Dr. Agnis Stibe is a Sociotech Designer at MIT Media Lab. He has worked for a number of Fortune 100 companies such as Hewlett-Packard and Oracle. Dr. Stibe has twice been recognized by the Minister of Education and Science of Latvia for his long-term creative work.
Agnis envisions future Persuasive Cities that are encouraging healthy and sustainable routines. He believes that our world can become a better place through purposefully designed urban spaces that successfully blend technological advancements with human nature. His research is built upon socio-psychological theories to design Socially Influencing Systems (SIS) for health behavior change at scale. Agnis is an active member of persuasive technology community, frequently speaking at annual conferences and effectively collaborating with industry.
A member of Toastmasters International, the largest public speaking organization in the world, Davis is currently the European public speaking champion and Vice‑president of Public Relations for the Riga Toastmasters Club. Ever since childhood, he has been obsessed with creative writing and story‑telling. As a teenager, he took up public speaking as a way to express himself and share his stories. Despite his continuing stage fright, he has fallen in love with presenting in public. Davis believes that Latvians’ rich story‑telling traditions have been somewhat overlooked when compared to their folk songs and dances. His goal is to encourage as many people as possible to tell their stories and break the stereotype that Latvians are quiet and reserved people.
Elizabete Balčus is a musician and performing artist who creates neo-psychedelic dream pop from unexpected combinations of juxtaposed genres.
Sign language interpreter
Elza talks with her hands and does it ever so passionately. She was born between two worlds — one that hears with the ears and the other which hears using hands. She represents a phenomenon called CODA — child of deaf adults and believes it is her mission to bridge the gap between two seemingly very different communities with different needs and to show how much they really have in common. She took her first steps as a sign language interpreter within her family. Later, she worked at the Latvian Association of the Deaf and now works at Latvian Television, interpreting cartoons for deaf children.
Social entrepreneur, anthropologist
Ieva Raubiško devoted more than 10 years of her life to studying and teaching social anthropology before she turned to social entrepreneurship. Ieva obtained her PhD from the University of Oxford with an award‑winning dissertation on post‑war life in Chechnya. Throughout this process, she discovered that anthropological research often leads to political and practical engagement. It also raises awareness of complex problems and encourages the search for local and global solutions to them.
Ilze is a Latvian veterinarian who has returned to her home country after 14 years in the US. In the US, she found her passion for veterinary pathology and trained in this field, receiving a PhD and becoming a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Pathologists. Throughout her career, she has been influenced by people that she admired for their integrity in research and diagnostic work. Veterinary pathology has opened opportunities for Ilze to assist owners of animals, as well as medical researchers using animals to study human diseases. In recent years, Ilze was drawn into the investigation of an outbreak of a previously rare disease which was affecting dogs in Latvia. This investigation has been under the microscope from the media, state institutions and politicians because it has touched on a sensitive subject, our beloved pets. This is the first time in her life that her research has been so politically charged, with her scientific credibility under challenge.
Inga Spriņģe is an award winning investigative journalist, broadcaster and one of the two founders of Re:Baltica, a non-profit investigative journalism centre. Inga has been the recipient of several awards from the Latvian Association of Journalists and was named as one of the “outstanding challengers from Central and Eastern Europe” in the NewEurope 100 Project supported by Google and the Financial Times.
Skydiver, wind tunnel flyer, BASE jumper
BASE jumping stands for four categories of fixed objects: building, antenna, span and earth. It is one of the most dangerous sports in the world and in some jurisdictions or locations this sport is illegal. A very narrow group of people is engaged in this sport and only some of them, including Ingus, practise flying with a special wingsuit costume with fabric between the legs and under the arms, which might look like a flying squirrel from a distance. Horizontal flight speed in a wingsuit can exceed 200 km/h, while pilot’s vertical speed can decrease up to 50 km/h. This requires mental and physical strength of the pilot. Preparations for certain jumps or flights may take several months. In 2017 Ingus accomplished the world’s first human jump from a drone. On May 12th, 2017 in Amata district, Latvia, a 28‑engine drone built by tech company Aerones lifted him at an altitude of 330 m, where he accomplished the jump and landed with the parachute.
