Avenue Edmonton’s Top 40 Under 40 for 2016

Tonight, Avenue Edmonton unveiled their latest cohort of Top 40 Under 40 honorees at the Royal Alberta Museum. This is the eighth year that the magazine has recognized amazing young Edmontonians doing great things in our city.

“Really, the fact that each annual list features so many people with new perspectives, ideas and causes is a tribute to how Edmonton incubates those who like to strike out on their own. We are a city of entrepreneurs and people unencumbered by worrying about what others think of us.”

“This year’s class is another exciting and eclectic mix of business leaders, philanthropists, doctors, scientists, fashionistas, artists and visionaries. They’ve all accomplished great things before they’ve hit their 40th birthdays. We can’t wait to see what they will do next.”

After including everyone on the cover last year, the magazine returns in 2016 to featuring a single honoree, Sylvia Soo:

Sylvia Soo

Here’s the Top 40 for 2016 and where you can find them online (in alphabetical order):

Congratulations to everyone who was recognized this year! I look forward to learning more about this new group of Top 40 alumni. You can read the November 2016 issue online here.

top 40 under 40

There were five judges who worked to determine this year’s cohort:

  • Trudy Callaghan, Avenue Edmonton Associate Publisher
  • Carolyn Campbell, Deputy City Manager, Communications & Engagement, City of Edmonton
  • Ken Crocker, Assistant Dean, Advancement at University of Alberta School of Business
  • David Jones, Sergeant, Edmonton Police
  • Dave Mowat, CEO, ATB Financial

Nominations for 2017 are open here and the deadline to nominate someone is April 30, 2017. Keep an eye on this page for updates. You can also follow Avenue Edmonton on Twitter.

Want to see who made the list in past years? Check out my posts from 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015.

Avenue Edmonton’s Top 40 Under 40 for 2015

Tonight, Avenue Edmonton unveiled their latest cohort of Top 40 Under 40 honorees at the Edmonton EXPO Centre. This is the seventh year that the magazine has recognized amazing young Edmontonians doing great things in our city.

“They are our educators, innovators and entrepreneurs. They rule the C-suite and both the corporate and volunteer boardrooms. Whether in the arts, non-profits, oil and gas, law, finance or medicine, they are doing more and doing it better and faster. That’s what makes them the 2015 class of Top 40 Under 40.”

The event was emceed by Global Edmonton’s Emily Mertz and was even livestreamed using Periscope.

top 40 under 40 for 2015

Here’s the Top 40 for 2015 and where you can find them online (in alphabetical order):

Congratulations to everyone who was recognized this year! I look forward to learning more about this new group of Top 40 alumni.

top 40 under 40 for 2015

The annual Top 40 issue is always one of Avenue Edmonton’s biggest, and this year they’ve gone in a different direction with the cover. Unlike past editions which featured just one member of the Top 40, this year the cover will feature all 40 honorees.

There were five judges who worked to determine this year’s cohort:

  • Don Iveson, Mayor
  • Linda Huffman, Arts Habitat Edmonton Executive Director
  • Trudy Callaghan, Avenue Edmonton Associate Publisher
  • Tina Thomas, EPL Director Marketing & Fund Development
  • Brad Ferguson, EEDC CEO

Nominations for 2016 aren’t open just yet, but keep an eye on this page for updates. You can also follow Avenue Edmonton on Twitter.

Want to see who made the list in past years? Check out my posts from 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014.

Avenue Edmonton’s Top 40 Under 40 for 2014

top40Tonight, Avenue Edmonton unveiled their latest cohort of Top 40 Under 40 honorees at the TELUS World of Science. This is the sixth year that the magazine has recognized amazing young Edmontonians doing great things in our city.

“Every year, Avenue magazine recognizes Capital Region’s most exceptional young community leaders. The Top 40 Under 40 list honours individuals under the age of 40 who are excelling in their careers, giving back to the community and raising the profile of Edmonton.”

The event was emceed by Global Edmonton’s Gord Steinke who told attendees, “let’s swagger tonight!”

