Who has the power to end poverty?

Poverty isn’t one simple, easy-to-identify problem. It’s a catch-all term for droves of problems that stem from many sources. It’s daunting to think about solving such a sprawling issue, but there’s power in that too. Change needs to happen at so many levels that everyone from local communities to big governments can make a tangible difference.

Below, TEDx Talks with creative ideas about how to make a dent in poverty at three different levels — local, national, and global:

**Become the leaders of your own community: Boniface Mwangi at TEDxKibera
Boniface Mwangi calls on his community to demand representation and take charge of it’s own future. Kibera, the urban slum around Nairobi, is the largest in Africa. Despite the creativity of local innovators and entrepreneurs, infrastructure remains unsound and human rights abuses are widespread. At TEDxKibera, Boniface calls on his neighbors to demand justice and take action before outside sources forge their future for them.

**For money, insert human rights: Susan Randolph at TEDxUConn
What’s more important for a government hoping to improve the lives of its citizens: growing its economy or strengthening its social safety net? According to Susan Randolph, one might not work without the other. She measures a country’s human rights achievements, relative to its GDP per capita. She’s found that a country’s economic growth is unstable when it’s not coupled with policies that secure citizens access to the food, health, education, housing, work, and social security that’s within the country’s means. Reducing poverty is hardly just about money; it’s about guaranteeing citizens reasonable levels of dignity and stability, too.

**In defense of foreign aid: Joe Cerrell at TEDxASL
Wealthy countries like the US and UK have impressive aid programs, but many of their citizens view these as a colossal waste of money that ought to be spent solving the problems at home. What that argument usually misses, however, is that foreign aid makes up a near infinitesimal portion of most national budgets and that even those modest investments make a tremendous impact. Concerns about implementation notwithstanding, Cerrell makes the case that the spending is well worth the cost.

Even the most organized email inbox is mind-numbing to look at, let alone to parse. But a team from the MIT Media lab has created a new way for you to see your email, as an intimate and elegant visualization of your life, organized around people.

Tracing every email you’ve ever sent, a new tool called Immersion crafts a complex web of our lives and relationships. The program maps your personal life in a web of circles and lines that shows who you’ve communicated with and how often since you first opened your email account.

Curious who you emailed the most in September 2010? Or how many 3am emails you’ve sent? Immersion can even trace a specific relationship, from the first email sent, to the most recent exchange.

Watch data scientists Deepak Jagdish and Daniel Smilkov explain how Immersion works and how it came to be:

Read more on the TED blog

Turning chaos into creativity: An interview with a part-time superhero

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Jess Thom wants you to know that it’s okay to laugh. “You’re going to hear the words biscuit and hedgehog a lot in the next few minutes,” she says at the beginning of her talk at TEDxAlbertopolis. That’s because Jess has Tourette’s syndrome, a neurological condition that causes involuntary movements and noises commonly referred to as tics.   

In this extraordinary talk, Jess explains how she has turned her condition into a source of creativity and artistic expression, empowering herself to become a superhero instead of a sufferer.

We spoke with Jess about learning to embrace creativity and humor, and her responses were really lovely:

You bring so much humor and joy to living with Tourette’s syndrome. How have people reacted to your message, and to your TEDx talk in particular?  

When I first started Touretteshero, an organization that celebrates Tourette’s syndrome with everybody, I had no idea how people would respond. I was worried some people might mistake my celebration of Tourette’s for a joke, but so far, that hasn’t been a problem. There is, of course, a big difference between laughing at someone and laughing with them. Shared laughter has helped me get through some very difficult times.

While little can be done about the physical impact of tics, improving the social impact of the condition is something everybody can play a part in. The response to my TEDx talk has been amazing; lots of people have been in touch with thoughtful questions and ideas for future collaborations.

During your talk, you said: “Even the most challenging aspects of the condition have creative potential.” That idea really stuck with me. How did you discover that creativity, and how did you learn to embrace it?  

It certainly wasn’t an easy process. I spent years trying to ignore my tics, and I was desperately afraid of them being noticed and commented upon. As they began to intensify and have a bigger impact on my life, I learnt to explain them to other people. Developing this skill has improved my quality of life more than any other intervention or treatment.

A key turning point was when my friend Matthew described me as a ‘Crazy language-generating machine.’ He told me that not doing anything creative with my tics was wasteful. This comment transformed how I felt about my condition. Rather than wanting to hide my tics, I felt excited to share them.

There are currently over 5,000 of my vocal tics on touretteshero.com, and they’re ready and waiting to be turned into works of art by anyone with creativity and imagination.

Do you remember a specific moment or project when creativity helped you see Tourette’s in a new light? What was that experience like for you?    

