MUSKOKA – Algonquin Park holds a special place in the heart of many Ontarians, whether residents of the south or northern parts of the province. One hundred of those residents “invesTED” in the park were invited to the first ever TEDx Algonquin event to explore what the park means to people and for the attendees to share that information.
IDEAS WORTH SHARING.
TEDx Algonquin brought over 100 people together to spread the word about what the park means to people during a one day event at the park's Visitor Centre.
TED (Techonology, Entertainment, Design) first began in 1984 as a conference to bring people from those three industries together to share “ideas worth spreading,” that would bring positive change to people’s lives, their attitudes and the world.
Randy Mitson, marketing director with Algonquin Outfitters, was the first person to apply to attend the event.
Attendees had to write essays explaining why they were invested in Algonquin Park.
Simply put, he said the company wouldn’t exist without the park. The founders, Bill Swift Sr. and his wife, Wendy, moved from the United States to start the company over 50 years ago because Bill had fallen in love with the park after attending a camp there.
The three areas of focus for the event were recreation, conservation and forestry.
“I believe that Algonquin Park is a multiuse park,” said Mitson. “It’s there for canoeists, kayaking, mountain biking and hiking, camping and everything else. But it’s also there for conservation. There’s lots of wildlife preserved areas in the park. From the forestry point of view, it was founded by forestry and it’s done in a sustainable way… I was blown away with the amount of detail that goes into it. It opened my eyes as to how regulated it is.”
Considering Algonquin Park is roughly the same size as Jamaica, Mitson said it’s amazing Ontario has that large of area set aside for these multiple uses. He said it’s so rare, that it attracts tourists from around the world.
“With no forestry it (Algonquin Park) would be like the rest of Ontario (overly developed),” he said. “That would be just such a shame.”
The event had a variety of speakers from conservationists to athletes to artists to loggers.
“It definitely sparked a lot of conversation,” Mitson said. “They definitely had 100 very qualified people that were interested in taking the information from TED and doing something with it.”
One of the speakers that generated a lot of buzz was Terri LeRoux.
She spoke about Nature Deficit Disorder (NDD) and how it affects a large portion of today’s youth who appear to be more concerned with technology than the environment.
“Her talk was about raising kids that have no real experience with nature, they don’t develop that love for nature; they’re more worried about texting and technology,” said Mitson. “That’s kind of really scary for the future as to what’s really going to happen. Are we raising all these kids that just have no love for the outdoors?”
Mitson hopes TEDx Algonquin returns next year and is looking forward to seeing what is generated from this year’s event.
For more information on the event visit www.tedxalgonquinpark.com or read Mitson’s blog about the event at www.algonquinoutffiters.com/blog.