“Human Tectonics”?? Now I know what it is!

“Human Tectonics”?
Well yes simply put, this is the energy created when there is friction between two contrasting bodies, groups or people. Hmm?

An awesome TEDx event, on 01st February 2019 at Muziekgebouw Eindhoven. We learned about social walls, fake news, cyber-manipulation complimented perfectly with the adrenaline rush from world champion dancers, free-runners, hypnotic audio-visual show, dramatic poetry on “a wall is a wall, that can be broken down”, culminating the day with modern percussion music.

Wow, what a day! Brilliantly hosted by Leon van der Zanden, over the Collison, Drift and the Expansion phases happening right now today in our world.


We kicked off the day with the TEDx pitch winner, Alexandra Auer. She had a very clear message that “every physical wall creates mental walls as well”. Seems we “love building walls, to keep people in or out, to create the perception of safety”. And apparently, our desire to create walls has grown exponentially over the last years. But walls only address the symptoms of perceived fear. She goes on to elaborate that every wall automatically creates mental walls as well, that divides people. Shared a recent experiment of a segregated playground shared by 2 schools, and its effect on the children.
Let’s make humanity great again” was the focus for Babah Tarawally, Journalist and Writer. He was open-minded as he shared his story “packed like sardines at age 4, fleeing from home”. He shared his painful past, with “black and white thinking” over growing up at asylum centers, and challenges that he faced integrating into the western world, especially without the right-papers. Lessons from his grandmother on Ubuntu, that “it takes a village to raise a child”. He urges everyone to talk to everyone, to create a positive spiralling effect on building communities.


According to Andrea Meier, Professor and Fellow of Aged Care, University of Melbourne, our “inward fittings are meant to decline after our prime reproductive age”. She shares her insights from a book from 1870, that clearly outlines our cells are constantly repairing themselves, but after at biological age (around 25), we should expect these cells to slow down. Sadly, our modern day medicine only prolongs our longevity till the next chronic disease! But there are several ways to live longer. Whilst having great DNA from parents helps for but only 25%, the rest is our responsibility. We could choose to live healthy which adds up to 18 years or even consider new medication. One such example was Metformin, which is currently used by diabetic patients, but recent studies show it could be used to reduce the ageing process as well. She challenged us on “ageing, can we stop it?”, interesting enough ….looks like we can!



“It’s expensive being poor”, according to Don Ceder, lawyer, politician, and top-candidate for Christenunie Amsterdam. Apparently, about 20% of Amsterdammers are in debts. He wants to address this taboo-subject and help people in other ways, instead of just giving money. Sharing personal experiences on the mental, physical and emotional damage that traps people into a vicious cycle that often creates next-generation-poverty. He asks for leadership to take charge of educating people and reviewing the banking systems to reduce the stress of debtors.

Jos de Jong, Entrepreneur in the hospitality business, feels that current competitive markets are missing out on the “the power of staff engagement in the hospitality business”. He shares his personal experience in the restaurant business where chefs on media do not resemble the chefs’ in reality! He took charge to develop a new process of training, connecting, rewarding and enjoying work/life balance. His customers seem to notice the happy ambiance with fully engaged employees, who eat meals together. And his business is doing very well, delivering more than just pure financial returns. He sums up by sharing “the world is greater than the sum of their parts!”


Business with conflict? According to Stefanie Jansen, psychologist and co-founder of the Cocreators, says “fear is never the answer”. There is a simple recipe, “when all relevant parties are actively engaged in the creation of the solution. It will be implemented successfully because it will be relevant to the end-users and supported by all critical parties”. She shared an example “groove.me” using music to teach English to children in the Netherlands, with great success! Stefanie has overwhelmingly convinced us that Co-Creation plays a critical role in addressing current (and future) issues created by Human Tectonics.



 Aukje Kuypers, Dutch Businesswoman of the year 2018. She was taught at a young age, to “do things that make you happy”, as such she decided to “do something great”. She accepted that sustainability was not a strictly mainstream business. But she wanted a wake-up-call for most business leaders to take up the longer-term view. She took a bold step and successfully led 800 people towards a strategy of zero-emissions and circular economy. Her advice to everyone is simply “trust your intuition, as its always right!”


Marietje Schaake, Dutch politician and Member of the European Parliament, is concerned about politics in the connected world, and the abuse of technology to destroy democracy. She shared several real-life cases in developing countries, where people were tracked and targeted through mobile phones, emails, and text messages. Then she shocks us even further, by adding, “did you know that, all these technologies, used in these incidents were designed for gathering marketing information, only?” Her view is simply that “it should be us that governs a democracy, and not technology that governs us”.

We closed the day with Peter Vandermeersch, Editor in Chief at NRC, who is extremely concerned about the current and future state of journalism globally. The struggle with the various streams of “news”, or even what should quantify as real news? He shared that 40% of Dutch and 70% Americans, do not trust the media. This is entering an extremely dangerous era, where we cannot trust what we see or read in the media, as news can be easily manipulated by technology as “alternative facts”. He was extremely poignant on the future role of journalism, with widespread mistrust. He has a very crisp and clear message, he wants “the public democracy, to step up and force higher standards!”


Next steps?

This was the 3rd edition of TEDx Eindhoven, it was a very insightful experience. A non-stop roller-coaster event with top speakers, entertainment and food. I am already looking forward to the Salon on 13 June, on “Moonshots for Healthcare” .. join us!

For Eindhoven News: Aroop Bhattacharjee

Main picture by  Katja-Dittmar

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