TEDxRio+20 is happening in Rio this weekend — June 11th and 12th — before the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development: RIO+20. 

The venue of TEDxRio+20 is being built especially for RIO+20 (see its amazing construction above), and is at the Forte de Copacabana, between Copacabana and Ipanema. Called Humanidade2012, the space was specially built to bring reflection and also deepen the understanding of a possible model for development that considers the impacts of past, present and future to ensure better living conditions around the world. 

This TEDx event is a regional collaboration between many TEDx organizers in Brazil: TEDxRio, TEDxLaçador, TEDxSaoPaulo, TEDxAmazonia and TEDxVilaMadá as well as TEDxPelourinho, TEDxBaiadaIlhaGrande, TEDxTombo, TEDxBeloHorizonte and TEDxVer-o-Peso. 

With speakers like Vik Muniz, Kiran Bedi, Fabien Cousteau, William Kamkwamba and more, TEDxRio+20 will unite diverse thinkers to understand and analyze HUMAN POWER, a force with the great capacity to destroy, maintain, and above all, to construct a new planet and a new way of life.

Nos Amanha: TEDxLuanda, the first TEDx event in Angola

TEDxLuanda is the first TEDx event in Angola — a country in southern Africa that was once a Portuguese colony, but gained independence in 1975. We spoke with organizer Januario Jose on the upcoming event (which happens on May 26th):

What led you to organize a TEDx event in Luanda?

We live in one of the most expensive countries in the world, where the economy is growing fast, however, still that does not reflect in our communities, still lot of basic work do be done, and things like education and health still not yet available to everyone. As a creative person, who is always looking for new things that can improve peoples lives, by empowering them and exposure them to the open world, I thought Luanda needed a TED experience. With that, I can inspire people to connect and engage with the rest of the world in way that can allow them to share their dreams, projects and ideas…

What has the help been from the Portuguese-speaking world? TEDx organizers in Portugal and Brazil, both who have very active communities?

The help has been little but useful: organizers from TEDxRio, TEDxO’Porto and TEDxVimaranes. Advice and support through social communities online, has been great. But we need more engagement and source sharing, and we are discussing some ways to create them together. 

How did you decide on the theme of the event Nos, Amanha (Which translates to We, Tomorrow)? 

Right now our society is a little bit vulnerable, the values are changing, people focus more on substance, and with that some cultural and social values as been left out. I want things to change, and by organizing the event TEDxLuanda, I am sure people will be inspired and motivate to change and with new way of thinking and doing things will emerge, for a better tomorrow, and that is the reason of the theme “We, Tomorrow”.

Who are some speakers you are most excited about?

I am excited about all of them, and I think all will bring a different vibe to the event in constructive way, but Yago de Qay and Deborah Cardoso Ribas (a 16-year-old writer) are making headlines.

What is your goal/ideal outcome for TEDxLuanda?

My goal is to open the minds of all Angolans, and inspire them with TEDxLuanda events every year until we are all connected to the world in the right manner, that open some doors to the global stage. I also want to incentivize communities in Angola to engage more and take action by using the resources available to them in order to build a more sustainable community.

Check out the TEDxLuanda website »>

Follow TEDxLuanda on Twitter »>

Like the TEDxLuanda Facebook page »>

TEDxMogadishu: A Rebirth of Hope


TEDxMogadishu — the first TEDx event in Somalia — will happen on May 17th.

Between 50 and 100 people from diverse backgrounds will attend the event to listen to Somalis discuss the rebirth of Mogadishu. The event will be livestreamed for Somalis who can’t attend (e.g., the diaspora) and people who are interested to learn about the positive changes happening in Mogadishu.

The goal of the organizing team is to build a foundation for more events in the future, and to hopefully give Mogadishu a steady and fresh platform for spreading ideas. We spoke to team member Sebastian Lindstrom about the event:

Why Mogadishu — what led you to organize a TEDx here?

