Culture TEDx

X Marks the Spot: A stunning event in the Indian Himalayas, plus this week’s TEDx talks

Posted by: Nadia Goodman
Leh is located in Ladakh,  a high altitude desert, where the main source of water is melting snow from mountain peaks. It creates green valleys like this one in the Pangong Range. Photo: Lokesh Todi

Leh is located in Ladakh, a high altitude desert, where the main source of water is melting snow from the mountains. It creates green valleys like this one in the Pangong Range. Photo: Lokesh Todi

In the remote town of Leh, tucked away in the Indian Himalayas, a group of 100 TEDx’ers gathered among the stunning valleys and sweeping mountain vistas. The diverse group of speakers at TEDxLeh included a Tibetan Buddhist monk, a Ladakhi filmmaker, a snow leopard preservationist, India’s best white water rafter, a solar energy entrepreneur, and two Dutch guys who showed up on bamboo bicycles.

All of them were there to help people from this isolated region gain access to ideas and resources that might help make their world a better place. For a few of the speakers, TEDxLeh was the culmination of an 11-day trek through the mountains. They hiked for seven hours a day at an altitude of 16,000 feet, braving slippery slopes in freezing rain, and delivering solar lanterns to villagers.

A Sumda Chenmo child experiences solar lanterns for the first time. Solar improves safety, productivity and indoor air quality. Photo: Stephanie Wolcott

A Sumda Chenmo child experiences solar lanterns for the first time. Solar improves safety, productivity and indoor air quality. Photo: Stephanie Wolcott

“People of the Himalayas face extreme odds,” said speaker Stephanie Wolcott, who shared photos and stories from the trek and event with us. “Organizing, promoting, and hosting a TEDx [event] in such an environment should have been impossible, but a small group of young men did it. Yes, the talks were not as polished and punchy as most TED talks, but they showcased brave innovators who were able to envision a better life and build it. Indeed they had much to teach us.”

This is the kind of unique experience that many people have at TEDx events, which take place all over the world. Each week, we highlight great TEDx talks, stories and events on the TEDx blog. Below, watch some of this week’s favorites.

From a playlist of 7 mind-expanding talks by women in STEM:

The secret language of flowers: Heather Whitney at TEDxSalford
Flowers might seem innocent, but they’re surprisingly manipulative. In fact, they need to be if they hope to defend themselves against predators, find food and reproduce. In a lovely British accent, Heather Whitney sheds light on the invisible tactics flowers use to exploit their pollinators.

From a compilation of 3 cool musical instruments you’ve probably never heard:

ComputeMusic(now): Andrew Sorensen at TEDxQUT
Can you code music? Andrew Sorenson sure can. He developed his own coding language to create music on the fly without pre-programmed software or external instruments — just algorithms. Above, see the delightfully nerdy magic as he builds his song piece by piece, adding, subtracting and morphing layers of sound with code.

And from the TEDx Facebook page, the world’s most adorable computer programmer:

Boom educativo: Dennis Gallo at TEDxManagua (English subtitles)
Twelve-year-old computer programmer, Dennis Gallo, has us wrapped around his tiny finger with his inspiring (and adorable) TEDx talk. He says, “Let’s not wait for someone to tell us what we have to learn. If we’re curious about learning something, let’s search, knock on doors, or ask for help. There are no limits to learning.” Amen to that, Dennis.