TEDxCSU inspires social change in FOCO community

“Social Change in Your Community,” an event by the TEDxCSU team promoted a conversation among community members on how they envision Fort Collins in the future.

The event played community themed TedTalks then followed the videos with an open discussion with community members apart of developmental processes in Fort Collins.

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“People here really care about the community…and we want the direction of the city to be an inclusive process where people are getting the most from the city they live in,” said Diane Jones, the deputy city manager.

Jones spoke about The Urban Lab, a group of students, professionals and community members who intend focus on the development and redevelopment of Fort Collins to make it upbeat in an eco-friendly manner.

Their goals include: creating a net zero Old Town where stores and restaurants can create as much energy as they are using, helping homeless get homes and reconstructing Mason street into a vibrant street that has an inviting ambiance, according to Jones.

“With the Mason street project they are looking for help and ideas in four main regions; biodiversity and green infrastructure, railroad track improvement, policies and other general ideas for the Mason Corridor,” said Colin Day, a member of The Urban Lab.

After the viewing of the first TedTalk and listening to local speakers, attendees discussed ideas about what they would like to see in their community.

“I would like to see artwork everywhere along the Mason Corrider,”said Dani Coles, junior art history major. “It would be visually stimulating and bring culture as well as ambiance to the area.”

Some ideas for artwork were inviting community members to paint sidewalk blocks, or painting the entire Mason Street a certain color and not allowing there to be any parking/driving on the road.

The conversation then evolved to one about creating better connections in the community.

Natural Resource Professor Shawn Davis, has not had a car for several years. When he does need a ride, he trades his skills and expertise in certain areas for car rides.

“By doing this do I not only get to interact and meet new people but I am being eco-friendly and building a better community,” Davis said.

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There are many websites where community members can get online and use the community to benefit and create new friendships. For instance, people with large plots of land can have other individuals use their land and teach them garden.

“There does not have to be any money involved,” Davis said. “People can trade and make the most of their community. We are all experts in different areas and if we use each other to the best of our ability we can learn new skills and also make this community smaller by creating friendships.”

Connections can be found in unlikely places, according to Tara Opsal a sociology professor who finished the event with speaking about American prisons.

According to Opsal we often marginalize felons and that once they are introduced back into society there are ways to accept them and create a better situation.

“As a CSU professor I am constantly inspired by students who are graduating, rolling up their sleeves, and ready to make a change,” Opsal said.

Students at CSU are full of ideas and moving forward with these ideas they can readily make a change in our community and at a larger scale according to Opsal.

“These types of TED events are tailored towards creating conversation and new ideas, and I think our guests are going to have a great time with it. Along with providing a valuable experience, our goal is to have people leave this event with a new inventiveness towards engaging in their communities,” Hailey Palec, junior horticulture major and TEDxCSU president said.

Collegian Reporter Josephine Bush can be reached at news@collegian.com.