TEDxExeter was my first time at a TEDx event and it was everything that I had expected: inspirational people sharing stories and ideas to make you rethink your point of view. Lots of these stories were from around the world, a chance to hear first hand from people who are affected by the refugee crisis, radicalism and more. However, for me the talk that stood out was one that was a little closer to home – Toby and Jo Gorniak, a couple from Plymouth who, through Hip Hop dance, were changing the lives of young people.
The words of the poem that accompanied the performance really touched me because it used the real words of young people they’d worked with. They talked about feeling invisible, confused and the need to just to be loved.
I grew up with children just like those they talked about: some of my friends were children whose home lives were far from perfect. They were moved from home to home and were surrounded by alcohol, drugs, anger and self harm, with parents so stretched mentally and financially that there wasn’t much room left.
I was lucky, that despite a tough situation, my parents gave me hope and permission to dream. The message in my family was always: if you worked hard you could make it. But for some they were not so lucky. They accepted that this was how it was and I saw close friends’ lives take a more destructive journey.
So beyond the dancing and their background, seeing how Toby and Jo Gorniak had found a way of giving children a purpose and a chance for their voice to be heard, truly does fill me with hope.
TEDxExeter is all about being inspired, sharing new ideas and discussing how we can make a positive impact on our local communities. At Stephens Scown we like to keep our eyes, ears and minds open to new ideas and we have gained so much from our involvement in TEDxExeter. We are proud to be sponsors for the 3rd year.
Kester Brewin will be speaking at our forthcoming TEDxExeter event in April. He is an alumnus of TEDxExeter 2013, where he spoke brilliantly about “Mutiny!”.
A couple of weeks ago I was having dinner with an aunt, who happens also to be one of the wisest people I know. We were chewing over some thing I’d raised, and she placed her wine glass on the table, and pondered for a moment and said, “you know, it gave me great solace when I was finally able to admit to myself that I don’t live in my first-choice world.” Things don’t always work out. Life is not always what we have wanted it to be. There are disappointments and wounds.
With TEDx looming I have been thinking a lot about our theme, hope, and wondering if it is simply this: that even though we do not live in our first-choice world, we hold on to the idea that our world can still be changed. We can still be changed. Our politics can still be changed. Our community, our nation, our climate. Hope is, by definition, about the future. It is a belief that the world that is yet to come is not yet decided, and can still yet be moulded.
To put it mathematically (a professional habit – apologies) hope is a vector: it has to have direction. When we hope, we look ahead along a particular line. The question that this prompts is what engine is driving that hope. What force is making that change we want to see in the world?
For many years my hope was located in my religious beliefs. In any given situation, my hope was that God would sort it out, and it took me a long time to realise that this was because I was afraid of taking action myself. By pushing hope into the ineffable, I was able to abdicate responsibility for the world that I lived in. If it was imperfect it wasn’t my fault; if it wasn’t made better it wasn’t God’s will. In any case, my final hope was in heaven, a cast-iron ‘first-choice’ world that I would topple into once I’d fallen into my grave. Job done.
Amusing as this religious hope might seem, it’s far more common than we might think. Putting your hope in a ‘big other’ – in some big system above us that we trust is in control and will sort everything out in the end – is how many people live out their politics. We don’t need to act in our communities, because the government will do it for us. Others have a similarly religious view of technology: their hope located in the divine intelligence of Google or Bill Gates to deal with disease and poverty and unemployment. Climate crisis? Haven’t we got an app for that?
The maxim attributed to Gandhi – “be the change you want to see in the world” – is really about the adjusting the vectors of your hope. Once we see that the ‘big other’ largely has other ideas about what the world should look like, we have to redirect our hope away from the vertical – God, the political class, ‘high’ technology’ – and to the horizontal. Still confident that our world can be transformed, we get off our knees and backsides and commit to working with others to do something about it.
Toby & Jo Gorniak are the Co-founders of Street Factory CIC in Plymouth. Street Factory share a belief in all young people, their capabilities and the possibilities for their growth and development, working hard in helping them develop not just as individuals, but also as a group, constantly reinforcing the belief that they have a duty and responsibility to the community around them. They teach through the 10 elements of Hip Hop, through genuine love and deep rooted trust that every young person can ‘find their genius’.
Toby G is a hip hop artist, professional dancer, choreographer, educator and speaker. He has won numerous national awards for his work including an O2 Award, business awards, BBC & ITV community awards, police engagement Health Lottery Community Award and an Honorary fellowship degree for his “Outstanding , Innovative approach to Community work”.
