TEDxEastEnd: Society Beyond Borders

TEDxEastEnd Photograph: Jason Wen
TEDxEastEnd Photograph: Jason Wen

Last Saturday Shades of Noir headed down to the Oval Space in Bethnal Green for the third TEDxEastEnd.

Incase you’ve been living under a rock, TED is a nonprofit organisation devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading”. What started as a one off event in California 26 years ago, has now become an internet sensation with talks by leading movers and shakers being shared across the globe.

TEDx is the independent arm of the organisation and thanks to social entrepreneur Maryam Pasha there is TEDxEastEnd.

Maryam, a self confessed TED obsessive, used her living room furniture for the first TEDx event she hosted back in 2012. But today, you can see how far the East London arm has come in just three short years as SoN are gathered along with an audience of over 450 for what promises to be their biggest and best event to date.

The event, hosted by Maryam and Mike Mompi, featured a five hour roster of 17 speakers. It was definitely not for the faint hearted, or claustrophobic for that matter of fact as elbow space was limited, but the stories shared were invaluable.

The theme was “Society Beyond Borders” and speakers such as games PhD researcher and independent game developer Mitu Khandaker, explained how through developing her own game Redshirt she was able to make consumers question how the games industry does not adequately address issues of gender, race or sexuality.

BBC journalist Mark Easton looked at what information we use to define ourselves starting with his childhood address in Scotland. Mark then looked at the relationship between ethnicity and national identity in the UK by drawing on census data which suggests English is becoming the new British.

I have to be honest, prior to entering the “church” of TED I was more than a little bit cynical of the concept. TED has become a cult, not one with sacrificial offerings obviously, but it has a die hard following. In our current soundbite culture I questioned the validity of the short inspirational videos but after attending the TED marathon I could not have been more wrong.

It was great to hear how practitioners are implementing change within their fields and I could not agree with Mike Mompi more, the hardest borders to cross are the ones we place on ourselves.

Shades of Noir would like to give special thanks to Callum Heckstall-Smith and his team.