20×2 Chicago: How Could You?

On Saturday, I got to participate in 20×2 Chicago (where twenty speakers get only two minutes to answer the same question). The question changes from event to event, but our prompt this time around was: How Could you?

Each presenter could choose to answer the question however they saw fit – and we saw a wide range of responses: several slideshows, several personal stories, some videos, and even a rousing call to action that kind of blurred into the Saint Crispin’s Day speech.

Andrew Huff, event host and organizer.

I ended up not taking a lot of photos this time around, as it was a fairly intimate crowd and I felt the noise of my camera would be disruptive. But! I learned that the evening’s presentations were recorded… so hopefully there will be some video recaps of everyone’s talk soon.

Despite the lack of photos, I jotted down a few notes for most of the performers I saw.

I was up early in the lineup, and so I was already in the “on deck” area, when Brandy Agerbeck and Chad Calease took the stage to do a visual interpretation of “How Could You?” via music and drawing.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see clearly and was slightly nervous prior to taking the stage. Looking forward to the recap so I can see this one.

After I spoke, Leah Jones took the stage. I didn’t get a chance to really catch her talk either, as I was making my way back to my seat, and still flooded with post-talk jitters. Again, looking forward to the recap.

Megan Stielstra’s story about language, action, and speaking out was an incredibly moving one. She was both an excellent writer and storyteller, and this is definitely one video you’ll want to keep an eye out for.

Anne Elizabeth Moore presented a video that combined quotes from reprehensible people, coupled with still frames shots of gummi bears. An interesting juxtaposition that silenced the room.

Scott Smith went into a rousing speech, as though he were calling the audience to war, imploring everyone to embrace the phrase “How Could You?” Got a little of the St. Crispin’s Day speech in there as well.

Marissa Wasseluk’s presentation took on a “choose-your-own presentation” format, where she let the audience decide how the talk would go. The audience took a very direct line to a sudden end, so we weren’t able to see the various other paths that could have been (though I think she might post up the full presentation online).

Jenni Prokopy talked to the audience about acceptance, and living in the moment. There was a powerful moment where she asked the audience to close their eyes, to breathe, and to feel the present surrounding them.

GPA gave a hilarious and incredibly well-delivered story relating to a moment where an elderly couple walked into a Hooters during a Bears game, wearing Green Bay Packers garb. Hilarious delivery, and definitely another video to keep an eye out for.

Kevin Newsum, one of the founders of 20×2, has been running and organizing the event for something like 14 years. And I think this night was his first time ever presenting. He spoke about fame, and how you can be famous without actually being famous.

Marcus Gilmer talked about home, and about leaving his hometown after Hurricane Katrina.

Maggie Jenkins spoke about training for a marathon, and the word “can’t.” There also may or may not have been a story about the peeing one’s pants during a marathon.

Chris Courtney gave a powerful two-minute recap of his life, using the recurring phrase “How could I want more?” By far one of the most moving talks of the night, one standout quote I remember is “My kid gives zero shits about cancer.” A must-watch video, when the presentations come online.

Jasmine Davila gave a funny talk about being young and having access to gelatin. The story involves a heart made out of jello that squirts blood, and I think I’m just going to leave you with that tidbit.

Britt Julious’ presentation was a kind of atonement for her past sins (example: punching a girl who had stolen her beanie baby). But after each apology, she revealed more of the story that seemingly justified her original actions. Hilarious, and a great series of non-apology apologies.

Craighton Berman gave the crowd a glimpse into some of his ideas, via several illustrations. Three words: USB-powered deep fryer.

Jenn Rourke told everyone a story about how she was mistaken for her dad’s wife and teenage daugher, all in the same day.

Molly Adams gave several tips on how you can turn a filthy apartment into a clean one (two hints: smell is important, and roommmates can be blamed).

Amaya Pawar, alderman of the 47th ward, wasn’t able to attend but sent along a video of his talk. He told a story about a dog that had been taken to a kill shelter, but then charmed the volunteers there so much that he remained on site for weeks. The dog eventually became the unofficial mascot of the 47th ward, and accompanied him in the video. Very moving story, and the dog (who was just hanging out on the couch the whole time) very nearly stole the show.

Steve Delahoyde read a hilarious letter from his “father who disappeared,” alerting the audience that “The company is no more. Your jobs are gone.” He had everyone in stitches talking about his father’s ill-advised idea for a company mascot named “Wood Woodpeeker,” whose catch phrase was “What’s up, doctor?”

These recaps definitely pale in comparison to the real thing, so keep an eye out for the videos. I’ll try to post up links once I find out they’re online.

Super fun night, and I’m still very delighted to have been included in such great company. The 20×2 format is excellent, and makes for both flippant and intensely emotional presentations – I’m awed at the range of presentations and subject matter covered. Great stories, great people all around.

20×2 Chicago: Who Knew?

This Post Has 3 Comments

  1. Sorry I was unable to attend!

    Ben Reply

  2. Rock on, Andrew. Thanks for sharing the link. :^)

    Brandy Agerbeck Reply

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