WEBVTT 00:00:01.334 --> 00:00:04.378 In the summer of 2017, 00:00:04.402 --> 00:00:07.550 a woman was murdered by her partner in Sofia. 00:00:08.673 --> 00:00:11.801 The woman, let's call her "V," 00:00:11.825 --> 00:00:15.120 was beaten for over 50 minutes 00:00:15.144 --> 00:00:16.461 before she died. 00:00:17.479 --> 00:00:19.194 The morning after, 00:00:19.218 --> 00:00:22.916 her neighbors told the press that they heard her screams, 00:00:22.940 --> 00:00:24.549 but they didn't intervene. 00:00:25.772 --> 00:00:29.727 You see, in Bulgaria and many other societies, 00:00:29.751 --> 00:00:33.159 domestic violence is typically seen as a private matter. 00:00:34.026 --> 00:00:38.999 Neighbors, however, are quick to react to any other kind of noise. NOTE Paragraph 00:00:40.404 --> 00:00:44.128 We wanted to expose and affect the absurdity of this. 00:00:44.889 --> 00:00:47.427 So we designed an experiment. 00:00:48.224 --> 00:00:52.261 We rented the apartment just below V's for one night. 00:00:53.017 --> 00:00:54.588 And at 10pm, 00:00:54.612 --> 00:00:57.437 Maksim, the artist in our group, 00:00:57.461 --> 00:01:00.958 sat on the drum set we had assembled in the living room 00:01:02.440 --> 00:01:04.097 and started beating it. 00:01:05.418 --> 00:01:06.814 Ten seconds. 00:01:07.910 --> 00:01:09.398 Thirty seconds. 00:01:10.289 --> 00:01:11.903 Fifty seconds. 00:01:12.923 --> 00:01:14.263 A minute. 00:01:15.095 --> 00:01:17.254 A light came on in the hallway. 00:01:18.353 --> 00:01:20.196 One minute and 20 seconds. 00:01:21.295 --> 00:01:24.826 A man was standing at the door, hesitant to press the bell. 00:01:26.032 --> 00:01:28.524 One minute and 52 seconds. 00:01:29.148 --> 00:01:30.983 The doorbell rang, 00:01:31.997 --> 00:01:34.648 a ring that could have saved a life. NOTE Paragraph 00:01:36.400 --> 00:01:39.818 "Beat." is our project exploring the ominous silence 00:01:39.842 --> 00:01:42.085 surrounding domestic violence. 00:01:42.109 --> 00:01:45.706 We filmed the experiment, and it became instantly viral. 00:01:45.730 --> 00:01:48.032 Our campaign amplified the voices of survivors 00:01:48.056 --> 00:01:50.077 who shared similar stories online. 00:01:50.674 --> 00:01:52.789 It equipped neighbors with specific advice, 00:01:52.813 --> 00:01:54.828 and many committed to taking action. 00:01:55.629 --> 00:01:58.364 In a country where every other week, 00:01:58.388 --> 00:02:01.375 the ground quietly embraces the body of a woman 00:02:01.399 --> 00:02:04.184 murdered by a partner or a relative, 00:02:04.208 --> 00:02:06.009 we were loud, 00:02:06.033 --> 00:02:07.484 and we were heard. NOTE Paragraph 00:02:10.627 --> 00:02:12.717 I am an activist, 00:02:12.741 --> 00:02:15.096 passionate about human rights innovation. 00:02:15.958 --> 00:02:19.885 I lead a global organization for socially engaged creative solutions. 00:02:19.909 --> 00:02:24.769 In my work, I think about how to make people care and act. 00:02:25.789 --> 00:02:30.957 I am here to tell you that creative actions can save the world, 00:02:30.981 --> 00:02:33.607 creative actions and play. 00:02:34.576 --> 00:02:39.723 I know it is weird to talk about play and human rights in the same sentence, 00:02:39.747 --> 00:02:41.799 but here is why it's important. 00:02:43.038 --> 00:02:46.848 More and more, we fear that we can't win this. 00:02:47.495 --> 00:02:49.262 Campaigns feel dull, 00:02:49.286 --> 00:02:50.756 messages drown, 00:02:51.267 --> 00:02:52.791 people break. 00:02:54.082 --> 00:02:58.055 Numerous studies, including a recent one published by Columbia University, 00:02:58.079 --> 00:03:01.734 show that burnout and depression are widespread amongst activists. 00:03:02.417 --> 00:03:05.159 Years ago, I myself was burned out. 00:03:05.183 --> 00:03:09.612 In a world of endless ways forward, I felt at my final stop. NOTE Paragraph 00:03:10.605 --> 00:03:15.093 So what melts fear or dullness or gloom? 00:03:15.793 --> 00:03:17.002 Play. 00:03:17.469 --> 00:03:21.730 From this very stage, psychiatrist and play researcher Dr. Stuart Brown 00:03:21.754 --> 00:03:24.534 said that nothing lights up the brain like play, 00:03:25.582 --> 00:03:27.746 and that the opposite of play is not work, 00:03:27.770 --> 00:03:29.040 it's depression. 00:03:29.729 --> 00:03:32.100 So to pull out of my own burnout, 00:03:32.124 --> 00:03:37.769 I decided to turn my activism into what I call today "play-tivism." NOTE Paragraph 00:03:38.160 --> 00:03:39.926 (Laughter) NOTE Paragraph 00:03:40.339 --> 00:03:43.600 When we play, others want to join. 00:03:44.240 --> 00:03:46.711 Today, my playground is filled with artists, 00:03:46.735 --> 00:03:48.440 techies and scientists. 00:03:48.846 --> 00:03:51.981 We fuse disciplines in radical collaboration. 00:03:52.658 --> 00:03:55.713 Together, we seek new ways to empower activism. 