Eight speakers chosen for TEDxMahtomedi 2019

After considering nearly 50 applications from across the United States and auditioning 21 top prospects, the TEDxMahtomedi program team has chosen eight speakers for TEDxMahtomedi 2019, to be held November 10, 3–7 pm at WBUUC in Mahtomedi:

Founder of a mission-driven cookie company, Junita Flowers works to reduce relationship violence against women through the power of conversation. She will challenge us to move away from defending our own perspectives and instead embrace the power of hope to break down barriers, change perspectives, mend hearts and unify people for common good. 

 Kyle (KC) Legacion is a graduate of the University of Minnesota / Guthrie Theater BFA Actor Training Program with a minor in sustainability studies. Kyle will describe how social media keeps us from engaging fully with our environment and explore how we might improve our relationship with nature — and better care for our planet — by being less present to our devices and more present to the world around us.

 Brent Olson is a commissioner in Big Stone County on the Minnesota–South Dakota border. He will invite us to “Think Again!” about the future of rural America as he describes his vision to turn one of the smallest, poorest counties in the state into a vibrant haven for creative minds reminiscent of the Left Bank in Paris, SoHo in New York and Uptown in the Twin Cities.

A childhood survivor of civil war and now founder and executive director of the Sierra Leone Foundation for New Democracy, Hindolo Pokawa works to build local communities’ capacity to see themselves as part of the solution to problems they face — producers of knowledge and agents of change. He will speak about the power of teaching and learning from a cultural context grounded in indigenous teachings.

Carolyn Porter is an award-winning graphic designer, type designer and author whose book “Marcel’s Letters: A Font and the Search for One Man’s Fate” was a 2018 Minnesota Book Award finalist. She will talk about the value of passion projects — things we do outside of work that provide an outlet to explore, create, think and “Think Again!” about new ways to approach problems.

A lead scientist at 3M, Vasav Sahni uses spider silk as an inspiration for the development of innovative adhesives. Starting with his own experience (he’s terrified of spiders), Sahni will explore how collective opinions, societal beliefs, and individual experiences can keep us “stuck” to old ways of doing things, and how we might convert barriers to opportunities to maximize our impact in the global community.

April Seifert is a social-cognitive psychologist, life design strategist, and co-founder of Peak Mind: The Center for Psychological Strength. Her presentation will explore how the choices we make with respect to self-awareness, flexibility and psychological strength can transform our minds into our our biggest liability  — or our most valuable asset.

Mahtomedi High School students Ruby Ales, Mary Edmunds, Ava Schimnowskiand Alyne Torenvliet will use their experience as a Modeling a Protein Story (MAPS) high school team and subsequent presentation of their research at a national Experimental Biology conference to invite the audience to “Think Again!” about the role of science in our lives. 

We’re looking forward to sharing these amazing all stars and their stories with our community and the world at TEDxMahtomedi 2019!

Eleven presenters selected for TEDxMahtomedi 2018

August 8, 2018

Eleven speakers were recently selected from 40 applications to present at this year's TEDxMahtomedi. Topics range from renewable energy to public art to the criminal justice system, and all of them fit perfectly with our theme of Imagine! Read on for a sneak peek at our upcoming program.

  • Naaima Khan asks us to imagine what it would look like for us to take an intentional journey toward more inclusion. She will show us how building cross-cultural bridges and promoting creative systemic change are critical to creating solutions to many complex, adaptive challenges we face today.

  • Timothy DenHerder-Thomas' talk will highlight how community energy cooperatives, using community-scale renewable energy, energy efficiency, and smart financing tools, can turn our energy system on its head, helping communities save money and create jobs while building stronger local enterprise and taking on climate change head-on.

  • Imagine a world without "I Am." Adam Moen explains that our reliance on simplified ideas of ourselves and others, with statements like "I am" suggest certainty and permanence in a world of change and can be limiting. He would like to see people speak and think from a place of self-expression rather than self-explaining.

  • What's your story? Why should you tell it? Stephani Atkins shares how storytelling, not fact slinging, opens people up to different perspectives. Powerful stories physically change us, make us more empathetic and prepare us for possibilities that we would otherwise be unable to consider.

  • Jon Kamrath invites us to use our imagination muscle, and that when used properly can have a tremendous positive impact on nearly every aspect of life. He says that art, especially public art, is one of the most efficient and effective ways to exercise that muscle.