Here’s the Top 40 for 2014 and where you can find them online (in alphabetical order):

Congratulations to everyone who was recognized this year! I look forward to learning more about this new group of Top 40 alumni.

On the cover this year is Robin Mazumder, who is also a Make Something Edmonton board member. Inside the magazine, you’ll find a neat interior cover too. Apparently this issue is the biggest one Avenue Edmonton has ever released.

Nominations for 2015 aren’t open just yet, but keep an eye on this page for updates. You can learn more by reading the FAQ.

Want to see who made the list in past years? Check out my posts from 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, and 2013.

Avenue Edmonton’s Top 40 Under 40 for 2013

With the unveiling tonight of Avenue Edmonton’s fifth annual Top 40 Under 40, there have now been 200 amazing, young Edmontonians recognized. The latest group was honored this evening at the Royal Alberta Museum.

Every year, Avenue magazine recognizes Capital Region’s most exceptional young community leaders. The Top 40 Under 40 list honours individuals under the age of 40 who are excelling in their careers, giving back to the community and raising the profile of Edmonton.

Both Minister of Culture Heather Klimchuk and Mayor Don Iveson (who was recognized in 2009) brought greetings to the event. “This is a city that loves to defy expectations,” the mayor said. “There are many leaders in this room. There might even be a mayor among you!”

Here’s the Top 40 for 2013 and where you can find them online (in alphabetical order):

Congratulations to all the winners! There are some names there that have me saying “finally” and others who I’m happy to be introduced to. I look forward to learning more about this new group of Top 40 alumni.

For those of you who care about such things, the average of this year’s list is 34.3 and there are 24 males and 16 females.

The cover of the new issue features Aaryn Flynn. You can read more about all of the individuals above at Avenue Edmonton. There’s lots more to see on Twitter using the #top40yeg hashtag too.

Want to see who made the list in past years? Check out my posts from 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012.

Recap: Pecha Kucha Night Edmonton #17

Edmonton’s seventeenth Pecha Kucha Night was held on Saturday evening at the Winspear Centre downtown. With nearly 1000 people in attendance, it was one of our city’s biggest PKNs yet. I kept thinking back to the first-ever PKN in Edmonton, which took place in the lobby of the Winspear Centre back in 2008 – it’s pretty incredible how much has changed over the last five years!

In a break from past PKNs, this Designing Downtown edition featured speakers from across the country. The theme? New ways to think about designing and developing our city cores. Here’s what Designing Downtown is all about:

Designing Downtown is a movement to transform downtowns founded by Progress Unlimited, MADE, and Edmonton’s NextGen. Designing Downtown is a vehicle for inter-city exchange for partnerships that seek to enrich and advance the conversations and actions we take to shape downtowns as spaces for everyone. Designing Downtown is an experiment and exchange; an opportunity to create dialogue that celebrates & critiques; and a space to be a fixture in and designer of the urban experience.

designing downtown

In order of appearance, these were the presenters at PKN17:

  1. Johanna Hurme, Occupy
  2. Sophie Mankowski, Architectural Translations: From Memory to Music
  3. Janice Abbott, Atira Women’s Resource Society
  4. Dalton Higgins, Hip Hop World
  5. Curtis Olson, Designing a Creative City
  6. Micheline Clouard, Place & Identity
  7. Simon Taylor, Harsh Optimism
  8. Kamala Todd, Indigenize Our Urban Eyes
  9. Waye Mason, Urban Halifax Rebounding

We were also treated to a live podcast recording of 99% Invisible with host and creator Roman Mars. He opened the show with a segment on how buildings tell stories, and he closed with a piece on city flags.

Pecha Kucha Night 17

For the most part I really enjoyed the presentations, partially because they were a return to “classic” PKN with a slant toward architecture and design. That said, I did find it someone disappointing that a few of the presenters relied on paper notes. Fumbling around with paper on stage is just awkward, but more importantly, it prevents the speaker’s passion from coming across. These are all talened, experienced individuals who know a lot about their topics – paper shouldn’t be needed for six minutes and forty seconds.

