TedxSydney: A day of dreams, adventure, tears and inspiration
photo: JJ Halans
As much as I try to be I’m not a morning person, so it takes a lot to get me up and eager to be anywhere at 6.30am. After months of planning, Wednesday May 25 was one of those days. It was time to launch at TEDxSydney 2016.
When the chance to volunteer on the social media team came along earlier this year I of course leapt at it. TED/x is one of those brands that I’ve looked at in awe and wanted to be part of for years, so I was already excited to be living one dream. With a background in performing arts, the first surreal moment of the day happened when two dreams collided. In one hand I had an access all areas pass to the Sydney Opera House (the dream of my 16 year old self), in the other, all of TEDxSydney social media accounts. It was one of those moments when you ask “What is life tho??!”… or when you wake up from that dream (which was entirely likely to happen considering I was still half asleep and my morning piccolo was yet to be found).
The coffee arrived and it was showtime. Exploring every theatre and room with my mate Sam (who was at the helm of TEDxSydney Youth) we got our bearings, and our respective behind the scenes selfies, and sprung into action as the excited crowd, spotted with a few familiar faces and friends, started to roll in.
Filled with arts, culture, humanity, science and futurism, the speaker line up was epic and inspiring, but I didn’t actually see any talks, musicians or get involved in any of the activities of the day. I still felt every moment though. When it comes to social media I’ve always been a one man selfie band and, taking on Splendour in the Grass for Spotify in 2014 – living the rockstar life and running all their social channels live for 4 days from the media pit myself, I knew how intense bringing an event to life on social media is. For this one I was very happy to share the day with a hugely talented team and playing to our strengths, we all took a channel. I landed Instagram and with only one job to focus on, instead of my usual 10, I was left free to roam, talk to guests and experience the day through the eyes, and emotional impact, of others. With the right filters and well chosen words, #tedxsydney was instaliving. (I think this is what you call #lifegoalsbro!)
There were some powerful moments through the day. Peta Murchison talking about living with the expectancy of her young daughter’s death from cancer, just without knowing when it would happen, was a moment that touched everyone I spoke to, in many different ways. Nina, a young muslim woman I met, was inspired to focus less on our materiality and more on our relationships, while a 30 something white father of two young girls, Oliver, suddenly valued his daughters even more than he thought possible. Peta reminded us that some values like family, strength and raw humanity are as powerful as they are universal, and connect even the most different of worlds in the most human of ways. It’s a lesson our world never seems to learn.
TEDxSydney overflowed with once in a lifetime experiences, and not all of them happened on the stage; bossing the Country Women’s Association around to get the perfect #picoftheday (not many people get to boss this group of strong women around they told me, with the warmest of smiles); watching a friend own the stage for 60 seconds of magic with his fast idea ( so proud Gary Nunn); being immersed in an environment of incredible individuals gathered for a single purpose, to have their minds opened and to be inspired – no conference or event has ever come close to creating the atmosphere that filled the Sydney Opera House that day; and working with a hugely talented team of volunteers coming together to create a memorable, and wonderful experience (not all of whom I met, or admittedly knew what they did… but hey we did it together). These were just some of the highlights.
We even attempted to break a world record – Deb “Spoons” Perry led us in taking on the Guinness Book of World Records Spoon Playing record. Not your average day at the Opera House.
After far too many delicious CWA scones, the day drew to a close with, what was for me, the most emotional and memorable moment of the day. Backstage of the Concert Hall Gil Hicks had just finished her talk on her dedication to peace, and why she got M.A.D for Peace , creating the charity after losing her legs in the London bombings. “You’ve just stepped off stage, how do you feel?” she was asked, with a camera eagerly awaiting her response.
“Walking out on to the stage and standing on the red dot was a one of those moments when I wish I had my legs again. To feel the ground under my feet as I stood on that stage, that would have been a privilege.”
Our crew, including me, were brought to tears. To me that moment is the meaning of TEDxSydney. To stop people in their tracks with something so powerful, so meaningful, so human and so unexpected, that it can leave you breathless.
photo: Craig Mack
Thankyou TEDxSydney, let’s do it all again next year.
Next goal…a talk of my own….
To hear more about the impact that TEDxSydney had on our audience, check out our Ideas from the Forecourt
Follow TEDxSydney on Social
TEDxSydney 2016 Volunteers
ICYMI: media about the day