Groups setting up for their stage time a TedXSt.Cloud. Photo Credit Ellie Rensenbrink. 

Article Written by Ellie Rensenbrink 

2021’s TEDxStCloud event took place at the Paramount Center for the Arts in downtown St. Cloud at 6:30 p.m. on October 14. The theme this year was “Embrace.” The event featured eight speakers from the St. Cloud area. According to the event’s website, the speakers were: Robbyn Wacker, St. Cloud State University president and academician in gerontology and sociology; Niloufer Merchant, a psychologist, trauma expert, and former St. Cloud State University faculty member; Annette Atkins, an historian who uses letters, photos, shoes, art, chairs, census records, maps and other artifacts as keys to unlock the past; James Alberts, a pastor, social justice leader, and board member of ISAIAH MN; Mary Bruno, an artist and owner of Bruno Press letterpress print shop; Charles Eisenreich, a lifelong K-12 educator and administrator and former minor league baseball player; James Harlander, a physicist and designer of optical instruments for astronomy and space physics; and Pete Rogers, an expert in automation and robotic systems integration. Each speaker got to share their story on stage.  

According to TEDxStCloud’s website, “TEDx is a program of local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At the event, TED Talks video and live speakers [combined] to spark deep discussion and connection in a small group.” TEDxStCloud has been an annual event since 2017.  

This year’s event is especially exciting since last year’s event was strictly virtual due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “Last year’s event, speakers had to speak to an empty audience from stage,” TEDxStCloud’s Marketing Lead Heidi Everett said. “There was no feedback, non-verbal’s, etc. It was tough to get energy. This year we hope to hear audibles.”  

Though this year’s event took place in-person, COVID-19 was still affecting the event. According to Everett, 415 people attended the event. The volunteers and Paramount followed COVID-19 safety protocols put in place by the CDC. Guests were required to wear masks, no food was allowed to be served, and the usual reception before the event was cancelled.