Johanna was up first and she talked about fighting the ambivalence of design. “There is power in the collective,” she told us. I found Sophie’s presentation a little difficult to follow, but ultimately she was talking about creating bridges between artists and architects. Her project, Portrait Sonore, is a collection of sound walks that guide you through cities, “revealing their architecture and their history in a lively and poetic manner.” Janice used her time to tell us about the innovative housing project Atira built in Vancouver’s downtown eastside using shipping containers. Last up before the intermission was Dalton, who provided us with the most upbeat and random presentation of the evening. While his energy was infectious, his message was a little less clear.

First up after the intermission was Curtis, who talked to us about some of the interesting projects he has undertaken in Saskatoon. He finished with an overturned car used as a garden, something the crowd seemed to really enjoy! Micheline spoke about some of her work in Montreal, and how it connects humans with nature. Simon talked about the school he worked on way up north in Cambridge Bay. It has become the central gathering place for the town, so he told us that “downtown can happen anywhere” (I disagree – there’s more to “downtown” than just being the central gathering place). Kamala spoke passionately about recognizing the indigenous narratives of our urban settings, using Vancouver as the focal point. The final presenter of the evening was Waye from Halifax, who shared some of the exciting changes that have been happening that city.

Pecha Kucha Night 17

I love hearing about interesting uses for things like shipping containers, so I really enjoyed Janice’s talk. Having grown up in Inuvik in the Northwest Territories, I was naturally drawn to Simon’s talk on the school in Cambridge Bay. I think Curtis had one of the strongest presentations, with great visuals and a tight narrative.

Though Roman’s two segments did not fit with the PKN format, I thought they were a great addition to the evening. His style is just so inviting! There were a lot of folks on Twitter who said they were immediately subscribing to the podcast as a result. His closing segment focused on city flags. Roman is a fan of Chicago’s flag, and he walked us through some of the do’s and don’ts of flag design. Keep it simple, avoid words or seals, etc. In case you were wondering, this is Edmonton’s flag. There was quite a bit of laughter when he put the slide up because it breaks most of the don’ts! Roman also earned loud cheers and applause for calling Canada’s flag the best one out there.

Instead of having speakers from Edmonton in the lineup, two videos featuring a number of Edmontonians passionate about downtown were shown. Here’s the first vignette:

Here’s the second vignette:

In contrast with the last PKN, I very much felt like a member of the target audience for PKN17. There were a lot of familiar faces in the large crowd, which suggests the organizers did a great job of reaching out to previous attendees to get them to return. Equally, I kept running into people who had never been to Pecha Kucha before, so it’s great to see that the series continues to reach new communities.

In addition to the presentations, there were also some great activities in the lobby. Guests could take part in a collaborative mural, check out the LEGO display, get their photo taken in WinterCity’s winter patio, and much more.

Pecha Kucha Night 17

Prior to the main event, Makescape took place in Centennial Plaza behind the Stanley Milner Library. Featuring food trucks, a live stream of the presentations, and Bench Talks, it was a neat complement to PKN. I missed the bench talks unfortunately, but I love the concept!

Kudos to Lisa Baroldi, the driving force behind PKN17 and Designing Downtown, on a fantastic event! I know it takes a big team of volunteers and the support of many sponsors to pull off an event like PKN, but you also need strong leadership. Well done to all involved!

You can see a few more photos from the evening here. Keep an eye on @EdmNextGen for details on upcoming events!

Recap: Pecha Kucha Night Edmonton #16

pkn16Edmonton’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:

  1. Emerson Csorba, Make Something for Single Mothers
  2. Myles Curry, Grasscycling & Community Based Social Marketing
  3. Mark Connolly, Downtown Story
  4. Dan Jacob, The Future of Civic Engagement
  5. Andrew Whistance-Smith, What’s In a Smile?
  6. Alistair Henning & Gary Garrison, McCauley Then and Now
  7. Anna McRobbie, Open Space Technology & Unconferences
  8. Mara Erickson, Conservation Caravan: Going Beyond the BBQ
  9. Matthew Stepanic, Mythic Power
  10. 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.

Pecha Kucha Night 16

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.

Pecha Kucha Night 16

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.

Pecha Kucha Night 16

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.

