Two TEDs on cities

I’m not a TED type (2016 update: TED and Pecha Kucha presentation formats have passed their best-before dates), but going by the tweets TEDxLondon: City 2.0 on 6 Dec was relatively free of the usual urrgh and so good I Storyfied it – key takeaways below, plus see also reports from two attendees (Urban Times | Rory Bergin):

  • shift into cities and mega-cities driven by baby boomers and millennials –> still don’t buy it IRT CPH
  • Pavegen – “If 100 steps from each of the 500,000 people/day on Oxford St. were on a @pavegen tile, you’d power it for 7 nights” –> generating energy by strolling, more please!
  • both the UK and the US have surpassed the peak of car use –> search n replace Denmark, bike, new ideas needed
  • Biophilic Cities – “cities that care about, seek to protect, restore and grow this nature, and that strive to foster deep connections and daily contact with the natural world” –> trees please
  • guerilla gardening!
  • “do we have time to engage with each other or are we too busy relaxing and sleeping” – IRT public/private space issues
  • social urbanism and what it means to belong: “the interweaving of human urban life is the genius of the metropolis”; empathy and how we create empathy amongst ourselves is the missing link we’ve identified today
  • “‘the invention of the car turned traditional cities inside-out’. What will happen when tech fragments shopping”
  • from ownership to access: we are on the brink of a sharing economy. How will shifts in retail change the shape of our cities?
  • hyperlocal cities where everyone’s a producer and a trader, or aspirational cities where citizens are truly global? –> a hybrid

TEDxCPH: Green natives (Conferize) on 9 Dec looked like a good follow-up. Some doubts caused by the messianic copy but after hunting down further info two of the five speakers sounded interesting. Sod’s Law of event streaming meant that I tuned in just in time for a lengthy break – Danish timekeeping at events is fluffy.

Caught a little of Søren Hermansen (energy magician; Samsø) and all of Søren Ejlersen (Aarstiderne, Haver til maver project with schools, wants the 50% of the Danish population who do nothing to urban farm; “amputated from nature”, “step out of the industrial paradigm”), tuned out during Gry Worre Hallberg (“operates in the intersection of performance art, research, activism and future studies continuously executed in 1:1 co-created experiments”, a bit Burning Man), leaving my two interesting talks.

The first was from Flemming Rafn Thomsen of Tredje Natur, who advocate “a new way of architecture, where cities and its human life are made part of curated and meaningful urban nature…city and country come together in a ‘third nature’ where the classic contradictions between city/nature, transportation/recreation, visible/invisible, /their/ours and problem/resource are dissolved and new urban communities created”. An alternative to BIG, or more of the same?

It was stated that “we’re rocking this thing!” IRT to green, guaranteed to set my teeth on edge. You would think we were already at ‘after optimisation’…

The obligatory TEDx video of the Transition Network epitomised a key issue – #sharingcph is a top down city branding strategy. From where I’m sitting there may be green entrepreneurs who have ‘gone native’ and hokey good works with shiny #some presences, but there’s a lack of genuine and visible bottom up community activity in the land of hygge. At TEDx London empathy was identified as the missing link, echoed in CPH, where people were talked of as if they were a separate species. Danes need to get out of their bubbles and talk to each other – and the rest of the world.

On which note Johanne Mose Entwistle, energy anthropologistblogs at Ingenøren, talked about “the lack of human focus in our sustainability approaches…we need to take into account the human perception of energy and energy consumption before we can change behaviour”. A big +1 for the importance of social norms and values, both of which are not in your control. It’s not all about tech and data, and different interventions are needed – see her slideset.

Most of the speakers had impeccable Danglish skills (a Danish version of The Muppets’ Swedish chef), while Johanne was at native level, rather less distracting. Hence no need for TED’s Open Translation Project on this occasion, but good to know it exists.

I’m not a Conferize fan, and after a quick looked segued over to TweetBinder, which at 23:00 is showing c300 tweets, 89 text only and a stonking 109 RTs. Baa! New: for an alternative views and some great shots of the UN building see Classic CPH’s Ted and I.

There was also a graffiti wall with some sketchnoting going on.

A final postscript on why TED is not for me: “now we have a harp”…


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