Community and Youth 20 November 2010 – Review

This review reposted with the kind permission of Meld magazine and the author Connie Foong. The original article can be viewed here. SOME 150 people attended the fifth TEDxMelbourne conference held at the State Library of Victoria on Saturday November 20. Themed Community and Youth, leaders of non-profit organisations and grassroots social and community movements across Australia shared their perspectives on a range of issues, including developmental aid, social enterprise, design and community development, the environment, social media, and artistic expression through dance and theatre. Devoted to “ideas worth spreading”, TED started out in the United States as a one-off conference in 1984 bringing together people from the three worlds of technology, entertainment and design. Since then, the TEDTalks have gained a strong global following by making the trademark 18-minute presentation formats available for free online, and spawning numerous  independently organised “TEDx” events around the world under license from TED.com. Highlights of the November 20 TEDxMelbourne conference included presentations by landscape architect and founder of Community Oriented Design Lucinda Hartley, who showed design was not just applicable to urban cities, but relevant to rural communities as well; Adam Jaffrey who witnessed how a single punch could change a life and began the anti-violence movement Step Back Think; and Cairns-based indigenous youth advocate Tania Major’s honest assessment of the harsh realities indigenous youth still have to face today. Emilie Zoey Baker’s slam poetry performance on cyberbullying and the over-sexualisation of youth also left an impression. Teacher Scott Duncan, said the diverse views represented at the TEDxMelbourne event left him with much food for thought, and what he could do to serve the community around him. Monash University student Leon Toh, 23, said the conference’s focus on community and youth was something “especially close” to his heart. “It brings together cross-disciplinary ideas and different ways of engaging with the youth, so it’s been very enlightening… It wakes you up, and inspires you to do more,” Mr Toh said. TEDxMelbourne organiser Jon Yeo said he was very pleased with the day’s events – the calibre of the speakers and the way volunteers worked hard to “pull things together”. He said the power of community was evidenced through the success of the TEDxMelbourne conference. “It’s the strength of community that enabled us to pull together about twenty volunteers, who were willing to put in blood and sweat and tears overnight, working full-time jobs, and working till some silly hour in the morning to make things work,” he said. “This is the power of community – no one is paid to do it; no one has to do it, yet it happens, and things come together, just as good as any professional organization.” He said future plans would focus on putting ideas into action through fund-raising events, focus groups, and growing an online community through Facebook.

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