TEDxEastEnd’s “Society without Borders” theme arrived at the perfect time reflect on an unforgettable summer for this vibrant pocket of the capital. Held at the homely Stratford Circus, 14 speakers shared stories, poems, ideas and values with a rapt audience on Saturday afternoon.
With the Olympics still strongly alive in the collective British mind-set, the earlier talks focused on local themes and schemes designed to promote the “legacy” and integration so-heralded by the organising committee. In particular, Judith St. John’s emotional journey of how she founded the Ideas Store to give people a useful local library highlighted the importance of asking people what they wanted instead of making assumptions for them. Rita Chadha probed further and encouraged people to look beyond the snapshot images of social integration such as Mo Farrah’s gold-medals and instead focus on the daily realities of life in East London to make a real difference.
In tune with “society without borders,” the day flowed to ideas transposing geographical issues. By asking people to rethink their role as storytellers, challenging the conventional design of educational buildings, and revealing the personal side to the performing arts, TEDxEastEnd blended the uniqueness of the local with the relevance of the global. Local issues are often the same around the world, as John Bird’s Big Issue story showed, and although E15 has its own flavour, the challenges it faces are definitely shared.
The amount of discussion, ideas and story-telling that followed the event’s conclusion was testament to both the quality of the speakers and the organisation throughout the day. Leaving with more questions than answer, TEDxEastEnd re-affirmed the idea that you should “walk with those seeking truth…away from those who think they’ve found it.” A great event and a theme that will continue to change and to shape the world in the future.