Eastern Europe: Collaboration in the desert

There’s a saying in Poland: “Put two Poles together, you’ll get three opinions.” So I wasn’t sure what would happen when the whole of Eastern Europe and Russia got together to brainstorm for “Desert Day” at TEDxSummit, and I certainly wasn’t expecting it to be an example of collaboration, but TEDxSummit was surprising in so many ways!

We started off by resolving a real-world political issue — our Turkish TEDx’ers had first to decide whether to join Eastern Europe, the Middle East or demand the creation of a new category, what they called “Mediterranean Europe”. Their badges said Western Europe but they seemed pretty adamant that wasn’t an option. In the end they were persuaded to stay with Eastern Europe and their experience was invaluable. We also had to reassure Russia, who said one of their biggest problems was that no one thought they belonged in Eastern Europe. Believe me, as a Pole that was a new one for me.

Our Ambassador, Vlad Fiscutean, had the unenviable task of leading a group of TEDx’ers from countries that are more usually labelled by their location behind the former Iron Curtain than by their unique cultures, histories and futures.

He did a great job and the outcome was hugely encouraging. Of course we talked about the problems we face, we had the inevitable discussion about what process to use and how to report back. But most of all, we met each other and made the fundamental human connections that will mean that future collaboration between TEDx’ers in this rich and interesting region is inevitable. Watch out!

Written by Ewa Spohn, TEDxKrakow

Someone Not Me: Masarat Daud-Jamadar, TEDxShekhavati

This is one in a series of interviews exploring the personalities of some of the TEDx organizers who gathered in Doha, Qatar for the TEDxSummit. Interviewd by Sartaj Amand of TEDxBMS in India. 

Who are You? Which TEDx are you associated with? What do you think makes your TEDx unique?

I’m Masarat Daud-Jamadar. I currently stay in London. I’ve organized TEDxShekhavati in Rajasthan, India and a TEDx in a Box event called TEDxGawair in Bangladesh. What really differentiates TEDxShekhavati from other events is the fact that it’s the only rural TEDx event in India. It has a reach of somewhere close to 5000 people and just this notion of an American conference being held in an Indian rural context is fascinating. Ideas are beyond borders, and TEDxShekhavati proves it!

What’s your TEDx superpower?

I understand and move the rural person. I connect with them and have this urge to do something different.

What are some of things you don’t like? What makes you angry? Who are you NOT?

I despise the arrogance and ego which sometimes comes to people who start or participate in an initiative. I dislike those who cannot take criticism because they seem to forget that the event is not about them, but all about their community.

What’s the first thing or word that pops into your head when I say:

TED:Chris Anderson
The City 2.0:  Streets
Earth: Green
Home: Rajasthan

Written by Sartaj Anand, TEDxBMS

Someone Not Me: Aurelie Viotto, TEDxEQChCh

This is one in a series of interviews exploring the personalities of some of the TEDx organizers who gathered in Doha, Qatar for the TEDxSummit. Interviewd by Sartaj Amand of TEDxBMS in India. 

Who are You ? Which TEDx are you associated with ? What do you think makes your TEDx unique ?

I’m Aurelie Viotto from France. And I’m associated with TEDxEQChCh, TEDxLyon and TEDxGrenoble. TEDxEQChCh is different from other TEDx events because it was started as a solution to rebuild Christ Church, New Zealand. We invited experts from all over the world to come and re imagine the city, which was hit by an earthquake on February 26th. We had just 2 and a half months to organize the event.

What’s your TEDx superpower?

I like helping people get things done. The coordination between teams and the vision of the event is something important which I really like to do. Speaking and managing people are some of my other strengths.

What are some of things you don’t like? What makes you angry? Who are you NOT?

I absolutely hate lack of transparency and respect, for the self and for others. I dislike how people are noncommittal and sometimes make no attempt to take advantage of diversity and simply do things for egotistical reasons.

What’s the first thing or word that pops into your head when I say:

TED: Tears

The City 2.0: Christ Church

Earth: Environment

Home: Friends

Tasting TEDx

There are so many moving parts that TEDx organizers have to keep track of -– crazy speakers, troublesome venues, disappearing volunteers and demanding sponsors- – so I’m a bit wary of adding something else to the list. But after blogger Mme. Fromage’s brilliant challenge to think about how our TEDx’s will taste, I can’t resist.

It’s food. Everyone eats and most people enjoy eating. And food has a great way of bringing people together. And given that our TEDx events are about bringing people together, how we feed our guests is a powerful — and underused — tool.

It’s so easy to go with the standard catering at the event venue – you pay, they serve and clear up. However, we can be more thoughtful.

Here are some zero-calorie ideas that I came across at TEDxSummit that you could think about:

  • The first idea was to involve small, locally-based and independent food and drink vendors. One Australian TEDx invited local burger and coffee trucks to be at the event and sell delicious burgers. It was a win-win for everyone: People got fed with great food, a local business built awareness with the TEDx organisers while at the same time building awareness of what they do.
  • It can be even smaller: at TEDxSabanciUniversity in Istanbul, they had tiny sculptures of the speakers made out of sugar paste, which they then gave to the speakers as thank-you gifts. The sculptures were made from photographs of the speakers by the friend of a local coffee shop owner.
  • TEDxDelft integrated a sponsor into their tea break; the European Patent Office served a range of patented food products. So their guests got to eat something unique, and built a relationship with the sponsor.
  • In 2011, TEDxKraków decided to test out a holistic approach to feeding guests and contacted a group of local organic farmers in the spring before the event to sow the food we were going to eat. They also invited a Danish chef to be a speaker. As she won’t talk about food without serving it, a Danish lunch was part of her talk. She drove from Denmark with a colleague and some typically Danish ingredients, the TEDxKraków team hired a catering kitchen and some people to help, and lunch was a beautiful Danish-Polish collaboration. The experiment worked on many levels: Not only was the food great, but the process meant that the young Polish cooks who helped prepare the lunch were also exposed to new ways of cooking and thinking about food.

Written by Ewa Spohn, TEDxKraków