“Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” A quote of Mahatma Gandhi is the core message of this TedxBarcelona Change evening. The main theme is healthcare. Together with 200+ people, I sit down in the Col-legi Official d’Odontólegs, hoping to hear about the future and get a glimpse on how we preserve our health 40-50 years from now. Will it be similar to the science fiction books and movies we are able to read and watch on screen? Will the new basis be 3D printing or genetic manipulation? Or is it something we can’t even imagine today. What if healthcare isn’t necessary because diseases and ageing no longer exist? Let the story telling begin. Lay back in the olive green chair and listen to the TEDx talks: here and now. But before that, get in the right relax mood to make you receptive for disruptive thoughts that will stretch your mind. The Mediterranean music fills the room and the soft voice of Susanne warms it.
Big lighting. A white screen turns black, white and all the other prism colors. We are thrown into the galaxy and suddenly we are live in Seattle with Melinda Gates, Halimatou Hima and Roger Thurow. They talk about social allies, illimi, women voices, disease of the soul when looking into the eyes of someone dying of hunger, youth leadership and the role of influence.
Roger Thurow, a factivist, is putting the following bold question out in the world: Why is famine still happening in the dawn of the 21th century while we are producing more food than ever before? Ending hunger must be the singular achievement of our age.
A great story about influence, using social media and a happy ending is ‘Damn. I need a kidney.’ A guy from Minnesota bypassed 7 years of waiting because 19 people reacted to his tweet and one was a perfect match. This is what I mean by creating your own future.
You should really see the gifted poet David Fasanya speak to be convinced on how Facebook can help change the way we see scarcity and provide a real call to action. Facebook is our most powerful tool to share knowledge on a compelling story so that the voiceless gain voices (instead of posting ‘I just brushed my teeth’).
And last but definitely not least, two fifteen year-olds explaining how they prevent polio and ensure clean drinking water in their slum in India. And what do they want to become? A moviemaker and a lawyer, because lawyers know everything.
In addition to the talks, there was some promotion taking place. The catapult platform was introduced to crowd-fund projects worldwide to help girls, women, communities, businesses – just about everyone. And also the pop up fellowship good.is about creating your civic community is worth a visit.
It is amazing with our achievements in connectivity, all around the world we can listen to these words on hope and positive disruption. When a story in Seattle finishes, applause is heard in venues in Dunkerque, Brussels, Dubai, Oslo, Vienna, Khartoum, and Berlin. At the same time, on the bottom of the screen you can see the simultaneous reactions from all these places and the live streaming on Twitter about the talks and quoting phrases.
Back to Spain, to the creative, dynamic city of Barcelona to experience the power of ideas worth spreading with 14 live presentations.
Such as the danger of HIV, since still more than half of the youth population doesn’t know how to protect against it. The alternatives for donating food include giving cash so local people can decide how to best invest and spend it themselves. About challenging negative stereotypes by seeing the value of a radiator (radi-aid) and the danger of the response ‘oh dear’. How finding peers can help to build a system to take control and provide solutions for diabetes type 1. What the best job EVER looks like. How a single drop of blood can help to deal with the fact that every 5 seconds a person is considered obese, every 2 seconds someone dies from cardiovascular disease. To collaborate on a large scale as an approach to resilience revolution in the horn of Africa. On how to increase informed decisions. Turning to the crowd for a solution to discover malaria parasites by gamification. And, that all children should have the possibility to flourish as a genius 14 year-old kid from Spain.
Some ideas are worth mentioning more in detail because they had a spark, a real disruptive world-changing idea or just put a smile on your face, because things can be done differently as well. Others were remarkable, such as Fran Equiza. He talks about rethinking how we give aid: ‘How patronizing to assume that we know better for the poor what they need and want. We trust banks with millions of dollars and they deceive us. Being poor doesn’t mean being bad with money, just not having access to it. They should decide upon themselves; giving cash gives hope. No strings, no restrictions, no advice. Just an investment to prevent hunger.’ However, in order to make this cash flow solution possible, he relies on the banks. Hence, the message was somewhat contradictory and I wasn’t completely convinced.
One message that was clear on changing stereotypes was from Sindre Olav Edland-Gryt. Now it is Africa for Norway: Radi-Aid. The message: mess with peoples minds to get new thoughts. He concluded his talk with let’s laugh ourselves to a better world. Just watch this movie, and you’ll see what he means.
Let me introduce someone who wants to recruit you for his cause and his job is very sexy. Quique Bassat: ‘My job is cool. It is the best job in the world. Although I am not an astronaut, rock star, award winning writer or Michelin star reviewer, who gets great food for free. None of them, I am a global health researcher. It makes me useful, because I can make a change.’ And he continues to explain that his research will make a change in health care: ‘You are in the top media, they write about you. Influential people, famous people come to visit you. And concluding, research in global health is cool, because you can find your love. What are you waiting for, sign here. You’ll love it! This was probably the best introduction of the evening, although, the following isn’t bad either.
Spotlight on. A man in black. A venture capitalist, the bad guy. Who says no to 98% of the proposals on his desk and makes a living of pulling down ideas. He doesn’t invest in ideas, he only invests in the execution of an idea with the right team behind it. But, change is on the way. He is on a mission to stimulate bold innovation. In what? In social health care, because you can make money out and also have a social impact. So, he as well, offers a possibility to sign up.
Jordi Marti needs help. He needs a drop of blood to test for silent killer diseases. A democratization of prevention. A gamechanger in health care. His request: if you are a healthy student of medicine, join us and help us to get the data act approved. Dry blood spot screening. Very inspiring when a solution is being presented, that enables millions of people to get insight in their medical condition to act upon.
We love to play, so why not use it for a good cause like what is being done with reCAPTCHA. Gamification as a diagnostic tool in health care: you shoot the parasites in the blood. Go to malariaspot.org and help the research. Goodbye to the lab rats, which take 20 minutes per sample, while just 1% of all gamers could investigate all the blood samples worldwide. And besides helping in healthcare, this new digital world creates employment and it can make our children specialist before they grow up.
Getting out in the fresh air, you realize that you heard a lot of stories. Serious stories, funny stories, stories that make you sit on the edge of your chair. And you realize, the TED preparation is good. Some speakers were really drilled in their presentation: go back in time and tell a personal story of someone you met back then, show the picture of Walter, Victor or Lara, and tell his/her sad story that made you aware that change is necessary. And then say: I want to make a change! Involve the audience by asking if they can identify with a cause by raising their hand, because they know someone or something: has anyone ever …? When was the last time that ..? Do not talk too fast, do the Clinton walk by facing the audience at all times and use slides with beautiful pictures and almost no words.
The speakers I described more in depth made it unforgettable. They made it worthwhile! But what about the future of healthcare, here and anywhere? For now it still seems quite incremental, not the giant step in mankind. But probably we need to build upon these small steps and one day inventions such as dry blood spot screening and malariaspot will make healthcare accessible for all. They will show us the way to the future.
Challenges are no longer excuses, they are opportunities.
It is also my responsibility to contribute to a better world.
Believing in people creates possibilities
When you have enough to feed your family for a year, you have the chance to dream and work on improvement.
We must forget about fate and move forward.
Nowadays, influence is just as important as money.
You have to ask people personally to support and to act on it.
Invest today to prevent for tomorrow.
The future speaks to the present through the actions we take today
When used wisely, angriness can be used creatively and spurs new ideas.