‘wicked problems’ that face cities?” asks Senior TED Fellow and TEDxTransmedia speaker Mitchell Joachim. “Urbaneers, that’s who.” Joachim and his team at New York-based ONE Lab proposed to create an “Urbaneer Manual,” chockfull of stories and guerilla best practices of how people are tackling issues as diverse as waste, communication, sanitation, and education—among others. Joachim ended his compelling summary with a familiar image: the Styrofoam burger box. It’s built for obsolescence, filling up our global landfills, but what creative solutions might an urbaneer come up with for making it useful to the city of the future?

Photo: Bret Hartman

Finally, Suraj Sudkahar, of TEDxKibera in Nairobi, Kenya, pitched a low-cost tutoring program that could “revolutionize education” for the urban poor. Sudkahar reminded us that the TEDx spirit is not about how flashy an event can be, but how resourceful the people who attend are. In his own involvement in the TEDx Activator program, he’s seen the way that a dynamic partnership can make an educational experience come alive. By partnering with Umande Trust, a water and sanitation NGO, Sudkahar has been able to link learning to the much-needed community spaces and toilets that Umande Trust provides for local citizens. With a City 2.0 award, he hoped to take this work to the next level.

Clearly, all of these creative disruptions to everyday life in cities are deserving of further exploration and support. Only one of them could win the next $10,000 City 2.0 award, however.

We engaged people at the TEDx Workshop and those joining us on livestream around the world to vote, who selected Faisal Chohan as the fifth winner of the City 2.0 Award.

Stay tuned for more on this critical public health project and thanks to all of our inventive presenters for their bright ideas and enthusiastic presentations. We look forward to hearing how all of the projects develop.

Written by Courtney Martin