Nura Aabe is a Somali born mother who has lived in Bristol for 25 years, who set herself the mission of challenging and changing the often negative and misleading perceptions of autism. When Nura's oldest son Zak was diagnosed with autism, Nura had not heard of autism, a condition that has no word to describe it in the Somali language.
Despite the challenges of stigma and social exclusion, Nura decided to change her social network so that she could help her son. Nura founded the community organisation called Autism Independence that supports marginalised families affected with autism. Since then she has been pioneering raising awareness of autism in the Somali community using a powerful mix of theatre, education and research.
Her dedication and passion for autism inspired her to go back to further education completing a degree in early childhood studies and Masters in Education of Pschology registering her with the British Psychology Society at the University of Bristol. Nura has just applied a PHD research programme which explores autism in ethnic minority which she will hear about soon - finger's crossed!
Nura has also worked on a number of research projects with publications, spoke on media outlets such as channel 4, Women's hour, BBC and BBC World Service. Her theatre production project with the Bristol based Acta theatre has been the biggest success in communicating sensitive information.
For TEDxBristol Nura will be exploring the journey that her and Zak have been on, and her plans to make autism an every day part of life, accepted and understood by the Somali culture.
She says: "There is no word or concept of autism in the Somali language. The closest interpretation of autism is mental illness, and mental illness comes with social exclusion and stigma in our culture. Zak and I became very much excluded from our community - often I was expected to hide Zak. It became us and them. Desperate, I had to find hope, hope in the sense of believing that Zak can learn and that one day I will hear his voice."
Martyn is a lead presenter on The Global Mountain Bike Network. A self confessed 'chain-spotter' - he has always been a fan of anything on two wheels. He started riding motorcycles competitively and winning titles age 12, and at 18 he switched to mountain bike events, becoming British Champion in the National Mountain Bike Trials. He quickly gained status as something of a legend in the mountain biking world, winning numerous British Biketrial national titles, and achieving a Guinness World Record for the Mountain Bike High Jump.
He's also passionate about the bikes themselves - and has created his own innovative frame designs, and masterminded the travelling extreme sports show – the Animal WD40 Action Sports Tour – touring the length and breadth of the UK.
His skill, nerve and drive led to him gaining acclaim around the globe, and his love of bikes coinicided with the rise of niche YouTube videos. He says, "My media profile rose quickly and I featured in the cycling press regularly, securing numerous front covers and features in magazines. My career progressed from competing to a focus on performing in live events and stunts, this all coincided with the internet explosion which subsequently lead to great opportunities in video creation."
In 2012 Martyn released 'Road Bike Party' which was a global hit on YouTube, gaining millions of views in it's first week. His videos have since been viewed online hundreds of millions of times.
But in 2013 his life on two wheels changed as he knew it forever. Whilst performing in a live show he had a serious accident. The subsequent injury left him paralysed from the waist down and devastated his riding career. He entered a time of huge adjustment and soul searching. Little did he, know, his greatest days of riding were still ahead of him!
Martyn came out of hospital with a determination to try new things - from kayaking to wheelchair racing. But the biggest challenge was getting back on the bike - and learning how to ride without the use of his legs.
Martyn has always pushed boundaries - before his accident he disrupted biking by seeking out places to take a bike that you weren't meant to go, or no one knew you could go. Now his talk for TEDxBristol will explore how he is 'disrupting' what people might think of as the physical limits or constraints of a wheel chair user. Despite his debilitating injury Martyn will explore with his straight-talking and honest positivity how he learnt to ride again, what it took to get up off the floor and start his career again, and how he want's to change the perceived image and capabilities of wheel-chair users. He describes himself as 'extraordinary from the waist up!'.
"My ambition is to now continue to break the boundaries down of where I can take my chair. My ambition is to create a video or image in the future that has someone who is able bodied look at it and think 'Christ I wouldn't want to be walking there!' ".
Mena Fombo describes herself as a British Nigerian Bristolian through and through! She is a purposeful coach, facilitator, motivational speaker, consultant and activist. One of Bristol's biggest influencers and 'doer's' on issues of equality, representation and education, Mena is the driving force behind the new international campaign “No. You Cannot Touch My Hair” which has attracted contributions from women across the UK and around the world - and is the topic of her much anticipated TEDx talk - as part of our 'Disruptive Bodies' theme.
The goal… for Black women (and men) everywhere to be able to walk down the street, enter the work place, go out socially, without the burden of strangers alike trying to grab a braid, experience touching a natural (afro) or tugging at a weave and uttering the words “can you feel this?”.
