On Saturday I spent a fascinating day at Nottingham’s Contemporary listening to a diverse group of speakers deliver their take on ‘family and community’
TED started out in 1984 as a conference combining great minds from technology, entertainment and design – with the tagline ‘ideas worth spreading’
The main conferences are super expensive to go along to – but the good news is you can watch lots of free videos online (I’d really recommend this one)
And the even better news is, all around the world there are groups organising independent (and much more affordable) TED events you can attend in person
The conference on Saturday was (extremely well) organised by TEDxLaceMarket – with excellent speakers and big comfy chairs!
We were there from 9am til 4.30pm and I barely noticed the time go by Here’s a few of my personal highlights…
Mark Westcombe’s talk on living on a cohousing estate is definitely the one I’ve been thinking about most since the weekend
Cohousing is a community of people who have intentionally created that community
Each has their own private home, but they also have a shared space to come together in – to eat, drink, play games, whatever!
In the case of Mark’s community, they also share washing machines (as he said, think of all the hours yours just sits and does nothing), lawnmowers and cars
And, because they’ve built their little village from scratch, the houses are hugely insulated and very cheap on bills as a result – Mark said he’s expecting his winter heating bill to be around £25!
I’ve looked into cohousing before, and some of the examples I came across weren’t quite as I hoped (perhaps a little too ‘hippy’ – without meaning to cause any offence!)
But I really like the sound of how cohousing could be – safe places for children to play, neighbours who will become friends and look out for each other, greener living, cheaper living
Small on financial expenses, big on ‘social capital’
Mark very kindly allowed me (and D) to grill him during lunch and while I’d still have a few concerns, I can’t help being drawn to the idea
(NOTE: they don’t actually live in beach huts – I just didn’t have a relevant photo, so I went vaguely house-like with bright colours!)
Food Banks and Social Eating
Marsha Smith asked us to reconsider the idea that eating well is always an economic problem, rather than a social one
She runs The Secret Kitchen Cafe in Sneinton, Nottingham – which makes healthy, organic food for the local community to enjoy together
The menu is simple – just whatever she fancies to cook that day – and when it’s gone, it’s gone!
Marsha is a great believer in food – or rather shared, nutritious meal times – being the glue that holds families together
She argues that eating in ‘fragmented units’ – while walking home from school, watching TV, in your bedroom – is the biggest problem for many families
And, while aknowledging that for some people food banks are genuinely the only way they can survive, she believes that giving hand outs to others does not help the problem in the long run
That instead there should be integrity to the sharing of food – if someone can’t pay at her cafe, perhaps they can help cut onions in the kitchen, or perhaps wash up?
Life Through the Lens
Nottingham photographer David Severn talked the audience through a selection from one of his projects, which follows travelling showmen and their family
The city’s annual Goose Fair is one of the biggest temporary fairgrounds in Europe – so it’s an ideal place for the showman community to catch up
David gave us a really interesting insight into a culture which came across as very traditional in its family values and very much focused on their own community
I loved hearing the stories behind the images – especially when it was revealed that in the photo of a father and his two sons, all three were named John!
So there’s just the briefest of thoughts on a day full of excellent speakers (I resisted going into full 10,000 word essay mode)
It’s given me plenty to think about and made me reflect on my role in the communities I’m part of – be it family, friends, work, or where I live
Do I really need to be living in a cohousing estate to speak to my neighbours?
Could I make more of an effort to really understand someone else’s culture?
Should we always conform to expected behaviours, or is it okay to live in a way that’s unusual but suits you – and those you surround yourself with?
Definite food for thought