2007 TED Prize Winners Announced

The 2007 TED prize announcement was made the evening of Oct 30, 2006 in San Francisco, CA. In Ft Mason's Golden Gate Room, a small but quickening crowd assembled to honor next year's TED recipients. The space had been transformed from an otherwise austere conference room to one of suspense and celebration--steeped in dark shades (caterers also all wore dark shades) with whitened branches and plant sculptures only nature can design.

It aptly set the tone for the occasion, hinting the eve of Halloween. It was a festive cocktail reception for a ready crowd. Some participants were long-timers. Gary Clayton represented the omnipresent, voice-activating firm TellMe as Chief Creative Officer. All were convivial and ready to experience the dynamic energy behind winners of the next year's prize. Each year TED honors three people "who have shown that they can, in some way, positively impact life on this planet." Past recipients have included global rocker extraordinaire Bono of U2 and Dr. Larry Brilliant, one of this year's winners, and now the energetic first director of the Google Foundation—both of whom no doubt would receive TreeHugger's nods of approval.

Hospitable Laura Galloway of Galloway Media Group introduced arriving guests, making them feel right at home with each other. Just a sampling of attendees included LongNow Foundation's Steward Brand, Eric Daimler, Assistant Dean at Carnegie Mellon University's West Coast Connect and a great grandson of automotive pioneer Gottlieb Daimler, who spoke with me at length. An inquisitive business school professor from UC Berkeley mingled freely in a room full of luminaries and encouraged me to follow his example.

One of this year's winners, Cameron Sinclair, the architect who co-founded Architecture for Humanity, warmed up the audience by talking a bit about the work his organization has accomplished in 2006. It provides homes for victims of the spectrum of disasters such as Hurricane Katrina—around the world. His call to action is "to encourage the design profession to respond to the 98% of the world that do not benefit from our services and to foster public appreciation for the many ways that architecture and design can improve lives."

Amy Novogratz, Director of the TEDPrize Program spoke briefly. HotStudios, Google Sketchup, Creative Commons, and SUN were recognized for their individual contributions in building out an advanced network for TED. Sun Microsystems was lauded for directing the development and roll-out of its back-end enabling technology. Glenn Martinez, SUN's Creative Director, hors d' oeuvres in hand, later described to me in detail how the power of teamwork made their ambitious open source network possible and continues as an evolving labor of love.

Dreams Can Wait—or Not?

When TED founder Chris Anderson took to the stage, he told the audience the trio of honorees will have until the awards ceremony next March to decide upon their "dreams" for the year. With that said, he began playing a series of short silent films revealing their identities—with only music and written words in the background. Between the shorts that followed, Anderson reflected briefly upon each recipient's outstanding contributions and how they fit well with TED's objectives.

James Nachtwey, a photojournalist specializing in war scenes, was first to be nominated for TED 2007. His pictures don't require words. Over the past 30 years, he has traveled around the world to prod people into action against the countless injustices associated with warfare. For well over 20 years a contract photographer with TIME, Nachtwey has also financed his own travels when publications expressed no interest; an example was the issue of famine in Somalia.

E.O. Wilson, Harvard biologist and research professor recognized for coining the phrase "biodiversity," was cited for his tremendous contributions to the conservation of the plants and animals of the natural world. He first achieved fame for his seminal work with ants. Today his influence is felt around the world in coordinating efforts to protect the remaining habitats under increasing pressure. An optimist by nature, in the coming centuries, he is confident that a "paradise" on earth can emerge to supplant the devastation of habit and species loss.

Just a sampling of his honors include the National Medal of Science (1976), Pulitzer Prize (1978 and 1991), recognition as one of TIME's "25 most influential Americans" (1995) and many others. His latest book,The Creation, was just published. A first-time TED winner, Wilson had been nominated for the TED prize in the past.

Bill Clinton, 42nd president of the U.S., was chosen to receive the TED award next year, as well for his foundation's ambitious efforts and successes. He continues tirelessly to carry on with his work through the Clinton Foundation to combat poverty and deadly diseases such as AIDS and persists in his determination to lead the way in sowing the seeds of peace and prosperity around the world.

It was no surprise that after two terms as leader of our nation during one of the most prosperous times in history, he continued to carry his charm and charismatic appeal mightily out of office, as well. His foundation has made steady progress in India and a number of third-world nations. "He really has the ability to galvanize people to take action," said Chris Anderson in conclusion.

Last month in New York, Clinton launched the Foundation's Clinton Global Initiative, a highly ambitious program focusing on a broad array of critically important global causes—including alternative energy and environmental projects, as well as cultivating peace. Combined, pledges of $7.3 billion were made—including Sir Richard Branson's three billion dollar commitment from Virgin Atlantic over the next decade.

Next March, the three will be invited to attend the awards ceremony in Monterey, CA, where it will be held for its third year. Although the event is sold out, interested readers are encouraged to visit this link to TEDtalks, which features past TED Prize winners and numerous other conference speakers.::

Tags: TED

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