TEDxRiga 2015 Speakers

TEDxRiga 2015: The Power of Small took place on June 11, 2015 at the Splendid Palace in Riga, Latvia.

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Session 1: Small is Brave

Toms Rudzinskis represents the youngest generation of jazz performers and composers, he is one of the most innovate Latvian jazz saxophonists who has found his unique sound not only as a saxophonist, but also a composer.

He is a winner of such notable competitions as the Grand Prix Dutch Jazz (2014), the Burghausen Jazz Competition (2013) and the Keep an Eye (2012). In 2012, he was chosen as the jazz ambassador of the internationally established Bimhuis concert hall in Amsterdam.

Toms Rudzinskis received his Master degree at the prestigious Conservatorium van Amsterdam and currently resides in Latvia. He performs and records music together with a variety of artists across Europe and beyond. At the TEDxRiga 2015 conference, he will perform together with Rūdolfs Macts (sythesizers) and Andris Buiķis (drums).

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Valdis Zatlers is a Latvian politician and the former President of Latvia (2007-2011). He had a long career as a physician prior to his presidency. Valdis Zatlers studied to be an orthopedic surgeon at the Riga Institute of Medicine, Yale University and Syracuse University. He has held the position as director of the Latvian Traumatology and Orthopaedics Hospital and later chief of its board. Valdis Zatlers has received honors and prizes for his engagements, such as the Order of the Three Stars of the 4th rank for his contributions to his medical field in Latvia.

He won the Latvian presidential election on May 31 in year 2007 and became President of Latvia on July 8 in 2007 and left office on July 7 in year 2011. In July 2011, he founded the Reform Party. On March 21, 2015 he released his book “Who am I?”. In his book, Valdis Zatlers tells about his work as President of Latvia and the state of things behind the scenes.

Born and raised in Sweden, Anna Rosling Rönnlund is a visionary whose main goal in life is to find systematic sense in vast amounts of data. As tons of data concerning the health and economic status of each country is collected annually, Anna’s focus is to make this global public data easier to understand and utilize.

Anna is a co-founder of Gapminder, an organisation whose mission is to “fight devastating ignorance with a fact-based worldview everyone can understand”. Gapminder´s software Trendalyzer was purchased by Google, where Anna later worked to apply her expertise as a User Experience Designer. Anna is currently employed by Gapminder again, working on making data easily interpretable. She holds a Master’s Degree in Social Sciences, with a major in Sociology and a Bachelor’s Degree in Photography.

Mārtiņš Vaivars is the Head of Finance at infogr.am and co-founder of Quo Tu Domā (What Do You Think?) In 2013, he co-founded Quo Tu Domā, an organisation with a mission to promote the culture of debating and critical thinking in Latvia. Mārtiņš is interested in debating, music, business strategy, philosophy and reading non-fiction. He holds a BA in Philosophy, Politics and Economics from the University of Oxford.

Chef Art Smith loves the idea of bringing people together through food. It’s partly what made him the success he is today. He is the executive chef and co-owner of various well-known restaurants: Table fifty-two, Art and Soul, Southern Art and Bourbon Bar, and LYFE Kitchen. Art Smith has cooked for many celebrities and heads of state, including the 44th and current President of the United States Barack Obama, the King of Sweden and an American media proprietor, talk show host and producer Oprah Winfrey amongst many others.

Smith is the author of four award-winning cookbooks. He is also the founder of Common Threads, a non-profit organization teaching low-income children to cook wholesome and affordable meals since 2003. He believes that through hands-on cooking and introducing children to fresh foods we can help prevent childhood obesity, reverse the trend of poor eating habits, and learn about diversity and tolerance through the celebration of our cultural differences and our commonalities.

Session 2: Small is Beautiful

Bērnu rīts is a sound art collective, established by an architect group in 2007. It assembles free-minded artists – Jēkabs Nīmanis and Maksims Šenteļevs among others – who are open to collaboration and research in the field of site-specific sound exploration. The performances of Bērnu rīts are, in a sense, rituals, for which the key actors are time and space, and the main method is attentive listening.

Jēkabs Nīmanis is a musician and composer who has been proactively interested and involved in academic and non-academic activities, including sound and music in public performances and theatre music. Since receiving his Master’s degree in composition, Jekabs has exhibited an increased interest in experimental vibrations.

Maksims Šenteļevs is an architect and sound artist who researches sound, space, and motion as manifestations of the present moment. He is a theatre musician as well as a lecturer and workshop conductor, and also works with sound for films and installations. He treats sound gathering as a non-intervention policy into the observation of nature.

Together with Jēkabs Nīmanis, Maksims is also a member of the sound art collective Bērnu rīts.

