TEDxEdina: The Power of Ideas

TEDxEdina speaker Nausheena Hussain on stage.
A craving to learn leads the way for TEDxEdina.
Nausheena Hussain was a 2018 TEDxEdina speaker. Her topic was, "Not About Us Without Us: Building Equity Through Storytelling.”

TED Talks have become ubiquitous online, known for their engrossing takes on seemingly every topic under the sun. What’s perhaps not as well known is where these talks originate: TED Conferences. According to Cheryl Gunness, the community involvement programs coordinator at Edina Community Education, the TED Conference, originating in the 1980s, is centered around technology, entertainment and design. For the annual conference, admission can’t be secured for the $10,000 ticket price alone. Attendees must apply and be deemed interesting and influential enough to be accepted.

However, there are two ways TED makes the content more accessible, Gunness says. One is the aforementioned TED Talks, which are videos from the conferences that are freely available online. The other way is through the TEDx program. “They will give a license to a community group to hold a TED-like event in their community,” Gunness says. This license comes with a lot of rules for how these events should be run, but it also comes with a lot of support.

Gunness first received her license for TEDxEdina in 2015 after noticing a need the TEDx event could meet. “Adults in our community were just hungry for ideas,” Gunness says. “Lecture series, anything that we could offer that was kind of like, ‘Go back to college. Get your brain turned on’ or ‘Be excited about new ideas ... I hadn’t thought of before.’” At the time, her job was connecting with adults in Edina,
so she began what was to become a (sort of) biennial tradition.

“We were on a roll to do it [approximately] every other year,” Gunness says. But after events in 2015, 2017 and 2018, COVID-19 disrupted the group’s plans for a 2020 TEDxEdina. Now, a large committee of volunteers, along with organizing partner Edina Community Ed, has been working tirelessly to plan not only a new TEDxEdina event this October, but a new feature as well. “TED has a variety of different licenses that they’ll give, and the one we applied for this year is a youth event,” Gunness says.

Although youth have traditionally been featured as both speakers and volunteers on the committee, Gunness says that, for a long time, the group has wanted to have a youth-led event. “For the first time, we have students at Edina High School [EHS] who are organizing a TEDxYouth at Edina,” she says, noting it will be held in EHS’s Fick Auditorium the Friday night before the main event.

For this year’s event, Gunness says a major focus is not only on the 11 speakers (four of whom are from Edina), but also on hosting some audience experiences. She says the event’s organizers want to help audience members “make connections with like-minded people who believe in the power of ideas to make the community a better place.”

So, outside of the speakers, there will be spaces and time for attendees to connect with each other about what is shared.

“We’ve always had experiences or collaborative art projects or some kind of activity that would facilitate connections between the people [in attendance],” Gunness says. “But we’re amping that
up, and we’re going to have a lot more fun, interesting, unexpected ways for people to connect this year.”

Sneak Peek

We connected with two of the local speakers for TEDxEdina for a little more insight on their background and what they’ll be discussing.

Erin Zamoff

Director of Communications and Public Affairs for FairVote Minnesota, a nonprofit based in St. Paul.

TEDxEdina speaker Erin Zamoff

“I will speak about the growing and dangerous political divide in our country and a simple but powerful solution that can change the incentives and transform our democracy for the better.”

Melissa Seeley

Self-employed and the co-founder of Good To Go Cups, based in Edina.

TEDxEdina speaker Melissa Seeley.

“[I’ll speak about] rethinking waste [and] how the circular economy can help us address our biggest challenges.”

The 2022 TEDxEdina will take place October 29. To learn more about TEDxEdina and order tickets, visit tedxedina.com.