TEDxMinneapolis 2017: Why Not on August 18th

Hosted at the Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts


Communities seem as polarized and disconnected as ever. There’s an uncertainty when exploring new ideas and it seems impossible to enact change in meaningful ways. Let us remind ourselves that even the smallest action can ripple out and impact our world in ways greater than thought possible. TEDxMinneapolis invites you to break out of old habits, tread new paths, and take action to matters that have only been seen as far off possibilities until now. Learn a new skill you’ve always wanted to try. Have the difficult conversations with others. Push beyond your boundaries and ask yourself and your community, “Why Not?”
TEDxMinneapolis 2017: Why Not Schedule
Friday, August 18th
  • 4:00 PM: Registration Happy Hour
  • 5:30 PM: Session 1 – Speakers + Performances
  • 7:00 PM: Dinner + Fun
  • 8:15 PM: Session 2 – Speakers + Performances
  • After Party: 9:45 PM
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Speakers & Event Info

Rob Davis

Director, Media & Innovation Lab at Fresh Energy

Labeled a “gravely determined change agent,” Rob Davis accelerates the nation’s transition into the use of clean and renewable energy by telling the stories of pioneering people, ideas, and organizations. His current mission is threading together two distinct yet equally important issues: maximizing the land use for solar energy and addressing the declining bee population at scale. Through creative innovation, Davis will explain how pairing bee-friendly habitats with fields of solar panels not only makes perfect sense but how now is the perfect time to embrace this approach nationwide. Davis’ past work has been covered and cited by top national media outlets including Wired magazine, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal.

Fatimah Hussein

LGSW, MHA and CEO/Founder at ASIYA Modest Active Wear

At the age of 6, Fatimah Hussein fled war-torn Somalia to Minneapolis with her family. Becoming a licensed graduate social worker, Fatimah has dedicated her work to serving her community, specifically with Muslim girls through sports. In 2008, she established the non- profit Girls Initiative in Recreation and Leisurely Sports (G.I.R.L.S.) to provide resources for Muslim girls who want to be active. Yet, cultural norms deterred many from participating. Hijabs, the head covering worn in public by some Muslim women, are not designed for sports, ultimately inhibiting fast-paced activity. Fatimah took on this challenge and with the help of the community and the girls being the center developed the sports hijab in 2015, allowing (and encouraging) Muslim women of all ages to play sports and gain a new level of confidence, comfort, and health; without compromising their cultural beliefs.

David Odde, Ph.D.

Professor of Biomedical Engineering, University of Minnesota

Trained as a chemical engineer, David Odde studies the molecular mechanics of cell division and migration, applying state-of- the-art mathematical modeling to fight a great nemesis: cancer. His team’s groundbreaking progress in fighting cancer is no small feat. Continued innovation is as critical as ever. In many respects, the camera on your smartphone is more technologically advanced than the most sophisticated equipment Odde uses in his research. Only now, in the 21 st  century, is oncology beginning to embrace mathematical and computational modeling. Why not capitalize on our progress in personal digital technology to make a significant impact on the world?

R.T. Rybak

President & CEO, The Minneapolis Foundation

Civil servant, businessperson, activist, writer, Minnesota Twitter poet – R.T. Rybak is the author of Pothole Confidential about his 12 years as mayor of Minneapolis, yet, his legacy is just beginning. He now leads one of our region’s most prominent philanthropies as President and CEO of The Minneapolis Foundation. With his understanding of this city and its people, Rybak is hoping to unlock the power we all bring to the table. Knowing that we, the people, are the greatest asset. He will illustrate how our current environment is the ideal time for incredible progress, including closing the achievement gap in education, reducing disparities across the board, and moving Minneapolis forward.

May Lee-Yang

Writer & Performance Artist, Lazy Hmong Woman Productions

The work of May Lee-Yang continues to reinforce her belief that art is a “safe way for people to enter into conversations about issues impacting our world.” She has long engaged underrepresented groups through her plays by providing free childcare at shows and accessible tickets. Her plays break language barriers between her actors and the audience, and she has a passion for engaging the Hmong Elder Center to participate in theater. Her Hmong-language version of Confessions of a Lazy Hmong Woman, truly engaged a multigenerational audience into the experience, using one of the most truthful genres – comedy. Born in a refugee camp in Thailand, she came to Minnesota as a child and has become one of the most recognized Hmong writers and performance artists in the Twin Cities. Using her keen sense of humor and experiences as a Hmong playwright, Lee-Yang will challenge all of us to take cultural narratives out of the box to let individuality shine through.

Lana Yarosh

Assistant Professor, University of Minnesota Department of Computer Science and Engineering

Think about a computer you use every day. Like the one in your hand, pocket or bag that gives you a notification every few minutes. The laptop you stare at for 40-50+ hours a week. How do you use it? What does it do for your relationships? This is Lana Yarosh’s world in the study of Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) which researches the design and use of computer technology by people – observing how we interact with it, and designing technologies that let us connect through it in more novel ways. Lana’s efforts are leading to a new technological design that will help us connect with others in far more natural ways than we’re accustomed. It’s a new system to enhance social relationships and connections in ways we never thought possible with our computers.

The Most Inclusive Ticket in Town

Once you get to the event, we take care of you.  This includes delicious appetizers and a chef-designed dinner from Kowalski's (it's going to be so good), and other yummy surprises.  It also includes all the drinks (all of them) - including beer, wine, coffee and the basics.

Experience the Event Campus

Besides the inspiring ideas crossing so many disciplines (read about them at above), we also have incredible experiences outside the theater: a pop-up art space showcasing local artists, a relaxing lounge where thought-provoking conversations will be hosted, an open atrium for connections, and our exciting Innovation Lab for playing and seeing why Minneapolis is a great technology city. 

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