Meet Your TEDActive Hosts! (Part 2 of 3)

Last week we introduced nine of our 30 TEDActive Hosts. Meet nine more this week!

Look out for these friendly faces when you arrive in Whistler next month. Hosts welcome people as they arrive, orient them, and help set the tone of a safe, fun and friendly environment. They keep the community connected throughout the week by facilitating introductions and conversations, and by leading fun activities and workshops. They are our community connectors, experiential guides and TEDActive sherpas.

In fact, you already met our first of this week’s hosts when he wrote a blogpost about travel-hacking tips for your trip to Vancouver and Whistler!

Leigh Rowan


When he describes what makes him thrive, Leigh lists: connecting people, forging new relationships and building amazing products and businesses. “Learning, growing and always smiling at what life brings me.” This TEDActive attendee is back for his seventh year! Leigh is also an aspiring molecular gastronomist and chef. He helps run, a website dedicated to maximizing travel opportunities via loyalty points, education and strategies. He just moved from Oakland, California to Brooklyn, New York with his wife and almost-two-year-old son.

Ashley Marshall


Ashley joined the TEDActive tribe in 2011 and it’s been an annual trip for her and her sister ever since. Ashley is organizing the TEDActive Gift Exchange! (Did you buy your gift yet? Bring something worth around twenty US dollars that represents where you are from or something about you.) She is in the planning stages of establishing a TED-Ed Club in the Dallas School district, where she teaches students who are homebound or in hospitals. Her summers usually include a trip to a new destination, so don’t be surprised if she sends you an email asking about your hometown. She’s probably planning a trip there! And she would love to show you around if you ever come to Dallas! She’ll take you to see Texas Longhorns, eat great barbecue and buy handmade cowboy boots!

Belén Viloria

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Belén cares about children, education and poverty alleviation. She is a mentor with Youth Business International and an entrepreneur launching Ashoka: Innovators for the Public in Barcelona, where she mentors young entrepreneurs and advises cultural and social companies. Proud of her family roots, she has been the organizer and curator for TEDxValladolid, TEDxValladolidSalon and TEDxYouth@Valladolid since 2012. She is excited to be back at TEDActive for her third year!

Aaron “Tango” Tang


Tango likes to solve riddles, puzzles, math problems and all the other things that he comes across as a user experience designer and industrial designer. He is a technology addict, artist, ideas enthusiast and foodie, who can be found making completely homemade pasta for his friends late on a Friday night. Tango is currently on a travel-the-world-rediscover-experiment-do-learn adventure that you can follow, join, or explore at

Urs Bucher


Urs is a hopless optimist. He started with IT back in 1984 (yes, youngsters, this was the dark age of punch cards and Cobol, etc.). Today he is the CEO of Amazee Labs, running a web agency based in Zurich, Switzerland. He was infected with the TEDx virus in 2010, when he helped kick off TEDxZurich. Since then, he co-organized five events in Zurich and ran his very own corporate TEDx at KPMG in 2012. He is excited to be back for his fourth TEDActive.

Chris Carpenter


Chris likes helping people play well together and tell better stories. He is a passionate returning TEDActive attendee and an organizer for TEDxIndianapolis. Chris is an “awesomizer” for a life sciences company. He is excited to encourage you and offer you a great TEDActive experience!

Kara DeFrias


According to her second grade report card, Kara “likes to talk. A lot.” Kara DeFrias speaks fluent user experience and Geek, was a finalist for San Diego Woman of the Year, and is the founder of TEDxIntuit. Described by former Chief Technology Officer of the United States Todd Park as one of “the baddest of the badass innovators,” Kara’s passion lies in creating engaging experiences, both online and off. Her background is a unique mix of private and public sector experience, including four years with TurboTax and an appointment to the first class of the White House Presidential Innovation Fellows. In the latter, she served as entrepreneur in residence reimagining the relationship between the people and the government from a technology perspective. She loves fireworks and show tunes.

Antonella Broglia


Antonella is a lawyer who never exercised as such. She is now a consultant at Infonomia, a think tank based in Barcelona which studies what’s in the edge of the enterprise and the world. She is also an ambassador of Ashoka Spain and the organizer for TEDxMadrid, TEDxYouth@Madrid, TEDxMadridSalon and TEDxMadridChange. She works as an actress at Theatre for the People Madrid. She is also a TED Translator and TEDxSeniorAmbassador for Europe.

Johnny Bosche


Johnny Bosche is the Founder and CEO of Hyper Telecom, a company dedicated to bringing VoIP solutions to businesses and entrepreneurs. Johnny is also one of the founders of He fervently believes that global change starts with an idea, and that there is no better execution than one driven by human warmth. Johnny is an active member and director of multiple NGOs in the United States and Latin America.

We have one more round of hosts to introduce! Stay tuned!

Vancouver and British Columbia: Bigfoot and Other Ghost Stories

Benson Kua:
Benson Kua:

Do you believe in Bigfoot?

British Columbia — in particular Vancouver Island — has long been a place of legend, mythical creatures and spiritual traditions. As TED and TEDActive attendees return to Vancouver and Whistler for TED2015: Truth and Dare, we decided to dig into some of the hidden secrets of British Columbia to prepare them for the most unexpected of adventures.

After all, what goes better with a little “Truth and Dare” than some myths and ghost stories?

