2017 Main Event: Home:
“For me, home is the place that when I got there, I tried to make it better.”
The words of historian and museum curator Subhadra Des rang out in the grand People’s Palace of Queen Mary University on 5th November for our main TEDxUCLWomen event. The red-lit stage and inspiring female speakers captured the attention of our 685 guests from start to finish. This year’s theme of ‘Home’ brought a whole range of different talks, from survival on mars and homelessness, to colour changing fabric and spoken word!
For Subhadra, home is a place of growth. Opening with the story of Robert Goldston’s 1855 eugenics lab on Gower Street, she explains the importance of telling these stories. In the past, eugenics were a way to measure the pedigree of race, “a scientific way of deciding who gets to live” and who doesn’t. For Subhadra these shocking histories must be told. They are so close to home, and need be taught “so we can make a better future”.
For speaker Olesya, talks like this are what makes TEDxUCLWomen special. She says, “it’s rare to have events that focus on inspiration and empowerment”. But here, we create an experience that inspires our guests to think about things differently.
For speaker Jules Orcullo, home can be difficult to find. As a Filipina-Australian woman she draws on her experience in theatre to explain ‘diversity’, as a white word. She says, people often focus more on the ratio of white, to non-white actors, than on individuals behind these numbers. So, as a theatre-maker, Jules made it her purpose to create a space that crosses cultural lines, “where inter-culture hybridity is the norm and not the anomaly.” Jules says these spaces can be achieved everywhere when we begin to; “question the structures that teach us what to value” by “learning where they come from”.
TEDxUCLWomen works hard to create a space just like this. First-time attendee Indira expressed, “when I think of home, I think of not having to conform”, in this sense, TEDxUCLWomen is, “like a home” too.
But, for Dr Olesya Myakonkaya, soon our home will be in outer-space! By the year 2050, she believes humans will begin moving to Mars – to do this, we need Human-centred Design. Often technology is developed just for progression, but Olesya wants to “reverse this focus” and start with the “human need”. If we are going to create a home in outer-space, the human experience must be brought to the centre of the design process. This could mean making, “windows with no technical function” just to make the experience feel, “more human”.
Between our 11 thought-provoking talks we also hosted workshops of yoga, mindfulness and spoken word. Led by Wanda Canton (spoken minds facilitator) and Banana Sharma (spoken word poet) our spoken word workshop gave guests a safe, inspiring space to explore spoken word poetry. As artists themselves, Wanda says, “we know what it’s like to be nervous” so instead of lecturing people, “we’re here to share the experience.” Ultimately, she says, “it’s about bringing people together and celebrating them as creative individuals.”
On top of all this, our experience gave a local zine and art fair where guests could meet local writers and artists who share the TEDxUCLWomen values.
Please connect with us on social media to follow our continued collaboration with these amazing speakers, artists, and writers and for more events in the upcoming year.
By Leonie Collinson