Evelina Ozola is a practicing architect who likes to get her hands dirty by trying out her in crowded streets of Riga. She has worked as an architect and urban designer at “SVESMI” in Rotterdam and “MADE arhitekti” in Riga. Next to design work, for the last 7 years Evelina has been writing for online and printed press, and is currently responsible for the Latvian creative industries website FOLD. Together with Toms Kokins, she runs design studio Fine Young Urbanists, a practice that mainly operates in the field of tactical urbanism.

Evelīna Ozola will speak about the importance of the street as a public space and ways of reclaiming it.Evelīna will come up with an attractive and thought-provoking method of prototyping street space and involving the society in the designing process of it.

Dace Dzenovska teaches and practices social anthropology at the University of Oxford, UK. Her research focuses on nationalism, state building, and migration in post-socialist contexts. Beyond her immediate areas of expertise, she is concerned with the futures that we make through our actions in the present, as well as with our shared responsibility for these futures.

Dace Dzenovska turned to an academic career in anthropology after becoming disillusioned with development work as a development professional with the United Nations. She received her doctoral degree in social cultural anthropology from the University of California, Berkeley, CA, where she wrote a dissertation on post-socialist democratization and tolerance promotion—now a book manuscript called “Complicit Becoming: Tolerance Work and Europeanization After Socialism.” She has also authored multiple articles published in internationally renowned journals in anthropology and social theory, as well as a Latvian language book on post-EU enlargement outmigration, which she is currently rewriting for publication in English.

Madara Makare is a co-founder of social entrepreneurship project HOPP.lv, which builds adapted tricycles for people with disabilities and seniors, increasing their mobility and reducing social exclusion risks.

The initial idea was born in creative district of Andrejsala as a one-time charity project within the informal freak-bike movement, but since 2010 when HOPP received the Social Entrepreneurship Forum award , Madara is not only developing the project independently, but is also actively involving in promoting social entrepreneurship in general. In March 2015, she was invited to speak at the conference about Social Innovations, creativity and accessibility.

Iveta Vaivode is Latvian artist and curator. She is a program coordinator at ISSP school where she also teaches. Born in Riga in 1979, Iveta Vaivode graduated from Bournemouth Art Institute (UK) in 2008 and currently continues her studies with Master in Photography at Aalto University of Art and Design in Helsinki.

Her last work “Somewhere on a disappearing path” has been selected amongst the recipients of CO Berlin Talents award 2013, Burn Magazine grant and CSD Documentary Essay Prize in Photography. Since 2008 she is a member of non profit organization ISSP ( International Summer School of Photography ) and her works has been exhibited worldwide.

Uldis Zariņš is a librarian by education and profession, a musician at heart and a ponderer by calling. Currently he is the Head of Strategic Development at the National Library of Latvia, but his professional career includes such diverse entries as PR specialist, market researcher, journalist, editor, internet marketer, project manager and head of business development and IT. Uldis is an accidental copyright expert in the field of libraries and copyright, and in this capacity a member of IFLA Committee on Copyright and other Legal Matters and EBLIDA Expert Group on Information Law. He is vice-president of the Latvian Library Association. And, as unlikely as it sounds, considers the job of librarian to be absolutely thrilling and exciting. Although he really loves his job at the Castle of Light, the new building of the National Library, he still dreams of being a full-time musician some day.

Session 3: Small is Bright

Perpetuum Ritmico is a percussion ensemble that is characterised by enthusiasm,professionalism and flight of the thought. Their performances combine various musical and cultural trends, using an exceptionally broad range of percussion instruments. From folk to avant-garde, from classical music to popular culture styles – something to captivate any open-minded world music listener.

The four concert artists Elīna Endzele, Elvijs Endelis, Guntars Freibergs un Mikus Bāliņš have advanced professional skills gained during their studies at international music academies. They have successfully participated in numerous competitions, festivals and master classes in Latvia and abroad.

Heidi Reinson is a lecturer of Consumer Behaviour at the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga and a Research Expert at TNS Emor in Tallinn. She studied economics and worked in marketing and brand management in The Coca-Cola Company and Valio Baltics before interest in the scientific background of consumer behaviour led to her graduate studies in Cognitive and Decision Sciences at University College London.

Heidi’s mission is to combine the two distinct research areas – marketing and cognitive science – in the most practical way. At TNS, Heidi has conducted neuromarketing studies and consumer behavior experiments, as well as spoken at seminars and conferences in Baltics and Finland, fostering the region’s interest in neuromarketing and other consumer research.

Janis Strods is currently a researcher with the Hunter-Gatherers Resilience project at University College London. While his colleagues work closely with hunter-gatherers in Congo and the Philippines, Janis listens to their stories and builds mathematical models to understand why hunter-gatherers share food the way they do (trying to get a Ph.D along the way).

