Smile Politely

Sneak peek at PechaKucha19

Volume 19 of Champaign-Urbana’s PechaKucha Night, a speaking series that features inspiring community members, will take place this Saturday, July 18th at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts. Doors open at 7:45 p.m. and the show, which is free to the public, begins at 8:20 p.m. For more info, you can check out PechaKucha’s official site.

I spoke with a few of the speakers that will be featured this weekend. Here’s a sneak preview of some of the topics they’ll discuss:

Drew Wilder: “If it bleeds, it leads”

Drew Wilder co-anchors “The Morning Show” on WCIA 3 News, the Champaign-Springfield-Decatur CBS affiliate.  Wilder will provide a bird’s-eye view into the television news industry, disseminating the “confusion or misinformation about how a news organization works” and emphasizing the key role that viewer participation plays. 

Wilder will share strategies on how to sell a story to a broadcast journalist.  “Often story ideas get missed simply because they aren’t pitched in a way that catches a reporter’s eye or ear,” he explains, “I want that good story told.”

Wilder’s passion for journalism stems from a desire to present the news “accurately and simply so stories can help our community be more aware, live safely, and also put a smile on their face as they wake up to go to work.”

Kelsey Bourgeois: “Poling for Feminism”

Kelsey Bourgeois cites a conservative Mormon upbringing as the source of body shame and assumptions about what it meant to be a woman in her youth. Bourgeois, a local professional yoga instructor, will tell the story of her feminist awakening and empowerment through the discovery of pole fitness and performance.

Bourgeois hopes to subvert the stigma that surrounds poling, asserting that it is both “a fabulous and challenging art form” as well as “hardcore” exercise.  “It may look graceful,” she quips, “but [poling] is wildly painful and super physically demanding!”

Bourgeois highlights the support of fellow pole performers as part of its appeal.  She has found a lot of joy and personal fulfillment in this diverse and accepting community.

Brenda Koenig: “My Secret War Against Square Dancing”

Brenda Koenig founded the Champaign-Urbana Folk and Roots Festival in 2009, a two-day festival of “over 80 workshops, performances, dances, [and] jams” that takes place each November in downtown Urbana.  Koenig will chronicle her artistic growth as a musician and dancer, transitioning from childhood exposure to classic music to being a mosh-pit voyeur in the punk clubs of Chicago in the 1990’s to traditional Old-Time music fiddler and square dancer.

Cynthia D. Chandler: “Coming Out: A Mom’s Story”

Cynthia Chandler’s son came out to her when he was in middle school. Chandler will provide a mother’s point of view in the emotional process of communicating with a child about sexual identity.

“His dad and I were one of the first he talked about his feelings,” Cynthia recalls, “his sexuality has been a part of who he is ever since.”

“The best part,” she jokes, “I won’t have a daughter-in-law!”

This is a sample of the range of passions, interests, and topics that will be presented at PechaKucha Volume 19. Don’t miss out on hearing about these experiences, and those of the four other presenters, this Saturday evening at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts.

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