INNOVATION

TEDxMelbourne Is Coming For The Rebel In You

Community leaders, edge-thinkers and everyday people with revolutionary ideas will all have their say.

11/08/2017 9:08 AM AEST | Updated 11/08/2017 4:33 PM AEST

You are in a room with two other people (let's call them Joe and Hannah) holding a $50 bank note.

You have a choice: you can either hold onto your money, or you can give it to Joe. If you hold onto it, no one in this "mini economy" benefits. But if you give it to Joe, who hands it over to Hannah, who then hands it back to you, $150 has changed hands -- all from a single $50 bank note.

Stef Kuypers believes that this backflip in economic thinking -- that the movement of money, rather than the accumulation of wealth, is what creates value -- could eradicate poverty and help wipe out crime.

Kuypers' concept is one of many revolutionary ideas which will be explored at TEDxMelbourne's 2017 conference, 'Rebels, Revolutionaries and Us'.

What's the rebel in you that could cause dramatic change in the world you live in?"

He will share the stage with the likes of former child soldier and NSW Australian of the Year, Deng Adut, and businesswoman, philanthropist and influential advocate for women in AFL, Susan Alberti.

HuffPost Australia has partnered with TEDxMelbourne to explore out-of-the-box thinking and its potential to reshape society.

We spoke to the man responsible for getting some of Australia's best and brightest into the one room on September 19: speaking coach and TEDxMelbourne's licensee and curator Jon Yeo.

We asked him what makes a talk TEDx-worthy.

The first element is pretty simple: engagement.

"TEDx talks go for around 18 minutes. You would never go to a dinner party, turn to a complete stranger and talk their ear off for 18 minutes. So it's got to be at a conversational level that people can relate to," Yeo explained.

HuffPost Australia
"I don't think I deserve to be in the spotlight because there are people here, like me, that came from South Sudan and have done well in Australia," NSW Australian of the Year Deng Adut told HuffPost Australia.

But it's the second element which goes to the heart of TED's motto: What makes it spreadable?

By way of example, Yeo recounts the story of one of this year's speakers, an ex-Nigerian gun trader who had attempted to hand himself in to police. He told the Nigerian police of his many crimes, but police thought the story was simply too outrageous to be true and so let him go. He tried again, but was again questioned and released.

Several weeks later, he returned to the police with detailed information on 974 unsolved cases of illicit firearm trafficking.

"It took police three months to process the paperwork, but he was then granted a full pardon," Yeo said.

"It's an incredible story, but there's no learning from that, and that's what I wanted to happen."

So instead of simply telling his story, the ex-gun trader will use his TEDxMelbourne talk to explore the moral codes of Nigeria's underworld -- a place where no one harms women or children and everyone does what they say they will do -- and ask the question: who, then, is really the criminal?

"It's about exploring the context or the significance of the idea that's being presented," Yeo explained.

"Twenty percent of an audience might be interested in the story of a Nigerian gun trader, but 80 percent of an audience would be interested in a world that is a better place."

At a quick glance, the list of speakers -- which includes business people, designers and lawyers -- doesn't seem too ground-shaking. And it's true that many of the speakers themselves don't believe they're doing anything out of the ordinary.

Some, like child-soldier-turned-Sydney-lawyer Deng Adut, have extraordinary stories of escape and survival, but even he doesn't believe he deserves his role in the spotlight.

"I don't think I deserve to be in the spotlight because there are people here, like me, that came from South Sudan and have done well in Australia," Adut told HuffPost Australia last year.

But for curator Yeo, this is the point.

"I really wanted to address the conversations that we have with ourselves about our heroes who we put on pedestals, and how in many ways they are no different from us," he said.

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Businesswoman and philanthropist Susan Alberti was the first woman elevated to AFL corporate level and became a trailblazer in the movement towards a national women's AFL competition.

"What's the rebel in you that could cause dramatic change in the world you live in?"

TEDxMelbourne is doing more than simply asking us the question. For the first time, members of the public also took the stage at an Open Mic Night on August 9.

Twenty everyday Melburnians shared their revolutionary ideas in two to three minute talks. The winner of this event will go on to present their idea to a 1,400-strong crowd at the main event on September 19.

"This is an opportunity to explore the ideas our community has in a space where everyone would be willing to listen and receive -- so it's the 'us' part of 'Rebels, Revolutionaries and Us'," Yeo explained.

"Ideas work best when they're bumped up against each other, when they're challenged. We could have many more beautiful ideas by just sharing them in a confined space where they're forced to co-mingle."

'Rebels, Revolutionaries and Us' will be held at Melbourne's Convention and Exhibition Centre on September 19 starting at 9:30am.

You can learn more about the event on TEDxMelbourne's website or go here to purchase tickets.

Video above produced by Hunting With Pixels.

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