Stay tuned to @EdmNextGen on Twitter for other upcoming events and have a look back at the #yegpkn hashtag for thoughts on this evening’s presentations.

Avenue Edmonton’s Top 40 Under 40 for 2012

The fourth annual Top 40 Under 40 list was unveiled this evening at MKT.

Every year, Avenue magazine recognizes Capital Region’s most exceptional young business leaders. The Top 40 Under 40 list honours individuals under the age of 40 who are excelling in their careers, giving back to the community and raising the profile of Edmonton.

Here’s the Top 40 for 2012 and where you can find them online (in alphabetical order):

Tonight’s awards ceremony was hosted by Global Edmonton’s Vassey Kapelos and was sponsored by Celebration Homes, MacEwan University, and Century Hospitality. I couldn’t make it tonight, but judging by the #top40yeg hashtag on Twitter, it sounds like it was a great party! The website still is not updated (and like past years was down for a while) but when they get that sorted you should be able to see all the details here. The November issue should be on stands across the city soon.

Congratulations to all the winners!

To learn about even more members of Edmonton’s growing Top 40 community, check out the class of 2009, 2010, and 2011.

Pecha Kucha Night: Edmonton #14

Edmonton’s fourteenth Pecha Kucha Night was held tonight at the Myer Horowitz Theatre on the University of Alberta campus. It looked like it was going to be a smaller crowd tonight, and though not quite a sell-out, the theatre did fill up just in time for the presentations! There were six women presenting tonight, the first time since PKN4 that women have outnumbered men on stage (I mention it only because many folks noticed the split tonight, and recent PKNs have indeed featured predominately male presenters).

In order of appearance, these were the presenters at PKN14:

  1. Dave Mowat, Light it Up, #yeg!
  2. Sunniva Van, Ride to Learn
  3. Pamela Colleen, The Universal Language: and No, It’s Not Love
  4. Wang Yip, Design Is…
  5. Shawn Kanungo, I Love the Spelling Bee
  6. Renee Vaugeois & Chelsea Freeborn, Imagine a Dream
  7. Jacqui Fraser, A Split Second
  8. Daniel Schneider, That John Denver is Full of S@#*
  9. David Zip, 3D Workflows for Historical Refacading
  10. Brittney Le Blanc, Bragging is Good

Alberta’s Minister of Human Services and Government House Leader Dave Hancock was slated to speak tonight but had to cancel at the last minute.

On the whole I’d say tonight’s slate of presentations was better than average. The presenters were all new to presenting at PKN, and I thought everyone did a great job! There was a good mix of newcomers in the audience, and more than a handful of people who had been to five or more PKNs. Only a few of us have been to every one though!

Pecha Kucha Night Edmonton #14

Dave kicked things off with a talk about light. Light makes people happy, he told us. He showed examples of some of our favorite cities from around the world, including New York and Paris, with their recognizable structures all beautifully lit up at night. He then showed Edmonton’s bridges at night, all very dark, and none that you would see on a postcard. He added some light to the Groat, High Level, and Low Level bridges to get us thinking about what could be. He then exited the stage on crutches that lit up! It was a really strong start to the evening.

Next up was Sunniva who shared some great stories from Ride To Learn. Very inspiring and strong images too. Pamela took us through the universal language – that would be music, not love! She seemed to have a strong dislike for heavy metal, mentioning a few times that plants forced to listen to Metallica for too long would soon die. It was a very thoughtful talk, and definitely made me think more about how the music I listen to has an impact on what I’m doing. Wang was fourth, and he talked all about the power of design. His talk was sort of the prototypical Pecha Kucha talk, and I mean that in a good way. He showed a variety of designs and encouraged everyone to think about what design means to them. The highlight slide was a design for a divorce lawyer’s business card that featured a perforation down the middle.

