There’s A Fine Line Between Crazy And Courage

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“There’s a fine line between crazy and courage” said word-weaver Michael Sani kicking off the first ever TEDxYouth@Brum on Wednesday 11th October at Birmingham Hippodrome’s Patrick Centre.

What a way to summarise the whole experience. Big and bold ideas - the first one being a few months ago, with the idea to create space for a TEDxYouth event in the city. The feedback from day one has been outrageously encouraging. Fast forward to Wednesday, the Hippodrome was full of vibes, ideas, stories and most importantly, young people from across the city ready to have their minds stretched and exercised by the speakers and performers.

As we sold out the event in the first few weeks, some of you might not have got a ticket, but fear not, the livestream is still available and Lily Wales and I have summarised the whole day here. We’ll also be releasing the videos in the next few weeks.

For now, as we process everyone’s feedback and get some well deserved chill time, I wanted to leave you with some my thoughts and reflections on what made the day an incredible success.

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People Power

The event didn’t use or maximise people power, it was people power. You’ll see from past blogs and comments that I was inspired by the energy and commitment from the TEDxBrum team - from Anneka Deva bringing the concept to the city to Immy Kaur driving it forward over the last few years into a raging success. It was this unfaltering commitment to a higher level, or rather, a deeper level of conversation that inspired me to round up the troops and set off on a mission to make that little red dot relevant to 14 - 25 year olds. TEDx is an incredibly simple concept one that is not possible without quality people. Luckily, we have that in droves. In that spirit, I’ll be stepping aside and working from the background with the next Curator to apply for the licence and to grow the concept into a staple in the Birmingham calendar.

Real Voices

Our amazing coaches Mikayla and Priya worked with the speakers over a number of weeks to get them stage-ready. But for us, it was important that it still sounded like them. Not overtly polished and preened, we wanted to dance to their natural lilts in their voices, and experience them reaching for the best words that suited that particular moment on stage rather than sticking to a script. It was important to us to hear from the people who represented our city - young people, from all walks of life, from all starts going on all different journeys. One of the best things for me about the day was the authenticity of voice. It was as if we were having honest chats with the person on stage - intimate moments - despite being shared with 200 other people in the room.

Undoing Hierarchy

Our backstage was called ‘frontstage’. We wanted to immerse our speakers, performers and audience into one community, one space, in a way that removed the hierarchy whilst respected the needs of each group. We also invited each of our performers to contextualise their pieces and their stories through a one minute speaking slot before their piece. We felt this undid the notion that artists were here to ‘entertain’ - they were here to share equally important ideas and the speaking slot showed our commitment to amplifying those ideas.

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Taking Over Institutions

From jam sessions in the Atrium, to storming the stage at the end of the day for Kioko, to letting our voices swell outside of the Patrick Centre right the way up to the top offices of the Hippodrome, this was young people taking ownership of spaces and feeling that the space was their to serve them, not the other way around. There needs to be more of this. We need to demand it from our city.

Mood Matching

We’ve had amazing comments on the theme - how it felt right on trend and on time. It was clearly needed. It was important to us to show Courage to challenge ourselves and society through ideas that might push us forwards as individuals or as a city. Despite being a little worried that people wouldn’t see past the cliche, we were constantly reminded of the relevance by the speakers, our supporters and by the audience themselves.

Oh, and a killer brand helped too.

I want to say a huge thank you to the speakers and performers; it’s bone-shakingly scary to get on a stage and deliver the TEDx talk you want to even if the rehearsals ran seamlessly. You rocked it beyond belief. The tone was set from first speaker to last with a consistent flow of ideas, stories and reflections intertwined into beautiful short, snappy, honest, generous talks which allowed us a glimpse of their world and their dreams.

We couldn’t have made this happen without our sponsors and partners. The pioneering businesses and institutions in the city who were willing to lift their head above the parapet and not just say that diversity and young people are important to them and the city, but to truly invest in making it a priority. From attending the day and getting stuck in, to the Hippodrome for giving us their home for a day, to the businesses financially supporting us to make the day a smooth success, we can’t thank you enough.

To the team, who I’ll remind you is 15 - 30 year olds and all volunteers, it’s been my highlight working with you all. Each one of you has bought a different edge and spirit to the event proving we as a city are unstoppable when we work together.

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Anisa Haghdadi - Twitter: @AnisaHaghdadi

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