TEDxCSU encourages attendees to use inner momentum

Graham Shapley

In today’s world of heightened connectivity but little conversation, a simple face-to-face talk can be a unique and enriching experience. 

On March 7, TEDxCSU returned to campus, encouraging the use of talking to discuss issues that affect Fort Collins community members, both in town and out in the world. As opposed to TED Talks, TEDx is a branch of the company that is organized by members of the community. This opens up a platform for speakers to approach issues locally and connect with fellow activists in the neighborhood. 

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Attendees in the Lory Student Center Theatre at Colorado State University were given a lot to think about by the nine speakers that presented at the annual TEDxCSU event. The theme for the event was “Momentum” and encouraged the audience to take the information that they learned at the event out into the world and allow it to continue to impact their lives.

person speaks at event
Agricultural sciences and education student Robert Wiggins speaks on the topic of “The Value of an Opportunity” in the Lory Student Center Theatre during the 2020 TEDxCSU event. “Bias is malleable,” Wiggins said. (Brooke Buchan | The Collegian)

The thought-provoking atmosphere began before the official talks did. An extended conversation about the Land Acknowledgment statement, recently implemented by CSU to spread awareness of the school’s unethical origins, implored listeners to take action against oppression.

“If you leave here and choose to do nothing, you are complicit in the destruction of Indigenous land and people,” said psychology undergraduate Sage Mednansky before the acknowledgement. “Do not avert your eyes. See us.”

Mednansky’s message of acknowledgment, respect and returning voices back to those from whom they were taken continued throughout the program. 

“What are you going to do?” said Kyle Oldham, who acted as the master of ceremonies for the show. “I ask that you think seriously about that.”

During intermissions, while food and snacks were provided, participants were also invited to chew on tough topics with the groups at their tables. Notecards placed on each table prompted topics like “How would the world change if there was one universal language?” Open communication was encouraged across the board as presenters chatted with audience members to exchange ideas about their talks and grow connections.

“If you haven’t been in conversations lately where your worldview has been challenged, I encourage you to seek those conversations out,” said speaker Kristin Kirkpatrick, the executive director for the Center for an Enhanced Workforce in Agribusiness. She presented a talk that discussed how diversity is necessary to solve world problems, such as hunger. “I encourage you to look at the tables you are a part of and look at who you are creating space for and who you are not.”

What are you going to do? You’ve been asked that lots of times today. I ask that you think seriously about that.” -Kyle Oldham, master of ceremonies at the 2020 TEDxCSU event

Fittingly, TED’s motto is “Ideas worth thinking about.” They don’t often tell the audience what exactly to think — they just present a topic and enough information to inspire curiosity.

person speaks at event
Environmental and radiological health sciences lab technician Luna Martinez speaks on the topic of “Lessons From My Ethical Non-Monogamous Household” in the Lory Student Center during the 2020 TEDxCSU event. (Brooke Buchan | The Collegian)

Speakers included CSU staff, students and community members. Temple Grandin spoke about the importance of accepting and inspiring different kinds of thinkers, and CSU designer Barz Mendonça spoke about coming to terms with his queer and gay identities in a society that discourages men from expressing femininity.

Because TEDx is organized by community members for community members, it provides a unique opportunity for students to express their concerns to a wide audience.

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Janaye Matthews, a Black undergraduate student in biomedical engineering and electrical engineering, gave the presentation “The Mental Tuition of Marginalization,” which highlighted the taxing nature of being a Black student on campus. 

After numerous racially charged incidents occurring on CSU’s campus recently, TEDxCSU provided another stage where these issues could be brought to the forefront and discussed.

A full list of speakers can be found on The Collegian‘s website, and videos should be uploaded to the TEDxCSU website in the coming days.

Graham Shapley can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com and on Twitter @shapleygraham