Through her own personal story and using the hair-raising experiences of other women and girls, Mena’s TEDxBristol talk is set to be a witty, yet compelling and sometimes dark exploration of the objectification of black women. It's an issue she has spent a life-time experiencing and exploring, with both a political and creative lens. As a confident, black woman, who has overcome a lifetime of adversity and personal experiences of injustice, she has carved out a role for herself as a creative activist, passionate about social change, and has works tirelessly to support the political, social and economic equality of black people and women.
Mena says: “Everyone is invited to join this social justice train, without a shared sense of cultural values nothing will improve the everyday experiences of racism and sexism for people like me. My contribution is to influence where I can step by step, hour by hour and day by day. Step one for this project is for people to stop touching black hair – without invitation or permission!” TEDxBristol can't wait to hear more from one of Bristol's homegrown and most positive and daring disruptors.
Joshua Luke Smith is a young musician from Bath gaining momentum as an important voice in matters of social justice as well as the music scene. As a craftsman lyricist and a captivating song writer, it is no wonder that his independently released music has been well received, the 27 year old's debut EP secured a top ten position in the international iTunes UK charts only hours after being released. Joshua's mission is to write music that does not simply provide his audience with a good tune or playful lyrics but to release words of power, substance and meaning and speak into the chaos of culture.
His Bath-based independent music label, Orphan No More, supports artists who have a story to tell. He says:
"We believe everybody has a message, everybody has a song and a story to tell. We believe in Heart before Art, that we can change the world outside as we heal the world within. We develop artists, realising their dreams and seeing them become who they were born to be."
For TEDxBristol, he will explore some of the most important, difficult and emotive social issues of our time, through his masterful lyrics and infectious beats.
William Mager is the Series Producer of the BBC’s long-running television series for deaf people, See Hear. Born deaf himself, he was brought up to speak and lipread in a hearing family – learning to sign when he met deaf people in London for the first time in his 20s. Later in life he became "part-man part-machine", when he was given a cochlear implant to give him additional hearing.
William has made several award winning films, shown around the world, likes to think he can surf, can hold a headstand for five minutes, and has perfected the making of three cocktails: the Old Fashioned, the Vesper and the Negroni.
For TEDxBristol: Dare to Disrupt, William will talk about how the deaf culture is disrupting how we communicate for the better, and will reveal how the traumatic discovery of a secret as a teenager has disrupted his life to date – and why he’s made the decision to talk about it in public for the first time.
As a former London headhunter, Natalie 'had it all' by the age of 21 … except happiness! So she gave up the fast life and headed off on a mission to discover what really makes us happy. Her journey led her around the world, from the Amazon jungle to a yoga studio in Southampton where she trained as a yoga teacher and became a mother. Natalie went on to write a column for the 'Green Parent' for five years and her book, The Everyday Alchemist's Happiness Handbook, was published by Findhorn Press in 2012 when she moved to Bristol. She then worked as a TV presenter and producer until experiencing a powerful call to protect the oceans, leading to the formation of her non-profit organisation, City to Sea.
Protecting rivers, oceans and coastlines from plastic pollution is how Natalie aims to leave the world in better shape than she found it. But how does one person tackle head on such a global, and and at times overwhelming problem? In this personal, funny and unflinching talk for TEDxBristol, she'll reveal how you can disrupt big industry from your back room, and why plastic is personal.
Around 7% of plastic found on UK beaches is coming from our homes. Natalie will explore how changing our relationship to our toilet can change our relationship to the oceans. Natalie is one of the UK's freshest and most influential activists on this topic, as an award-winning environmental campaigner engaging communities, working with retailers and lobbying manufacturers to reverse the trend for disposable items in order to safeguard our seas for future generations.
City to Sea's mission is to stop plastic pollution at source, last year's #SwitchtheStick campaign did just that - successfully calling on all UK retailers to make cotton bud stems out of paper — a move which will stop over 320 tonnes of single-use plastic being manufactured annually.
Natalie won the Sheila McKechnie Award for Environmental Justice 2017 and is listed as 'One of the Most Inspiring Bristolians Alive Today' and she continues sharing ideas that inspire positive change for people and planet through various digital platforms. We can't wait to see which type of polluting plastic she disrupts next!