We had an opportunity to go to Mogadishu to film the opening of First Somali Bank, and while planning this trip, we brainstormed with Somalis living in the city about how to further share the positive stories taking place. TEDx has become a worldwide movement for sharing ideas and innovations taking place at the local level, and it seemed like a great fit. Mogadishu is changing, and while some in the media have picked up on it, the general perception of Mogadishu remains negative. We feel it’s important to share what’s really happening and we want to showcase positive stories for those who care about this dynamic city.

Who are the locals you’re working with?

We are working with Liban Egal, the founder of First Somali Bank, and his team in Mogadishu. They have linked the organizing team to a wide variety of Somalis — those who have returned to Somalia over the past few years and those who have lived through the conflict — who are supporting this initiative in various ways. We are crowdsourcing from the Somali and Somali diaspora’s Twittersphere to track down resources and awareness. Basically, it’s all very much a team effort on a worldwide Somali basis.

How did you choose the theme of your event — does it relate directly to the political situation, or is there a broader meaning?

The theme focuses on positive changes happening in Mogadishu, irrespective of the political situation. Many Somalis think Mogadishu has recently reached a turning point now that there is no active fighting inside the city for the first time in decades. There are thousands of Somalis returning home to open businesses, buildings sprouting up and being reconstructed, and there is a real sense of rebirth in a marginalized, misrepresented community that feels that its time has come. We realized this was the right moment to hold the event. So on the 17th a group of Somalis from different walks of life will share their stories of how Mogadishu is changing and their ideas for the future — this is TEDxMogadishu.

What are some of the challenges you knew you would face?

Safety concerns. Even though Mogadishu is changing, there remain significant security concerns that we cannot disregard. We are taking ample precautions so that adequate security will be in place. We are comforted by the fact that we’re holding an apolitical event with no agenda other than providing a platform for Somalis to communicate positive changes happening in this city to the world.

The second biggest challenge was timing and communication. Remote organization isn’t possible, so much was done on the ground over the past week. However, this city tends to operate quite last minute, so it hasn’t been a problem to find great speakers and attendees.

What’s a challenge that was completely unexpected?

Isolation anxiety. Because of security reasons, you cannot, as a foreigner, openly walk the streets of Mogadishu. So, you end up spending a lot of time in one place, which can result in a case of island fever.

What did you expect to be challenging, and wasn’t at all?

We thought that finding a venue was going to be a huge problem, but it worked out superbly.

What’s one thing about Mogadishu and Somalia that you wish everyone knew?

Despite its perception, Mogadishu is a beautiful city filled with hard working and extremely entrepreneurial Somalis. Both Somalis at home, and those in the diaspora, are optimistic that a turning point has been reached after 21 years of conflict.

Tell me about your speakers!

Speakers will include a wide range of Somalis and one foreigner. Some have recently returned to Mogadishu and others have lived through the conflict. They include: a chef and restauranteur, a real estate developer, the founder of a university, the founder of the First Somali bank, a healthcare specialist, someone who works with rape victims and former child soldiers, a Somali journalist, a camel milk mobilizer and more.

Tell me a good speaker story — maybe a speaker who was hard to find or convince.

Elle Elman will give a talk about her work with rape and sexual assault victims and the rehabilitation of child soldiers. Her father started the Elman Peace and Human Rights Centre and was an ardent peace activist in the 1990s, who coined the slogan “Put down the gun, pick up a pen.” He was killed in 1996 for trying to promote peace in Somalia. Elle left for Canada and three years ago came back to support her mother’s work with that same organization; more on the organization and her mother can be found here and here.

She is of the new generation in Somalia and has returned to her country during these difficult times.

Read these stories about her father, which are good to mention, since he was one of the initial major peace advocates; and people in Mogadishu know his name well.

Check out the website for the event: www.TEDxMogadishu.com

Follow on Twitter: @TEDxMogadishu

Email for more information: info@TEDxMogadishu.com