Thursday, June 07, 2012

Quick synopsis of TEDxBelfast 2012

TEDxBelfast logo
A huge mix of disciplines and backgrounds were represented at tonight’s TEDxBelfast, the second TEDx event to be held in the city. The audience of one hundred sat in front of *those* cinematic stairs and listened to nine short talks with ideas worth spreading, as well as a musical interlude. Davy Sims was part of the team organising the event, and he explained before the evening began what it was all about.

David Maxwell spoke about fuel poverty and ways of tackling heat loss in new houses. Eliminating the need for a central heating system also removes the cost of fuel and maintenance. Find out more at Tyrone Timberframes.

Maureen Murphy said that 70% of traditional work-based training is a waste of money and suggested better ways of making learning stick, including better use of story-based and social approaches, and noting being afraid to raise emotions. Find out more at Aurion Learning.

Fransuer Mukula compared and contrasted world views of children in Kenyan slums (who “dare to dream”) with children in NI and spoke about the effect of taking a group of children from the school in which he teaches to Kenya. Find out more about his charity Jengana.

Colleen Hardwick spoke about the need for deliberative democracy and the need for politicians to continue dialogue throughout their term of elected office. Evidence-based decision making was key, but to avoid gaming consultations responses, it required people to be less anonymous. PlaceSpeak offers a way to authenticate end users’ geographic location, and allow them to be surveyed/feedback to those running consultations, without giving away their personal details.

Declan McKerr and Andy Toman provided music during (and after) the break, beautifully playing locally-made Lowden guitars.

Chris Blake talked about the act (and art) of “accompanying”. In his case, it’s playing along with autistic children as they explore their musicality, and building relationship with them through music. But his three steps of “listening; looking for cues; and taking the risk to join in” seem to apply to others fields too.

Nigel Hart spoke about mountains, medicine and mantras. He was part of a University College London team who climbed Everest to investigate how and why hypoxia affects some people more than others. Mountains offered perspective and space, and he offered some of his own observations (mantras) on journeying.

Anne McReynolds’ self-deprecating talk got most the most laughs of the evening as she outlined a set of lessons she learned while building the MAC: the human mind and abstract concepts don’t always mix; you need to learn to accept what you’re not good at; involve the end users early and often; some people will give generously with their time (particularly when you have access to them in the first place). Her passion and enthusiasm at least partly explains how the MAC came to be built.

Colin Williams runs Sixteen South, a production company that makes children’s television for broadcasters around the world. He spoke about fear, illustrating it with his owns fears about setting up his own business, fears about being able to keep winning work. He also talked about childhood experiences of violence, saying that @the years of violence and fear consumed our [NI’s] creativity”. He finished with a vision for Belfast:

Our city needs

New fathers

Trusted rulers

People of integrity

Not people of fear.

Chris Horn was the final speaker and asked where science and art collide? Science Gallery has been set up in Dublin to be a dynamic showcase for science. With no entrance fee and a decent café in which you can meet scientists and artists, their exhibitions go beyond simple childish scientific displays and offer an insight into real science. With a grant from Google to spread Science Gallery to other cities and exhibits from Dublin that are touring around museums world-side, he offered a vision of high-quality, accessible science that paid attention to how the science was explained in a way that art exhibits might.

The videos from tonight’s TEDxBelfast will appear on its website over the coming weeks.

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