How will you go forth? This year’s TEDxFargo wants to empower you to go forth and activate ideas.
This day will be a chance for our community to share ideas and experiences through a world-class event with local, national and global thought leaders who will be sharing their ideas on the main stage to help solve challenges and create opportunities.
For those of you unfamiliar with this event, TEDx is an independently-organized event. It happens in thousands of communities around the country and it’s part of the TED platform and ‘x’ meaning independently-organized. Our team at TEDxFargo is composed of the team at Emerging Prairie with partners such as Livewire, Jeff Knight, countless volunteers and community partners. With a growth to almost 2000+ consistent attendees each year, this is the 9th event and form of TEDxFargo.
We sat down with Greg Tehven, Emerging Prairie’s executive director/co-founder and event content curator, and Megan Jeromchek, Emerging Prairie’s conference manager and experience designer, to get the scoop on this year’s event.
1) This is a diverse event, meaning that there’s something for everyone and all are welcome.
It doesn’t matter your age, your profession or your background. Everyone is welcome at this event. From high school students to Olympic gold medalists, to corporate CEOs to folks that just love poke bowls, the content is pretty diverse over the 24 speakers and performances.
“To me, it’s one of those events where no one is supposed to be there, so everyone is welcome. It’s not just young people or corporate CEOs. It’s eclectic, edgy and I think that’s really beautiful,” said Tehven. “I think some people come to TEDxFargo and they’re supposed to like all of the speakers. They’re not. We’re asking them to consider a wide variety of ideas. We are also asking them to explore our community.”
“When Greg says we’re very intentional about the work that we do, we try to make sure that everybody feels included. It can be overwhelming to walk into a big arena with over 2,000 people there, and you know, you could be by yourself or with friends or it’s your first time or you’re coming out of town. When we think about the experiential design, we think about those different types of people and where they could be coming from and what they might be feeling when they walk into the room. We design different activities that allow for engagement. We want to make sure there’s a presence there to make people feel welcome. And to also get a little taste of Fargo and maybe learn something new,” said Jeromchek.
“I think our content, as far as speakers go, is wider this year. Megan and our team have done a lot on experience design and have thought a lot about how do we design moments of escalation – meaning peak moments where the crowd can feel inspired, challenged an encouraged,” said Tehven.
2) You’ll be doing a lot more than just sitting in an arena all day.
Lunch outside in downtown Fargo, adventures, auxiliary events, musicians, live performances between sessions and more –– you’re definitely going to occupied for the entire day with different activities.
“Adventures will be happening the morning of the event. There will also be auxiliary events where we partner with different organizations and sponsors and partners around the community who post their own events. We will work with them and pair them with speakers who might align with the values and goals of their organization. Those will happen the day before and the couple days around, but they are separate from the adventures we have planned,” said Jeromchek.
“There’s a reason why we have vendors the guests have never heard of or they might drink coffee served a different way. We produce the videos online afterward, so it’s not just sitting in a chair listening, it’s discussing and exploring. I think it’s about keeping your eyes open and keeping people looking around, but also taking time to apply and say ‘Could I try this idea? Could I put it into action?’” said Tehven. “It would be failure for us if all it was was a day of fun and excitement, and then you went home. It’s not entertainment. It’s a day to consider, to learn, to explore and maybe apply. That’s important to me, that this is not entertainment. It’s presenting a learning opportunity in an entertaining way. But we’re going to attack some hard issues. We hope folks get to meet people they wouldn’t normally interact with and consider different perspectives.”
3) With adventures and more planned, that means this is event is community-driven. It’s a great chance to give our city some love and discover new things.
This city is special, and TEDxFargo gives you plenty of opportunities to connect with the community on a deeper level that you may not normally do.