In an age of intolerance, division and anti-globalisation, charity campaigner Kalpna Woolf argues that we have to unlock the primeval connections which have always bound us together by sharing our stories, communicating with one another and being unflinching in the face of an apparent populist wave pushing us apart.
Kalpna forged a stellar TV career with the BBC ending up as Head of Production for BBC Factual, managing a £70m business and 550 hours of programming, all recognised when she was awarded the Asian Woman's Achievement Award. Judges said: “Kalpna’s hard work and dedication are clear for anyone to see, but what is most impressive is her commitment in using her own experience to help others within and outside her own organisation. Beyond her remarkable achievements during her career at the BBC, she is an impressive leader and mentor.
Kalpna has been Chair of trustees for a charity helping bring clean water to India; a board member of the Local Enterprise Partnership, championing skills for young people; a visiting Professor for the University of the West of England; and she has brought her passionate knowledge for world food cultures together in her first book –Spice Yourself Slim.
In 2015, Kalpna founded 91 Ways to Build A Global City - a unique, groundbreaking initiative to bring the 91 language communities of Bristol together using food and their stories of culture and history to connect people and build a more united city. In recognition of her success with this project, this year she won the Guild of Food Writers Inspiration Award. She is now looking to expand the project across the UK.Kalpna is a campaigner for women's rights, equality and fairness.
Clive is 70 years old - but far from 'retiring' - he's hell bent on exploring the experience and opportunity that being his age can offer. At 64 was awarded a PhD studying values, marketing and generations. For TEDxBristol he will explore the unhelpful and misleading messages that comes from segmenting people by age. He'll argue that it is our values, not our date of birth, that help us share what we have in common, and create meaningful change.
Clive's experience is first hand. He spent 30 years as an award-winning art director and designer for advertising and marketing agencies in the UK, Europe and North America. Three of those years were spent in an advertising agency on Triangle West, here in Bristol. From new lollipop concepts for Walls Ice Cream, to campaigns for Granada TV, Wall Street Journal, Duracell Batteries and Coca-Cola, there's not a lot he's not put his creative brain to. But it was during a short spell playing jazz and running a jazz club that gave him a healthier respect for audiences and a love of more 'disruptive' communication.
Having spent the last 17 years lecturing and researching at Birmingham City University in Birmingham, Singapore and Hong Kong, particularly on creativity, visual communication and audiences, his His talk will explore these themes - but not as the average ad agency might know it! He says, "My wide international experiences have increased my love of communication and built a desire to disrupt the communication that dishonours individuals. ll demonstrate that segmenting individuals by age into groups like Baby Boomers, is based on false data that stereotypes individuals, leading to divisions in society. I’ll explore a fresh approach, encouraging individuals of different ages to come together, creating innovations across society, locally and internationally."
TEDxBristol can't wait to be schooled on how to more authentically connect with audiences!
Anna is the sum of all the people she’s ever met and all the experiences she’s had so far. She’s the Creative Director of At-Bristol interactive science centre and has a degree in physics, a Bafta nomination for writing children’s animation, and a back catalogue of jobs that include stop motion penguins, a Lab of Misfits, water rockets, voice artists, symphony orchestras, street dancers, stand up comics and particle accelerators.
Her talk for TEDxBristol: Dare to Disrupt will be equally multi-disciplinary - in fact it is a battle cry for people from all walks of life to start asking bold questions and getting curious about the stuff that matters. Sje says, "Curiosity - what is it, where’s it gone and why does the human species and the planet urgently need a new Age of Curiosity to begin? This is a story about a big red button says DO NOT PRESS..which ends with a beginning - what we’re all going to do next…"
Our world seems to be increasingly insecure and travel increasingly unsafe. We fear terrorist attacks, we fear foreigners and foreign places. Where is safe these days?
Kelsey Hoppe, a high-risks environment specialist will answer this question in her TEDx talk - busting some myths and blowing out of the water some of the anxieties and fears that we have come to believe are true about the world we live in.
Kelsey has definitely earned her stripes on this issue, having lived and worked abroad since she was 18 years old. This has included travel to over 44 countries and living in some high-risk environments working with humanitarian and development organisations and then as a security specialist. She is now the Managing Director of Safer Edge, a security and risk management company that provides training and risk management advice to organisations who travel and work difficult places. She specialises in women’s security and security for independent and young travellers.
Kelsey is also the author of Staying Safe on Your Gap Year, In Lahore: a contemporary guide to the city, and is the lead editor and author of Chasing Misery: an anthology of essays by women in humanitarian aid.