Artificial intelligence field worker
Juris is a technology entrepreneur specializing in the application of artificial intelligence to practical machine vision. His passion has always been to find ways that technology can improve our lives and prevent its adverse effects. Juris has a diverse technological background, having worked in areas such as software development, information security, hardware and software deployment and maintenance for many years. In recent years, he agreed to participate in a project to automate the inspection of trains, just as the notion of artificial intelligence and machine learning were beginning to reach the mainstream. After this success, Juris and his team have been trying to apply the latest discoveries in these subjects to real-life business problems. Juris’ main driving force is the efficient application of theoretical technology to real-world problems. Juris is also a petrolhead with a passion for traveling the world on his motorbike or any other engine-powered vehicle.
Kaktiņš un Stūrītis - Performance
The duet was created in 2011, when Mārtiņš Jansons arrived to take up residence in Liepāja, where Mārtiņš Kuzmins had already been living. As a result of a combination of different circumstances in their lives, the two of them created a duet called Kaktiņš un Stūrītis, with M. Jansons responsible for the lyrical and melodic aspect and M. Kuzmins taking care of the rhythm section. During the duet’s existence, the ensemble has appeared on many different stages, starting from small intimate concerts which they organized themselves, to local and international festivals. They have collaborated successfully with people involved in the fine arts and created compositions for play readings and contemporary dance performances with them. A few years ago, the duet released their first, and currently, only recording which was released by the SKYR record label. The album was recorded in a limited batch of 40 cassettes, which were sold out some time ago and cannot be purchased in a hard form.
His portfolio of adventures contains a 60 day and 6,247‑kilometre‑long ride on cross‑country roller skates from North Cape [Nordkapp], the furthest northern point of Europe, to the furthest southern point in Gibraltar (2013). Kārlis has participated in the “Pedal for no Medal” charity bicycle ride from Riga (Latvia) to Sochi (Russia), cycling 2,840 kilometres in 17 days in wintery conditions and raising more than EUR 8,000 towards the reconstruction of the Children’s Hospital in Riga (2014). He has also crossed Finland on skis, following the Polar Circle for 250 km through a wilderness area (2014). In the summer of 2014, Kārlis participated in the “Baltic Way” charity cycling marathon, crossing the three Baltic states in 24 hours and covering 600 km. Check out “Bored of Borders” for more on Kārlis and his adventures.
Karlis Agris Gross
Karlis Agris Gross is a materials engineer who has dedicated his career to the development of orthopaedic materials. His insight to the micro and nano scale cosmos allows him to consider how the arrangement of materials can improve performance - both of orthopaedic components and of gelato - his not-so-secret passion. His inspiration comes from nature, which he has been able to observe first-hand, having completed his research over three continents; in Australia, where he first stumbled across the amorphous phase in coatings, in the USA, where he honed his knowledge through his PhD, and in Europe, where he developed an interest in ordered materials. He continues to lead his team to developing materials to strengthen and improve performance of prosthetics, as well as the lives of their beholders.
Kaspars Kurdeko is a drummer, percussionist, and composer. Whilst his early musical activities were immersed in classical music, his years of education in the Netherlands and New York influenced his sound to evolve in the direction of improvisation and jazz. Magic happens during a performance, and with the element of unpredictability, it makes listening to music a thrilling and enjoyable occasion.
Doctor of Psychology, teacher, family therapist
Līga is a teacher and a family therapist. She earned her PhD degree in Counseling at the University of Michigan. Many years ago Līga organized a week‑long overnight camp for Latvian diaspora families to learn about their culture. Little did she know that this camp would evolve into a movement spanning many countries, 40,000 people strong, of shared roots, values and goals.
Martins' academic interests include Russia’s influence operations abroad and U.S. foreign policy. For the last 2 years, Martins has been researching Russia’s influence in Latvia. He was a recipient of a scholarship from the Baltic‑American Freedom Foundation and obtained his Master’s Degree in Political Science from New York University. He is currently writing his PhD dissertation on U.S. relations with Russia at the University of Latvia’s Department for Social Sciences.
