TEDx and the City

I had an opportunity today I never expected. When I first applied for a license to run a TEDx event, I never would have guessed that I would get to sit in a room and collaborate with the driving force of TEDxPerth and organisers of other TEDx events in WA.

For those who don’t know, TEDx is an offshoot of TED. TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design is a global set of conferences run under the slogan “Ideas Worth Spreading” and TEDx was created in the spirit of TED’s mission, allowing independent organisers to create a TED-like event in their own community.

I stumbled on TEDx by accident. A colleague, Jason D’argent, and I had long been fans of TED but we weren’t fully aware of TEDx – we had seen the label on some TED videos but, beyond that, it was a mystery. A bit of research showed that almost anyone can apply for a license to run a TEDx event and we decided that providing students with a voice in a recognised, respected format would certainly be a worthwhile activity. With that in mind, I filled out the application form for a TEDx license and crossed my fingers – ultimately we had decided that we would run an event anyway, we were just hoping to be allowed to use the TED branding to give it more credibility. It didn’t matter, the license was granted. That was 2012; our first of three TEDxYouth@CBC events – we hope to make it four this year.

Interestingly, 2012 was also the first large-scale TEDx event in Perth. Somehow the development and progress of TEDxYouth@CBC has followed that of TEDxPerth but obviously on a much smaller scale. I have attended each of the Perth conferences and it gets bigger and better each year. Through my attendance I had learned a few names and liased with some of the crew that make that event happen. I even managed to borrow their round, red rug for our event. Those limited interactions were nothing like today. Today, I attended a regional workshop where we talked through some of the roadblocks we face as TEDx organisers.

Aside from Jason and I, there were representatives from TEDxPerth, people from Bunbury’s standard and youth focussed TEDx events and organisers from a future TEDx event at one of Australia’s biggest prisons. Regardless of our experience, every person in the room today left energised and enthusiastic about their own events and with ideas on how to grow their conferences and ensure their quality.

So, in the spirit of sharing, I thought I would provide links to my top 3 TED and TEDx talks – you’ll notice there’s a bit of a theme.


  1. Sarah Kay, “If I Should Have a Daughter…” – a combination of spoken word poetry and personal history; a talk that inspired two standing ovations.
  2. Rives, “A Story of Mixed Emoticons” – a typographical fairy tale that’s short and bittersweet.
  3. Rita Pierson, “Every Kid Needs a Champion” – a rousing call to educators to believe in their students and actually connect with them on a real, human, personal level.


  1. Chloe Almenara and Paris Westren, “Understanding Rape” – this is my favourite of all the talks I’ve seen as organiser of TEDxYouth@CBC because its content is hard-hitting while it’s style is unique.
  2. Akala, “Hip Hop and Shakespeare?” – as the title suggests, Akala explores the connections between Shakespeare and Hip-Hop but he is discusses the wider cultural debate around language and it’s power.
  3. Tom Thum, “Beatbox Brilliance” – also known as “The Orchestra in my Mouth”; an awesome display of vocal talent blended with musical history.

Happy viewing!

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