by Catriona Mitchell


TEDxUbud takes place this Saturday, and tickets were snatched up the moment applications were approved. I decided to find out what the buzz was about, and got together with Mila Shwaiko, TEDxUbud’s Co-Curator (in tandem with Daniel Ziv, and Daniela Burr, the event’s Director).


Mila, what’s the vision for TEDxUbud 2013?


Ideas worth spreading, of course! This year’s theme is (Un)Common Ground. It is about finding connections between seemingly uncommon people, cultures and ideas.


How did the curatorial process work? Did people apply to speak at the event, or were they solicited?


TEDxUbud Group PhotoBoth. We opened up auditions this year, so we asked people to either send in a 3-minute video, or attend an open session at Hubud where they could come and do a 3-5 minute pitch.


We also listened to recommendations for great speakers – we talked to them to see what they thought, how they came across… and sometimes it worked out, sometimes it didn’t. This year we were as far as Singapore and Bangkok.


How many speakers are lined up?


Seven, and Sri Lestari** [who, despite being paralysed from the chest down has just arrived in Ubud, having travelled 1,212 km from Jakarta on a modified motorbike – see our blog on Sri, published yesterday], but she won’t be speaking, she’ll just be on the stage in a Q+A session with Daniel Ziv, our host.


We have some amazing speakers this year. Ruici Tio will be discussing human trafficking issues – he’s coming from Thailand, but he’s actually Indonesian. Then we have Nila Tanzil who is setting up libraries across eastern Indonesia. And there’s Ernest Prakasa, a standup comedian who’s really making a big name for himself in Jakarta; he’s head of an 80,000-strong Twitter movement for fathers who support breast-feeding. We also have a Bali International School teacher with a very cool happiness experiment, a filmmaker who takes traveling with kids to another level, a young tech startup entrepreneur, and a French marine ecologist from Gili Trawangan.


What qualities were you looking for in the performers?


The idea worth spreading, coupled with the ability to get up and deliver a good TED talk, according to the “TED Commandments”. TED is very accessible through the videos, but to actually attend an event is something not many get to experience. TEDx was an idea to bring it to communities, to let people create their own events, but they give organizers a manual that’s incredibly detailed about what we can and cannot do.


What were some of the challenges in finding the right speakers?



TED stands for technology, entertainment and design. One of our biggest issues was trying to find the technological side, and also to a certain extent the design side. A lot of speakers here have a lot of great social ideas, community empowerment ideas. To find the others is a little bit harder. It would be great to have some more of those other speakers next year.


What have you been up to since confirming the speaker line-up?


I think we’ve had one speaker who, with minimal training, stood up and delivered a good TED talk, but most people need work – at least 3-5 revisions. Sometimes those revisions are brutal, sometimes it’s just a matter of tweaking a little bit here and there. The first time we get them to stand up and basically deliver it to us as they would; then we go through it and talk about structural changes. We’ve been rehearsing with everybody.


How do you conduct the training?


There are the very strong guidelines from TED; it’s also something that I do for my work, and I’ve had experience from TEDxMakassar.


Tell me about TEDxMakassar.


IMG_1529I started as an organizer there 3 years ago after I saw TEDxBali, and thought this could be something really interesting to do in Makassar. I work with a development organization there – the Eastern Indonesian Knowledge Exchange – and we work with a lot of community members. There are so many ideas worth spreading that it seemed a natural fit with what we do anyway. The first year the crowd loved it and was absolutely clamouring for more; we had a full house, and it’s gone from there.


And when TEDxUbud wraps up, you’re off to Edinburgh for more?


I received a TEDxChange scholarship, which is funded by the Gates Foundation. They’ve put together 15 scholarships for TEDx events organisers for the developing world and only the TEDx organisers can apply. I didn’t think I was going to get it, but after an interview I am going off to TEDGlobal!


It’s a 3-day event with a huge number of speakers from every continent. A ticket would normally cost $6000. I don’t know how I’m going to pace myself – I’m going to be burnt out from all those ideas!


It sounds like a nice way to get burnt out.




You can read more about TEDxUbud at Tickets are completely sold out for this year’s event, but keep an eye on our blogs and videos for more – we’ll be covering TEDxUbud for those who can’t be there in person.


** To learn more about Sri Lestari’s journey, see our blog published yesterday – Rio Helmi accompanied her on her journey by motorbike from Java to Ubud! You can also watch a video about her by Peter Wall, who was instrumental in making her dream become a reality


 For our blog about the staggering success of TEDxUbud, held on June 1st 2013, you can read here.