TEDxExeter’s Twitter account is the place to go for the latest news about our previous and upcoming speakers and performers. And here are a few bonus snippets.

Tomorrow, Karima Bennoune is giving the Edward Said memorial lecture at Warwick University. Her first report as UN Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights was recently released; click on “LATEST REPORT”.

Jenny Sealey’s theatre company Graeae and the Central Illustration Agency (CIA!) recently collaborated on a wide-ranging exhibition at The Guardian. “Reframing the Myth” celebrated 35 years of placing Deaf and disabled artists centre stage.

Deeyah Khan and Manwar Ali (Abu Muntasir) both featured in this BBC interview about the lure of ISIS. Deeyah Khan wrote in the HuffPost last June about how “We Must Tackle Extremism Without Compromising Freedom of Speech”.

Carmel McConnell was awarded her MBE on 19 February for services to school food. A slide from her TEDxExeter talk was featured at the TED conference in Vancouver, as Jay Herratti celebrated ideas coming through TEDx events around the world with a particular focus on food.

Patrick Holden was featured in a Guardian article about urban farming and equality.

And finally… Last week, Mike Dickson released a new book! “Our Generous Gene” is “A call to action illustrated with stories from ordinary people who are, to their surprise, already changing the world and seeing small actions ripple outwards for good… For a future of happiness and meaning we just need to develop the naturing, caring instincts we are born with and focus on creating a world, not acquiring it.”

More articles in the press

Doing a bit of a catch-up of articles in the local press about TEDxExeter 2016 …

… and alumni Michelle Ryan and Andy Robertson

Guest blog: TEDx and Resurgence

Satish Kumar was our very first speaker at our very first TEDxExeter in 2012. He has kindly written a guest blog for us at the start of Resurgence magazine‘s 50th anniversary year.


It was my honour to give one of the first TEDxExeter lectures on Soil, Soul & Society. I have been editing Resurgence magazine for the past 42 years, although Resurgence has been in publication for the past 50 years. It is heartening that Resurgence has been exploring new ideas about sustainability, holistic science, spirituality and creativity and, similar to TEDTalks, Resurgence is also a forum for ideas and actions.

In the wake of the Paris Climate Change Conference the world needs actions. Climate change is only a symptom of our current human predicament, we have to look deep to find the causes of climate change. Of course it is easy to say that fossil fuel is the cause and therefore shifting to renewable energy will solve the problem. However, in my view we have to look deeper into the cause of climate change. We have to ask why we have become so dependent on fossil fuel and why we have an ever increasing demand for it?

It is because we have come to believe that economic growth is the ultimate goal of human life. This belief needs to be questioned. Of course, economy has a place but it needs to be kept in its place. All human beings have a right to a good quality of life which includes sufficient supply of food, clothes, housing, medicine and transportation but these needs have to be met within the limits of planet Earth which is finite. The finite planet cannot afford an infinite economic growth and therefore we have to shift our focus from the economic growth to growth in wellbeing and this shift is the focus of Resurgence.

Together with Resurgence, The Ecologist magazine was also a champion of environmental sustainability and in 2012 Resurgence and The Ecologist came together to be published as one magazine as Resurgence & Ecologist.

This year we will be celebrating the 50th anniversary of Resurgence with an event at Worcester College, Oxford from 22-25 September. Heads of Friends of the Earth, Green Peace, WWF, Green Party, Soil Association, Oxfam, Wildlife Trusts and Forum of the Future along with many movers and shakers, poets, artists, activists and entrepreneurs will be joining us in the celebration.

Resurgence & Ecologist is published six times a year, if you would like to receive a complimentary pdf version (please click here). Although the magazine is available on line it is also available in print – it is so nice to hold an actual copy in your hand and flick through the pages and glance over the beautiful images. You can request a free sample of print version by writing to Jeanette Gill, Rocksea Farmhouse, St Maybyn, Bodmin, Cornwall PL30 3BR.

Satish Kumar
Editor-in-Chief, Resurgence & Ecologist magazine
and author of No Destination

Inspiring a Swedish pop song…

Our talks have inspired a great many people, and really made a difference in places. This is an impact with a difference!

At the end of the summer the Swedish band Hi-Lili Hi-Lo released their EP debut “Birds”. Their single “Seven Words” features a collaboration between the band and “Fighting with non-violence”, the TEDxExeter 2012 talk by Scilla Elworthy:

Hi-Lili Hi-Lo Seven WordsComposer and leader of the band Mikel Morueta Holme got inspired by the talk and incorporated parts of it on the demo-version to accentuate the message of the song. The song is about prejudices and conflict while Scilla’s words serve as an inspiration to find solutions. Originally, the single was composed as an assessment work on Mikel’s music studies in Brazil in 2014. Once he returned to Sweden the band decided to record the final version. The band is proud to present the result of the collaboration with Scilla Elworthy, her team and TEDxExeter.

