Pecha Kucha Cleveland

What the heck is Pecha Kucha?

When I told a friend that I could not go to an ASL coffee chat, this is what she asked me. Then I got the same question from several people on Facebook. I figured that I should share this secret with you, although it is rapidly becoming so popular that I will have to fight with you to get in, if more people come to attend.

I had heard of Pecha Kucha from a number of people. Some had gone, some wanted to go, but no one seemed to really be able to articulate what it was. I didn’t get it. So while at Ingenuity Fest, I went to one to hear my friend Michele Kilroy, of the USGBC, talk about the state of the green built environment. I listened to a few folks do their bit, then Michele did her part. She was truly awesome. Then followed some people that I could not even figure out what they were talking about and I lost interest. It was also loud and crazy under the Detroit Bridge. While the space was innovative, it was not conducive to public speaking-especially when Ingenuity Fest is going on as a backdrop. So, in the end I really didn’t get it either.

The next time I attended, it was at the House of Blues. The crowd was so large, that some who stepped out for a cigarette at intermission, were not allowed back in because of capacity concerns. This time, none of my friends were speaking, or so I thought. You never know who might be presenting, and Cleveland is a small town. It did really give me an idea of what this thing is, though.

Here is the explanation from the Pecha Kucha site:

PechaKucha Night was devised in Tokyo in February 2003 as an event for young designers to meet, network, and show their work in public. It has turned into a massive celebration, with events happening in hundreds of cities around the world, inspiring creatives worldwide. Drawing its name from the Japanese term for the sound of “chit chat”, it rests on a presentation format that is based on a simple idea: 20 images x 20 seconds. It’s a format that makes presentations concise, and keeps things moving at a rapid pace.

Imagine the old days of soap boxes. If you had something to say, you just got up in public on a corner and spoke about it. Nowadays, we are mostly using YouTube, Facebook, blogs and other multimedia web sources to do this same job. But imagine a place where you could get 8 presenters together and they had to keep their presentations tight, concise, and limited to 400 seconds. Editing of this type is a skill in itself-anyone who know me, knows I can talk for 400 seconds without taking a breath. While the goal is design oriented in general, there is a lot of leeway here. You can apply the idea of design to nearly anything. Overall, though, you will hear mostly from artists, designers of all sorts (fashion, interior, systems, urban, etc) and innovators.

Last week I went to the 12th Cleveland event.  Located in the old “Twigbee’s” space on the 10th floor of the Higbee building, I was able to see some pictures of the old Higbee’s at its heyday, see the inside of the Silver Grille, and get some great views of downtown and public square.  What followed was one of the best nights I yet.  The speakers ran the gamut.  My friend Erin Huber (and one of her many minions, Michele) presented her program on Making Waves from Cleveland to Uganda-a presentation about clean drinking water and their efforts to bring water to a school in Uganda.  There was graphic designer, Nikki Villagomez, who spoke about her love of typography.  Photographer Keith Berr showed images of Bhutan.  Margarita Benitez is a fashion technologist and her presentation was inspiring.  I also loved Jennifer Coleman and her talk about getting people to return to downtown.  There were 11 presenters that night from a comic to a motorcycle designer, to performance artist.  Something for everyone, and by the throngs of people that filled the space. everyone came.

I am truly hooked on this event.  I leave inspired, entertained, and enlightened.  I always want to come home and create something!  It is a great way to hear people that are local, speak on local topics, and that you might not hear anywhere else.  Sure, I have seen some presentations that fell a little flat, but if you have ever been nervous about presenting to a group of 500, then you can understand.  Besides, these are not spokespeople or marketing agents, these are mostly everyday people with something to say.  That is the true allure of the event and what makes it so inspiring.  I can’t wait for the next one, will you be there?  Follow them on Facebook to find out the next event, but in the meantime, here are some images from last week: