A Note From The Curator
My TEDxBrum journey began initially from the sidelines; gripped watching the livestream of Marking The Map in 2013 from my flat; inspired by the likes of Jodi Ann Bickley’s totally mesmerizing story and Seasick Soul’s (Amerah Saleh and Jaden Larker) captivating poetry.
The city was bursting at the seams with the spirit of youth. Incredible new people and ideas were gathering momentum from the ambitious team at TEDxBrum, which would later grow into Impact Hub Birmingham, and the murmurings of a street art festival that would go onto become the formidable City of Colours, to counter culture poetry nights such as Poetry Jam that would go on to become Beatfreeks. Movements built on the need to bring communities together, when outside forces were pulling them apart.
Four years later, our young people in our city are now, more than ever, affected by some of the highest rates of poverty in the country, ruthless cuts to mental health services, hiked up tuition fees and a rise in islamophobia and hate crime. The uncertainty of Brexit and a hung parliament is leading to unprecedented levels of anxiety, exacerbated by a divisive media rhetoric that builds despair, scapegoating and fear.
Young people are too aware of the realities that face them - asking them to not feel afraid is patronising, dismissive and, to be blunt, rude. Instead, how can we encourage them to walk through this world with an acknowledgement of that fear and uncertainty, but not be burdened or held back by it. Nelson Mandela said “courage is not the absence of fear, but the mastery of it". It’s this that’s driving our young people and our city forward; courage. Citizens recognising their fear, and its validity, yet moving fiercely through the world anyway. Immy Kaur, curator of TEDxBrum shared her reasoning behind choosing the theme of ‘Perspectives’ this year arguing that “Fear cannot be crawled away from, it must be audaciously fought.”.
As TEDxBrum moves into its fifth and biggest year yet, it feels right to continue to build on the TED platform, alongside the TEDxBrum team, recognising the spaces that young people in the city want and need, to hold conversation, share ideas, and be inspired by stories of people who have had courage to master their fear.
There’s an incredible opportunity here. In five years, where will the young people we reach at this year’s TEDxYouth@Brum be? How might this platform enable them to unleash their courage to become future mayors, artists, leaders, entrepreneurs, engineers, teachers? What can we do to flip the script and change the narrative around ‘young people in this city’ by changing the conversation to involve young people? How can we acknowledge the trauma young people face whilst creating space for them to cultivate hope?
Working alongside 20+ other leaders in the city, and supported by Immy and the TEDxBrum team, I’m gathering up my own courage to curate the first TEDxYouth@Brum on Wednesday 11th October 2017 at Birmingham Hippodrome which will lead into ‘Perspectives’ from TEDxBrum on Sunday 15th October.
I’m excited, and a little afraid. But that’s the point.
Anisa Haghdadi - Curator