Edmonton’s sixteenth Pecha Kucha Night was held tonight at the Citadel Theatre downtown. I did my first Pecha Kucha talk at PKN7 back in 2010 which was held in the same venue, so it was nice to be back without the nervous feeling that you get before presenting! The vast majority of the not-sold-out crowd were newcomers who had never been to Pecha Kucha before, judging by the show of hands at the start.
In case you’re not familiar with Pecha Kucha, here’s what it’s all about:
PKN features presentations on local ideas, projects and musings in the 20 slides at 20 seconds per slide format made popular by worldwide by Klein Dytham Architecture. More than 150 presentations have been given at Edmonton Pecha Kucha Nights to date on wide-ranging topics, from lighting up Edmonton’s bridges to in vitro meat and everything in between.
In order of appearance, these were the presenters at PKN16:
- Emerson Csorba, Make Something for Single Mothers
- Myles Curry, Grasscycling & Community Based Social Marketing
- Mark Connolly, Downtown Story
- Dan Jacob, The Future of Civic Engagement
- Andrew Whistance-Smith, What’s In a Smile?
- Alistair Henning & Gary Garrison, McCauley Then and Now
- Anna McRobbie, Open Space Technology & Unconferences
- Mara Erickson, Conservation Caravan: Going Beyond the BBQ
- Matthew Stepanic, Mythic Power
- Kuen Tang, The Ha Ling Project
I thought all of the presenters tonight did a great job. Everyone spoke clearly and for the most part confidently. There was a pretty good variety in terms of content too, with everything from climbing a mountain to teeth.
Emerson kicked things off talking about SMART – Single Mothers Achieving Results Together. It’s an organization he is launching with his mother, focused on providing a space for single moms to learn from, collaborate with, and support one another. Next up was Myles from the City of Edmonton who told us all about grasscycling. During the summer, about 40% of all waste collected in Edmonton is grass. If everyone grasscycled, the emissions saved would be equivalent to taking 4,329 cars off the road. Mark from CBC used his time to talk about their new interactive web project called Downtown Story. They’ve got a collection of data and stories and invite you to take part. Dan was fourth and he talked about Urban Pulse, a new online platform for civic engagement that he’s building with Sean Healy. I liked the way he introduced it, with a story about Sean’s desire to better communicate with the City. Last up before the intermission was Andrew, who did a very entertaining talk on teeth. He connected the golden ratio and explained what we notice when looking at someone’s teeth.
After the break, Alistair and Gary kicked things off with a talk on an upcoming book about McCauley. I’m such a sucker for local history, so I quite enjoyed hearing about some of the stories. Anna was up next to tell us about open spaces, unconferences, and Mosaic Minds. If you’ve ever been to an unconference you’ll know they don’t have an agenda, the law of two feet rules, etc. Mara was perhaps the strongest speaker of the evening, and she told us about Operation Grassland Community to the south. She encouraged everyone to ask not just where their beef comes from, but what it took to get it there. The penultimate talk was by Matthew, and I think it might have been the most powerful of the evening. He shared his story with us with a nice mix of heartfelt and funny moments. He told us that “every story has mythic power.” Our final presenter was Kuen, who shared the story of how along with the help of her co-workers she became the first quadriplegic to climb the Ha Ling mountain. It too was at times funny and at times serious, and inspirational throughout.
I think my favorite talk was Andrew’s. It was unexpected, educational, and entertaining. More than any of the others, it got people chit-chatting!
Tonight I came to the realization that I’m no longer the target audience for Pecha Kucha (and probably haven’t been for a while, honestly). I wish it could be all ideas and less promotions and launches, but I don’t think the majority feel that way. Judging by the amount of applause tonight, I think most people in attendance really enjoyed hearing about the various projects. After all, why shouldn’t it be a venue for nextgeners to learn more about what others are doing? There’s no rule that says you can’t talk about your own stuff at Pecha Kucha. I guess I just like the notion of a platform to throw out a controversial idea to get people talking, where the only benefit to the presenter is the conversation. But maybe that’s not the role of Pecha Kucha in Edmonton.
Even though we’re halfway into the month already, Mayor Mandel was on hand tonight to proclaim June as NextGen Month. He had some really kind things to say about Edmonton’s NextGen, and said he felt confident that no matter what happens in October, nextgeners will speak their minds.
The next Pecha Kucha Night in Edmonton is actually going to be a pan-Canadian event featuring twelve speakers from across the country. The theme is downtown, and the event will take place on October 5. With an anticipated audience of 1,700, it’s going to be a big deal! You can learn more at Designing Downtown.