TEDx Totnes


9 months of full immersion and change involved in running TEDxTotnes

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As a confirmed fan of TED talks and with a strong sense of adventure, Gillian Healey decided to apply for the licence to run Totnes’ second TEDx event on May 12 this year. She was excited at the prospect as she enjoys going out of her comfort zone and accepting a challenge, and she was aware that it would be hard work and not a straightforward project. It would be a live event after all, and the technical team from the previous event had warned her: ‘It’s a live event, things won’t go to plan.’

Now the event is over, Gillian reflects that it was the nine months of planning the event which were the biggest challenge for her – a journey which she has found equally fulfilling and frustrating, with the end result of total delight at how brilliantly the live event went on May 12. Her un-ending positivity and true grit got her through it all, and she has come out feeling a better, more enlightened person!

Luckily hardly anything DID go wrong on the event day itself – and the 100 strong audience were not even aware of the inevitable small slips that happened. It was unanimously agreed to be a great success, live streamed to KEVICC where over 500 students watched it through the day, as well as being shared live around the world. There were over 250 logins to the live stream with people watching it in Portugal, Jordan South Africa, and the US.

KEVICC’s live-streamed it into the Ariel Centre and the Assistant Principal, Ben Cotton, summed it up: “it was a phenomenal success. Our students were inspired, provoked and challenged.” Everyone who watched felt the same. And Gillian says this is how she felt throughout the whole TEDx planning and production experience.

“When I was first asked to apply for the TEDXTotnes license, I said no,” she says. “I wasn’t ready. Then I realised I had been handed the opportunity of a lifetime and I would definitely regret not doing it. Now it is done, I am so glad I took it on and I know I have grown neurons as a result, and the self development I have gained has been amazing.”

Gillian’s journey to running the TEDxTotnes event in Dartington began with finding a team of volunteers to help, and deciding on a theme for the day. TEDx have strict rules and stipulations about how their events are run, which protects the brand, and adds even more to the value of anyone involved in a TEDx event.

“I had been told by my predecessor, who ran the first TEDxTotnes event, that finding the right team to fill the roles TEDx stipulate are needed, and having them on board as passionate about the event as me, was vital. Luckily I found some local dedicated ‘TED lovers’ who also had the skills needed for the team: technical, social media, PR and marketing and event planning for the day.

“Based on the roles the TEDX licence spelled out, I looked for busy people because they are the ones who get things done! BUT they are busy, and this is all voluntary. Sadly, I lost two team members over the months because they took on too much in their own work and personal lives. There is a lot to do and the team really had to prioritise it in their busy lives,” she continues.

“Several times I came across new hurdles that I wasn’t expecting, and needed sorting, and there was no-one in the team with the time to take them on. So it all fell on me, I was the only one with the whole picture of how the event would run, and a few times it felt overwhelming. I even had to stop my own work in January to concentrate fully on TEDx. That was tough on my family, but they were so supportive, and got me through.

“Some valuable advice from the TEDxExeter licencee was not to give somebody a task that is not in their realm, but stick to their passion and expertise. That was very true. It is hard to delegate when you don’t understand the process yourself. So I needed to immerse myself in everything in order to understand what could be handed over to the various members of the team,” says Gillian.

The next important step was to decide on a theme. “I did not know what I wanted but went with my gut feeling, and came up with title ‘Change’ the day after Brexit,” continues Gillian.

“I love change and I embrace it. I like to put myself in different situations to make change, just as I was doing by running the TEDxTotnes event, so I felt it would be an interesting one to investigate with the speakers. The theme needed to be broad enough to encompass a diversity of talks from science and technology; the economy; education; health and wellbeing; music and poetry and more.

“I was delighted with how it came together. Another interesting thing with TEDx events is there is no full dress rehearsal, as it is then too ‘staged’ and loses the spontaneity of the event. This meant that the day of the event was the first time I had seen all the speakers together, in the order I had put them, interspersed with recorded TED talks which fitted the theme. That was amazing, and an emotional journey for me.”

How did she choose the 12 speakers?

“This was a massive part of my job as the licencee and something I was looking forward to, though I had no idea how complicated and time consuming it would be,” continues Gillian.

