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We have a winner!

It has just been announced that Karima Bennoune has won the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for nonfiction for her book “Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism”. This is a huge achievement, and we at TEDxExeter are so excited for her!

The Dayton Literary Peace Prize honors writers whose work uses the power of literature to foster peace, social justice, and global understanding. Launched in 2006, it has already established itself as one of the world’s most prestigious literary honors, and is the only literary peace prize awarded in the United States. As an offshoot of the Dayton Peace Prize, the Dayton Literary Peace Prize awards a $10,000 cash prize each year to one fiction and one nonfiction author whose work advances peace as a solution to conflict, and leads readers to a better understanding of other cultures, peoples, religions, and political points of view.

In accepting the prize, Karima said: “Winning the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for nonfiction for Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here: Untold Stories from the Fight Against Muslim Fundamentalism is deeply meaningful – especially now – because the prize recognizes the unfathomable courage shown by so many people of Muslim heritage around the world – from Iraq to my father’s home country Algeria and beyond – in their often life-threatening struggles against extremism. These are the stories told in the book, and in our turbulent times such critical voices of tolerance and hope from Muslim majority societies must be heard internationally, but often are not. The DLPP is making an invaluable contribution to changing that. Given the mission of the prize, there is no other award that would mean more to me or to so many of those in the book – victims of terror who organized against its perpetrators, women who filled bomb craters with flowers, journalists who defied machine guns armed only with pens, artists who could not be censored by death threats (or worse), feminists who demanded the right to have human rights, secularists who spoke out, mullahs who risked their lives to revive the enlightened Islam of our grandparents. I share the prize with all of them. For me, the award is ultimately a much-needed recognition that fundamentalism is a threat to peace, and that those who challenge extremism and jihadist violence in their own communities are waging a battle for true peace, and deserve global recognition and support. That is the message I tried to get across in Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here. I am sincerely grateful to the selection committee and to the organizers of the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for helping to share this message by selecting the book, and I am honored to receive this very special prize.”

Can anyone think of 10 great websites for children?

Hot on the heels of our last post, about Simon Peyton Jones’ talk on “Teaching Creative Computer Science” being distributed in schools…

Now we are really pleased to announce that Sonia Livingstone’s TEDxExeter 2014 talk “How Children Engage with the Internet”, has been chosen to be one of the TEDx Talks Editor’s Picks for this week.

Sonia is a social psychologist, and researches how children engage with the media environment. She conducts surveys, interviews children, and observes how children engage with the media in homes and schools.

She says we need to think about the balance between the risks and the opportunities of technology, and we perhaps need to give more thought to developing the benefits.

Can anyone think of 10 great websites for children, as you could think of 10 great books for children?

Can we explore a journey of possibilities, rather than lock children into walled gardens?

Great questions for the media and entrepreneurs of all ages to explore.

 

Sparking connections at Franklyn Hospital

Exhibition_Poster_franklynAt TEDxExeter 2013, Carrie Clarke spoke about what we can still do for people with dementia, to strengthen their sense of belonging and their connection to place, people and each other. We learnt of the importance of design of the physical environmental of care centres, and she described the refurbishment and new garden being created at Franklyn Hospital in Exeter. She also told stories of how creating paintings together with artists had brought healing to people.

Artist Simon Ripley from Double Elephant Print facilitated a number of these sessions at  Franklyn. He created work both in advance of the sessions, to spark the people staying at the hospital at the time, and after in response to their work. Examples of Simon’s work were hanging in the Exeter Northcott Theatre’s auditorium during TEDxExeter 2013.

On 28 August, yours truly the TEDxExeter Storyteller was able to go to the opening of a thought-provoking exhibition in the Family Room at Franklyn, featuring work by former and current patients, and two of Simon’s prints. Numbers were small, but we – staff, relatives of former patients, Double Elephant – had some profound conversations. We were also able to see the garden, a beautifully-designed sensory space that looked absolutely stunning in the evening sunshine. Please see the photographs below.

