TedX educates community

Speeches enjoyed at Empire Arts Center and online.


The speakers of TEDXGrandForks get together before their speeches. Photo courtesy of Daniel Folkers Photography.

The Grand Forks community found challenges worth accepting at the first-ever TEDxGrandForks event on Friday.

Presentations related to the theme “Challenge Accepted” were given by nine speakers at the Empire Arts Center in downtown Grand Forks.

“We chose the Empire because we really like downtown Grand Forks, and Minot and Fargo hosted their TEDx events downtown,” said Tyrone Grandstrand, curator of TEDxGrandForks.

The sold-out audience consisted of 100 people and 50 volunteers. Tickets were first released to the public at the Open Mic Night in January at the Fire Hall Theater, where 30 student tickets sold out immediately. The other 70 tickets sold out a few days before the event.

A live stream viewing party in the Memorial Union Loading Dock was sponsored by Student Government for those who could not attend in person. “We had about 40 people watching during the first group of speakers,” student senator Alan Oberg said.

The crowd’s size varied as students would come and go between different sessions of speakers.

The live online stream was utilized by over 720 viewers in Canada, Mexico and several states across the nation.

TED, which is an acronym for “Technology, Entertainment, and Design,” is a nonprofit organization formed in 1984 that focuses on “Ideas Worth Spreading.”

TEDx events are independently arranged in cities all around the world to give people an experience similar to a TED conference.

TEDxGrandForks was organized by UND alumni Becca Grandstrand, Tyrone Grandstrand and Emily Burkland, as well as current UND students Hannah Bahnmiller and Hana Mattern.

Tyrone Grandstrand served as emcee for the event, which was organized into three different sessions. Breaks between each session provided food, activities and discussions with fellow audience members and the speakers.

Each session consisted of three 15-minute long speeches and one TED Talks video selected by the event planners.

The first speaker, Anna Hovet, is a Grand Forks native who now is a successful entrepreneur and fashion designer in Chicago.

“I first heard about TED Talks when I was asked to dress two speakers for TEDxChicago two years ago,” Hovet said.

In her presentation, Hovet explained how she and other members of Generation Y, or the “millenials,” have unique skills that make them well equipped to be entrepreneurs, but they need to be better understood by other generations.

The other two speakers in the first session included Barry Striegel, a winner of Open Mic Night who spoke about entrepreneurial education for children, and Carly Flaagan, a senior UND music therapy student who demonstrated how music therapy can be a part of interdisciplinary healthcare.

“I hope the audience learned the basics of music therapy, and how important of a role music therapy plays in the future of healthcare,” Flaagan said.

The TED Talks video for session one was “Build a Tower, Build a Team” by Tom Wujec, and the marshmallow challenge featured in his talk was available for the audience to try during the following break.

The second session featured the other Open Mic Night winner, Tamarah Gehlen, who spoke about body image. A humorous TED Talks video about disability discrimination by Maysoon Zayid was next, followed by speaker Dave Batcheller, a successful businessman, and Carolyn H. Becraft, who spoke about her experiences advocating for women’s military rights.

The third and final session began with a TED Talks video about energy consumption by Alex Laskey. Speakers included Timothy Henry, a cardiologist who provided an explanation of stem cell research, Mark J. Lindquist, a world-renowned entertainer who spoke about 9/11 and appreciation for our everyday heroes, and Diana Laufenberg, who concluded the event with her presentation on education.

An after party was held for all attendees, volunteers and speakers at The Grand Historic Event Center downtown for more opportunities to network and discuss the new ideas that were presented.

The eclectic mix of speakers seemed to make the event enjoyable for everyone who attended.

“They covered a wide variety of ideas worth spreading, which was exactly the point,” said Delbert Lamb, a second year UND graduate student. During one of the breaks, Lamb said he had already shared some of his new knowledge with friends through social media and texting.

TED allows people to spread ideas in this way every day through the 1,500+ videos of TED Talks that are available online.

Videos of the presentations given at TEDxGrandForks can be viewed online in approximately three weeks.

The organizational team has already started planning the next TEDxGrandForks event for September with the theme “City 2.0,” which will focus on different ways to improve the city.

Emmy Erbes is a staff writer for The Dakota Student. She can be reached at [email protected].