A taste of TEDx Brighton

Posted On 27 Oct 2012 at 3:15 pm

Speakers at the second TEDx Brighton yesterday tackled the generation gap. Val Aviv reports

TED is known for being one of the best platforms for interesting and thought-provoking talks about a variety of forward-thinking ideas.

In fact “the spirit of ideas worth spreading” is the TED slogan and the talks live up to it.

TEDx is a programme of more localised events giving those of us who don’t live in California a TED-like experience.

Brighton played host to just such an event at the Corn Exchange yesterday (Friday 26 October).

The subject being explored was the generation gap – a subject that can’t be far from our minds, according to the entertaining host David Bramwell.

David Bramwell

He said: “While there are traditionally considered to be five stages of life, Brighton is unique in that there are only three stages: childhood, as we know, and then there’s adolescence which lasts from about 11 to 45, and then at 45 middle age kicks in and you think, well, we’ve got kids now and we might get a bigger house if we move to Worthing because the house prices are a bit cheaper.

“As a consequence all the middle-aged people move out and there are no elderly people living in Brighton.”

Of course, this was a humorous analysis but with elements of truth which made the entire audience fall about laughing and provided a tremendously uplifting start to the day.

On a more traditionally informative note, one of the speakers was Tim Drake, chief executive of Think Tanks, founder of charities and www.iwanttomakeadifference.com.

He shared research into some positive aspects of young people’s psychology from which the less sociable and more risk-averse elderly could well benefit.

It seems that the type of elderly person who become more isolated and unsociable may start to do so from a young age – as early as the late teens or early twenties.

Those who seem to stay mentally young have “young brains” defined by being social, creative, mischievous and open to change. They love having fun and inventing a better tomorrow.

Old brains are anxious, risk-averse, negative and grumpy. They have an “I’m right, you’re wrong” attitude, see things in black and white and love the miserable press and being generally miserable.

It doesn’t take a genius to figure out which brain it would be best to cultivate – and early. After all, it’s not intelligence that determines attitude.

Andy Bradley is regarded in the mainstream media as one of “Britain’s new radicals”.

It’s an interesting label as he is leading the way in calling for a paradigm shift in health and social care, compassion being the key ingredient of his proposed remedy.

It’s a little shameful that someone with his message can be regarded as radical.

During an exercise in his talk he asked the audience to imagine they were vulnerable and in need of a carer.

As people named the traits that most would like their carer to have, nearly the entire room stood for kindness.

His talk clearly touched people. After recent disturbing events in the news it is to be hoped that he succeeds in continuing to inspire caring professionals across the country to have compassion.

All the talks had something profoundly inspiring to say, including Clare Sutcliffe’s ideas about how children of the digital age need the chance to learn computer programming.

She believes that what she referred to as “the digital natives” should be able to become active creators rather than passive consumers.

Or Benita Matofska, who believes in building a sustainable and sharing economy at www.compareandshare.com.

For those feeling a little less than capable of sorting out the mess of our planet, she turns all that on its head with her common sense approach to sharing.

She said: “We have the ability to change the world.”

In her talk she postulated that we lived in a world that was in financial, social and environmental crisis.

She said that each day more than 40,000 people die because of lack of access to basic necessities: food, shelter and water, adding: “On the other side of the world we consume and waste.

“In our haste to consume we have destroyed a third of the world’s resources.”

She helped the audience to imagine a world where people were sharing: skills, time, talent, opportunities, resources, goods, services, ideas and responsibility.

And she spelt out powerful, believable and effective solutions.

Another moving talk was given by Geoff Warburton who has dedicated his time to the study of love and loss for the past 25 years.

He drew lessons about loss from his two grandmothers both of whom had suffered great losses but who both had very different approaches to life after loss.

He said: “One spoke often of her suffering and when she wasn’t suffering she would occasionally make it up.

“I remember one time she told me, ‘I had an operation last week. They pulled my eye out and rested it on my cheek. I could see what the doctors were doing.’

“She often would say, ‘I’m ready for the box, Geoffrey,’ meaning she was weary of life and ready to die.

But my other grandmother when faced with difficulty would say, ‘It’s all part of the game.’”

The meaning, he said, was that pain and suffering were part of everyday life, adding: “More often than not she filled her day with activities and spoke about fun things.”

His talk was insightful, humorous and quite possibly the most captivating of them all.

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