PUBLIC Good: The Future Is Awesome

Publican Olga set out to do some good beyond her role as Business Development Manager at PUBLIC by volunteering her time at EDIT: Expo for Design, Innovation and Technology.

The future is awesome and here is why.

Two weeks ago I took advantage of the volunteering days that PUBLIC gives us every year and joined a fantastic event called EDIT: Expo for Design, Innovation and Technology. A 150,000-square-foot abandoned soap factory had been masterfully restored to host a 10-day immersive festival and welcome over 100,000 visitors.

Organized under the tagline “The. Future. Is. Awesome.”, EDIT was an inspiring demonstration of world-changing ideas that are bringing us one step closer to achieving the UNDP’s Sustainable Development Goals. While the innovation seemed to be endless, I found a few favourites that spoke to me. Here are my top four:

1. Prosperity For All with Paolo Pellegrin

EDIT’s main exhibit, “Prosperity For All”, featured images by Magnum photographer Paolo Pellegrin. He is celebrated for capturing some of the world’s most disturbing issues alongside technological solutions to these challenges.

Guests could dive deeper into the world of “Prosperity for All” through four themed exhibits: Shelter, Nourish, Care and Educate. The Shelter exhibition explored how we can bring nature back to the cities through vertical and underground farming, aquaponics and much more. Nourish showed guests new approaches to improved nutrition, food security and combating global hunger. Care was all about new technologies transforming the field of healthcare, such as 3D printed medical supplies, assistive robotics or drones delivering blood to remote communities. Last but certainly not least, Educate featured low-tech and high-tech learning devices influencing ways of learning, including toys from trash that teach mathematical and scientific concepts through play.

2. One Hop Kitchen asks students to tell the difference between crickets and mealworms.

One Hop Kitchen makes delicious bolognese sauces using a sustainable yet unusual source of protein: crickets and mealworms. Saving 1900 litres of water and taking 5 times less resources, it is truly the protein of the future! Students from across GTA were invited to participate in the taste test and tell the difference between two sauces.

3. World Bicycle Relief is mobilizing people through the power of bicycles. 

Imagine how long your daily commute to work or school would have taken if your only mode of transportation was walking. This is a reality for many people in the developing world. Regular tasks such as going to school, visiting the health clinic and delivering goods to the market are more challenging because of the barrier of distance.

World Bicycle Relief has built and distributed more than 300,000 specially-designed, locally assembled, rugged bicycles. Bicycles increase productivity, improve educational outcomes, improve health, and lift communities out of poverty.

At EDIT, students could not only pedal one of the bikes but also put the VR headsets on to get transported to Africa, where they experienced a young girl’s journey to school.

4. VR As Therapy

By 2050, the world population of individuals ages 80+ is expected to reach over 400 million, up from 125 million in 2015.

VR Therapy International, based in Ontario, uses virtual reality technology to bring more fun and enjoyment into the lives of terminally ill and bedridden. Each session allows you to revisit favourite pastimes and seek out new experiences. Through virtual reality, patients are given the opportunity to experience mental activity and in some cases a range of motion exercise.

So what did I do at EDIT?

Well, pretty much everything from encouraging people to fly a drone simulator and demonstrating how virtual reality technology can help terminally ill people to preventing 7th graders from touching the DO-NOT-TOUCH exhibits, such as One Earth Design’s shiny solar cooker as seen below.

Closing thoughts…

I left the event feeling hopeful. Yes, we are facing numerous problems that can’t be resolved in a day. However, the progress is being made. You and I are part of the solution. By utilizing the power of technology, design and knowledge sharing, by staying curious and open-minded and most importantly, being kind and empathic, we can lead the way to a better, more sustainable future.

Written by Olga Bratsun

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