Pecha Kucha Night Edmonton #14

Shawn gave the final talk before the intermission, and I think it’s safe to say he brought the house down! It was smart, funny, and he delivered it with such enthusiasm and stage presence. If there were ever a “Pecha Kucha All-Stars” in Edmonton, Shawn’s would no doubt make the cut. I won’t do it justice, so just watch it:

I also totally love that he was inspired by Omar’s wonderful talk on cats from PKN13:

First up after the break was the tag team of Renee and Chelsea. They had a cellist join them on stage and they delivered their talk over the music. It was a good concept, but it really didn’t work. I also thought their talk could have done with some focus. Jacqui was up next with a very thought-provoking talk that touched on everything from why some colors are used for certain things to why the Fibonacci sequence is so powerful. Daniel had the eighth talk of the night, a cleverly crafted talk about why he loves being a country boy. It was a bit slow starting, but finished strong. I loved the hand-drawn images that illustrated most of the talk! David had the penultimate slot, and talked about historical refacading. He didn’t touch as much on the 3D workflows part as I thought he might, but he did certainly point out some intriguing architectural observations. For instance, he noted that Starbucks does a great job of making its locations look as though they have been in the neighbourhood for decades (as opposed to say a McDonald’s where each location looks the same on the outside).

Pecha Kucha Night Edmonton #14

The final talk of the night was the much anticipated presentation from Brittney. I didn’t know what to expect based on the title “Bragging is Good” but I was pleasantly surprised to see that it was a call to action for Edmontonians to speak up about the great things we have in our city. I am not a fan of the giant baseball bat on 118th Avenue, but Brittney is, and she speaks up about it (and notes that it spins!). I also like that she touched on the importance of going from “should” to actually doing something. It’s easy to say something should be done, and much more difficult to actually do it. Here is Brittney’s talk:

Like I said, everyone did a great job tonight, but my favorite has to be Shawn’s. Based on my completely unscientific read of audience reaction in the room and on Twitter, my guess is I’m not alone in feeling that way either!

Edmonton’s NextGen received a lot of complaints about the service charges that Prime Box Office charged for tickets. I was even charged $3 per ticket when purchasing at the door. NextGen was not happy about the charges either, but couldn’t do anything about it as PBO is the exclusive ticket retailer for the venue. If you want to complain, get in touch with Prime Box Office and the Myer Horowitz Theatre. This was the third PKN at the Myer Horowitz (the only repeat venue) and while the size of the audience has greatly reduced the number of potential venues, perhaps it was the last.

Our hosts tonight were Doug McLean and Karen Unger, and they did a nice job of keeping us on track while adding a dash of humor. As has become customary, the Edmonton Journal was once again livestreaming the event. Major props to Ryan Jackson for an amazing job and for getting all of the videos uploaded to YouTube before the event even ended!

Pecha Kucha Night Edmonton #14

Stay tuned to @EdmNextGen on Twitter and check out the website for updates on PKN and other events. Also note there’s a new hashtag in use: “#pkn14 is just one night, #yegpkn is forever.” See you at PKN15 in March 2013!

You can see more photos of tonight’s event here, and check out all the videos here. You can read about past Pecha Kucha Nights in Edmonton here.

Recap: DIYalogue Talks Food

Last night Sharon and I were really excited to be part of DIYalogue Talks Food, the latest event organized by Edmonton’s NextGen. A few dozen people gathered on the Wooftop Patio at The Black Dog on Whyte for a speed-dating style opportunity to learn about Edmonton’s growing local food scene.

Looking for a collaborative space to chew the fat with Edmonton’s local food luminaries? DIYalogue Talks Food connects Edmonton’s established culinary entrepreneurs with local foodies, aspiring chefs, and backyard gardeners in 15-minute small group mini-dates. DIYalogue convenes communities of interest and explores the potential for individual success in the creative industries through unique partnerships and community support.

The speed mentors included:

DIYalogue Talks Food

The mentors paired up, and for the first hour or so, attendees moved from group to group. Sharon and I mostly talked about What the Truck?! but she did field a bunch of questions about her blog as well. Some of our favorite questions of the evening:

  • Are the food trucks mostly run by existing restaurants? There’s a mix right now. Drift is a good example of a truck that started as a truck (though they wanted to start a restaurant originally) and The Act is a good example of a restaurant that now has a truck as well.
  • What does Edmonton’s food scene lack? I said a brunch culture with diners that people will line up at and Sharon agreed and added southern comfort food.
  • What can be done to make Edmonton a better place for food trucks? Read this post.
  • Aside from Tres Carnales and Corso 32, what’s hot? Three Boars!
  • When is the next What the Truck?! event? August, stay tuned!