“TEDx wants local people who are not used to speaking, as their modesty and vulnerability is endearing to the audience. About 50 people applied to speak, then they had to provide a 3 minute video, which helped me narrow down which talks would work on stage. The hardest thing was having to tell people that their talk would not work this time for various reasons.  Luckily I worked with Danielle Krage, the brilliant speaker coach, and she helped me explain why certain talks were not quite right for the TEDx format.

“Then the speakers had to hone down their talks to around 12 minutes, learn them by heart, and deliver them standing on the red spot on the stage. TEDx stipulates that they must not have political or religious slants, and they must avoid offending anyone. We had a massive process working with the speakers, for months, taking things out of the talks. Even the titles had to be really considered. Danielle was really helpful thinking about the broad spectrum of who might be watching the talks and coaching the speakers to find that inner nugget that each one wanted to get over to the audience. Some of the speaker’s stories were almost unrecognizable from the beginning to the end of the process,” says Gillian.

Gillian is delighted with how the day went and hugely proud of the speakers she chose. “They were all brilliant,” she concludes, “and so great that they were local. I knew that, even if they were not the best in their field when they first applied, it was a chance for them to journey towards becoming the best. TEDxTotnes gave a voice to people who do not usually get heard. And I am so proud to have been the cog that achieved that for them on May 12.”

All change – and for the good!

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The second TEDxTotnes is well and truly happening! Tickets all sold out on the day they went live last week without any mention of the speaker line-up, which proves the strength of the TED brand and the value placed on its events.

A selection of fascinating speakers will entertain, inspire and provoke deep discussions to the 100-strong audience at The Barn Cinema in Dartington, on the theme of ‘Change’ and what that means to them. And to us, the local community. For the first time, the event on May 12th will be streamed live to KEVICC and the wonderful, newly restored Totnes Cinema so that students, teachers, and all those people unlucky enough not to get a ticket, can share and connect with this exciting event.

Living in Totnes, we know that Change is a theme close to many hearts. There are some amazing people and businesses here working hard to bring positive change to the local economy, the wider community and hopefully the world through their connections and by sharing their experiences.

One such business is The Kitchen Table, who, for the second time, will be catering at the TEDxTotnes event. Based in Totnes, The Kitchen Table was established in 2011 and has catered for many weddings, business lunches, family feasts, celebrations, funerals and community events since. They focus on using the best of local ingredients, often bought directly from the producer or grower, cooked with imagination and flair. The Kitchen Table are excited to be working with us again, commenting: “We catered the first TEDxTotnes event using ingredients donated to us by local businesses – it was a hard slog and a huge success. We are looking forward to this next one!”

The Kitchen Table will be coordinating the catering along with Food in Community, a social enterprise that rescues surplus organic produce and distributes it to community groups and organisations.  Their ethos perfectly matches the ideology and principles of TEDxTotnes, bringing people together in a community to share and inspire each other.  They ingredients for the event will be donated by Riverford, Tideford Organics and The Almond Thief – another three successful and sustainable local businesses.

The staff and students of Schumacher College, Dartington will also be donating their time and energy to the day – again a perfect fit for TEDxTotnes 2017 and its theme of Change.

Schumacher College has an enviable reputation for cutting-edge learning and people from all over the world, of all ages and backgrounds, have been informed, inspired and encouraged to act, by their 25 years of transformative courses for sustainable living.

Just like we want to do on May 12, the college’s aims are, “to inspire, challenge and question ourselves as co-inhabitants of the world, to ask the questions we all struggle to find answers to and to find sound knowledge, intuition and wonder in our search for solutions.”

Things are changing fast and often incomprehensibly in our local and global worlds. A day spent thinking about how it affects us, what it means to us, and what we as individuals and a wider community can do, will be hugely valuable.

6 weeks already – TEDxTotnes talks are LIVE!

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It has been just over 6 weeks since TEDxTotnes took over The Barn Cinema. It was a truly inspirational day thanks to our fantastic speakers and a wonderfully engaged and responsive audience.

Since then a lot has been happening behind the scenes and we thought you’d enjoy an update.

TEDxTotnes now available online. If you haven’t seen them yet, find out what all the excitement was about.

Jon & Mat Price’s talk, How shame made us Proud2Be was shortlisted by TEDx. Every week TEDx pick their top selection of TEDx talks from around the Globe to circulate to their 3million+ YouTube subscribers. Last week it was Jon & Mat and their talk has now reached over 2000 views!

