FARGO — After a two-year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic,
will return to the Fargo Civic Center on Thursday, July 21.
The event will feature speakers and performers who will share their ideas and talents with the goal of sparking innovation.
Greg Tehven, curator of TEDxFargo and CEO of Emerging Prairie, said this year’s theme — TEDxFargo Beyond — is meant to challenge speakers to “present ideas that are both relevant today and as we move forward in the world.”
“We looked at folks who have interesting ideas that are relevant for the modern era. As you look through the content, you’ll see a wide variety of speakers,” Tehven said. “They’re practitioners. They’re thinkers. They’re young. They’re experienced. And they’re helping our community and our audience consider new thoughts.”
In a possible first for a TEDx event, one of the speakers this year will be an avatar.
“My understanding is this is the first avatar to have been invited to speak on a TEDx stage. I don’t know if that’s true or not, but I’ve never invited an avatar nor have I seen anyone else,” Tehven said.
The avatar will speak as a representative of the popular “doge” meme and will talk about the meme, digital art and culture and non-fungible tokens, or NFTs.
Another speaker expected to garner attention is Christopher Martin, the cashier who accepted a counterfeit $20 bill from George Floyd at a Minneapolis Cup Foods in May of 2020, which led to a 911 call and Floyd’s death
According to the TEDx website, Martin will share a “powerful story of how personal tragedy can lead to redemption, if we are willing to ‘Rise.'”
Tom Kemmer, owner of
in Moorhead, is seeking to bring visibility to the sport of skateboarding in the Fargo-Moorhead area with his speech. His ultimate goal is to build a new public outdoor skate park.
Kemmer explained that during the peak of the coronavirus pandemic, he and his friends reopened the Hawk’s Nest, a private skateboarding co-op in Fargo.
“We brought that back from the grave during the pandemic because we needed it. People needed it,” Kemmer said. “Then, in bringing the Hawk’s Nest back, we decided that we have to follow through with our mission to bring more visibility to skateboarding in the F-M area and to encourage youth to take up the sport.”
To illustrate the physical and mental benefits of the sport, Kemmer talked about the effects of opening a skate park on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota three years ago.
“The Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is the epicenter for suicide in North America. The suicide rates are astronomical and terribly depressing. … Since they started their programs and have their park, they have lost not one kid involved in the program to suicide,” he said. “What combats depression and things like that? Exercise. Being outside. Being off your devices. Being connected to like-minded people.”
Another selling point of skateboarding, according to Kemmer, is the low cost to get started.
“Skateboarding is the third least expensive sport to get into of the 21 core, most popular sports. You need a skateboard that ranges from $100 to $180, and then you can do it. … For folks that don’t have a lot of money, the No. 1 determining factor in whether children play sports is their parents’ economic status.”
Arica Kulm, director of digital forensic services at Dakota State University in Madison, South Dakota, will speak about protecting one’s digital legacy. Kulm is a cyber intelligence analyst who works on cases for South Dakota Consumer Protection, a division of the attorney general’s office.
No two days are the same in her line of work, Kulm says. One day, she might be investigating a suspicious website, tracking its origin and determining the scam involved. The next, she may be analyzing cellphone data for a criminal or missing person case.
What is stored on personal cellphones and how to access that information will be the focus of her speech.
“We see a lot of interesting things that people have on their phones,” she said. “If you had to turn your phone over to help with an investigation, would you be comfortable doing that?”
Most of the time, people say, “Sure, I’m not a criminal,” she said. But plenty say, “I’m not a criminal, but I don’t want you seeing what’s on my phone.”
She urges people to be aware of what they are viewing, posting and sharing.
In a departure from what she and other cybersecurity experts typically preach, she recommends people share their phone’s passcode or password with at least one other person.
“We’re always told, ‘Don’t share your passwords or your passcodes.’ I believe you should in case somebody needs to know what happened to you one day,” she said.
Other speakers and, when provided, what Tehven said he expects them to speak about, include:
- Grace L. Chao, certified substance abuse counselor and senior adviser to North Dakota’s behavioral health division: Mental health in the prison system.
- Howard Dahl, CEO of
and FarmQA: The impact of the crisis in the Middle East.
- Bruce Rastetter, founder and CEO of
- Jay Doan, an agripreneur with Black Leg Ranch: Sustainability.
- Ross DeVol, president and CEO of Heartland Forward: Economics.
- Randy Hedberg, associate head coach/quarterbacks coach for North Dakota State University.
- Danielle Mkali, senior director at Nexus Community Partners.
- Kim Pladson, president and CEO at TNT Kid’s Fitness.
- Heather Simonich, operations director at Nexus-PATH Family Healing.
Organizers are planning several activities in addition to the main stage event Thursday.
New this year are TEDx Curated Dinners. TEDxFargo organizers are matching interested attendees with members of the community for a meal and an evening of connection, which Tehven said will benefit from the eclectic crowd the event draws every year.
“What we’re trying to achieve is creating an intentional experience for folks to come to dinner and talk about ideas,” Tehven said.
The registration deadline has passed for the curated dinners, but attendees still have the opportunity to enjoy TEDx Adventures. According to Matt Wendel, director of communications and marketing for Emerging Prairie, organizers have partnered with many downtown businesses to offer attendees swag and deals.
There will also be a special TEDxFargo StartupBREW with gener8tor at 8 a.m. Wednesday, July 20, at Drekker Brewing. The startup accelerator recently announced the launch of the gener8tor 1889 seed fund and three accelerators anchored in Fargo and Grand Forks to provide services to early-stage companies in North Dakota.
For more information about TEDxFargo or to purchase tickets, visit
IF YOU GO
What: TEDxFargo Beyond
When: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday, July 21
Where: Fargo Civic Center, 207 4th St. N., Fargo.
Cost: $100, plus taxes and fees
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