Posted on: February 22, 2010 Posted by: Kaia Smith Comments: 0


By Eric Lewis, Intern


In 1984, a California nonprofit called TED hosted a conference featuring preeminent figures from the realms of Technology, Entertainment and Design. The intent was simple—invite the world’s changemakers to share their ideas. These lectures sparked an amazing synergy, a network of the world’s technical and social pioneers, all realizing and discussing the interconnectedness of their respective work. Since that first conference, the frequency, scope and accessibility of TED events have all grown, and conferences are now held on nearly every continent, with many of these lectures available free online.

As TED grew, its organizers recognized the interrelation of not just technology, entertainment and design, but of all fields where progress is made. Enter a new slogan: “Ideas worth spreading.” In addition to the nonprofit’s annual conferences in Long Beach and Oxford, TED enthusiasts can apply to host worldwide satellite events under the name “TEDx.” Bangkok recently hosted its first TEDx event, and the organizers invited PEPY founder Daniela Papi to speak about our work and lessons learned in sustainable development.

I joined Cambodian PEPY staffer Rithy Thul on his first trip abroad to see the event, and we were thrilled when Daniela’s impassioned talk drew the day’s first standing ovation. She spoke about several of the topics that PEPY enthusiasts are familiar with, such as the importance of investing time in people rather than merely investing money in things.

Other conference highlights included a talk by PEPY friend Brooke Estin, who explained the “triple bottom line” of social enterprise. She puts her social business theory to practice at Kiva, a micro-lending enterprise, and Change Fusion, a consultancy for social innovation. Further, experimental musician Ronley Teper wowed us with her unique brand of music, which defies all categorization. (Exciting update: Ronley will visit PEPY headquarters in the coming weeks!) Of all the day’s speakers, perhaps none was more inspiring than the last, Prae Sunantaraks. Prae, who suffers from the currently uncurable disease retinitis pigmentosa (RP), shared the story of her gradual blindness and the beautiful insights she has gained in light of this experience. The crowd sprung to their feet with applause as Prae concluded with the Helen Keller quote, “It is better to be blind than to have sight but no vision.”

If you want to experience TEDx and Daniela’s talk for yourself, we would love to share video footage with you once it has been uploaded to the TEDxBKK website. We look forward to posting Daniela’s speech to the PEPY Team Journal as soon as it’s available!