From TEDxKitchen to TEDxBrixton
I've been writing and rewriting this story for a while now. But I've decided that this is the final cut.
So let's begin. I'm going to tell you how I ended up volunteering during my vacation, and why I don't regret a minute that I spent doing so.
It was early August when a budget airline had a sale on flights from my hometown to London. And without hesitation I bought a ticket, and planned the trip to happen on the week of my birthday. A while later, when I was planning where to go and what to see (first time in London), I remembered my post-Active resolution: that I'll attend a TEDx event. And without giving it much thought I went to the TEDx portion of ted.com and started browsing for events. TEDxBrixton was to be held on the day of my birthday. I was thrilled, what better birthday present then to travel somewhere and get a TED fix? I went to their website to see if there was registration or stuff I should know about. And as a three or four years ago, a button that said „Volunteer“ appeared. Remembering what had happened last time when I clicked such a link (started translating as a part of the OTP), I wanted to see what awaits me if I decide to do it. I was going on vacation, but this would mean two days dedicated solely to TEDx, giving me two less days to be a tourist. But I had a feeling that it would be a whole different experience to get behind the scenes of what was looking like a promising event. I applied, and soon was in contact with the wonderful people behind TEDxBrixton. The theme of the event was „When worlds collide“, and it had some great speakears. Alexi Owumi, Amma Asante, Simon Parkes and Peter Cochrane to name just a few.
And my oh my did the worlds collide. I came in on Friday, day before the event, kind of lost because I would probably never even go to Brixton if it was not for this. I've met in person most of the people that I've emailed with, and without further ado we got to work, from helping to lug in the production equipment, to filling the TEDxBrixton bags with a few goodies, there was no time to waste, 'cause the tickets have been sold out and everything had to be perfect. The main event of Friday was actually the speaker dinner, which would, surprisingly enough, host the speakers.
Now, anyone who has ever organized anything knows that if something can go wrong, it most certainly will. The food that was supposed to be served was delivered in plastic containers which we comically drove around in the director’s car and of course we had trouble getting into the venue, since obviously a public space in a town hall needs security precautions as a prison. But there was more: we received plates that needed a second washing. Without enough room, it's kinda hard to wash 40 plates in time, but we managed. We had almost everything set up, and the last thing coming in was the cold cuts to be served before the actual dinner. The shop delivered 4. That's right, I said 4 slices of some salami. For 40 people. With minutes to the arriving of the first guests, you can imagine what it looked like. But a shop was found, meat was served, tummies were full. The volunteers were invited to stick around and mingle, but I was barely standing, and tomorrow we were starting at 7 am, so I opted out for my bed. We succeeded and that was all that mattered.
Colliding of worlds a.k.a the main event
And now came the actual event. We had early breakfast and were assigned stations. And I was pretty lucky there. I was manning the exhibition area, which saw most traffic during the breaks, which left plenty of time to see the talks, and a whole bunch of speakers came up to the area to have their portrait stitched. I had a great conversation with Peter Cochrane about Internet security and security in general, and it was awesome to meet that man. I tried out the Oculus rift, got a 3D printed bracelet and saw a lot of exciting talks.
Oh yeah, I forgot to mention that I explained in detail to Alex Owumi what the OTP is, and that my friend from Taiwan was watching the livestream and that she’s going to transcribe the talk when it’s published. He was really great about it, and found it really cool that we help spread ideas the way we do.
And coming from Croatia, I was kind of a mascot, and everybody was asking me how come I decided to do this, what’s my motivation,and so on. I used every chance I got to tell them about the OTP, show them the patch that is sewn into my bag. And I can tell you that everybody was amazed with our efforts, said that they appreciated it a lot and encouraged us to keep going.
It was a roller coaster, an exhausting two days that made my stay in London that much more memorable.
And it was completely worth it. I’ve met amazing people, seen great talks, seen the impact it had on the community, heard all the excitement, the questions: Will it happen next year? I’m sure it will, because I know that the feeling of accomplishment after the event makes it all worthwhile. I jumped in at the very end, but I’ve heard the obstacles, the challenges, heard about the sleepless nights, and all the effort that went into making it happen. And all of the people that made it happen, after the event said that they can’t wait for next year. I can honestly say that I can’t wait either. I was invited to come next year. And if I’m able, I know where I’m gonna be when I go to London. This is one of the things, in a long line, that would never happen if it wasn’t for TED and the OTP.
So thank you to everybody that has become a part of my life through these amazing projects. I can say that I have an awesome tribe around the globe, which now includes awesome TEDxers. I wish us many more of these encounters, many more experiences and awesome memories. This was one of my best birthdays to date. That’s it for now. Bye, Ivan