The debut-EP “Birds” is the outcome of acoustic and electronic paths where challenging strings arrangements, carved melodies and intense passages lead to a common ground.

“Seven Words” and the whole EP are available through Spotify, iTunes, and Bandcamp.

Visualising the UN Ozone Celebrations

TEDxExeter 2012 alumnus Antony Turner continues to be at the forefront of communicating environmental issues through his work with Carbon Visuals. Now they are turning their attention to ozone as well as carbon dioxide.

Today, 16th September, is International Ozone Day. Thirty years ago the first images of the ozone hole created a media storm, and helped convert the framework Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer into concrete targets in the Montreal Protocol. UNEP asked Carbon Visuals to create a digital campaign to communicate and celebrate the 30th anniversary of the Vienna Convention.

Carbon Visuals described their approach: “Our view was that few people have an intuitive sense of what the ozone hole is like, where it is, how much ozone there is, or how deep the atmosphere is. So we have created a selection of visual images, animations and web-tools that help everyone from policymakers to children better understand these things.”

Find out more, play with, and watch their productions: UN ozone celebrations, Ozone interactives and The Ozone Song.

[Update/PS: The TEDxExeter Storyteller has written in the Church Times about the Vienna Convention as a model for climate negotiations.]

Another million

Congratulations to Scilla Elworthy, whose talk on “Fighting with nonviolence” has now been watched more than 1 million times on!

“How do you deal with a bully without becoming a thug? In this wise and soulful talk, peace activist Scilla Elworthy maps out the skills we need — as nations and individuals — to fight extreme force without using force in return. To answer the question of why and how nonviolence works, she evokes historical heroes — Aung San Suu Kyi, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela — and the personal philosophies that powered their peaceful protests.”

Subtitles are available in 31 languages, including Arabic, Chinese, Hebrew, Persian, several Far East and Southeast Asian, and many European languages.

Also, at the time of writing,

The videos of the talks at TEDxExeter are just being finalised before being uploaded. We hope they’ll be available in about a week.

TEDxExeter story: Nicola Evans, 2012 attendee

The fifth of our short series of stories from speakers and attendees at previous TEDxExeter events. Claire met Nicola at the Northcott as she was buying tickets for TEDxExeter 2015. It’s an inspiring start to the new year.


Completely unrelated to TED, my partner Sarah and I had been thinking for some time about making our wills more meaningful than splitting our estate into small portions and distributing amongst members of our family, who didn’t really need it. Whereas, as a whole, it was a not insignificant sum that could make a real difference.

There were a number of things floating around in minds, including:

  • We had recently visited Costa Rica and were quite taken with the ethos of the country: no military, for which they were nominated a Nobel Peace Prize – a lot of their taxes go into the education of their children. Whilst they are a relatively poor country economically, they consistently perform well in the Human Development Index and have twice ranked the best performing country in the New Economics Foundation’s Happy Planet Index. It is also on schedule to become the first carbon neutral country in 2021
  • We believe that the only thing that will radically change the world is education. Not just academic but an understanding and embracing diversity through knowledge
  • We believe that children are our future and, although we don’t have any of our own, we need to invest now to help them make things better for future generations – it really is our duty
  • We believe that women have a huge contribution to make but in many parts of the world are still considered second class citizens and victims of atrocious human rights violations.

… but it wasn’t until TED that all of our thought began to gel into a coherent plan and the starting point was at our first TEDxExeter in 2012, when we heard Mike Dickson talk on “What is enough?” We were genuinely inspired, so we hi-jacked him over a sandwich at lunch time and he subsequently invited us to meet him in London to discuss our plans further.

Sarah and I then gave each other space to consider what we wanted to do individually and when we came together to reveal our thoughts – guess what? They were exactly the same:

We wanted our money to be used to set up or support a school for the education of mainly female (but not exclusively) children in Costa Rica or a similar country (more research needed). We have subsequently set up a trust to do just that.

TEDxExeter gave us the freedom to think differently about things and empowered us to act on aspirations beyond those for ourselves.

Peace on earth

As Malala Yousafzai accepts her Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo today, TEDxExeter 2014 speaker Karima Bennoune has written an open letter to her:

“please know how many human rights activists around the world — especially women — are grateful to you. They stand with you in your struggle for girls’ empowerment and for unfettered access to education. In Muslim majority countries and in the diasporas, they also stand with you to fight against the extremism which blocks these advances. You are a true hero, and as you know, you are also one of a peaceful army of thousands doing this work.”

