Edmonton’s fifth Pecha Kucha Night took place tonight at the Myer Horowitz Theatre at the University of Alberta (you can read about PKNs here). The theme this evening was “Old School” – presenters were meant to take a look back and then push forward in the areas of design, science, art, and sustainability. They had a large audience to present to! The entire lower section of the theatre was full, and there were quite a few people seated above as well. Great turnout for the event, though I don’t believe it sold out.
Tonight’s presenters were (in order of appearance):
- Yuri Wuensch, Senior Advisor, Corporate Communications, and Michael Malone, Corporate Communications Coordinator, Edmonton Airports
- Dawn Doell, Green Communities Guide Project Coordinator
- Jeffrey Klassen, Designer
- Michael Janz, Edmonton Federation of Community Leagues (EFCL)
- Christian Nelson, P.Eng, Co-chair, dEdmonton, Canada’s Halloween Festival
- Isha Datar, Researcher
- David Cournoyer and Diane Begin, ChangeCamp Edmonton
- Shafraaz Kaba, Architect and Josh Kjenner, Engineer, Manasc Isaac
- Nadine Riopel, Campaign Manager, United Way of the Alberta Capital Region
- Aaron Pedersen, Photographer, 3tenphoto
- Tad Hargrave, Co-Founder of e-sage.ca and Marketing Consultant for Hippies
Yuri and Michael did a fine job of getting things underway, leading us through some of the Edmonton International Airport’s history. That was the old school part – the new school part was Expansion 2012, EIA’s ambitious expansion program. Dawn highlighted some examples of the Green Communities Guide in action. My favorite old school-new school reference from her presentation was wildlife crossings on highways: old school is to put up a sign, new school is to build a green wildlife overpass. Next up was Jeffrey, who focused on virtual environments for learning. What I found interesting was the notion of virtual worlds as “old school”, as they are stepping stones to other technologies such as augmented reality. Michael gave a great overview of EFCL, touching on some of its storied history (the old school part) and identifying the challenges ahead in reaching a younger demographic (the new school part). Fun fact: the first community league hall in Edmonton was built in King Edward Park in 1923. Last up before the break was Christian, who pretty much stole the show with his talk about modeling Edmonton in 3D inside Google Earth. He has created models for around 200 local buildings, including some that no longer exist (old school) and some that are yet to be built (new school).
First up after the break was Isha who talked about in vitro meat production. Raise cows for meat? That’s so old school. Isha explored growing meat in the lab, and she had the science to back it up. The audience gasped more than once! Next was Dave and Diane talking about ChangeCamp. They highlighted some of the old school ways that citizens have gotten involved in government, and brought us up to present day where new school tools like the Internet make events like ChangeCamp necessary. Shafraaz and Josh then talked about the old school land use policies the city has, notably related to parking, and highlighted the need for some new school thinking in order to achieve goals such as increasing density. Next was Nadine, who talked about how service agencies have improved over time, bringing us to new school things like Homeless Connect. Despite having his slides all out of order, Aaron did a fantastic job of exploring the iconic image. Old school images are iconic, new school ones not so much! And finally, Tad shared his thoughts on the trend back toward supporting local businesses.
I thought all the presenters did a pretty good job tonight. I wasn’t as interested in Dawn’s or Jeffrey’s, but others in the crowd seemed to be. My least favorite was probably Nadine’s though. Yes most of the talks are self-promotional in nature, but hers really seemed like a commercial for the United Way (and their campaign is on now). Worse than that, her presentation made it seem like the United Way is the only agency making a difference. She didn’t mention a single partner agency, even when citing Homeless Connect, though there are dozens of them who work hard to improve the lives of so many.
I think my favorite presentation was Christian’s. He’s a great speaker, and I’m a sucker for cool technology applied to Edmonton. It’s amazing that he’s created so many 3D models of local architecture. His work is a really great resource for all of us. I also really loved Isha’s presentation, because I think it embodied what Pecha Kucha is all about – an interesting, thought-provoking idea introduced in six minutes and forty seconds. She left me wanting to learn more and wanting to talk to others about it!
A couple of other highlights:
- I really liked Tad’s “triple bottom line” – people, profit, planet.
- Aaron had the best line of the evening: “Here is Ernest Hemingway. If you don’t know who that is, get a library card.”
- I learned a new word: Xeriscaping.
- Josh hit all the major points on parking minimums/maximums, but had to concede at the end of his presentation that City Council recently took a step in the right direction.
The door prizes tonight were pretty amazing – some expensive theatre tickets, lots of Transcend Coffee, and a $1400 bag (seriously). Councillors Iveson and Henderson helped with the prize draws, and Councillors Batty and Leibovici were also in attendance. Even David Swann was spotted in the crowd! Pecha Kucha was definitely the place to be tonight.
Kudos to Edmonton Next Gen on another great event! They’re already working on Pecha Kucha Night 6. If you want to be the first to find out about it, sign up for the Next Gen newsletter. You can see the rest of my photos from the evening here.