One cold autumn afternoon, just as we were starting Touretteshero, I travelled across London to meet my friend Alex. Together, we recorded a very special interview. Rather than ignoring my tics, we decided to let them lead the conversation and see what strange stories would emerge.

We called this interview ‘Live Talk’, and however surreal and unusual it might be, recording it was a liberating experience. After years of battling to have coherent conversations despite my tics, giving them a free rein was extraordinary. I remember traveling home that night excited by what we’d done and wanting to do more.

How would you encourage others to embrace creativity in their own lives, no matter what conditions or circumstances they face?  

Creativity has helped me transform myself from a Tourette’s ‘sufferer’ into a Tourette’s superhero. But it wasn’t that my tics suddenly became more interesting overnight or that I’m unusually strong or brave. I just learnt to see my condition in a different way.

To others I would say, be open to finding creativity in unusual places; don’t be afraid to make mistakes or to experiment with new ideas; do ask for help when you need it; and be ready to see things from other people’s perspectives. It’s not essential, but I find wearing sparkly pants and a shiny cape helps too.

Touretteshero has helped me realise that ignoring problems never works, but that laughing a lot often does. Most importantly, I’ve learnt that if something’s not working, I have the power to change it.

Watch her whole talk here: 

Welcome to the first playlist in Slovak: 4 talks in Slovak

At TEDx we are excited to present to you our first playlist in Slovak. With more than 20 TEDx events in this Central European country, we thought it was high time to showcase some of the fantastic talks coming out of the region.

Below, 4 talks in Slovak ranging from multiculturalism in the playground to the shifting role of hacktivism in Slovakia. Enjoy!

Vitajte pri sledovaní prvého playlistu v slovenčine.

Sme nadšení, že môžeme v rámci TEDx uviesť náš prvý slovenský playlist! Po viac ako 20 TEDx podujatiach v tejto stredoeurópskej krajine sme dospeli k záveru, že je najvyšší čas predviesť niektoré z fantastických prednášok pochádzajúcich z tohto regiónu.

Nižšie nájdete štyri fascinujúce prednášky v slovenčine, siahajúce od multikulturalizmu na detských ihriskách až po meniacu sa úlohu hacktivizmu na Slovensku. Vychutnajte si ich!

Revolutionary organic vegetable farming: Ján Šlinský at TEDxBratislava
Meet Ján Šlinský, a farmer who believes that farming should be done another way, the AgroCircle way. In his charming talk at TEDxBratislava he expounds his unique system of community supported farming, putting forward that vegetables should be grown organically and with TLC. (Filmed in Slovak with Slovak and English subtitles.)

Zoznámte sa s Jánom Šlinským, farmárom, ktorý verí, že farmárčenie by sa malo robiť iným spôsobom – pomocou agrokruhu. V tejto čarovnej prednáške na TEDxBratislava vysvetľuje jeho unikátny systém farmárčenia podporovaného komunitou a odporúča pre zeleninu trochu nehy.(Natočené v slovenčine so slovenskými a anglickými titulkami.)

About hacktivism: Juraj Bednar at TEDxBratislava 2013
In this talk at TEDxBratislava, Juraj Bednar talks about the role hackers play in Slovakia as well as on a global scale. (Filmed in Slovak with Slovak and English subtitles.)

V tejto prednáške na TEDxBratislava Juraj Bednár rozpráva o úlohe, ktorú hackeri zohrávajú na Slovensku, ako aj v globále. (Natočené v slovenčine so slovenskými a anglickými titulkami.)

(R)evolution starts in heart: Ivana Sendecka at TEDxNitra

There is always room for self-improvement. With this in mind Ivana Sendecka quit her job and moved back to her home town and founded the Next Generation Leaders of Slovakia. At TEDxNitra, Sendecka stresses that it is never too late to find something to fulfill you in life.

Vždy existuje priestor na sebazlepšovanie. S touto myšlienkou Ivana Sendecká zanechala svoje zamestnanie a presťahovala sa späť do svojho rodného mesta. Tam založila „Next Generation Leaders of Slovakia“. Na TEDxNitra Sendecká zdôrazňuje, že nikdy nie je neskoro ísť za plnohodnotným životom. (Natočené v slovenčine so slovenskými a anglickými titulkami.)

A foreigner raised in Slovakia: Mengtong Duan at TEDxKošice
Mengtong Duan might not have been born in Slovakia, but after growing up there, he feels like he belongs there. At TEDxKošice, Duan discusses what growing up being marked as different has taught him and what the growing multiculturalism means for Slovakia today.

Mengtong Duan sa nenarodil na Slovensku, ale potom, čo tu vyrástol, cíti, že sem patrí. Na TEDxKošice sa Duan zaoberá tým, čo sa naučil dospievaním ako outsider a čo dnes vzostup multikulturalizmu znamená pre Slovensko.