TEDxPortElizabeth – Through the Looking Glass

On 1 July 2016, Port Elizabeth experienced its very first TEDx event, themed “TEDxPortElizabeth – Through the Looking Glass“. This is a big deal not only for the city itself but for the entire province of the Eastern Cape. It is a sign that innovative and modern learning is knocking on the door of the most “poverty-stricken province” in South Africa (Human Sciences Research Council report).

So what exactly is TEDx?

To answer that we would first need to know what TED is. I place a small wager that most people have heard of TED Talks but do not know what the acronym stands for – the answer is at the end of this piece.

Simply put, TED (without the x) takes a more global approach with its events and speakers. There is a stringent set of rules and a particular format that needs to be followed. You will usually find celebrity speakers and speakers from all over the globe talking at TED conferences. Their view is usually global, which means we can all take something from their talks.

TEDx (yes, with the “x”) is focused more on the local community where the event is taking place. You will usually find local celebrities at these events or even a librarian who has a secret to tell that will blow your mind. Officially the “x” in TEDx stands for “Independently Organised”. This means that anyone has the ability to host a TEDx event in their city.

It’s no easy task to hold a TEDx event!

Look, before you get all excited and start sending out invitations to your mates to join your TEDx event in your grandmother’s backyard, you need to know that just because TEDx is independently organised doesn’t mean there are no standards and rules that need to be adhered to. If you do not believe me, have a look for yourself at the TEDx rules.

Ummm… not so keen on hosting an event now? TED takes its mission statement and purpose seriously and we can all be thankful because wherever we see its brand, we know what to expect. Quality.

The Port Elizabeth TEDx Team

The Port Elizabeth team, who I am sure sweated blood organising this event, consisted of nine people, one of whom I became acquainted with – Enter the Curator and Founder of TEDxPE Ramon Thomas.

Although I only chatted to Ramon for a short while, I can see he is an energetic human who genuinely wants to see growth wherever he goes and whatever project he takes on. I am pretty sure the Eastern Cape is a frustrating place to be, but one thing you can be sure of Ramon – if it works here, it can work anywhere! Keep on knocking down doors!

Passion was the order of the day!

When a seven-year-old got onto the stage to share his passion about palaeontology and dinosaurs at TEDxPE, I really didn’t expect any fireworks.

For me, the fact that Caleb Zealand had the opportunity to share his passion with a room full of thirsty minds accomplished a lot more than we can imagine.

This experience will allow Caleb to grow with confidence in his chosen field. It may just have triggered an important event that will echo through the sands of time – “South African makes remarkable discovery in the Eastern Cape that will change the way we see evolution” – reads the headlines…

Pretty cool hey? Imagine you had those kind of bragging rights when you were seven years old!

For the very first TEDx event in the Eastern Cape, the “Through the Looking Glass” event went off superbly well.  Ramon and team from TEDxPE – I shall definitely be attending your next event after you catch your breath!

I leave you with two things before ending this piece.

1. I mentioned in the beginning that not many people know what TED stands for as an acronym (even though they have watched hours of the talks)… well here it is: Technology, Entertainment and Design -TED began in 1984 as a conference where Technology, Entertainment and Design converged, and today covers almost all topics — from science to business to global issues — in more than 100 languages.

2.  My favorite TED talk by Simon Sinek that really helped me discover my reason behind many of the things I do by asking myself the question “Why”.

If you take one thing away from this piece, let it be this:

Resources: http://tedxportelizabeth.org.za

Tweet Author Jono Bruton: @jonobruton

Jono Bruton