20 Slides to Change the World

On Wednesday evening we went to the City Club of Cleveland for a program titled “20 Slides to Change the World” which featured 8 creative Clevelanders and 6 students from Iraq sharing their ideas about how innovation and often entrepreneurship can revitalize the Cleveland/Northeast Ohio region as well as communities around the world. This program was presented by the Cleveland Council on World Affairs (CCWA) and hosted by the City Club. The Iraqi students were part of CCWA’s Iraqi Young Leaders Exchange Program (IWLEP) which is a Department of State Program composed of high school students from Iraq who visited the Cleveland area from July 10-24th.
What was so unique about tonight’s program was that it was conducted under the tutelage of PechaKucha Cleveland so all of the presentations were given in the PechaKucha style which meant that each person’s offering was composed of 20 slides which were shown and explained for 20 seconds each. During the break, we spoke to Mr. Michael Christoff of PechaKucha Cleveland who told us that this process “gives a platform to people to talk about what they are passionate about” and we liked it because the format stimulated our interest about the chosen topics without becoming burdened down in detail.

In addition to Mr. Christoff, there were several other members of PechaKucha Cleveland here tonight who were Mr. Aseem Gargi, Ms. Heather Lenz, and Ms. Emily Baca who all took turns introducing the presenters who covered a range of topics that was quite broad. The people from the Cleveland area were Mr. Ryan Ouellette from the Cleveland Council on World Affairs whose topic was “We’re All Citizen Diplomats”; Ms. Julia Ferguson from the Green Corps at the Botanical Garden who spoke about the Green Corps; Mr. Dan Nolen from County Board of Developmental Disabilities whose topic was “Growing Jobs in Cleveland”; Mr. James Krouse of Ingenuity Cleveland who spoke about the Ingenuity Festival and its efforts to promote new technology to the general public; Mr. Leonard Jones who spoke about the Edwins Leadership Institute and Restaurant; our good friend Mr. Johnny Wu who spoke about the the history, success and future of the Asian Festival; Ms. Jessica Wallis who spoke about Ballet in Cleveland; and Mr. Mansfield Turner of Chateau Hough whose topic was “Renewing Intercity Communities.”

The aforementioned presenters were older and more experienced at public speaking but the young people from Iraq still held their own and did quite well. The first presenter was a young woman named Sally who gave a presentation about her trip to Northeast Ohio. The second set of presenters were a young man from Iraq named Ali who teamed up with a young woman from Kentucky named Paige to give a powerful presentation that was critical of United States foreign policy in Afghanistan and Iraq but just as critical of the Arab nations. In fact, the thought that Ali said that he wanted to leave us with was that the Arabs need to come together and “be one” and not be so quick to blame their problems on others. The third set of young presenters were a young man from the United States named Bobby and a young woman from Iraq named Sami whose topic was “Poverty in Iraq vs. the Poverty in the United States.

But the last presenter from Iraq was a last minute addition. He was a young man named Taglet Tilya who spoke about the current wave of terrorism in Iraq and clarified a lot of what we have been reading about.

Everyone there at the City Club tonight liked the program very much and were really impressed by the PechKucha format. The young people from Iraq really enjoyed their visit to the United States and the people who got to know them were sorry that they were scheduled to leave the next day.

We got to visit with several people including Mr. Birkett Gibson who was part of a group that included Ms. Margaret W. Wong that visited Turkey recently and Mr. Mansfield Frazier who told us that his daughter Ms. Alison Frazier is a good friend of Ms. Wong’s.

What’s more we learned that on August 7th PechaKucha Cleveland is partnering with LAND Studio to kick off the AHA! light installations on the public mall, which will help kickoff Gay Games 9. We really look forward to attending this event!