BIL 2015: An Option to Crashing TED

Pamela Chan,

“What I’d really love to see is people get inspired—not just by my talk but by other talks that they hear—and start thinking about their own personal value system and how they can change the world by doing what they do uniquely and what their special talent is. I honestly think each of us has a magic superpower. Maybe that sounds really silly, but it’s true. I think most of us have more than one, and when we tap into that and really tap into what matters to us, we are really able to change the fabric of society.” (Caroline MacGillivray, Founder/Executive Director, Beauty Nights, Georgia Straight article, 2015)

When I first moved to Vancouver, in my early 20s, I didn’t have a circle of family and friends as a base for my social life. As part of my effort to build a life, I discovered the Evening Talks scene.  Speakers discussed the projects they had been working on, discoveries they’d made and emerging challenges that needed our attention. As a single woman living on a limited budget, the opportunity to attend cutting edge talks about everything from architecture and urban planning to early music and rock climbing was exciting. Even more stimulating was the fact that these talks attracted some of Vancouver’s most interesting creative and innovative thinkers.

I didn’t realize at the time that these were events that were helping to build community and my understanding of what that concept meant.

#BIL2015 will take place this weekend in Vancouver at the same time that TED2015 rolls out at the Vancouver Convention Centre. BIL events have taken place in California, Tunisia, France, Afghanistan, India and right here in Vancouver, when TED2014 arrived in town. The first BIL took place in California and was described as a fringe event taking place concurrently with TED.  It was a populist, alternative event to TED which anyone could attend. BIL2014 in Vancouver was the first BIL event following TED that was organized by original BIL organizers outside of California.

What IS BIL? BIL is an unconference that takes place yearly and is open to everyone to attend as participants and speakers. (See interesting exchange here about the BIL approach to speakers.) BIL features a diverse group of speakers from a broad variety of backgrounds including technologists, scientists, artists, musicians and hackers to people talking about community building, social entrepreneurship, problems and challenges that need solving, creativity and innovation. If you like TED Talks, TEDX or, one of my personal favourites, PechaKucha, BIL is an event that will pique your interest.

While organizers do invite some people to attend they also wait to see who will show up. This approach results in a mixed group of speakers who will help to plant seeds for the creation of vibrant communities locally and online that will have the potential to grow.

With 39 speakers attending and presenting, there is something for everyone. Each talk sounds intriguing. I noticed, in particular, Community Building For a Cause (Caroline MacGillivray); Sustainable Community/Ecovillages – Deep Green Relationships, Not Sticks and Bricks (Raines Cohen); The Floating Father (Andy Zaremba); and, How Transformational Festivals Just Might Save the World (Jeet-Kai Leung)

There will also be two other areas within the venue for up to 90 presentations and break-out sessions.  A white board will be onsite with more information about the presentations.  One of the speakers on Saturday afternoon will be Vancouver’s Ricky Shetty of

Which speaker topics are grabbing your attention? You can comment about this posting on the Facebook page. Your contribution matters so don’t be shy!


When: March 21-22, 2015, at Imperial Vancouver. Doors open at 8 AM. Opening remarks begin at 9:30 AM.

BIL2015 Pre-party, March 20, 2015 at The Fox Cabaret on Friday Night from 7 PM onwards.


BIL Vancouver Group page

Facebook BIL2015 Vancouver events page

BIL 2015 Website: Includes a speakers’ page and a link where you can register. Cost is by donation. (A recommended level that would help cover costs is mentioned.)

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