Jo Gorniak is a professional actress, and performer, performing locally & nationally, with a Drama in the Community HND & Degree in Performing Arts. She has worked in New York, on projects using drama & hip hop to transform lives and at Los Angeles Film School.
At TEDxExeter Jo and Toby are performing with three Street Factory dancers who have devised an original piece of Hip Hop Theatre on ‘Hope’.
Perry Johnson: “Dancing for me is the borderline between day-dreaming and reality and I get to control the outcome “
Max Revell: “I dance not for the enjoyment of others but for the happiness of myself”
Emmanuel Atangana Maze: “Your passion makes your life and dance is passion”
James Craig is a second year student at Exeter College studying Maths, Chemistry and History.
Having originally aspired to be a Doctor, a work experience placement at a Solicitor’s firm set him on a different path. Being interested in law and politics now for several years, he has applied to study Law at university after completion of his A-levels. He’s previously been Chair of his schools council, tutor rep and is currently the Diversity Officer of Exeter College’s Student Representative Committee.
James believes in the power of communication and is thrilled to have been given the opportunity to talk at TEDx.
Rob has been involved with Toast Ale since its inception in early 2016, initially as an advisor and more recently as full time Chief Toaster. Toast Ale believe that if want to change the world, you have to throw a better party than those destroying it. Prior to Toast, Rob led an organization called Ashoka in the UK, supporting a global network of social entrepreneurs to scale system changing ideas and enterprises.
Rob is an award winning serial social entrepreneur himself having founded a number of ventures over the years. He founded READ International in 2004; a Tanzanian student-volunteer-led development organisation which to date has provided over 1.5 million books to school children and created 100 school libraries. He co-founded Generation Change in 2012, a partnership of the UK’s leading youth social action organisations, helping 600,000 young people a year take positive action in their local communities. He also recently co-founded the youth-led campaign Undivided; a non-partisan campaign set up to get the best possible Brexit deal for young people. In 2011 he co-authored a book with his wife Nikki about social entrepreneurs in Africa called On the Up.
Rob lives just outside London in Kent with his wife Nikki and their two very cheeky little boys Thomas and Matthew.
Madhumita is a journalist, editor and speaker with expertise in the fields of science, health and technology.
As the European Technology Correspondent at the Financial Times, she is passionate about how technology and science have disrupted and transformed all aspects of our lives. She was previously head of technology at the Telegraph, where she oversaw the publication’s tech coverage and has written award-winning longform features on data privacy, gene editing and other major tech trends for publications such as Wired, Newsweek and the BBC.
Before journalism, Madhumita worked on an HIV vaccine at Oxford University.
With 28 years of experience at Procter & Gamble in Brand Management and Innovation, Virginie has a broad experience across multiple categories and global to local brand management expertise across several of P&G multi-billion dollar brands (Pantene, Ariel/Tide, Pampers). She has international experience (France, UK, Switzerland and the United States).
Prior to her current position, she was the Western Europe Franchise Leader for Ariel, one of P&G largest brands, where she turned Ariel into the leader in Sustainability through the launch of the highly successful “Cool Clean/Turn to 30” campaign and the most sustainable laundry product (Excel Gel).
Beyond her brand and innovation expertise, she is also recognized for her visioning, change management and leadership development skills. She is a certified coach.
In July 2011, she recommended the creation of a new position –Global Sustainability Brand Director, working across all P&G business units and regions. Her mission was to embed sustainability into the innovation, brand-building and everyday business practices at P&G. In July 2016, she was promoted to Vice President of Global Sustainability, in recognition of the work she has led to make sustainability a core business strategy, an innovation driver and a catalyst for a more resilient organisation.
Virginie lives in Geneva, Switzerland, with her husband and 3 children. She is a marathon runner.
The TEDxExeter launch party 2017 welcomed previous TED speakers Carrie Clarke and Abbie McGregor to share their experience of preparing for and speaking at TEDxExeter, and the impact that it has had. Here we share their talks, including the anxiety, optimism and transformational power that is TEDxExeter.
