TEDx Event Brings Innovation and Ideas to Edina

Olivia Pierce
At the third TEDx event in Edina, hundreds of people will come together to celebrate ideas, innovation and lifelong learning.
Edina High School junior Olivia Pierce.

At the third TEDx event in Edina, hundreds of people will come together to celebrate ideas, innovation and lifelong learning. Between collaborative art projects, yoga and talks given by select speakers, excitement moves through the event space like an electric current. This has been the scene from past years of the TEDx event and is sure to be the buzz at the next. It’s a time when creativity, ideas and collaboration bubble over the edge of the auditorium like a fizzy can of pop. This year the event will move to Fick auditorium at Edina High School, and planners expect 300–400 community members to attend. “The energy will be that much more electric,” says Cheryl Gunness, community involvement coordinator for Edina Community Education.

According to the TED website, “TED is a nonprofit devoted to spreading ideas, usually in the form of short, powerful talks (18 minutes or less).” Gunness believes this mission fits right in with the City of Edina. “We are trying to always figure out ‘what does our community need to grow and connect?’” Gunness says of her job as community involvement coordinator. Gunness believes many of the adults who attend the event are “craving that feeling of being intellectually alive,” she says. “We felt like partnering with the TED organization would be a great way to fill our community up.” And with the wide variety of speakers set to attend, it’s likely every attendee’s cup will runneth over.

Tackling Bias
Olivia Pierce

Still a junior at Edina High School, 2018 TEDx Edina speaker Olivia Pierce will move audiences with her well-spoken ideas and drive to create a new level of inclusivity in religion—and her story will no doubt inspire others to take action on their own ideas. “In March I went on a mission trip with my church to Haiti,” she says. “We used a picture book [to help teach the kids about religion] and on every page, Jesus was depicted as white.” Because many of the residents of Haiti have darker skin, Olivia wanted to draw attention to the lack of inclusivity in religion. She hopes through her TED talk, the audience will “gain awareness about how unconscious bias can affect people we don’t ever think of,” she explains.

Taking Initiative
Mike Schultz

Although two-time Paralympic medalist and 2018 TEDx speaker Mike Schultz never thought of himself as a speaker, he hopes others will be inspired by his story of perseverance. Even since childhood, Schultz dreamed of becoming a professional athlete. From 2006–2008, he saw his dream turn to reality when he became one of the top five snowmobile racers in the country. In 2008, adversity struck the young athlete when he sustained a knee injury resulting in amputation of his leg. Schultz wanted to continue with the sport he loved, but he noticed high performance prosthetics for riding motorcross did not exist on the market. So he took matters into his own hands. “Me being a garage guy,” he says, laughing, “I started designing.” By spring of 2009 Schultz had a prototype and soon he started his own business called Biodapt. “Our goal was—and still is— to create the best prosthetic equipment for high performance and sports,” he explains. Now Schultz carries his message of hope to audiences around the country, inspiring audiences with words such as, “Don’t lay down and give up. Keep charging forward. You never know what you are capable of until you are put to the test,” he says.

These speakers and many others will dazzle audiences at the TEDx event this year—an event that shows the true colors of Edina. “This feels like a great community effort,” says Gunness. “All of the people [involved with the event] share a love for new ideas and a vast curiosity.”

Advocating for Wellness
Chris Johnson

2018 speaker Chris Johnson, M.D., is an emergency medicine physician and chair of the Human Services Opioid Prescribing Work Group. Johnson hopes through his talk he will be able to bring attention to the opioid epidemic, inspiring community members to use their voices to ignite change. It was many years ago when Johnson first discovered the opioid problem in our country. “Patients were coming into the emergency room—almost every day— they would come in on high doses of opioids,” he says. Johnson describes these patients coming in for minor issues—from sprains to bruises—and all of them would be in agony, demanding more pain medication. “I remember being taught as a resident that the risks [with opioids] were low,” Johnson says. “We were told that these medicines would help people get their lives back.” Johnson believes the opioid epidemic stems from a major failing on the part of the American health care system, and he hopes his talk will be both informative and inspire the community to take action. And “when voices cry for change in the health care system, I want them to not be afraid to support that,” he says.

TEDx Edina
Saturday, October 13.
$75 adults, $25 students.
To purchase tickets visit the website here.