  • Imagine if every learner, young and old, saw themselves as an explorer. When we possess the mindset of an explorer, we are innately curious, responsible and empowered, and we hone our skills in observation, collaboration, communication and problem solving. Kelly Koller will introduce us to The Explorers Mindset, a National Geographic tool used to create an inspiring and positive culture for learning.

  • Marnita Schroedl wants us to imagine if everyone had a seat at the table. She will share her personal and professional mission to decrease disparities and increase equality so that marginalized communities and individuals are afforded their rightful seats at the resource sharing and policy making table.

  • Martin Heumann is a recently-retired correctional officer for a men's maximum state prison who will share his approach to relating to inmates and their rehabilitation, 80 percent of whom will be released back into our communities.

  • David Horsager is owner and CEO of the Trust Edge Leadership Institute. He will introduce us to his HOW-HOW-HOW process, designed to spark momentum, see immediate results, and inspire trust.

  • How can artists address problems facing our community? Jack Becker is an artist with experience in theater and visual arts, who applies his creativity to projects that connect the ideas and energies of artists with the needs and opportunities of communities. He sees artists as creative problem solvers, working across sectors to address challenges faced by people everywhere.

  • Matthew Bennett is a ninth grader at Mahtomedi High School and an internationally renowned pianist. He will perform for us and tell us why music is the ultimate brain food!

TEDxMahtomedi 2018 tickets now on sale

July 2, 2018

Tickets are now available for purchase through the Mahtomedi Community Education website. Ticket prices remain the same as previous years: $25.00. This includes admission to hear amazing presentations on a variety of topics, great conversation with other attendees, dinner and dessert. The Program Committee has received over 35 applications for 10 speaker spots and they are going through auditions now. It's looking like this will be a very exciting year for us!  Don't delay - tickets go fast! 

Digging In: Faith, Firearms and Civility

October 11, 2016

Michael J. Chan is Assistant Professor of Old Testament at Luther Seminary. In addition to writing on Isaiah and Daniel, Dr. Chan also does ethnographic research on the intersection of guns and religion in America. He serves on the editorial board of Bible Odyssey website, a Society of Biblical Literature initiative that is funded by an NEH grant. He earned his PhD from Emory University, his MA in Old Testament from Luther Seminary, and his BA in Elementary Education (Certified in German) from Pacific Lutheran University.

Michael wrote on YouTube, "If Americans are to have an informed conversation about the role of firearms in American society, they must recognize that, for many citizens, guns are not simply a political issue, they are also a religious one. But this should come as no surprise, for guns, like religion, deal with the profound human realities of life, death, will, power, and freedom."  The presentation will describe his research project and the most important preliminary findings, leading to a summary discussion of the cultural implications.

Beyond "green": Digging In to the true potential of sustainability

October 10, 2016

Kimberly Byrd has a long history of work in environmental education and interest in collaborative problem-solving. She began her career introducing cultural change in an institutional setting as Northwestern University’s first Recycling Coordinator, and later developed this work with government partnerships at the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. She received her PhD from the University of Minnesota in 2004, studying cultural worldviews and the policies of Minnesota wolf management. She has taught both lecture-based and experiential learning courses on sustainability, environmental ethics, ecological integrity, resilience theory, adaptive management, environmental psychology, social movement history, and transformational learning at the University of Minnesota, The Higher Education Consortium for Urban Affairs, and Hamline University.

Often, when people think of “sustainability,” they see a limited view of what the idea really has to offer.   To most people when they’re asking, “Is it sustainable?” They’re really asking, “Is it green?” But the true potential of sustainability offers something far greater. Kimberly will be “Digging In” on what is True sustainability is. How it involves ethical decision-making and asks questions about who we are as people, and what we want from our relationship with nature and each other.

Digging In: How can individual charitable giving make a bigger impact?

October 8, 2016

Steve Boland is the managing partner and founder of Next in Nonprofits, which provides fundraising and communications consulting, speaking, and content development services for nonprofit organizations. He has served as executive director of three nonprofit organizations in his career. Steve was the founding manager of the eBusiness Institute at Minnesota Technology. Steve also teaches Development and Fundraising at Hamline University. A graduate of the University of Minnesota Twin Cities, Steve holds a Master of Nonprofit Management from Hamline University, is an alumnus of the Shannon Leadership Institute, and serves on the Board of Directors for Outfront Minnesota.

