TEDx Newy Reviews – Part 1 – SMALL Actions, BIG Changes.

TEDx Newy- Image courtesy of TEDx Newy - Photographer Nigel Paterson.

Here’s an idea worth spreading: ‘Globo-local’. We can make global changes by taking small actions at home. Whether the changes occur at the scale of our planet or simply in Newcastle, MARCUS WESTBURY and TIM SILVERWOOD both understand the saying “think big, act small”.

Marcus Westbury - Image courtesy of TEDx Newy - Photographer Nigel Paterson.

MARCUS WESTBURY, founder of RENEW NEWCASTLE, described “Cities as software” where changes can occur within the existing fabric rather than being reliant on the promise of major infrastructure overhauls. Renew Newcastle pairs creative initiatives with vacant commercial spaces through an (almost) rent-free agreement with the owner. Renew Newcastle’s only assets are talent, creativity and initiative. It might not seem like enough to some but these are precisely the things money can’t buy. Marcus recognized this clearly and turned it into one of the most tangible opportunities in this city. Newcastle could not be more grateful.

Highlights from MARCUS WESTBURY:

– “Our liabilities are our opportunities”. The GPT downturn became an opportunity to revive a struggling city centre by occupying vacant spaces. Without much prospect for commercial tenants willing to take a risk on an empty street, GPT had little to lose by letting Renew Newcastle have a go.

– “Renew Newcastle is software: we don’t buy anything, we don’t own anything and we don’t build anything” and was conceived as the “cheapest, simplest and most efficient system for the biggest possible changes to happen.”

– Initiative, imagination and passion, not just capital, can lead to revitalization.

– When Sydney City Council laments that they aren’t lucky enough to be Newcastle, you know you are doing something right.

– Marcus started by mapping vacant spaces along Hunter & King St. The ‘Before & After’ difference after 3 years is staggering. Countless previously vacant spaces are occupied both by Renew Newcastle projects and new commercial businesses who have been re-attracted to the city.

– RENEW AUSTRALIA  was launched recently.

– Next time you are in the area, why not take a walk?

Tim Silverwood- Image courtesy of TEDx Newy - Photographer Nigel Paterson.

PLASTIC ISN’T FANSTASTIC and especially when disposed of. TIM SILVERWOOD, an environmental activist, has focused his work on making it clear that putting plastic in the bin does not make it disappear. Plastic pollution is a very real threat to our environment and at its most visible along the 5000km between Hawaii and Vancouver, or the area described as the Great Pacific Garbage Patch.

Highlights from TIM SILVERWOOD: 

– We have used more plastic in the last 10 years than ever before in the history of mankind.

– Plastic is NOT biodegradable and can generally only be down-cycled once into a non-recyclable product.

– Plastic never disappears, it will only break down into smaller and smaller pieces, down to a single molecule but it will NOT disappear.

– Plastic pollution of the ocean is a major threat to the local fauna. Birds, seals, penguins, fish, turtles are ingesting our toothbrushes, bottle caps, pens and lighters or getting entangled into old fishing nets or six-pack plastic dividers. If you haven’t already, you should check out Chris Jordan’s ‘Midway, message from the Gyre‘ photography project.

– Education, legislation, better waste management, better product design, reusable alternatives to disposable products and initiatives like Tim’s non-profit “Take 3” encouraging everyone to pick up 3 pieces of rubbish before it gets into the ocean can all help make a difference.

– It might not be your trash on the beach but it is your planet. Let’s start taking care of it.

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3 comments

  1. Pingback: TEDx Newy Reviews – Part 2 – HEALTHY MIND, HEALTHY BODY. | Aloud.

  2. Jane

    The evolving and increasingly city of Newcastle most certainly can be seen as a “pilot” for others smaller or larger. Creatively transforming already existing spaces makes so much more sense than condemning them to nothingness and building new ones. Still, I fear the latter completely illogical procedure exists because it makes money for someone.

    Same with the indecent and grotesque amount of plastic and styrofoam packaging wasted day after day. Do their greedy manufacturers have power over all of us? Why don’t more cities, states and countries follow the example set by Seattle where take-out food goes home in cardboard?

    We may or may not be able to change much in our own lifetime but every little bit helps. Don’t forget to take your own bags to the supermarket, buy products with the least packaging and how about doing your own cooking and coffee brewing?

  3. Pingback: ALOUD reviews TEDxNewy – Part 3 – THE STORYTELLERS | Aloud.

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