"Minds: Prepare to open," one attendee tweeted before the start of TEDxUniversityofNevada Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018. And, open they did. As nearly 1,400 people filled the Reno-Sparks Convention Center ballroom, the room hummed with excitement and anticipation for the day ahead.
The sixth-annual event kicked off with "Whisper," a video, produced by Paul Klein of Argentum Partners, Alphonse Polio of Three Sticks Productions and Tyler Bourns of Bourns Productions. It reminded the audience that Technology, Entertainment and Design, what the TED acronym stands for, are pillars in Reno's culture.
For the first time in the event's history, TEDx organizers decided to theme this year's event: Sides. Each session of the event played up the theme.
Session 1: Vertex
Orrin Johnson, deputy district attorney in Carson City, Nev., kicked off the first session with a talk about the First Amendment. Johnson used two recent examples from the University of Nevada, Reno - Peter Cvjetanovic and Colin Kaepernick - to illustrate his big idea. Lee Rowland, a senior staff attorney with the ACLU, who also talked about the First Amendment, followed Johnson.
"If you want to have conversations that change the world, embrace the First Amendment," Rowland said.
Next up, Sharyl Attkisson, a five-time Emmy Award winner and recipient of the Edward R. Murrow award for investigative reporting, addressed the topic of fake news. Local entrepreneur Robyn Brockelsby took to the stage and shared her story of being stalked in an effort to help someone else potentially going through a similar situation. Cara Brookins then reframed the way people recover from traumatic events with the story of why she and her children built their 3,500 square foot house by watching YouTube tutorials.
Closing out the first session, Troi Irons took guests on the journey of her musical career through music and poignant dialogue.
Session 2: Equilateral
Musician Allen Stone, who performed nearly 600 shows in two years, entertained the audience with his humor and soulful music, at the start of session two. University College of Business Associate Professor Julie Hogan then offered her thoughts on cultural humility with her talk titled, "The Tale of Two Robes."
In a new format for the event this year, TEDxUniversityofNevada Curator and College of Business Associate Professor Bret Simmons sat down with Senator Catherine Cortez Masto for an honest and open interview about the topic of immigration.
University student and student speaker competition winner Joe Sabini then offered his thoughts on aligning ones' actions to their beliefs. Christine Porath, a professor of business at Georgetown University, delivered a skillful talk about incivility. Her talk was followed by Marianne Cooper, a sociologist at the Clayman Institute for Gender Research and the Center for the Advancement of Women's Leadership at Stanford University. Cooper skillfully addressed the relevant topic of sexual harassment.
The session closed with local trainer, speaker and therapist Steven Ing who reframed an important conversation in society, human sexuality.
Session 3: Integral
The event's third and final session kicked off with a musical performance by Jim James. TEDxUniversityofNevada veteran, author and business thought-leader David Burkus then delighted the audience with his take on networking. Breadware CEO Daniel Price took to the stage and fascinated folks with his talk on the Internet of Things (IoT).
Next up, Tony Lillios asked the audience to consider, "Do you believe your best days are ahead of you, or behind you?" with an engaging dialogue on Integral Theory. Former ultimate fighting champion Frankie Curreri Forza then challenged the audience to consider why egos get a bad rap.
Creator, Executive Producer and Host of ESPN's Sport Science John Brenkus next empowered the audience with his talk about the expectations of female athletes and why he believes these should change. Mike Minehardt, a marketing expert passionate about food waste, dared the audience to consider using more ugly produce.
Closing the third session, TEDxUniversityofNevada veteran and Peabody-Award winning journalist Mariana Atencio offered a riveting talk about her last year of work.
A community of support
Under the leadership of Bret Simmons, TEDx event curator and University of Nevada, Reno College of Business associate professor, a number of local businesses and organizations partner to ensure the event's success. This year, more than 30 sponsors helped make the event happen.
"This truly is a University-community collaboration," Simmons said. "We couldn't do this event without support from our sponsors. The support we receive out in the community drives us to deliver a quality event each year. I'm so grateful to all of our sponsors as well as the many volunteers who help raise the bar on this event year-after-year."
TEDx events are locally organized programs aimed at sharing short talks focused on one "big idea worth spreading." The format helps communities, organizations and individuals spark international dialogue through videos of the talks and performances, which will be posted to the official TEDx YouTube site in the coming days.