At some point during the evening, Carrie told me briefly about how she was working with the Royal Albert Memorial Museum in Exeter, a collaboration that arose from a connection made at TEDxExeter 2013 with Camilla Hampshire, who spoke about RAMM: Home to a Million Thoughts. The following are Carrie’s words. For more information about the Fund she mentions in the last paragraph, please contact Carrie.

Collaboration with RAMM

With regards to collaboration with the museum: following TEDxExeter 2013, I made contact with Camilla to discuss the potential for any collaborative work. She put me in touch with Ruth Gidley, their Community Participation Officer. Ruth has been working hard on developing the museum into a more ‘dementia friendly’ venue, and as part of this has been collaborating with various local organisations such as Age UK and Innovations in Dementia. Through this contact, I was invited to speak at RAMM’s ‘Collaboration in Practice’ conference last November, which in itself brought about some more useful contacts.

In May Ruth and I attended a workshop in Bournemouth delivered by staff from the Museum of Modern Art in New York; they have been running a successful programme for several years now called ‘Meet me at MOMA’. This is a structured art discussion group for people with Alzheimer’s Disease or other dementias and their carers, each session looking at approx 6 paintings with a common theme. Ruth has set up a pilot project based on the MOMA approach, using their latest exhibition ‘Detached and Timeless’. I have today just got back from taking one of our service users to the session, which was excellent; it has given her a stimulating experience and provided her with something to talk about when her family visit. She commented that she would very much like to take her grandson to the exhibition, because of his interest in art. So for this particular woman, it was a great way of enabling her to feel more connected with the world around her, and will hopefully also be a point of connection with her grandson.

Ruth and I have also had some discussions about two other potential projects: 1. bringing quality photographs of the paintings form the exhibition to run a similar session at the hospital (thereby enabling more people to participate) and 2. Developing outreach sessions from the museum, using a collection of objects based around the theme of seasons. There’s an interesting link between handling objects which provide a range of sensory experiences, and how this can stimulate memories and possibly create new neural pathways. It’s what I touched on briefly in my TED talk: the sensory-emotional link. We are then considering creating some audio books made by the individual participants (Ruth has experiemented with this already), and also the potential for using stop-motion animation as a creative way of capturing some of the stories which arise from the sessions. I’ve been using stop-motion animation with our service users for a while now, and it’s an amazing therapeutic tool! I’ll be speaking about my work at the Bristol Encounters short film and animation festival next week. If this approach proves effective, we will look at applying for funding to run a larger scale project, commissioning professional animators to work with us with a possible big screening at the museum. But that’s a long way off yet!

As a result of the museum conference, I was approached by a photographer, Ruth Davey from Stroud. She has recently facilitated a photography workshop with a group of service users at Belvedere [unit at Franklyn] in our new ‘Beautiful View’ garden. The process itself was very beneficial in terms of enabling sensory experiences, providing a space where people could express themselves creatively, and stimulating some fascinating story telling. And the end results were amazing! They will form our next exhibition at the hospital, and I hope will also be shown more widely.

This workshop was funded through the Margaret Whitaker Therapeutic Art Fund. Margaret’s daughter Carol set up the Fund in her mother’s memory, because she was so grateful to see her mother re-engaging with her love of art during Simon’s sessions run at Franklyn, and Carol saw the joy it brought her in her last few months. So that’s a wonderful legacy, with which we hope to continue to provide stimulating therapeutic arts activities at Franklyn.

1 million, 2ndary schools, 3 playlists

Karima Bennoune’s talk is watched 1 million times

We’re delighted that Karima Bennoune’s talk “When people of Muslim heritage challenge fundamentalism” passed 1,000,000 views on Sunday evening! So delighted, in fact, that we issued a press release. We’re also very pleased that the transcript of the talk is available in 12 languages, from Hebrew to Japanese, with Arabic due to be published soon.

The talk has had a major impact on Karima’s work.

On the anniversary of 9/11, she was interviewed on Capital Radio: “President Barack Obama has made his case for airstrikes against the militant Islamic group ISIS in the Middle East. But has the world community focused enough on supporting Muslims who oppose fundamentalism and terrorism as a way of defeating Islamic extremism? And how has Muslim fundamentalism changed 13 years after Sept. 11?”