They’re in the 1000’s! Benjamin Mee’s talk and Claire and Ru Callender’s talk are proving a real hit on YouTube. If you haven’t seen them they are inspirational and both could have a profound effect on the way we do things now. Definitely worth watching!

Caspar Walsh’s TEDx talk was in the National Press! Many thanks to Caspar Walsh who wrote a piece, which was published in the Guardian and cited his TEDxTotnes talk. You can read it here.

As you can see, a lot has been going on and now it’s time to focus on the future. If you or someone you know would like to be a part of the next TEDxTotnes please do not hesitate to contact us.

Thank you for your continued support.

Wow! Over 1050 people watched TEDxTotnes from 23 different countries!

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One week on and the team are still buzzing from what was an amazing TEDxTotnes.

I knew we were on to a winner as I stood up to introduce the ‘first ever TEDxTotnes’ and a wonderful whoop emerged from the audience so thank you, it was a feeling I will never forget.

The Barn was a wonderful venue, intimate and inclusive. As you may or may not know we are limited by TEDx to 100 attendees on the day and as you probably do know, we sold out in under 10 hours. BUT what you definitely won’t know until now is that on the day we were joined by 1067 other people via our livestream.

1067 people from 23 countries. This is truly amazing!!!

Countries included: UK, Ireland, United States, Germany, Spain, Japan, Belgium, France, Netherlands, Switzerland, UAE, Sri Lanka, Brazil, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Greece, Hong Kong, Poland, Austria, China, Lithuania and Sweden! Wow, simply WOW!

I think it’s safe to say that Totnes and it’s TEDx speakers are firmly hitting the Global map and to secure this Defacto Film are working hard to edit the content so we can get the talks online and live for you to watch again, circulate and help show the world what an amazing place we live in.

So what’s next?

We are now working hard with Defacto Film to edit the content and create our first TEDxTotnes online talks. We will let you know as soon as the talks go live so you can watch your favorites again. Please forward this email to anyone who you feel may be interested in watching the videos so they can sign up for updates.

Join the #30days challenge

If you haven’t started already you still have time to join our #30days challenge.

During TEDxTotnes we showed Matt Cutts TED talk. A wonderful 3 minute talk that demonstrates how by doing something in 30 days or for 30 days you can achieve more, feel better, live more vibrantly.

We challenged our TEDx audience and now we’d like to challenge you to do something. You still have 21 days left. What could you do in #30days? Write a book? A poem? Swim 10 miles? Run 20? Have a go and tweet us using #30days.

TEDxTotnes 2016…

Do you know any companies or organisations who would like to help us bring TEDxTotnes to you again in 2016? We are looking for sponsors for 2016 so please do forward this to anyone who would like to be associated with this exciting event.

Once again, thank you for showing an interest in TEDxTotnes. It was a huge success and it will be our pleasure to bring it to Totnes again in 2016.

Warm regards

The TEDxTotnes Team

#30days challenge….join in!

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At TEDxTotnes we showed Matt Cutts TED talk.

Matt spent a year doing something different for 30 days. He wrote a book in 30 days, gave up sugar for 30 days, did a triathlon in 30 days and many many more things. His suggestion is that if you do something for just 30 days (or in 30 days) you experience more of life. Whether you like it or not the next 30 days are going to pass so why not do something for that 30 days?

So, we challenged our audience to try something for 30 days. Either do one thing a day for 30 days, such as write a poem a day or watch a TED talk a day or achieve something in 30 days, run 20 miles, give up chocolate, write a selection of poems. Whatever you fancy but give it a go.

So do join us. What could you do for #30days? Tweet us pictures, updates, frustrations, inspirations and we’ll retweet and join in.

On the 8th November at 19:00 we’ll all gather together on twitter and see who did what.

Go on, give it a shot! There are still 21 days left!!

Good Luck.

BREAKING NEWS: We’re live-streaming!!!

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We are delighted to announce that we are going to be live-streaming this Friday via our TEDxTotnes website.

If you missed out on tickets or simply want to dip in and out of the talks please visit our website between 09:30 and 17:00 and you will be able to see our talks and performances all of which are taking place in the Barn Cinema, Dartington.

