TEDx inspires creativity

Viraj Patel Reporter


TEDx is a non-profit organization devoted to the concept of ideas worth spreading. On Oct. 4, Brookings hosted its second TEDx event at the Performing Arts Center at SDSU.

“The concept behind TEDx events and TEDx talks is simple: ideas worth spreading. From my view, that’s what the university is all about; sharing ideas and thinking creatively about how we can make a better future, together,” said Tim Nichols, Dean of the Van D. and Barbara B. Fishback Honors College. Nichols was an active volunteer of the eight-member planning committee responsible for setting up the event.

The first speaker for the day was Cory Heidelberger, a writer of “Madville Times,” a blog that focuses on a variety of issues in South Dakota. He came in at a time when some technological difficulties were occurring and he started off on a jovial note. “Its fun to fill in during the times of technical difficulties, isn’t it?” Heidelberger said.

His talk discussed his love for the state of South Dakota.

“This year’s theme, ‘On Fire,’ is especially exciting for me because it focuses the TEDx lens on people who are investing in their passions and bringing them to life to help others,” Nichols said. “SDSU students and faculty are among the presenters but so are business, community and political leaders from all over the world.”

Christophina Lynch, an SDSU PhD candidate of Pharmaceutical Sciences and Founder/CEO of Call Me Lily, a nonprofit organization to fight prostitution in Sierra Leone, focused on her motives for the organizations and embarked upon her fight with Ebola. She is currently working with Global Links, another nonprofit that is helping to save lives of people in nine underprivileged countries.

“With the help of Global Links we have made it possible to send 4,400 relief packages to these countries.” Lynch said.

From the importance of innovative leadership to the joy of travelling across different countries and from the methods mapping communities to the identification of the healthy type of olive oil, the speakers covered a vast majority of topics to inform the audience.

“We are preparing the most nutritious food for our children on the top of a toilet seat. We need private facilities in public areas with well equipped refrigerators to store the breast milk for later use,” Jennifer Anderson, assistant professor in the communication studies and theatre department, said during her talk on the importance of private breast milk pumping facilities in public areas.

Along with local residents, SDSU students were also among the participants.

“For our students, the TEDx event provides an opportunity to interact with progressive thinkers and doers in our community; it exposes them to leaders outside them to leaders outside the university, broadens their horizons and provides inspiration, too,” Nichols said.

Nichols said that the TEDx event allowed students to gain new ideas and interact with people other than SDSU students.

Cassius Pond, freshman agriculture engineering major, attended the TEDx event. “I used to hear about TEDx Talks on National Public Radio and I wanted to attend an event. Today is the chance,” Pond said. “I am interested in the talk by Dr. Alexander Smart, who is speaking on Rangeland Ecology. My father used to speak highly of him and now I get to hear him first hand.”

Ginger Kern, founder of A Traveller’s Mindset, an organization that focuses on helping people discover themselves through travelling around the world, pointed out a fact that only 38 percent of citizens in the U.S. have a passport valid for international travel, not including Mexico and Canada.

“Bring life to your life. The next interesting person is just a conversation away.” Kern said.

Scott Schwefel, a personality guru, walked audience through varying personalities, providing an example with Ashley Gehlhar, a member of the planning committee of TEDx Fargo.

“I am Alert Ashley,” Gehlhar said in response to Schwefel’s question to think about an alliterative adjective that relates to her personality. “I drove seven hours from Fargo to come here and see the planning and execution of the event and take something back to our event

[TEDx Fargo] and inculcate it therein,” Gehlhar said.

SDSU students played a key role by volunteering for the event.

“I received an email from Dr. Nichols asking for volunteers,” said Kirstyn Fiala, sophomore pre-nursing major and Honors College teacher’s assistant. “I was free and wanted to be a part of it, so I came along to help here.”

With a total of 20 speakers bringing the issues they thought mattered to the public’s attention, the event lasted a total of seven hours.