A journey to discover the people who change our world.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

TED2008 is off to a galloping start.

If every there is a gathering of exceptional lives, and minds, it is at the annual TED conference held in Monterey, California each year. TED2008 is set to be no different, with over 1000 leading thinkers and doers packing out the conference hall, to hear about current topics from global development to scientific breakthrough, architectural design, the latest in technology, anthropology, psychology, and educational thought… and so much more. Interspersed between the 20 minute sessions are musical and comic interjections, ensuring that both the soul and the mind are catered for. The audience brims with interesting and interested people: filmmakers, mathematicians, engineers, writers, poets, entrepreneurs, medics. It is deliberately a wide mix of disciplines; where ideas can mingle and bodies of knowledge shared. This year’s conference theme is “The Big Questions”. Who are we? What is our place in the universe? Is beauty truth? Will evil prevail? How do we create?

But TED is more than just a conference. It is a movement to inspire inspired thinking, and it is a body of people who are committed to change. Each year TED award the TEDPrize: $100,000 and a wish to change the world, no ambitions spared. It is a lofty aim, but with the community of people in the room, and now online, the Prize has proven that great things can happen. Three prizes were awarded last year. One of them, to the biologist O.E. Wilson has enabled him to start the Encyclopaedia of Life, an online resource to catalogue, aiming to name and describe all the species on the planet. Another prize given to filmmaker Jehane Noujaim, whose wish is about to come true on May 10th this year, when people all around the world will be linked in a global day of film called Pangea Day. This year the prize goes to writer and social activist Dave Eggers, the religious writer, Karen Armstrong, and mathematician Neil Turok. There wishes will be revealed this evening, to be streamed live online (5.15pm US/ Pacific Time).

While the conference fee is high, and waiting lists long, the Web has transformed access to TED. Throughout the year talks are posted online, open to all, on the main TED site Some talks have had over 1million views since posting, creating a remarkable sense of positive ideas spreading. Alongside that, the TED blog (www.blog.ted.com) will be feeding content and comments from the 2008 proceedings and flickr providing some images here.

You have guessed it, I’m a HUGE fan. One day I would love to get to the conference, but for the moment, broadband will suffice. Thanks TED.

Fairtrade Fortnight

Fairtrade fortnight launched this week in Dublin, to promote ethical trading and fair trade. To coinside with the launch and exhibition of fairtrade products is hanging in the windows of the Irish Aid Volunteering and Information Centre on O’Connell Street.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Social Entrepreneurs on Newstalk

Those turning in to Newstalk (106-108Fm) over the last few Sunday’s will now have been introduced to some of Ireland’s emerging social entrepreneurs. Documentary maker Louise Williams, has been taking us on a journey around the country, interviewing emerging ‘changemakers’, as part of her new series about social change in Ireland. From Claire Murieann Murphy’s storytelling antics in Galway, to Carol Doyle’s fairtrade fashions in Cork, Louise has been introducing us to just some of the interesting projects supported by Social Entrepreneurs Ireland this year.

The series will continue until March. Tune in every Sunday from 1-1.30pm on newstalk. A full line up of programmes can be seen here, and past programmes can be downloaded here.

A Reconsideration of Rats

Rats and Clare don’t generally make a pretty combination, but this week I have been reconsidering my stance. In the space of a week, I have heard about an organisation in Mozambique, called APOPO, three times.

APOPO trains “Hero Rats’, African Giant Pouched Rats, to detect landmines. With an advanced sense of smell, but still light enough that they do not detonate the mines, the rats are able to cheaply, but effectively, clear large areas of land in Mozambique,- a country still riddled with the legacy of civil war. But there is more- the rats can also be used to sniff out disease and are being currently used to detect TB.

I got to see the rats in action when documentary maker Simon Reeve visited APOPO on his recent Tropic of Capricorn adventures, as broadcast on BBC.

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Launch of Suas Alumni

Greeted by the vibrant drumming of Happy City Samba Band, over 250 guests packed into Dublin’s City Hall last week for Suas’ Alumni inaugural event. ‘From Aspiration to Action’ was held to honour the achievements of Suas since its inception five years ago, and crucially, to engage more people in helping to make Suas’ vision a reality.

Speakers included Colman Farrel, Suas’ current CEO, and Mary Davis, CEO of Special Olympics Ireland, both of whom acknowledged the importance of young people in helping to create a more inclusive society.

An exhibition (put together by myself) accompanied the evening. To view images from the event click here. You can read Suas’ news item about the event here.

Next on the Suas Alumni calendar is the annual St. Patrick’s Facepainting fundraiser. The challenge has been set to beat last year’s €32,000 record. To find out more, and to get involved, check out www.suas.ie… the more the merrier!

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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Social Entrepreneurs Ireland- Applications Open for 2008 Awards

Social Entrepreneurs Ireland, an organisation with supports the development of social entrepreneurship in Ireland, is now accepting applications for its 2008 awards.

In their own words;

‘Social Entrepreneurs Ireland’s mission is to spark social change by identifying, investing in, and supporting some of Ireland’s most exceptional emerging leaders and the organisations they launch…Social Entrepreneurs Ireland directly supports the early stage development of social entrepreneurs by providing a range of supports. These supports consist of financial investment in social entrepreneurs, technical training, peer networking, mentoring and links to other social entrepreneur networks’.

Check out www.socialentrepreneurs.ie for more information.

(In line with the 2008 award announcement, SEI have also re-launched their website, on which some my WDYDWYD? Images make a happy appearance- enjoy!)

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