TEDxClapham 2018: Innovation and inspiration meet at The Grand

Featuring a former Team GB diver, an entrepreneur with an underground farm and a free-speaking rapper, TEDxClapham was always going to deliver on its promise to share ideas.

The brainchild of Alex Merry, ably assisted by a team of volunteers, the event returned for a third year after successful showings in 2015 and 2016, this time taking residence in The Clapham Grand. So often host to many nights out, it now found itself showcasing some of the finest thought leaders from across the globe.

One thing the organisers seemed keen to do from the start was erase the speaker-audience divide that often occurs at events such as these. Hence practical workshops, short classes and plenty of breaks to speak to various event partners ensured the day was broken up effectively and made the process feel much more interactional than merely transactional.

Key to this was the new concept, slotted in at the start of the final session, whereby a stream of audience members were given the chance to share their own ideas. Offered 30 seconds each on stage, this proved a fascinating and, indeed, highly informative part of the day. From recycling to teaching, self-help to personal success stories, these were very well-received and surely a feature that should gain further use at other events.

While the day was grouped under the theme ‘Grow’, there was an excellent diversity in subjects, if at times you felt each had a little more to say than fitted their allotted time slot.

Of the speakers, there was high quality across the board.

Any chance to gain an insight into the mind of an elite athlete should be seized with both points, and Leon Taylor did not disappoint.

Rounding off the day were ‘Not Meat’ duo Pete and Andy, whose journey from burger bar businessman to ‘bad vegan’ evangelists was a particularly vivid insight into an increasingly visible global movement. Taking in their initial meat-based success to their quest for a completely authentic, meat-free dish and desire to improve their environment, they kept it very light but clearly shared their key message.

The time given to sex education advocate Billie Quinlan (pictured) was also enlightening. A little soundbite-heavy but obviously passionate and determined to affect change in sex education and attitudes to sexuality, it certainly gave those in the audience pause for thought.

With lunch provided by Potage and welcome mid-event treats distributed by ice cream brand Oppo, there was a sense of collaboration for mutual benefit across the board — and after the success of this year’s event, surely there’s appetite for more in future.

Arguably the most astonishing performance of the day came from south London rapper Che Lingo (pictured). By his own admission completely unscripted, instead he spoke purely from memory and from his heart. His opening monologue touched on some key issues, but it was his closing poem, spoken without notes or prompts, that really struck home, charting the path of a fictional character based closely on his own experiences, from life to death.

From underground farms to the experiences of a rapper in inner-city London, these vastly different subjects were given space and opportunity to thrive thanks to TEDxClapham, and the hope is it will return again next year for more.


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