Ideas worth spreading #1: Happy eating

The first entry in a regular blog reviewing our pick of the most inspiring videos on offer in the TED talks series, which showcases visionary ideas

A growing media phenomenon is bringing world-changing concepts to the attention of millions of people. The TED (Technology Entertainment and Design) talks are a global network of conferences initiated by the non-profit organisation The Sapling Foundation in 1984, which are now broadcast widely through the internet.

The events began with the mission of disseminating ‘ideas worth spreading’. These often exclusive live events are distributed to the wider world via high-quality short online videos, presenting the TED talks in accessible bite-size chunks that neither patronise nor mystify. Many of the videos regularly go viral and receive thousands and even millions of views.

The power of the talks is that when I watch one, I’m always left with the feeling that we live on an incredible planet with an infinite number of creative possibilities to the many crises we currently face. But the scale and scope of what’s on offer can be overwhelming, and so this will be the first in a series of regular blog posts revealing our pick of some of the most inspiring TED talks – both high profile and under the radar – that are happening planet-wide.

Dan Gilbert: The surprising science of happiness
Views to date: 4,500,000

Science? Happiness? Do these two words really have to go together? Gilbert certainly has passion for his idea, but at times his high-toned machine gun delivery grates. Stick with it.

Gilbert’s research data solidly backs up the theory that we can all manufacture our own happiness, or as he puts it, synthesise it. He shows a twin study where, a year after becoming paraplegic and a year after becoming lottery millionaires, both groups showed the same level of happiness.

We live in a culture of never enough, always needing more and that ‘more’ is always just out of reach. But the trick is sitting still long enough to let happiness arise from the inside. We know it, sure, but can we do it? In the time it took to write this, Gilbert racked up another 305 views. People across the globe appear hungry for a more authentic, self-synthesised happiness.

Pam Warhurst: How we can eat our landscape
Views to date: 530,000

“If you eat, you’re in,” is the membership requirement for this brilliant initiative. We all eat. Food security is increasingly becoming one of the looming crises of our age, where we are dependent on national and global food networks that are becoming increasingly fragile. It’s said we have three days worth of food in the shops on any given day. It’s also said we are three meals away from revolution.

The genius of the highly practical, applicable, fast-spreading idea that Warhurst delivers with true Northern grit and passion, is in using food security not as a panic button but as a medium for bringing fractured communities back together.

All sectors, old and young, all classes, income streams and religions are actively engaged in the town of Todmorden’s edible landscape project. When tribal divisions are put aside, we are told assuredly that there is warmth and connection that is heart-opening, and cross-community healing begins.

Warhurst delivers a powerhouse talk, offering a solution to the feared violent food revolution, putting in its place the potential for an achievable, secure and connected food future.