Tottenham: the place we make

Creating a space to discuss and explore

By Catherine Mbema, Co-founder and Curator, TEDxTottenham

TEDXTottenham speaker            Credit: Harry Mitchell

When my husband, Yaw and I first attended TEDxBrixton, almost six years ago now, we were so impacted by the event that we immediately thought about how a similar event could be used to impact Yaw’s hometown of Tottenham. A short while later TEDxTottenham was born!

For those not familiar with the TEDx brand; TEDx events are independently organised and typically consist of a number of talks sharing a particular idea or concept delivered by a diverse range of talented speakers. There are also interactive spaces outside of the talks based around a particular theme.

TEDxTottenham is the local version that Yaw and I co create. It aims to give a platform for passionate and driven residents to share their stories; inspiring them to impart their love of the area and take ownership of what is truly their community.

We’ve always aimed for TEDxTottenham to be something that really impacts the local community, so for each event we build a team of local volunteers to help plan and shape the event, bringing it to life.

Themes from previous events have included ‘Synergy’ and ‘Think Beyond’, however, this year our theme is ‘The Place We Make’. The premise is to explore the interdependent relationship between communities and their environment.

In healthcare we are very much aware of the relationship between environmental design and plant life and their impact upon the health, wellbeing and healing of recuperating patients. Within housing we understand both the positive and, in some cases, negative effects of particular forms of architecture. As a team, we want to explore, but primarily learn more about the relationships between place making, physical environments and space.

We felt as though ‘places’ didn’t just necessarily relate to architecture and urbanism, but could be extended to incorporate ‘spaces’ of other kinds. For example, one of our founding members has now gone on to create a hugely successful book club that resonates with young black women. She and her team have been instrumental in making a place or safe space, and not in an exclusionary sense.

We can all be instrumental in impacting and shaping the community we want to be a part of, whether physically or otherwise.

If you are interested in hearing some creative ideas, meeting new people from the area and being part of the conversation at ‘The Place We Make’, then please come along! We have some great speakers and performers from the local area, lined up to share ideas about place making, and how the collective influences of science, technology, art and culture shape our community.