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Video and Live blogging

Beth Barnes talk

BethBarnes_portraitNow we hear from Beth, who is a student at Exeter College. We wanted to hear what young people have to say and what they want, and Beth won a competition to speak today.

Beth is telling us about a system that allows us to direct our resources to what we think will do the most good: charitable giving. Increased transparency of governance mean it is possible to find charities who are doing great work, such as the Schistosomiasis (spelling?!) Society.

We are used to a world in which the most resources are invested in things that are not important. What if we directed our huge resources to solving global poverty? 10% given by 10% would generate $4 trillion. It would only take 5% of that to solve poverty, so Beth has given us a shopping list for the remaining 95%, with some left over to fund a mission to Mars!

Effective Altruism encourages and helps people to give well – via e.g. GiveWell, Giving What We Can websites. The latter asks people to give away 10% of their lifetime earnings. Wouldn’t it be good if everyone did this?!

Ben Eaton talk

Ben Eaton featureFrom individual well-being to collective well-being, and the Bring the Happy project. Ben is an artist and interaction designer.

He asks us to take a moment to think about a happy moment: what is was, where it happened, and how happy you were on a scale of 1-10. For several weeks, Bring the Happy ran a pop-up shop in Exeter. People came in with their own moments of happiness, which were plotted on big maps using perspex rods of varying height.

There’s a bit of a lie emerging from the project: that happiness is more complicated that it seems. It’s a hook for conversations about the place where people live, which unpeel layers of meaning. The project started four years ago, when the recession was dragging town centres down and Britain was broken. Bring the Happy wanted to turn the vacant shops into community spaces. The stories all told us something unique about the way that we live. 

There are a lot of TED talks about happiness. Ben’s thinks that these try to tie people down into a model of happiness, which will lead society to be more productive and richer, and hence more happiness. To him, that sells happiness short.

The Bring the Happy project started in Leeds. As in many cities, slums were cleared in the 1930s and people moved into new flats or vertical villages, which became slums themselves, were destroyed, and communities were blasted across the city. But many of the happy memories were centred on those flats. So today, where are we building a space for emotion and memory in the towns and buildings we build? How do we accommodate and celebrate those? Too seldom do we have the freedom to graffiti our stories on our cities. They are our streets.

So take your happy memory and share it with the person next to you (after Ben has gone off stage!). And take that memory and use it as a lens for living your life in your place.

Bandi Mbubi talk

Bandi Mbubi 2014 featureBandi spoke at TEDxExeter 2012, and is back to update us about his work with the Congo Calling campaign. The campaign was a direct result of the support following his talk.

He is reminding us of the impacts of the war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Congo has gold, diamonds, tin, tungsten and tantalum, which are vital components of mobile technology. Congo should be wealthy, but this wealth has become a curse. The profit from the trade in conflict minerals has financed much of the war.

At the moment, there is an international peace process in the Congo. There are signs of hope, but the suffering of ordinary people continues. What can we do?

Congo Calling encourages individuals to lobby for and buy fairtrade technology, and lobby their governments; it encourages governments to develop and enforce legislation; and it encourages technology companies to purchase their minerals from conflict-free sources.

Our actions are beginning to make a difference. released Bandi’s talk on the same day that Apple released the iPhone 5. Bandi has asked us all to take our mobile phones out of our pockets. He wants each of us to ask our phone company what they are doing to source conflict-free minerals; and ask our MP re what they are doing to support legislation.