Matīss Kaža is a filmmaker and student at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. In 2016 and at the age of 21, Matīss finished working on his first feature‑length documentary. His debut film “One Ticket Please” tells the story of a 78‑year‑old Indian woman in New York who has been going to the theatre every day for more than 25 years. As a documentary filmmaker, Matīss is interested in telling stories about people and issues which are generally overlooked by society. Currently Matīss is in the process of producing and directing several upcoming feature‑length films.
Mike Collier is a British‑born writer and a journalist who has lived in Latvia since 2007. He is the chief editor of the English‑language
edition of Latvia’s public broadcasting website. Mike writes about the Baltic states and has produced three books of fiction.
Miķelis is a Latvian entrepreneur, designer and a co‑founder of Asketic Design Studio. With Miķelis at the helm, Asketic Design
Studio has created and worked on the visual identity of many brands. Miķelis’s team’s care and love for their work has guaranteed the devotion of customers and respect from professionals in the field, as well as awards in a variety of design competitions and festivals. To his own surprise, alongside his passion for letters and design, Miķelis has added research on gardening in recent years. As a result, he has published an ABC book for children which is made up of colourful and delicious items which can be grown right here in Latvia.
Miķelis Putniņš and EZERI - Performance
Musician / music band
Miķelis Putniņš, who was born in a family of musicians, is a singer, guitarist and composer. Although Miķelis holds a BSc degree in Economics from the Stockholm School of Economics in Riga, about a year ago he decided to devote his time completely to following his passion — music. His main musical project is EZERI — an independent music group which has caught the attention of critics, musicians and listeners alike. EZERI is an ever‑evolving project based in Riga. The music does not follow any particular formula — each track is different in form and harmony, influenced by a variety of genres. Last year, Miķelis too EZERI on a solo tour of Italy, where songs were stripped to their very core - keeping only guitar and voice. Since then has grown into a trio, which includes drummer Krišjānis Bremšs and bassist Kristians Priekulis. EZERI focusses on creating works that explore the wild side of pop music, giving the listener a sonic space to inhabit and explore.
State‑building researcher and practitioner
Miks Muizarajs is a researcher and enthusiast in nation‑building, striving to understand how citizen engagement and community-driven development affect the stability and development of both nascent and well-established forms of government. During his work on World Bank government decentralization projects in the Democratic Republic of Timor‑Leste and Togo, Miks Muizarajs spent considerable time in remote villages and witnessed the importance and strength of the grassroots level in facilitating or disrupting progress within society. His previous applied geography work in Ecuador and Ethiopia, where he studied small‑scale local interventions which promoted income generation and access to higher education, added to this experience. He currently works with international think‑tanks, government auditing agencies, and NGOs in both Latvia and abroad, trying to identify sustainable policy interventions which can help link the grassroots level with the upper echelons of policy‑making.
Olga’s chosen profession from the time she first started working in 2009 has been journalism. She is currently an investigative journalist for a public television channel in Latvia and works on their weekly flagship program, De Fakto. Olga recently served as the Moscow correspondent, which included reporting on Chechnya and Crimea. In 2016, her reporting on Crimea received an award for excellence from the Latvian Association of Journalists. She is an outspoken critic of right‑wing nationalism and xenophobia.
Social activist, animal rights expert
Sandris Ādminis is a social activist and producer of the Zootehnikums broadcast on the NABA radio station, a show that reports on human-animal relations. Sandris is interested in the possibilities of increasing the visibility of animal‑related issues. He is a member of an animal advocacy social movement in Latvia, has contributed to Wikipedia, participated in public debates, given talks to school students and co‑founded the Dzīvnieku brīvība [Animal freedom] animal rights organization. Sandris is passionate about ideas, music, unknown places, and unresolvable questions.
The six Latvian girls who form the group Tautumeitas, use their six voices and six pairs of hands to create music, because they believe that music makes the world a better place. The group’s principal interest is traditional singing, especially multipart singing. The members each incorporate different instruments into this traditional a capella vocal music, to portray traditional music from their own perspective and to show how the modern day tautumeita thinks and feels. Many traditional musical influences from different parts of the world have been incorporated into their music as many of the band’s members have an interest in and have studied ethnomusicology. Timbral variety, fresh ideas and eclectic musical taste all fuse together to give the Tautumeitas group its unique sound.