Living in complex world calls for complex solutions. At TEDxUniversityofNevada 2016 we heard from speakers like social entrepreneur Jennifer Gurecki on the topic of re-thinking poverty; National Geographic TV show host Zeb Hogan about the declining health of our freshwater ecosystems; real estate investor Gino Borges about building social capital though conscious real estate investing; and the brilliant, ever-optimistic Taylor Wilson on his plans for solving the energy crisis. Together these four speakers shared new perspectives about 21st century problems, offering fresh, new insights for combating them.
Jennifer Gurecki is the founder and CEO of Coalition Snow, the world’s first women’s ski and snowboard company, and also an active volunteer for Zawadisha, a non-profit social enterprise in Kenya that provides fair and transparent microloans to women. Through her global travels, she became attuned to the problem of widespread poverty and observed: “The way we measure growth contributes to poverty rather than eliminating it. If we only apply an economic lens to understanding poverty, it is impossible to see all the solutions … we can’t solve poverty if we approach it like vanilla when it’s really like Baskin Robbins.” In her talk she shared a model for better understanding the complexity of poverty, how it affects each of us, and what we can do to address it.
Zeb Hogan is a researcher at the University of Nevada, Reno, a National Geographic Fellow and the United Nations Convention on Migratory Species Scientific Council for Fish. Hogan also hosts the popular National Geographic Television series Monster Fish. According to Zeb, “Monster Fish matter because freshwater systems worldwide matter … big fish are indicators of a river’s health and subsequently, human health.” Through sharing attention-capturing stories about the various species of fish he’s uncovered across the globe’s freshwater ecosystems and how their health ultimately affects the health of the communities around them, Zeb shed light on the significance and scale of a topic that might otherwise go unnoticed were it not for his passion and dedication to the issue.“Megafish have image problems. These fish don’t have many friends, they need more friends,” he conceded, summarizing his talk with a call for direct action to protect these aquatic habitats before it’s too late.
Gino Borges currently serves as a Principal and Director of Impact for OpenPath Investments, a social impact real estate company that transforms ordinary apartment spaces into thriving communities. The company’s Urban Village program seeks to increase camaraderie, cultivate higher trust, build stronger networks, and encourage the exchange of community resources for its residents within its 2,200 apartment units, resulting in a more stable and fulfilling living experience for residents who may otherwise never know their next door neighbors. “Residents share walls but don’t share lives,” Gino reflected. “We need to invest in people and the planet because people and the planet matter … I believe each of us can use our money, resources and investments to make the world a better place. I believe business can be a force for positive social change.” As reinforced on OpenPath’s website, in addition to the increased satisfaction this approach brings to residents, this reimagined strategy to multifamily investing ensures not only a socially and environmentally responsible investment, but also a more impactful investment: a true triple bottom line.
In 2009 at age 14, Taylor Wilson became the youngest person in history to produce nuclear fusion, and went on to develop many novel nuclear technologies including security, medical, and energy innovations. At the outset of his talk, he gleefully, nonchalantly, and most importantly, believably stated, “I’m going to take nuclear science and solve the energy crisis.” He went on: “If you don’t have energy, you can’t do anything. We need a new energy network. Energy drives the economies.” Throughout his talk, Taylor encouraged curiosity as a path to success, who confessed that his own innate curiosity has helped him to achieve many of his accomplishments in science. Along with his commercial and scientific interests, Taylor studies the history of science and technology and works to inspire a new generation of scientists and engineers to dream big and use technology to make the world a better place.
Collectively, Jennifer, Zeb, Gino and Taylor’s talks offered a firsthand look into how humankind may very well be able to solve some of our globe’s most complex problems by scaling up innovation, bridging passion and ingenuity as a path to achieving renewed hope and better solutions for our future.