Both Karima’s TEDxExeter 2014 talk “When people of Muslim heritage challenge fundamentalism” and Scilla Elworthy’s TEDxExeter 2012 talk “Fighting with non-violence” are now featured among the ten talks on the playlist 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.”

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 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 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 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.

TEDxExeter story: Bandi Mbubi, 2012 speaker

The fourth of our short series of stories from speakers and attendees at previous TEDxExeter events. Bandi spoke powerfully about the Congo and fairtrade mobile phones, and the Congo Calling campaign was launched on the back of the enthusiasm generated by his talk. We’re looking foward to hearing from him again in 2014, when he will give us an update on the campaign.


The invitation to speak at TEDxExeter came about through Claire Kennedy. I have known her since I first arrived in England. I fled the Democratic Republic of the Congo 22 years ago because my activities there as a student activist placed my life in danger. I came to the UK and claimed political asylum and Claire acted as my lawyer. We have since been friends. She has been aware of my personal commitment to social justice both in the Congo and in the UK.

The situation when I first left the Congo was bad, but it was getting even worse every year. Since 1996 over 5 million people had died because of the on-going war. Rape was used, and still is, as a weapon of war. The vast majority of people live in abject poverty in spite of the Congo’s immense natural wealth. I felt compelled to act. Speaking at TEDxExeter offered me a precious opportunity to raise awareness and to mobilise people to act like the international community did during the anti-apartheid movement. I trusted in the ability of people to act for justice for the Congo, but I was unsure about the angle to take to appeal to them. I needed to give them the tools to enable them to act. How could they act in a way that could make difference?

Claire as a curator was both supportive and tough. She introduced me to the TED commandments of public speaking, the dos and don’ts of great talks. Her mantra to me was “prepare”. Giving a TEDx talk was unlike any talk I had ever given before. It is not about reciting facts or telling an interesting story. It is about sharing an idea. The key question for me was “how can I rally global citizens to act on the Congo in a way that helps build peace and prosperity?” The answer I came up with was to ask people to use their consumer power in a way that exerts pressure on technology companies so that they would source their minerals from the Congo more responsibly. In so doing, the trade in minerals would not fuel the war but help the local economy through legitimate trade. I enlisted the help of friends, both Congolese and British, to help me with the process. They were invaluable in reducing my workload. There was a lot to be done, including design, research and crafting of the talk. They helped with fact-checking everything, even information that I took for granted. They served as a friendly but critical audience. They were like midwives helping me deliver my baby.

I felt many emotions, mostly anxiety. Whilst preparing for the talk, I wondered about its final content. How would it be received by Congolese people and those around the world. Would I manage to condense everything I wanted to say into 10 minutes? I felt nervous about the task ahead. The preparation took every spare moment I had. I was often away from my family and friends. On the actual day of the event, though I felt nervous, I felt hopeful about the impact my message could have on people in the Congo. Anxiety gave way to a great sense of hope. The audience in the theatre was very attentive and receptive. They gave me a standing ovation. I was recalled to the stage to acknowledge properly their applause. It is then that I felt a personal sense of responsibility to carry on.

Giving a talk at TEDxExeter not only helped me think through my idea but it also gave it the exposure it needed worldwide. It gave me credibility in the eyes of many stakeholders. I received numerous invitations to speak, some of which I could not accept for lack of time. I still work full time, running the Manna Society, the largest day centre for homeless people in South London. Campus Party, the biggest technology conference, invited me to speak at their event in Berlin. At the event, moved by my talk, the lead worker at Facebook UK invited me to give a talk to their employees on the same topic. They have since offered assistance in publicising further our message.

Because of the outpouring of support I received from people, I led the formation of Congo Calling. We campaign for the ethical management of Congolese natural resources to help build peace and sustainable development. Many of those who have come on board were in attendance on the day I gave the talk at TEDxExeter. The campaign is more structured now. The organisation has charitable status and a team of trustees. The organising committee of TEDxExeter have been very supportive of our work.

The campaign demand that technology companies source their raw materials more responsibly has gained traction. With the help of student groups, we successfully persuaded the University of Exeter to adopt a procurement policy that favours technology companies that source their minerals responsibly. As a result of these student groups, the National Union of Students adopted a similar policy and recommended that their member guilds promote training around conflict-minerals from the Congo. Our increasing profile has enabled us to engage policymakers in the UK, Europe and US. We are campaigning for the political, commercial and legal frameworks needed to ensure the use of conflict-free minerals in our technologies, and are working in partnership with international and Congolese NGOs. We are now actively fundraising to increase the scale and scope of our work. All this has resulted from one 10 minute talk and the power of an idea.