Carrie Clarke is a pioneer in creating environments that heal. Her work combining art, health and dementia care promotes finding new ways to create more sustainable, respectful, meaningful and engaging ways of being with people with dementia. Her TEDxExeter talk – Sparking Connections, can be viewed by clicking the image below:
I’d like to start with two confessions…
Back in the Autumn of 2012, when Claire first came to see me to discuss the possibility of speaking at a TED event in Exeter, I had never heard of TED talks. In my naivety, I thought that she was simply asking me to give a talk about dementia, and that I could roll out an existing power point for the occasion! When the realisation dawned on me, I tried suggesting to Claire that I had colleagues who would be much better at this sort of thing…but she was having none of it!
Confession number two – public speaking has always been one of my biggest fears. How was I to reconcile this with the enormity of the task of preparing, let alone delivering a TED talk?
Looking back, I think there were several key ingredients: Firstly, Claire and the TED team took a massive leap of faith in inviting me to be a speaker. Secondly, they provided support and encouragement with unfailing optimism through the months of preparation. And thirdly, they believed that the passion I have for exploring creative and compassionate ways of working with people with dementia would give me the belief in myself to share this more widely.
The day itself passed in a blur, fuelled by the incredible energy and buzz of everyone present. I still find it hard to believe that I actually gave a TED talk, but 4 years later, I am so grateful and proud to have been given that opportunity. Now, whenever I’m asked to speak on the subject of dementia, I always tell myself that if I could speak in front of 500 people, whilst being filmed on the red circle under the spotlight, then I can do anything!
Speaking at TEDxExeter was rather like throwing a pebble into water; the ripples continue to spread and reach new and unexpected shores. Connections made at TEDxExeter have resulted in professionally-led photography workshops for patients at the hospital, public exhibitions, print-making sessions which have filled the hospital with witty and colourful images, and a strong collaborative relationship with our hosts tonight – RAMM.
RAMM has taken its fantastic, award-winning ‘Living Each Season’ programme beyond its traditional boundaries to the hospital, creating in effect a museum without walls. This collaborative project was a recent runner-up in the national Alzheimer’s Society Awards. Within my NHS Trust, I regularly teach a module on person-centred dementia-care to healthcare assistants, whatever area of practice they may be going into. And so the ripples continue to spread…
My interest in and passion for exploring creative ways of accompanying people on their difficult journeys with dementia has been given credibility by association with TEDxExeter. Because most people, unlike me back in 2012, know about TED talks, and they remain a go to place for inspiration and motivation.
Building on this, in 2015 I began a clinical academic Masters programme in Psycho-Social Studies at UWE in Bristol, which I hope to complete this summer. This has been a wonderful opportunity to deepen my understanding of the complexity of dementia, and contribute to the evidence-base for effective non-pharmacological interventions. Only this morning I was here at the museum, using an innovative participatory research method to gather the views of people living with dementia, whose voices are so hard to capture using traditional research methods.
Research completed last year has been accepted for publication, and I’ll also be presenting this at the First International Conference on Arts & Dementia Research at the Institute of Public Health in London in March. I’m now seeking funding to begin a PhD later this year, which will continue to explore ways towards a more compassionate, creative and cultural model of care for people living with dementia.
Although it may be a cliché, I would like to thank Claire and the team for believing in me. And to all those of you working hard to prepare for your 2017 TEDxExeter talks, I’d like to wish you well; be brave, be passionate and help create hope for a more compassionate and connected world.
Abbie McGregor is an inspiration for students at Exeter College. In 2016 she won the Exeter College TEDxExeter competition to give a talk at TEDxExeter 2016. In her talk ‘Remember to DREAM’, Abbie spoke passionately about inspiring hope and vision in young people, and doing away with dispassionate and limited SMART targets!
Now she has written a guest blog post about how her experience has given her HOPE.
Once upon a time, a little girl was shown a TED talk. It set her on a path not known to many. It sounds like a fairy tale because cheesily enough, my experience of TEDxExeter really was, magical.
When I was about 12, and just starting secondary school, I had an inspiring teacher whose favourite thing was a TED talk. As a class, we would watch them for everything we studied. The TED speakers taught us to be motivated, confident and to care about everything. So, when the opportunity came along for someone from Exeter college to give one, I knew there was only one way I could do that teacher justice.
It’s something that everyone wants to talk about. I meet people at college and they know that I’m the girl who gave a TEDx talk. I receive a barrage of questions about how it went, what I said, what happened after. And those are the three things I want to speak to you about today.
As to how it went, I’m standing here now because I won that internal competition to give a TEDx talk and now, a year on I’m starting to give advice to many others having that same shot, and nothing is more inspiring than hearing the buzz about the opportunity to really be taken seriously.