When he is not busy translating human behaviour to computer code, Janis is crunching numbers with Edurio, a company that helps schools improve themselves, and playing board games. He can also occasionally be found hiking and teaching biological anthropology at Riga Stradins University.

Janis has previously written for Satori.lv and worked as a teacher at Iespējamā misija, the Latvian branch of Teach for All. He has studied politics at the University of York and human evolution at UCL.

Austris Mailītis is a Latvian architect working in the fields of architecture and art. He is an author of multiple large scale projects including Latvian Pavilion at the Expo 2010 Shanghai, Latvian National Open-air Stage in Riga and Shaolin Flying Monks Temple in China. He has been an architect of Latvian expositions in Venice Art Biennale in 2013 and 2015.

Austris Mailītis is a winner of numerous national and international awards. In 2011 he won Architect’s foot prize for his contribution to development of architecture in Latvia.

Aivars Gribusts is a founder and CEO at education company “Lielvārds”.

Raised in teacher’s family, Aivars decided to link his career with education. After studies at University of Latvia in 1984 he started as a physics and computing teacher at Lielvārde Secondary school. But in the 90-ties, his growing passion about making positive changes in education was the reason of establishing “Lielvārds”.

Aivars’ talk will focus on why we need more questioning to challenge existing stereotypes in current education system. Why to provide assessment in education? Why it is so hard to change traditions in education system? Aivars will share his view on how we can shape the future of education and get the best out of people through many years of their schooling.

Session 4: Small is Big

The young and highly talented pianist Aurēlija Šimkus was born in Riga, Latvia on November 2nd, 1997, started to learn the piano play when she was 4 years old in a little Latvian town called Tukums by teacher Jeļena Bērziņa. Currently, she is continuing studies at Emīls Dārziņš Music High School by her musical adviser Sergey Osokin.

Aurēlija began to gain international recognition after winning the 3rd prize at the prestigious 11th Kissinger KlavierOlymp international piano competition in Bad Kissingen, Germany. Furthermore, she has recently been awarded with the scholarship of Mozart Gesellschaft Dortmund and thus has performed with the English Chamber Orchestra at the Konzerthaus Dortmund on November 2014. Her debut SACD album Scherzo with the music of Beethoven, Schumann and Liszt was released on August 2013 on the German label ARS Produktion.

German magazine “Piano news” has given her a highest rating and says she is an outstanding pianist and a real treasure!

Uga Dumpis is a certified epidemiologist and an infectious disease specialist, head of Department of Infection Control at Pauls Stradins Clinical University Hospital and a professor at the Faculty of Medicine of University of Latvia. Uga has co-authored many international published research papers, and in the 1990s studied the spread of infectious diseases in Africa as a clinical research fellow for University of Oxford.

Uga is currently not only working as the leading epidemiologist at Stradins Clinical University Hospital, but also researching anthropological factors affecting antibiotics prescription trends among doctors as well as the use of antibiotics among the general public.

Having studied, worked and done research in Latvia, Lithuania, UK, USA, Estonia and Montenegro, Klavs Sedlenieks has returned to Latvia to continue pioneering the field of social anthropology in this country. He is one of the founders and core members of Latvian Association of Anthropologists, creator of the first MSc programme in social anthropology. His frequent comments in media range Klavs among the most visible Latvian public intellectuals.

Mārtiņš Zaumanis is an asphalt researcher – member of a rare breed of professionals that rarely anyone has heard of. Mārtiņš believes that asphalt can be fully recyclable and produced in environmentally friendlier way. Therefore, as a Fulbright scholar pursuing Ph.D in highway engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts, he developed a doctoral dissertation on 100% recycling of asphalt pavements.

Mārtiņš has been a leader of multiple research projects, is a co-author of two books and has published more than 20 research articles, but is keen to apply the academic research in practical use. He is taking part of business incubator, and is involved in road construction industry – quality control, consulting, project management, asphalt mixture design and asphalt production.

Dāvis Kaņepe is a well-known culture activist and film director, who is currently working on his first full length feature movie with TASSE Film studio’. Dāvis has directed 5 short films, one of which (“L’Audizione”) was nominated for a best debut award by the Latvian film festival “Lielais Kristaps”. He is also the director of the documentary, “Vadātājs”, for the Latvian Public Television.

Dāvis is a co-founder of the social movement “Free Riga”, and has been a major force behind various culture-related movements and activities. In 2002 he launched a New Music festival, “Pink Swimming Pool”. In 2012 Dāvis was the initiator of Kaņepes Culture Centre, which has now become one of the most important contemporary culture centres in Riga, and has collaborated with more than 100 national and international organisations.