Following Superstore boss Dan Beaumont's recent talk at the TEDxHackney Local Heroes event, we were so inspired that we wanted to find out more. So we caught up with TEDxHackney founder Daniel Vais to discover the depths of his love for the borough and why it's an ideal place for TED and ideas...
Why is it important to do TED events here in Hackney?
Hackney is a very diverse area and TED is all about diversity, ideas, technology, design and entertainment. I decided to set up TEDxHackney because it was obvious it would be successful here. Also the people who live in Hackney are very hungry for information and exchange and are very open-minded.
Tell us about your next event....
The next event will be the 17th November and will be TEDxYouth in Hackney. It’s a day that TED organized focusing on youth. It’s happening simultaneously all around the world. It focuses on youth voices, youth talent, projects and ideas that focus on youths, the voice of tomorrow, and empowering young people. Very very exciting! At the moment I’m researching into youth in Hackney, finding children and young people to come in and speak, looking for projects that empower young people, people with amazing ideas that focus on the young. So this is very very exciting!
Who has been your most inspiring recent guest?
Ahhh that’s not fair! Every speaker we’ve had has been quite inspiring by themselves. So to find one would be quite difficult… actually impossible! They all bring new ideas. So I don’t think it’s fair to choose one. Actually, there’s no one person who’s been more inspiring, they’ve all be sooo inspiring, and been beautiful people doing amazing things in Hackney and beyond. So, no comment!
Why did you pick "local heroes" for your last salon theme?
Because I live in Hackney and I’m a local consumer. It became obvious that we could give homage to all the people making Hackney one of the most vibrant areas of the world. I was thinking about a new theme and the first thing that came to mind was “local heroes”, the people that work very hard using their talents and abilities to make Hackney the place that it is. That was a very easy theme to choose and easy to create. I actually had to stop myself from booking too many speakers! It was a pleasure to research it and it was a pleasure to see that so many creative, amazing people, visionaries, are based in Hackney. They actually add to the community in Hackney, in London and beyond. So that’s kind of amazing!
I’d be walking down the street and I’d look right and left and see these amazing projects and businesses and venues so it became “pick, pick, pick” which was a great experience for me.
Who are the TEDxHackney local heroes?
All the creative people here in Hackney, all the activists, people who have amazing ideas to open new businesses here… so it was the guys at Dalston Superstore who brought us their amazing venue, the guys at the farm shop who bring farming into the city who provide us with fresh salad and eggs, we also had a sound artist that’s based here but works internationally promoting sound art, we had the guy that opened the first black music orientated venue in the UK. All these people live in Hackney and start these things here. The heroes are us basically. We are the local heroes. You go up and down the streets and you see the diversity. It’s live and let live here. You see all sexualities, all heights, sizes, races, all living together in harmony. When I say “harmony” that means there is friction and problems as well, but that’s life. We can’t ignore it. So I know Hackney is not 100% creative and blah de blah fantastic amazing. There are problems and there are people that are struggling but the community supports them.
What makes Hackney a fertile place for ideas?
The diversity. It’s an area that contains EVERYONE. From every background. Every nationality. Every belief. Every sexuality. And everybody lives together. I live in Hackney Central and I just have to look out my window and I can see the whole rainbow of people actually living together. What makes it an amazing place? The people themselves. We are making Hackney an amazing place, each and every one of us.
One thing you'd improve about the borough...
I would ask the council to keep prices down for people who want to start new businesses. That way they can provide affordable services. You’d see a boom of cafes and restaurants and social places. In order to keep it alive and keep prices down and to give good services to people, the council have to not be greedy and to respect that it is a borough whose people aren’t that wealthy. But we like to live in a place where you can go out to eat and not break your wallet and not borrow money! Because Hackney is becoming successful, they need to not become greedy and overcharge businesses so they have to raise their prices. It would become elitist and isolate other people. That’s something that’s very important.
What's the best "idea worth spreading" you heard recently?
The Contagious Power Of Thinking: happiness is contagious. A scientist discovered that what you see, your brain perceives it as how you are. So if there are happy people around you, your brain will think you are happy. So the idea is to spread happiness. It’s contagious! That’s the best idea that I’ve heard. It’s from Dr. David Hamilton, he wrote the book The Contagious Power Of Thinking. This book is extraordinary because the idea been proven scientifically, so it’s not only a great sentiment, it’s actually real.
Where is your favourite Hackney hotspot?
Hackney Central train station. I like it because it’s always buzzing with people from all walks of life. It’s the heart of Hackney. You can meet your fellow artists, fellow neighbours and people of all ages and all walks of life. You can see what Hackney’s made of.
And of course, London Fields. It’s a nice green spot to go to and a very creative area.
Oh and all the cafes! So you can have really decent coffee and really good food! Quite cheaply. And we hope that it will stay that way.
And finally what do you love about Hackney?
Everything! Including all of the amazing creative force we have. There a web of creativity that is so inspiring. I also like the fashion here. There is just amazing fashion sense. I like the diversity very much!! I like living in an area with all kinds of people; it makes my life richer. I like the children in Hackney as they are gorgeous! Children in Hackney are so beautiful. Actually I like everything, I even like the toughness of Hackney. It makes us care for the community and care for people that need support and makes us more active. This is life! Some people need more support and some people can give more support. And for the people that give, it’s a pleasure as giving is receiving. I like everything about Hackney, that’s why I chose to live here.
The next TEDxHackney event takes place on Saturday 17th November. For more info visit: www.tedxhackney.com