The recognition of a 17-year old’s voice is something many people my age feel they do not and cannot have, and therefore this opportunity is astounding. So I couldn’t be more thankful to Martin and Exeter College for it.
Following this, I was given so much help by Claire and Cathy. My speech went from strength to strength which I simply couldn’t have done without them. Their experience is evident the first time you speak to them, but even more so in the outcome of each of the speeches and the quality of TEDxExeter talks.
And then I stood up on that stage, and spoke for five whole minutes and I said it all. I repeated the messages that my teacher had taught me of how to make a better future. A future of children who are full of dreams, hope, passion, motivation, ambition, dedication, energy and a want to make something happen – much like I really wanted to take away SMART targets from the system.
For many people that’s where they think the journey ends. It gets uploaded a few months later and people watch it online, 1,700 have watched mine to be exact. But that really isn’t it. This is what happened after.
A week later, I had an email from a primary school, another from my own college and another from the city council, all asking for me to come and give my talk again in another context. And so I did. I gave my speech at the city council applying it to their devolution programme and how Exeter really is becoming a city of the future.
And then, I took the talk down to primary level and spoke to children about how they really are the future. Finally, the talk I gave that impacted me most was at my own college. In September, I gave my talk to the entire A-level cohort, alongside two other distinguished speakers. At the end I was stormed by students. They told me how good it was to hear ‘one of own’ telling them to go out and make things happen. In another girl’s words, ‘I was my own example of taking an opportunity’.
We are often called the troublesome teens, slightly rowdy, lazy, always tired, often late, but all my peers wanted was something to believe in, a dream or in the words of this launch – they just needed a bit of hope.
“There are a huge number of good news stories in the world,” says Danny Dorling in his 2016 TEDxExeter talk: “Maps that show us who we are (not just where we are)”. And now his talk is on TED.com many more people around the world will hear about the constant, incremental changes for the better that rarely feature in the print and broadcast media.
Danny Dorling, Halford Mackinder Professor of Geography at the University of Oxford, challenges us to examine some of our beliefs about the world and open our minds to a new, often unreported reality. Using beautiful and unfamiliar world maps created by Ben Hennig (and shown in colour for the first time) he shows us that in many ways life is slowly getting better and there’s much to be optimistic about, as long as we continue to connect with each other.
“I’m very glad TED has decided to feature the talk I gave at TEDxExeter,” said Danny. “In it I examine new ways of viewing the world, its future, and how we can be a little less afraid if we do not see other people as being our enemy as much as we currently do. We currently fear people from other countries too much, we fear that those in faraway places are taking ‘our jobs’, we fear what we do not know. But if we begin to see the world as a whole, as the place from which we all get our food, as the place that we all pollute, then as our global population begins to stabilise we can learn to become less fearful. Some people learn faster than others. The British Prime Minister, Teresa May, recently said that ‘if you believe you are a citizen of the world, you are a citizen of nowhere’. It is not her fault that she was taught geography at time before we could map all the citizens of the world and see that we are each just such a citizen.”
“I hope you watch the talk if only to see the weird and wonderful ways in which Benjamin Hennig has remapped the planet. Seeing the earth shaped in proportion to the amount of rain that falls, and how that changes over a year, shows the planet as a single entity that almost appears to have an annual heartbeat. Seeing all the humans of the world drawn on a single projection can help us realise that imagining all of humanity as one is not beyond the scope of our collective imaginations. Let’s see the world anew!”
Ben Hennig has also used this method of remapping the world to map the result of the US presidential election and show that not only did most voters who voted not vote for Trump (which people know), but also that an even larger majority of Americans live in areas which did not vote for Trump. See more on Ben’s website Views of the World.
Democrat areas are coloured blue on Ben’s map of the election result. On the traditional map it looks as if Trump had a great deal of support. On the map adjusted to correctly represent the number of people living in an area it is made clear that only a small minority of Americans supported him and that he has only won office due to the US voting system and because there is so much disaffection there (so many people don’t vote).
Danny’s TEDxExeter talk was based on a book he wrote with Carl Lee called ‘Geography’.
His new book A Better Politics can be downloaded as a PDF here. The book was timed for publication on the 500th anniversary of the publication of Thomas More’s book ‘Utopia’ which is this month (‘Utopia’ was originally published in Latin in very late 1516).