00:03:56.346 --> 00:03:59.032 Our outcomes are not meant to be playful, 00:03:59.056 --> 00:04:01.112 but our process is. 00:04:01.832 --> 00:04:05.229 To us, play is an act of resistance. 00:04:06.197 --> 00:04:10.656 For example, "Beat.," the project I talked about earlier, 00:04:10.680 --> 00:04:14.902 is a concept developed by a drummer and a software engineer 00:04:14.926 --> 00:04:18.093 who didn't know each other two days before they pitched the idea. 00:04:19.165 --> 00:04:21.826 "Beat." is the first winner in our lab series 00:04:21.850 --> 00:04:26.039 where we pair artists and technologists to work on human rights issues. 00:04:26.775 --> 00:04:30.176 Other winning concepts include a pop-up bakery 00:04:30.200 --> 00:04:34.509 that teaches about fake news through beautiful but horrible-tasting cupcakes -- NOTE Paragraph 00:04:34.533 --> 00:04:37.387 (Laughter) NOTE Paragraph 00:04:37.411 --> 00:04:41.277 or a board game that puts you in the shoes of a dictator 00:04:41.301 --> 00:04:45.691 so you get to really grasp the range of tools and tactics of oppression. NOTE Paragraph 00:04:47.382 --> 00:04:50.645 We did our first lab just to test the idea, 00:04:50.669 --> 00:04:53.426 to see where it cracks and if we can make it better. 00:04:53.450 --> 00:04:56.704 Today, we are so in love with the format that we put it all online 00:04:56.728 --> 00:04:58.348 for anyone to implement. 00:04:59.148 --> 00:05:02.747 I cannot overstate the value of experimentation in activism. 00:05:03.312 --> 00:05:06.675 We can only win if we are not afraid to lose. NOTE Paragraph 00:05:08.247 --> 00:05:10.892 When we play, we learn. 00:05:12.332 --> 00:05:14.971 A recent study published by Stanford University 00:05:14.995 --> 00:05:17.065 about the science of what makes people care 00:05:17.089 --> 00:05:20.269 reconfirms what we have been hearing for years: 00:05:20.293 --> 00:05:22.958 opinions are changed not from more information 00:05:22.982 --> 00:05:25.127 but through empathy-inducing experiences. 00:05:26.020 --> 00:05:28.818 So learning from science and art, 00:05:28.842 --> 00:05:34.120 we saw that we can talk about global armed conflict through light bulbs, 00:05:34.144 --> 00:05:37.001 or address racial inequality in the US 00:05:37.025 --> 00:05:38.487 through postcards, 00:05:39.320 --> 00:05:43.917 or tackle the lack of even one single monument of a woman in Sofia 00:05:43.941 --> 00:05:46.045 by flooding the city with them, 00:05:46.655 --> 00:05:48.835 and, with all these works, 00:05:48.859 --> 00:05:52.277 to trigger dialogue, understanding and direct action. NOTE Paragraph 00:05:54.534 --> 00:05:58.795 Sometimes, when I talk about taking risks and trying and failing 00:05:58.819 --> 00:06:00.590 in the context of human rights, 00:06:00.614 --> 00:06:02.947 I meet raised eyebrows, 00:06:03.639 --> 00:06:06.872 eyebrows that say, "How irresponsible," 00:06:06.896 --> 00:06:08.913 or, "How insensitive." 00:06:09.567 --> 00:06:13.294 People often mistake play for negligence. 00:06:13.318 --> 00:06:14.617 It is not. 00:06:16.218 --> 00:06:21.030 Play doesn't just grow our armies stronger or spark better ideas. 00:06:21.741 --> 00:06:24.172 In times of painful injustice, 00:06:24.196 --> 00:06:27.231 play brings the levity we need to be able to breathe. 00:06:27.850 --> 00:06:30.312 When we play, we live. NOTE Paragraph 00:06:33.907 --> 00:06:36.208 I grew up in a time 00:06:36.232 --> 00:06:38.141 when all play was forbidden. 00:06:39.387 --> 00:06:42.659 My family's lives were crushed by a communist dictatorship. 00:06:43.923 --> 00:06:47.720 For my aunt, my grandfather, my father, 00:06:47.744 --> 00:06:50.217 we always held two funerals: 00:06:50.241 --> 00:06:51.617 one for their bodies, 00:06:51.641 --> 00:06:53.184 but, years before that, 00:06:53.208 --> 00:06:54.791 one for their dreams. 00:06:55.657 --> 00:06:59.394 Some of my biggest dreams are nightmares. 00:07:00.685 --> 00:07:04.959 I have a nightmare that one day all the past will be forgotten 00:07:04.983 --> 00:07:08.228 and new clothes will be dripping the blood of past mistakes. 00:07:09.546 --> 00:07:11.521 I have a nightmare 00:07:11.545 --> 00:07:15.025 that one day the lighthouses of our humanity will crumble, 00:07:15.049 --> 00:07:17.325 corroded by acid waves of hate. NOTE Paragraph 00:07:18.301 --> 00:07:20.908 But way more than that, 00:07:20.932 --> 00:07:22.248 I have hope. 00:07:23.169 --> 00:07:25.485 In our fights for justice and freedom, 00:07:25.509 --> 00:07:27.181 I hope that we play, 00:07:28.205 --> 00:07:32.740 and that we see the joy and beauty of us playing together. 00:07:33.626 --> 00:07:35.023 That's how we win. NOTE Paragraph 00:07:36.058 --> 00:07:37.285 Thank you. NOTE Paragraph 00:07:37.858 --> 00:07:40.764 (Applause)