TedX open mic night ends in a tie

Natasha Thomas gives her speech, “Being an Amplifier: Discussing Race in Small Town America” during the TedX open mic night Saturday at the Empire Arts Center. Photo by Jennifer Friese/The Dakota Student.

What started out as a night to pick one speaker out of 11 participants for the TedX Grand Forks event in February turned into 14 speakers with two winners.

The votes for the top two contestants were so close that organizers decided to allow both Natasha Thomas and Jason Schaefer to speak at the event on Feb. 21, 2015 at the Empire Arts Center.

Each speaker had two minutes to give a brief synopsis of a subject they were passionate about and wanted to speak about at the event. The speakers weren’t allowed any visual aids or a podium.

Thomas’ speech was about “Being an Amplifier: Discussing Race in Small Town America.” Thomas grew up in Devils Lake, and spoke about an experience from her childhood where she was at first rejected because her skin color, but then accepted by a friend.

“She was an amplifier for me,” Thomas said. “The answer to this is you. Conversation leads to growth and growth, leads to change. Let’s grow together.”

Schaefer’s speech was titled “It’s Time to Get Bold and It’s Time to Get Connected.”

The speech was about the disconnect that citizens of Grand Forks have to the city.

“How we build our environment matters,” Schaefer said. “How do we connect downtown to the Alerus Center? I propose a bus rapid transit. It’s like a metro but way cheaper. We need to start connecting the dots and connecting community.”

TedX Grand Forks will take place at the Empire Arts Center on Feb. 21, 2015. Tickets will go on-sale on Jan. 5, 2015 on the event’s website. There will be 75 discounted students tickets for $25. Regular prices tickets are $80.

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