“I think when we look at the TEDx experience, it’s really community-affiliated. We feel like Fargo is a very special place to live and have this event. We want to exemplify that in the work that we do. This will be another year that we are planning adventures that every TEDx attendee has the opportunity to attend. We have some really cool ones planned and a great range of activities, such as a nature workshop with Nature of the North. Unglued will do a make-and-take workshop. There will be rooftop yoga and activities that highlight local artists.”
“It’s just an opportunity to give our attendees more of a full experience. It starts early enough in the morning to get their mind in that place to be thinking of these big ideas and to be inspired. To be connected to people around you. We’re working with a lot of local musicians, businesses, food vendors to build on that day-of experience,” said Jeromcheck.
We also encourage folks to stay downtown afterwards. There is a night bazaar, Plains Art Museum is doing a movie night, there’s a show at the Fargo Theatre and the Sanctuary, and so much more,” said Tehven. “We try to build this as a platform, so when we hear about other stuff going on we get excited. We want the downtown to be flooded. It will be one of the more utilized days of downtown and the activation of a lot of spaces.”
4) There’s a theme, and it plays an important role in the overall experience and presentation of ideas.
“This is the second year of our trilogy. Last year we began our adventure in the word ‘for,’ asking what you are for versus what are you against. This year is ‘forth,’ as in the activation ideas. We are also playing on the concept of pause, and how we can slow down and actually hear. The third event, next year and our 10th event, is ‘forward.’ We’re really thinking about forward, and how do you protect the creative class and the creative spirit? How do you protect the makers, the weirdos, the misfits––that whole genre. Last year we had a lot of talks on what are we for, this year is taking those ideas and moving them forward, moving them deeper. We will hit on some heavier topics, and next year will be about protecting the spirit of creativity,” said Tehven.”
“I think it’s important for us to connect every event through the theme and through our speakers. We connect things in ways the audience normally wouldn’t understand,” said Jeromchek.
5) There’s a lot of work that goes into creating a unique, high-quality experience for every person who attends. Everyone involved puts forth the best of their craft.
From the overall atmosphere to the experience design, content, graphic design and every single little detail in between, this is an event that involves the highest level of skill and creativity from all partners involved.
“If I was going to encourage a new attendee to have a great first TEDxFargo day, I would say to keep your eyes open. The team is incredibly committed to detail. There’s detail in the design, the floor layout, the production––the team at Livewire is extremely articulate and talented when it comes to lighting and the atmosphere, those types of things. I think that collection of people that are doing their part to the best of their ability is part of what makes this event so special,” said Tehven. “Even the food choice––it’s all an emotional day. If you pay attention, you’ll see the theme, the logo, and you’re going to feel it. If you look at the audience, its people of all age and it’s really such a wide range of industries.”
“I think it would be a mistake if our community took TEDxFargo for granted. A lot of people contribute beyond what’s asked of them, whether that be cash, time, skill or creativity. The people involved are showing their world-class capabilities, and that’s not the case with every single event in this community,” said Tehven.
“When you think about where you’re at in your life––how you can really take some of these ideas and how they can affect you––I think just being open to the possibilities is important. Everyone should be able to walk out feeling some sort of impact from something they experienced or heard throughout the day,” said Jeromchek.
6) TEDxFargo is a thought leader.
Did you know that TEDxFargo is one of the most attended TEDx events in the world? While many TEDx events all over the globe typically see around 100 in attendance, TEDxFargo has seen 2,000+ in the last few years, and that number isn’t diminishing as the years go on. That definitely says a lot about our community and what we care about, and that’s pretty cool.
“It’s not as common in other cities. I think TEDxFargo is dedicated to getting our crowd engaged and finding meaningful opportunities to learn and meet each other. We do more work with our speakers to engage each other into Fargo. We use our adventures and our partners to bring our out of town guests deeper into the community and I think its one of the commitments of this event that not everybody else has.
TEDxFargo is a thought leader. TEDx headquarters often references the innovations coming out of the team here, and that’s why we get to do this regional workshop with all these other speakers and organizers. TEDxFargo is considered a thought leader in the entire global movement,” said Tehven.