Colorado State hosts TEDxCSU: Know better, do better

Jonathan Matheny

“Know better, do better” was the central theme of this year’s TEDxCSU conference, featuring 11 speakers on varying subjects from bees to the porn of poverty. The conference was held in the Lory Student Center at Colorado State University.

“We have some amazing presenters for you today,” said Jackson Shoaff-Bembry, the emcee of the event.  


Among the notable speakers was Jesse Wilson, a graduate of the Juilliard School of theater. Wilson spoke about his experiences acting and teaching juvenile criminals.  

“What do you want, and what is getting in the way of what you want?” Wilson asked the audience. “These are two of the most important questions, two of the most powerful questions that a person needs to address.”

Wilson encouraged the audience to actively think about and discuss these questions, explaining that this is how he found his sense of self. Wilson used the stories of three of his students to help illustrate his point, using blank white masks to cover his identity.

“Stories have power,” said Amy Lewis, a political science professor who spoke about science in political discussions. “Values matter more than facts.”

According to Lewis, stories are the best way to attribute values to science.

“We need to make policy relevant, not policy prescriptive,” said junior John Roos, in response to Lewis’ talk.

Shoaff-Bembry urged the audience to stay engaged in the conference. He said that to get something out of the conference, people must put something in.

“It’s amazing what happens when we realize that not just one idea is the right idea,” Shoaff-Bembry said.

One speaker who offered a lot to the discussion was Bill Becker, the director of the Powering Forward project at CSU. Becker discussed his involvement with the formidable project of moving a small Wisconsin town out of a flood plain.

“What if when people come into contact with nature, people change?” Becker asked the audience. 


Rather than building a levee or dam to stop the annual flooding, Becker and his team decided to move the town up a hill. In doing so, they were given the opportunity to create the first ever fully solar powered town.

“It’s not an alternative energy source,” Roos said. “It is the original energy source.”

The work Becker and his colleagues have done is intriguing to people who are interested in solving climate change.

“We need a wide range of knowledge to answer the problems of today and the problems of tomorrow,” said speaker Michael Gavin. 

Gavin spoke about the importance of cultural diversity. According to Gavin, cultural diversity is crucial to solving world problems because it provides multiple answers to the same questions, like Shoaff-Bembry urged in his opening remarks.

Collegian Reporter Jonathan Matheny can be reached online at or on Twitter @jonathanmathen2.