The programme can be seen here: http://www.tedxtotnes.com/about/programme-timings/

We hope you enjoy it!

The TEDxTotnes Team

That performance that blows your socks off…

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Today we had our first rehearsals for our speakers and performers in The Barn Cinema, Dartington. The speaker team, the tech team and our morning speakers and performers gathered to rehearse their talks.

It was wonderful and I’m not just talking about the content. The most humbling part of this event and I’m certain every TEDx event is that each and every speaker has put an enormous amount of time, energy and passion into their talks.

It reminds me that whether you agree or disagree with our speakers on friday we are lucky enough to live in a world where people are willing to share their ideas on an open platform. We are lucky enough to have freedom of speech!

At TEDx events speakers are willing to lay themselves and their ideas bare for others to listen, question and debate.

It is a risky position to place yourself in, it makes our speakers vulnerable, open to critique and also open to praise but regardless of what the outcome or response the fact is that they are doing it and I for one take my hat of to them.

If you can’t make it on Friday, watch live via our website: www.tedxtotnes.com

Guest Blog: Sima from The Kitchen Table

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Next month The Kitchen Table is catering the very first TEDx talks in Totnes. We’re so excited to have been invited to be a part of this fantastic event – some amazing speakers are coming to Dartington and in collaboration with the very best producers and suppliers in Totnes, we are making a sumptuous lunch for guests, speakers and performers on the day.

With fruit, veg, dairy and some larder ingredients from Riverford, bread from Seeds2Bakery, mayo and eggs from Laydilay and delicious mushrooms from GroCycle we are going to make soups, salads and cake. Tea and coffee is coming from Plymouth Tea and Owens Coffee and soft drinks from Luscombe’s so everyone attending will be well fed and watered.

The theme ‘In our Hands’ is an interesting one – for a small town in Devon, Totnes has a history of great entrepreneurial endeavour, small businesses thrive here and the legacy of the Elmhirsts at Dartington continues. Transition Town Totnes has put us on the map as a community focused on planning for the changes peak oil will present and there is a multitude of amazing projects and schemes that bring business, community and ecological awareness together. From eco-affordable housing, to edible public growing spaces, local grain growing to community owned breweries, we are a melting pot of great ideas, community development and cohesion, innovation and success. The Kitchen Table has benefitted greatly from this culture of mutual support – we source all our key ingredients from within 30 miles of Totnes and have some really wonderful suppliers providing us with delicious, seasonal produce.

The TEDxTotnes programme is packed and the speaker list is really incredible! Emily Stewart – Travel Writer, Samjhana Moon – Photographic Artist, Benjamin Mee – Author of We Bought Zoo, owner of Dartmoor Zoo, Claire and Rupert Callender – Ceremonial Undertakers, Rob Hopkins – Director of Totnes Community Development Society, Ryan Doyle – Chair of Local Heroes, Hugo Tagholm – Cheif Exec of Surfers Against Sewage, Kath Maguire – Public Engagement Champion, Padraic Flood – Science Communicator and FlameLab Winner 2014, Jon and Matt Price – Proud2Be Founders, Adam Saynor and Eric Jong – Urban Mushroom Farmers, Casper Walsh – Author, Journalist and founder of Write to Freedom. There’s also Matt Harvey, Jackie Juno, Kuki and The Bard and Billy Bottle and Martine performing! I hope I get to hear some of the speakers as well as serving food and drink to the 100 guests.

We look forward to meeting you there and hearing some inspiring and informative talks!

Sima Cutting – The Kitchen Table

Are you sleeping your way to the top?

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I wonder how many TEDxTotnes delegates are Type A? Quite a high percentage I imagine?

In this witty and refreshing TED talk Arianna Huffington urges us to shut-our-eyes and discover the power of sleep. Her big idea, an idea she claims can unlock billions of ideas, we need to get more sleep!

The way to a more productive, more inspired and more joyful life is getting more sleep. She urges women to lead the way and literally sleep their way to the top.

A funny and light-hearted talk that holds a lot of truth. I find it reassuring at night when worries surface (have I ordered enough Owens Coffee and Plymouth Tea for the wonderful TEDxTotnes delegates?) When I start to worry I remember Arianna’s talk and remember to relax and sleep.

I am going to shut my eyes and discover the power of sleep. Are you?