Posted by: Charlie | September 23, 2009

Global Phenomenon, Local Empowerment

pecha-kuchaFlashmobs, Tweetups, and Pecha Kuchas are evidence that we live in an increasingly connected (and jargony) world. These gatherings allow for new forms of interaction and have profound meaning for both global and local civil society. Tonight I attended Providence’s 7th Pecha Kucha – a global monthly event where a handful of presenters are given 20 slides, 20 seconds per slide to share a new idea, design, business, or research – and was wowed to see democracy in action.

We were greeted by Pecha Kucha Worchester over YouTube and then heard talks by social entrepreneurs, doctors, politicians, students, and business leaders. We heard ideas on new medical devices, conspiracy theories, and movements to overcome poverty, but it was not the presentations that made the events, it was the audience. In the crowd included Mayor Cicellini, Senator Chaffee, professors from Brown and RISD, the executive director of AS220, the CEO of Ximedica, students, artists, citizens and so on… all meeting at a bar… to listen, learn, and share… on a Wednesday night. Is this actually the 21st century or just another town meeting like the founders envisioned?

Pecha Kucha uses a global identity to empower local communities, uniting their citizens. On the contrary, many city events attract only niche crowd: the symphony, an avant-garde art opening, a conference for government workers. Sounds like preaching to the choir. My previous post explored the importance of unlikely allies, but it can be so hard to meet these allies when we work in silos then return home right from work.

In what spaces do you meet new allies? What facilitates the introduction?


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