New tools and new ideas are emerging to help us see how combining individual small voices can change how they impact the direction of charities today. It is now possible to see how all individuals together can respond to requests for donations, as well as actually shape nonprofit responses to community needs.

Is your hairstylist homeless? Digging In to understand homelessness in our community

October 7, 2016

Liz Schreier has served as the Executive Director of the St. Andrew’s Community Resource Center (CRC) since July 2014. She’s been involved with the CRC since its inception when she began working as the Intake Supervisor in February 2011. Liz continues to be passionate about serving our neighbors in need. She is a graduate of the University of Minnesota with a Radiologic Technology board certification.

The reality of who is experiencing homelessness in our community is quite different than what the average person thinks homelessness looks like. Liz will shed light on the realities of what our community faces locally regarding homelessness, how it happens and what it typically looks like for a family. There are countless people in this community who have talents and resources that can "dig in" and make change so that one day, this community has sufficient resources to accommodate all who are experiencing homelessness. 

Digging In: Is there such a thing as a modern day Renaissance person?

October 6, 2016

Randy LaFoy works at Century College in the GPS LifePlan, a statewide program to keep students in school and help them to graduate. He has won many awards for his photography, hosta plants, and jams. He has won a national award for a video on the WPA and another for his educational work.  He is a strong believer in giving back and has served as Birchwood Village Councilman and Mayor for 18 years. He has been in 48 of 50 states.  He published Kidiary, a children’s journaling book, as well as Reporter of Data Privacy Opinions. He is a life-long learner.

When we think of a Renaissance person, we immediately think of Leonardo Da Vinci. His shoes are huge ones to fill as Da Vinci was a master of mathematics, engineering, inventing, anatomy, painting, sculpting, architecture, botany, music and writing. Who can compare to him now? James Bond and the Most Interesting Man in the World immediately come to mind. But, how about real life? Who are the present Renaissance People, and what are they so good at? What happened? Do you have to be dead 400 years to be a Renaissance Person? How do we dig ourselves out of this conundrum? Randy will “Dig In” to a discussion on why it is worth becoming a Renaissance Person? How does one (and correspondingly, society) benefit? 

Digging In: Can school start times really have an effect on teen's sleep?

October 5, 2016

Julie Dahl, APRN, CNP, is a nurse practitioner who has specialized in sleep and pulmonary medicine for the majority of her career.  She has served as a content writer for the American Academy of Sleep Medicine (AASM) and is on the board of directors for the Minnesota Nurse Practitioners and the Minnesota Sleep Society.  In her role on the latter board, she is leading a committee of Minnesota researchers and sleep specialists in addressing the growing public health issue of sleep deprivation affecting adolescents, putting them at risk for mental, physical and emotional distress and disorders.

Minnesota was the birthplace of later school start time research back in 1996. Mahtomedi took part in a study, when changing the school start time from 7:30 to 8:00 am in 2005. This issue has been receiving more national attention since 2014 when, responded to mounting research, the American Academy of Pediatrics made a policy statement for schools to delay start times for adolescents (8:30 am or later).  A few weeks ago, the American Medical Association echoed this policy, joining the chorus of other statements from national organizations. After two decades of data, it is time for our community to start "Digging In." While this effort is going to involve local governance, education and parent engagement, the health and well-being of our children is worth the effort. 

Digging In with Mike Brooks: Building for People

October 3, 2016

Mike began to rhyme with bike in 2009 when he spied an article in the local White Bear paper about a local group organizing to promote safer biking and walking in the area. He attended the meeting and since then has volunteered many thousands of hours working through the White Bear Lake Bike Walk Task Force and NE Communities Bike Walk and other organizations to remind local, regional, county and state officials about gaps, needs and solutions to ensure the mobility of people is not lost in governments’ daily efforts. He is an advisor to Active Living Ramsey County and the recently completed Ramsey County Ped and Bike plan. He is a League of American Bicyclists certified bike safety instructor pursuing an ongoing education in bike safety with while teaching people of all ages and abilities how to safely and confidently drive bicycles on any infrastructure.

Mike will discuss the role of advocacy in many of the White Bear Lake area projects that have provided safer walking and biking options as well as opportunities in the future to “Dig In”. 

