Al Gore at Tijuana Innovadora 2010

Former Vice President Al Gore.

It was exciting to witness a part of history.

Just when Tijuana’s headlines were the most sensational, the city hosted its Tijuana Innovadora Conference 2010, the first of an international expo, of sorts. It consisted of keynote speeches, panel discussions, cultural events, and concerts.

Many U.S. dignitaries participated, including Al Gore (former vice president and Nobel Peace Price Laureate), Jimmy Wales (Wikipedia), Biz Stone (Twitter), Carlos Slim (considered the richest man in the world and an owner of The New York Times), Chris Anderson (Wired), Larry King (CNN), Mexico’s President Felipe Calderon, Tijuana’s global company leaders and specialists in technology, telecommunications, health, the economy, education, architecture, and sustainability.

The city was all a-twitter (no pun intended) during this conference. Held at Tijuana’s Cultural Center (CECUT), the festivities were a two-week event. From my front row seat, I wore a headset with English translation for Spanish quotes. Although I was just involved in a small part, this event was “up there” for my journalism career, including a visit to the White House and my first Oscar coverage, both for USA Today.

Audience members, a good portion of whom were locals and students, sat at the edge of their seats.

Highlights of Al Gore’s keynote speech about sustainability:

“If we listen to what this conference is about, we are getting out of here with the will to change the world. Mexico and [the] U.S. need more jobs. Let’s put people to work to build solar panels, fast trains, and windmills. Climate change has impacted the entire world. People emit a million pollutants a day.”

“This leads to moisture in the air, raising temps. Take Russia, for example with their recent heat waves and droughts.”

He also touched on the progress the border town is making.

“The people of Tijuana have felt a surge in pride at how much progress is taking place here.

“The kind of innovation that you are celebrating today in Tijuana will be necessary to reduce dependence on carbon-based energy and shift to renewable energy.”

Constructed in1982, the Tijuana Cultural Center (conference central), is known as La Bola (the Ball). Its purpose was to strengthen national identity on the Northern Mexican border and promote cultural tourism. In a neighboring building wing, displays of cutting edge technology, historical art, costumes, and exhibits were in view. The Titanic corner caught my eye with James Cameron’s director’s chair. He’s a folk hero to the natives, as Titanic was shot locally.

All conference proceeds were distributed to accredited non-profit organizations to improve the lives of the neediest communities.

Sue Facter writes about all things A-list. Her articles appear in publications world-wide.