Vancouver Island, just off the coast of Southwestern Canada, is said to be the home of the legendary Bigfoot. Researchers, folklore experts, “investigators” and organizations like the “Bigfoot Field Researchers Organization” all contribute to the myth around Sasquatch, the “ape-like man”. Those who argue that Sasquatch is real point to evidence like eyewitness descriptions and descriptions (or even photographs) of Sasquatch tracks. The creature is described by its height, long arms and physically threatening mannerisms by some accounts.

Not sold on Sasquatch? Other mysterious creature sightings in the area have included a massive sea serpent, known in legends by the name of Ogopogo, Caddy or Klamahtossaurus, that swims through underground tunnels between neighboring lakes.


There are also the jack-a-lopes. Jack-a-lopes are best explained by an infection called Cottontail Rabbit Papilloma Virus (CRPV), which is contracted by rabbits and causes them to grow horn-like tumors from their heads. It is not entirely unlikely, in fact, that you may come across a jack-a-lope somewhere in your travels!

Beyond mysterious creatures, Vancouver and Vancouver Island are also known for their ghost stories. Towards the end of the 19th Century, Vancouver Island and Vancouver were important ports for production and export of coal. Numerous workers died in the mines and experienced accidents in Vancouver’s harbors, leading to rumors of ghosts and ghost ships full of drowned sailors along the coast. A number of the eyewitness accounts of supernatural activity link ghostly figures back to specific accidents in mines, in town, or in the harbor, claiming that the spirits of those who died in the area continue to haunt it.

Nearby Newcastle Island Park is known for being the “most haunted island in the Pacific,” based on numerous legends including the legend of Kanaka Pete, a Hawaiian axe murderer who killed his wife, daughter and in-laws. Legend claims that he was buried in an unmarked grave and continued to roam the beaches long after his death.

One town in particular seems to have a larger collection of ghost sightings than most: Nanaimo boasts stories of mid-19th century women floating down staircases in the buildings where they were murdered, and a ghost child was seen bouncing a red ball on multiple occasions. Despite its history of paranormal activity, Nanaimo has since transitioned to be known as the “Bathtub Racing Capital of the World” and part of the “innovation island,” offering opportunities for new tech start ups to grow in the area.

While you’re exploring British Columbia this week (perhaps after all the events we have planned for you!) we dare you to explore some of these haunted sites or share a few ghost stories and folk legends with the friends you’ll meet at TED and TEDActive!

By Diana Enriquez

10 Signs You Should Be at TEDActive This March

TEDActive is for the thinkers, doers and dreamers of the world. An action-packed event that runs parallel to the annual TED conference, TEDActive is meant for people who want to hear new ideas — then create ripple effects of action around them.

TEDActive 2015 will take place March 16-20 in Whistler, British Columbia, and explore the theme “Truth and Dare.” Never attended before? On the fence? Not sure how you feel about Canada? Here are 10 signs that you should apply to attend TEDActive this year:

  1. You love brainstorms. The act of sharing ideas, piggybacking on what others say and considering multiple points of view? That’s what you thrive on. At TEDActive, you’ll find brainstorm sessions — both organized and informal — on topics that range from education interventions to the future of transportation.
  2. When you hear about a problem, you immediately start thinking of solutions. To you, problems aren’t insurmountable — they are more like puzzles to be solved. At TEDActive, attendees love to help each other overcome obstacles in their lives, whether it’s thinking about how to start a company or how to find better balance. Attendees bring this problem-solving point of view to watching TED Talks, too. While they absorb ideas, they get sparks of inspiration on how to take action — and recruit fellow attendees to help out.
  3. You like making new friends. Yes, it can be hard to walk up to someone and just start talking. But somehow at TEDActive, that’s easy. TEDActive attendees don’t just bond at the conference — they keep in touch year-round.
  4. You care about making a positive impact on your community. Whether through volunteering, organizing events, contributing to the arts or getting involved in politics, you go above and beyond for the people in your area. Attendees at TEDActive build a strong community throughout the week of the conference — and then bring that spirit back to their hometowns.
  5. And global issues matter to you. Yes, you like to keep up with the news. But you’re even more excited by the opportunity to hear directly from people experiencing it firsthand. Last year, TEDActive attendees hailed from more than 60 countries across the globe — which made for some fascinating conversations.TEDActive attendees prefer not to sit still. Photo: Marla Aufmuth/TED
  6. You love to ski. And/or dance. TEDActive isn’t about sitting still. In between sessions, you can bundle up and think about the talks you just watched as you get on the chairlift and hit the slopes of Whistler. And TEDActive is famous for its parties. By night, you can warm up by moving your feet to the music on a swirling dancefloor. We think you’ll love this year’s mountaintop party, which includes a gondola ride to the top of Whistler Mountain.
  7. You value learning for the sake of learning. When it comes to knowledge, there doesn’t always need to be an end goal. You love stimulating your mind with new information. TEDActive is full of opportunities to learn, from exhibits that show how black holes really work to stations that explain how to link bananas into a piano connecting them to a circuit board.
  8. You love TED Talks. At TEDActive, you’ll watch all the sessions of TED2015 from a comfy, cozy simulcast theater. It’s a powerful group viewing experience — one where you get to have vibrant discussions and hear other perspectives during session breaks.
  9. You love to explore new places. Whether it’s the snowy mountains of beautiful Whistler or the beanbag filled corners of the theater, you’ll enjoy experiencing all kinds of spaces and locations at TEDActive.
  10. You have big dreams. Perhaps the biggest sign that you are a TEDActive attendee at heart: You believe that you can achieve wild feats. TEDActive attendees excitedly encourage one another to go after their boldest goals.

Interested? Apply to attend TEDActive 2015! We’d love to see you there.


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