TEDxCSU explores timely, urgent issues

Maddie Wright, Ravyn Cullor, and Corbin Reiter

Editor’s note: Jayla Hodge is the Opinion editor for the Rocky Mountain Collegian.

Exigency is defined as an urgent need and demand. Using this as the theme for the TEDxCSU event lead to some powerful and personal talks.


TEDxCSU was a sold out presentational series held on Saturday, March 9 in the LSC Theatre. The series featured eight speakers and three performances. Kyle Oldham acted as the emcee for the event. TED stands for Technology, Entertainment and Design with the “x” meaning that it was an independently organized event.

“Throughout today we’ve been challenged, enlightened, engaged, inspired, educated and hopefully at some point moved,” said Oldham. “It’s because of all of this we must recognize our strength of character, our opportunity to exercise choice and the demand for action, dare I say, exigency for action.”

TEDx is a TED-conference style event put on by independent organizations. This year’s sponsors were Ram Events, the CSU Alumni Association, the CSU Bookstore, Houska Automotive and Odell, Purpose, and Horse and Dragon brewing companies.

Odham also opened the event by reading a statement acknowledging the Arapaho, Cheyenne and Ute Nations “whose land this University is built on.”

The event featured three performers. Alejandro Jimenez, a public school educator in Denver and poet, presented two poems about his experience as a Mexican immigrant in the American school system. Mohammed York, a senior studying dance, performed a song cover, poem and dance on the topic of love. Mainstreet Acapella also performed a brief song selection.  

Brit Heiring discussed how mindfulness on social media can curb its negative impacts, and presented her strategy, the acronym “MIND,” which stands for take a moment, set an intention, notice your thoughts/actions and at some point drop-it.

“Whether we like it or not, social media is here to stay,” Heiring said.

She discussed what mindfulness is and how social media needs it. Social media impact studies are conflicting, but what Heiring emphasized is that impacts of social media are influenced by how intentional we are. She encouraged the audience to think about how they want social media to show up in their lives.

OiYan Poon presented her research into racial literacy and the history and current issues around Asian Americans. She advocated for the idea of justice, meaning changing a system which is oppressive, instead of “just us,” meaning to attempt to assimilate with the oppressive system.

“I think that there’s so little known of Asian American history even though it’s a big part of what it means to be an American and it’s such a big part of the story of the United States,” Poon said. “So on a very basic level it was like ‘people should know about the Chinese Exclusion Act. They should know about the anti-immigrant sentiments that we’re seeing today are not new.”


Freddie Haberecht shared his experiences with “environmental literacy” and the launching of the CSU Apiculture Club. He spoke about how he uses bees on campus and in the Northern Colorado community to help people understand and want to protect the resource.

“Exposure is the first step to making a difference,” Haberecht said.

Haberecht said that he hopes that the audience walks away with the idea of environmental literacy.

“You know, the idea that they can learn something and then have that gained knowledge and then that leads to something else and try and give that knowledge to other people, hopefully they can walk away with a better understanding that they didn’t have before and that changes their mind,” Haberecht said.

Jayla Hodge spoke about the “epidemic of shootings,” happening in the United States and how the discussion around it halts creating solutions. She proposed a framework called BEAST (Bipartisan, Existential, Accessibility, Societal Theory), which she said would help reframe the discussions regarding the issue to more effective and less dividing.

D-L Stewart used his experience and transition as a Black transgender person to analyze the roles of race and gender in the US. His examination of intersectionality explored some racist and transgressive attitudes that affect the Black transgender community.

Jaclyn Stevens explained shortcomings in the current assessment strategies for athlete concussions and presented her research, including the use of virtual reality, to more accurately determine when it is safe for an athlete to return to play.

“We need objective measures to make sure athletes safely return to play,” she said.

Mallory Garneau discussed the “first and only nonprofit restaurant” in Northern Colorado, Foco Cafe, and how accountability and choice improve their patron’s lives. The mission of this cafe is to help deliver healthy and affordable meals to those in Fort Collins by allowing patrons to choose how much or in what way they will pay for their food either with money or labor.

CJ Porter explained how he moved past negative expectations to eventually start his clothing line, Bot-Man. He said he relied on his support system and resilience and wanted his brand to provide that to others in his community.

Porter said that his talk for TedxCSU was a mix of positive emotions.

“It really just feels like trying to tell a story to a friend, but instead 400 people are listening to it,” Porter said. “It feels relaxing and exciting after being able to tell everyone (something) that you are really excited about after practicing so many times.”

Editor’s Note: In a previous version of this article, CJ Porter’s name was spelled incorrectly as “CJ Parker.” This article has been updated online to reflect this correction.

Corbin Reiter, Ravyn Cullor and Maddie Wright can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @CSUCollegian.