Next Time A City Wants to Plan Public Transit, They Should Just Ask the Slime Molds (Or How Terry Tales Makes You Smarter)

Oh Terry readers! No happiness is complete without sharing it with you, and I am most definitely in a wonderful mood. It is days after our Terry Tales event on Feb 8th, and I’m still floating on a cloud of joy.

If you’re still confused about what exactly Terry Tales is though, what sort of stories people tell and what you can expect (and by the number of questions I’ve been getting you’re not alone) the best way to describe it is that Terry Tales is a party where you have no idea who the guests are going to be. You know that they will be interesting, that the conversation will be wonderful and that you’ll leave elated and feeling that you witnessed magic, but to understand how and why that happens exactly, you need to come and experience it firsthand.  So expect the unexpected and fear not – all conversations and stories are welcome. My favourite storytellers are aunts and uncles and parents and interesting friends, and really anyone who can take the smallest moment from everyday life and expand it for all to experience. (Also, laughter is good).  But everyone has a story to share.

Some of my favourite take-aways from our Feb 8th session:

1) Being introduced to Systems Thinking. Ideas at Zero Dollars (you may remember their booth from TEDx Terry Talks) is hosting a talk on Feb 10th (that’s today!) on the book “Thinking in Systems” by Donella Meadows.  We were lucky to have Anthony in attendance at Terry Tales, and he gave us a special preview/introduction to Systems Thinking and its implications for social change. Wonderfully intriguing stuff, so do check out the event! Full details can be found here. I think it’s going to be an exciting and thought provoking talk.

2) New books to check out. Everyone had such interesting books that they were reading! Here are some of the books that were mentioned over the course of the evening:  LinkedCod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World, Half a Yellow Sun (and everything by this author), and Evolution for Everyone, among other reads. A quick aside: At the next Terry Tales event on March 1st, feel free to bring a book that you think is lovely, and trade it with someone else for their book. Then at the session thereafter on the 15th, you can get your original book back, and do another trade. =). We also talked about reading local authors when you travel, and adventures in trying to uncover and discover those local treasures.

Please help us continue the conversation and leave your own reading suggestions in the comments. =)

3) The Wisdom of Slime Molds. We spent a lot of time marveling over this awesome experiment with slime molds. Read and prepare to be amazed. =) I wonder what the slime molds would say about our transit system?

4) Travel is cool. To my great delight, we were treated to many, many wonderful travel stories over the course of the evening.  We heard about skydiving in New Zealand, white water rafting on the Nile, visiting Nigeria and learning and sharing from others there, traveling in Australia, studying and adventure-ing in Norway, exploring Switzerland..and that’s just a partial list!  On my part, it was awesome to just sit and listen with an open heart and soak it all in. Between tales of extreme sports, tales of the importance of pushing boundaries and feeling the fear and doing things anyway, I definitely left inspired to try out new things.

5) Fish. We had some great conversations about fish, and salmon and declining fish populations, and I left with a terrific UBC professor to look up and read more about: Dr Daniel Pauly.

6) Ridiculous Degree Combinations: Otherwise known as the awesome result that occurs when people combine widely different loves and passions (like microbiology and political science) by doing very different majors and minors, or doing double degrees or even switching late in university to pursue something entirely different from their original course of study. And of course, there are great programs like Global Resource Systems, Human Geography and Integrated Sciences-the challenge is finding those programs early on though.

7) Power of Films. We spoke about documentaries and film trends and technology breakthroughs and cultural generalizations and I have to admit, I really think I have to see Avatar now. I was quite content being one of the only people who hadn’t seen it yet, but my curiosity is getting the better of me now!

And there was so much more discussed: being reading penpals and working in solidarity and being completely thrilled by your studies and work, and like I said, just so much that it’s impossible to describe the night fully. I was a bit in love by the end of it. And seeing as I only make tea for those that I’m crazy about, I think next time there may be masala chai on the menu. =)

So see you on March 1st in the Lounge. I’ll be the one with the cardamom in hand.

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Shagufta is a UBC Political Science graduate with a passion for interdisciplinary thinking, writing, travel, reading, tea, and interesting conversations. She hopes to combine all of these things in her life work someday. For now though, she studies social policy and planning at the University of Toronto and shares her adventures in and out of the classroom at