Digging In: How to really engage in the achievement gap discussion

October 1, 2016

Ron Anderson, a lifelong resident of Minnesota, is a self-described "privileged, middle-aged white guy" from the suburbs. He holds a doctorate in educational psychology and has spent his entire career in higher education, primarily in the public sector. He currently serves as the Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs for the college and universities of Minnesota State, and previously served as president of Century College. He spends his days passionately addressing issues of equity and inclusion in education.

In the area of education (both K-12 and post-secondary), Minnesota has among the largest racial achievement/opportunity gaps between in the nation.  We also have some of greatest economic and health disparities across racial lines. As a state that has historically prided itself on its outstanding education systems and high quality of life, we are living a new reality.  There is a gapping disconnect between who we have been (or who thought we were) and who we are today. It is time for our communities to “dig in” in ways different from that which we see all too often today. Rather than “digging in our heels” and refusing to listen to one another or consider the validity of alternative experiences or points of view, we must “dig in” to deep, difficult discussions that challenge our very understanding of the world. I believe that we must “dig in” to deep racial discussions and genuine engagement and exchange with one another. 

Digging In: Poetry as a critical life-saving tool

September 30, 2016

“What is poetry if it doesn't save us?”

Jen Coleman is the author of "Psalms for Dogs and Sorcerers" (Trembling Pillow Press, 2013) and "We Denizens" (Furniture Press, 2016). Her first book was selected by Dara Wier for the Bob Kaufmann book award. Jen grew up in St. Louis Park, MN and earned a B.A. in theater from Beloit College and an M.F.A. in creative writing from George Mason University. Before settling into her 20-year career in environmental advocacy, Jen was a theater electrician, school bus driver, janitor, factory worker and gas station attendant. Currently, she is the health outreach director at Oregon Environmental Council.

Poetry. We all know what it is. Poetry is Hallmark cards, wedding speeches, English class assignments. But you might actually have the experience, in looking for the right wedding poem, that it is hard to find something that doesn’t have an inappropriately dark turn for such an auspicious occasion. Because poetry can certainly be light-hearted romance, it can also be really brutal. It’s digging in. It’s taking to the trenches of human experience and eating voraciously from all life offers. It’s asking the question that the poet Czeslaw Milosz asked in 1945, after an entire generation of young people were slaughtered in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising: “What is poetry that does not save nations or people? Today, in the “anthropocene” – a geological age distinguished by the inescapable mark of human activity on the environment – we really do have to consider what it will take to save life as we know it. Does “digging in” to the challenge with poetry have a chance at building solutions? In this hybrid talk-performance I will posit that poetry may be among the critical tools in our life-saving tool kit.

Debbie Johnson-Hill is named TEDxMahtomedi 2016 Master of Ceremonies

September 28, 2016

TEDxMahtomedi is pleased to announce the Master of Ceremonies for 2016, Debbie Johnson-Hill.   Debbie is a long-time local writer, poet, and artist. She enjoys writing in her loft overlooking White Bear Lake. A degree from Brown College in Broadcast Journalism led her to host Mellow ‘til Midnight on jazz station KTWN-FM 108. After a detour into organic egg farming, she returned to school to study photography and creative writing and will soon graduate from Hamline University’s BFA program. She served on Runestone Literary Journal’s editorial poetry board. Debbie’s poetry, freelance writing, and photography have appeared in Maple Grove, Southwest Metro, St. Croix Valley, St. Louis Park, and White Bear Lake Magazines, as well as The Atrium, The Century Times, The Fulcrum, Red Flag Poetry, and the poetry anthology The View from Here: Poetry to Help You Soar. Debbie also presented at the inaugural, TEDxMahtomedi 2013 and has been an enthusiastic supporter of TEDxMahtomedi since. 

Digging In (@ The Dugout) at TEDxMahtomedi 2016

September 19, 2016

TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At TEDxMahtomedi 2016, live speakers, entertainment, and TED Talks videos will combine to spark deep discussion, inspiration and connection in a small group setting.  What might we accomplish if we “dig a little deeper”? How might imagination and conviction combine to transform our community and our world?

Join us on Monday, October 17 from 5:00-10:00PM at The Dugout in downtown Mahtomedi. Local speakers will present their ideas on topics including, Poetry’s Role in Saving the World; True Sustainability; Homelessness Among Us; Teen Sleep Deprivation; Being a Renaissance Person; Collective Philanthropy; Faith, Firearms and Civility; Planning for People, Not Cars; and Racial Equity.

Tickets are on sale now for $25. Visit http://www.tedxmahtomedi.com for more information and to purchase tickets.