Also on the anniversary of 9/11, Open Democracy re-published the second and third parts of her father Mahfoud Bennoune’s 1994 article “How Fundamentalism Produced a Terrorism without precedent” that Karima had translated. Part one was published back in May. She says: “Sadly, in light of events in Iraq and elsewhere, it has never been so relevant.  I hope this may be of interest, as it discusses both the history and the ideology of jihadism and fundamentalism.” Here are the links:

  • Part 1 – Algeria and Nigeria: sharing the deadweight of human mindlessness
  • Part 2 – From 1990s Algeria to 9/11 and ISIS: understanding the history of “Homo Islamicus Fundamentalensis”
  • Part 3 – From 1990s Algeria to Iraq today: trampling Islam underfoot in the name of Jihad

And Karima’s book “Your Fatwa Does Not Apply Here” has been nominated among the non-fiction finalists for the prestigious Dayton Literary Peace Prize. Inspired by the 1995 Dayton Peace Accords that ended the war in Bosnia, this prize is “the first and only annual U.S. literary award recognizing the power of the written word to promote peace.”

But most important of all is the impact that interest in the talk is having among Muslims in Algeria and elsewhere.

The support groups in Algeria are moved and heartened to know that so many care and want to be informed about their lives, their realities. In view of all the terrible news right now it is so important that so many people are listening to the voices of those who can help us understand this best.

One of the stories Karima shared was that of Algerian law student Amel Zenoune-Zouani, who was murdered in January 1997 by the Armed Islamic Group. Amel was only 22. She was killed for having dreams of a legal career and refusing to give up her studies at law school. Yet Amel’s name means “hope”. Hope can be found in the strength of her family and all the other families to continue telling their stories and to go on with their lives despite the terrorism. And hope can be found everywhere that women and men continue to defy the jihadis.

The world came to Exeter at TEDxExeter 2014. We were honoured to host Karima, and challenged to become part of something larger than ourselves. We want to encourage everyone to watch her talk at TED.com. As Karima says, “It is not enough… just to battle terrorism. We must also challenge fundamentalism, because fundamentalism is the ideology that makes the bed of this terrorism.”

Simon Peyton-Jones’ talk to be distributed to secondary schools

Simon spoke in his talk of Computing at School, the grass-roots organisation he chairs, which is at the centre of the challenge of training teachers across the country to teach computing. Those who were there, or who have watched the video since, may remember he gave a call to action: if you are an IT professional, get involved; if not, at least talk to your local schools.

“Quickstart Computing: a toolkit for secondary teachers” is a Computing at School initiative funded by Microsoft and the Department for Education, to help train teachers for the new Computing curriculum. One of the things Quickstart is doing is to develop a CPD package of training materials for teachers, for distribution free to every school. It will be launched in January at BETT 2015, the British Educational Training and Technology Show. The package will include Simon’s talk, available both on CD and online. The aims are to provide the context for the challenge, and to motivate and give experienced teachers the confidence to teach computing.

We’re thrilled that Simon’s talk will be used in this way, and that TEDxExeter will have a legacy in education, through inspiring teachers to inspire the next generation of computer scientists.

Karima and Scilla Elworthy’s talks are featured on 3 playlists

Karima’s talk is featured on a powerful TED.com playlist:

  • Insights on Terrorism. It’s a solemn subject—one of the harsh realities of our world. Here, speakers with insightful thoughts on why terrorism continues … and what we can do to stop it.

And Scilla’s talk “Fighting with non-violence” is nearing the 1 million mark too. It is now on two TED.com playlists:

  • Freedom Rising : From the Arab Spring to the emerging democracies of Eastern Europe, a new generation of freedom fighters — entrepreneurs, journalists, activists — shares powerful stories of resistance against dictatorships and oppression.
  • The Road to Peace : Peace. It’s humanity’s eternal, elusive dream. These speakers offer inspired ideas, practical advice and real-world examples from around the globe of how it just might be attainable.

Save the date!

The next TEDxExeter event takes place on 24 April 2015 at the Exeter Northcott Theatre, with the theme “Taking the Long View”.

We would be interested in hearing from you if your company would like to sponsor TEDxExeter 2015.