My idea for a new era: The town hall from TED2022

Posted by:

TED’s Chris Anderson, Whitney Pennington Rodgers and Helen Walters host Session 1 of TED2022: A New Era on April 10, 2022 in Vancouver, BC, Canada. (Photo: Stacie McChesney / TED)

There’s a special tradition on the final day of the annual TED conference: the town hall, an opening of the main stage to TED attendees to reflect on the week’s ideas and experiences, offer timely rebuttals and share their own wisdom.

Due to time constraints at TED2022: A New Era, the town hall did not happen live and in person, but eight brave attendees still prepared thoughtful responses to the year’s prompt: “My idea for a new era …”. Read them below.

Heidi Stamer

It’s time for equal and fair parental leave. If we want true gender equality, we have to address the “child penalty” that many women face in their careers, earning 20 percent less than their male peers. As Allyson Felix said, our system doesn’t seem to account for the fact that 50 percent of the population has babies, and the other half helped make them. In Sweden, they’ve found that women earn seven percent more for each month their partners take parental leave. It’s time for paid parental leave – for both women AND men. And a work culture that accounts for parenting as a normal fact of life. Let’s fix this.

Phil Engelhorn

Imagine a dinner with Jennifer Heldmann and Manish Bhardwaj, because while “colonizing” Mars sounds inevitable, I wonder if missions to Mars could not only be driven by curiosity, but humility and braveness. Let’s go there not with an empty land mindset, sending dump trucks and excavators, but a “Hi Level Mindset” where we build organic regenerative infrastructure and are light on the land, ensuring Mars’ potential inhabitants are stakeholders in missions there. Consider using the metaverse instead of the real universe as an inclusive and democratic testing ground to explore moral clarity. Invite TED Fellows Albert Cahn to explore privacy on Mars, Adjany Costa to advocate for the indigenous lands, Robert Katzschmann to ensure the technology you’re bringing is organic to the environment, and so many more possibilities for planning a much more regenerative and just and fun world, from the ground up.

We have the capacity to think this way today, and to do it all in a four-day work week.

Nidhi Tewari

The human brain is wired for survival and connection, and this fact doesn’t change when people are at work. After coping with more than two years of collective global trauma from the pandemic, more than ever, leaders need to be attuned to the mental health and well-being of their employees.

People are struggling emotionally in all life dimensions, including in their careers. The new era of work entails understanding the interpersonal neurobiology in the interactions between leaders and the people that they lead. Interpersonal neurobiology posits that our responses to one another shift moment to moment based on our internal experience and interpretation of interactions. Past experiences, such as trauma, subconsciously influence whether we feel safe or threatened. When the brain perceives a threat due to misattunement, or an incongruence between what’s needed and what’s provided, our ability to trust, problem solve, learn and focus are diminished. We shift from thriving to surviving.

The antidote to misattunement is repair and connection. We must become aware of our own past and how it shows up in the way we lead, how employees’ trauma and mental health influence their lives in and out of work, and how these experiences impact the dynamics between us. If we want to effectively lead, then we must first attune.

Aishatu Yusuf

The criminal justice problem requires more than a criminal justice solution. There is no new era without the clear understanding that criminal justice is a housing, race, gender, sexual orientation, climate, homelessness, economic, food justice, environment, education and mental health issue.

In the past, TED has elevated the issue of racialized mass incarceration, and this week it was briefly mentioned. However, TED has not curated broad, intentional talks or discussions on solutions, domestic or global. Too often platforms are provided to discuss the problems, but rarely the solutions. We must have robust, solution-oriented conversations that include ending sexual harm to incarcerated people, that include ensuring incarcerated people have access to healthy nutritious foods, that include real restorative justice practices, that include solutions for housing, and solving the homelessness crisis for system-impacted people, that include providing job skills and opportunities for sustainable career paths, and ensuring that upon reentry incarcerated people are provided safe, long-term housing and mental services so they can thrive and succeed.

TED can and should take the opportunity across all of its platforms to amplify solutions that break down silos and provide real change.

Martin Medicus

I’m responding to the talks given by Katherine Mangu-Ward and Aaron Bastani in the capitalism session.

Just as the solutions to the energy and climate crises will not be solved by a single technology or policy, there is no one ideology of government or economics that can adequately address all the problems we have, in the timeline we need. Monikers like “libertarian” or “communist” help us distill and share our beliefs. But when we talk about real solutions and drastically changing systems, we have to let go of the notion that any one ideology (with all its logic and good intentions) will serve everyone, and all scenarios, to an acceptable degree.

How will free markets preserve natural resources? How do Universal Basic Services systems ensure robust innovation without market factors?

Regardless of the answers, I doubt each side will be satisfied with those of the other. The human solution, then, is to meet in the middle and forge the best path together.

Don’t “other” thy neighbor, when we can make so much more together.

Nancy Laube

I am here to make a case for changing how we describe “climate change,” because words matter. “Climate change” is just too neutral a term for something horrific that is coming to our future. You can’t tell if it is bad or good. In fact, you have to add extra words like “catastrophic” or say “climate crisis” (as some TED speakers have done) to convey the meaning. It’s like me telling you that bad weather is on the way to your home. Wouldn’t it be better to say that a tornado is headed in your direction?

I think TED speaker Jeanette Winterson said it best when she called it “climate breakdown.” Climate breakdown. That is something scary. Something we should be afraid of. No extra words necessary. So remove the term “climate change” from your brain, and insert “climate breakdown” in that slot. Let’s call climate breakdown what it is.

Heather O’Shea

The simple answer is community … I got here thanks to five speakers. With my hand over my heart, I say, “Sweetie, you deserve love and happiness” (thank you, Dan Harris). I decide to take action by prioritizing fun (thank you, Catherine Price). All humans enjoy fun, so it means every human can be part of my “in group” (thank you, David Eagleman). When you can find a way to relate to someone, you can connect with anyone (thank you, Platon). When you build connections, you can create community, which yields greater benefit to the whole and not just the one (thank you, Bill Gates).

Richard Lucas

With millions of refugees staying in private homes across Poland, including my house in Kraków, and humane policies across the whole of the EU, let the Ukraine crisis rekindle a moral awakening in refugee acceptance policies and a rejection of violence, tyranny and oppression.