No food-themed event is complete without something delicious to eat, so it was awesome to have Filistix on hand. They prepared a Moroccan vegetarian tagine – it was delicious! Everyone had the opportunity to sample OFER’s final jar of last year’s cider supply too.

DIYalogue Talks Food

I had a lot of fun with the event, and enjoyed catching up with Nate, Cynthia, and some of the other mentors too.

DIYalogue Talks Food was a great way to kickoff the NextGen blog theme for this month: food.

This month we will be bringing you tantalizing, and thought-provoking posts on and about the food scene in Edmonton. We’ll share what that means to a consumer, to a foodie, to a business owner, to an activist, and to someone who loves to cook, bake, and create.

Looking forward to it!

DIYalogue Talks Food

Thanks to Carol, John, and everyone else who made DIYalogue possible!

Pecha Kucha Night: Edmonton #13

Edmonton’s thirteenth and first outdoor Pecha Kucha Night was held last night at the Heritage Amphitheatre in Hawrelak Park. With more than 800 tickets sold in advance, there was a big crowd in attendance (both people and fearless squirrels), though the venue could have held even more people. As a result, tickets were available at the door for the first time in a long time! One of my favorite things about Pecha Kucha is that the venue changes each time. Organizers have flirted with the idea of being outside before, and after last night I think it’s safe to say that it can work. Fortunately the weather held out – aside from a little wind, it was a lovely evening!

In order of appearance, these were the presenters at PKN13:

  1. Sarah Jackson, Coffee Boss, Entrepreneur
  2. Michael Cenkner, Inventor, Educator, Artist
  3. Vanessa Higgins, Watershed Specialist
  4. David Faber & Lewis Cardinal, Community Leaders
  5. Adam Henley, Student
  6. Ken Bautista, Entrepreneur
  7. Pieter de Vos, Community Development Practitioner
  8. Nadine Riopel, The Savvy Do Gooder
  9. Amy Beaith & Mike Johnson, Fruit Rescuers
  10. Omar Mouallem, Associate Editor, Avenue Edmonton

I thought everyone did a great job delivering their talks last night. There were more notes-in-hand than at previous PKNs, but no one stumbled as a result. I wonder if the larger outdoor vendor was more intimidating than the smaller enclosed spaces or less? As always, our hosts asked for a show of hands to see how many people had never been to PKN before. I think the majority of the audience were first-timers!

Pecha Kucha Night Edmonton #13

Sarah kicked things off with a talk that I would best describe as a lecture on the perils of engaging online at the expense of face-to-face communication. She encouraged people to lay down their devices and meet people for coffee. It’s a good message, but I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. I would say I’m fairly active online, but I also meet people for coffee all the time. Seriously, ask the folks at Credo, they’ll tell you! Michael’s talk explored monoculture and permaculture, among other things. I thought his idea that monoculture is often characterized by straight lines was really interesting. I thought Vanessa was one of the best speakers of the evening, even if I didn’t really connect with the content of her talk. Her delivery was spot-on, and even with the technical difficulties of the screen behind her, she powered forward without hesitation. As Brittney said, Vanessa deserves huge props for getting up in front a crowd to talk about her depression.

After a quick break, David and Lewis told us about the Spirit of Edmonton, an initiative to reclaim and connect our city’s spirit, art, culture, and history. I had not heard about this before, so it was great to learn a little about what is being planned. Lewis told us that Edmonton’s “pehonan” is the Rossdale Flats, where our city was born eight to ten thousand years ago. Adam’s talk on our healthcare system was one of the most intriguing of the night. He talked about the changes being precipitated by technology, and touched on some of the things that could be possible if only we could move past paper and steel vaults (think big data analysis). After another quick break, Ken shared with us some thoughts on TEDx and what the program has achieved and is capable of. It’s amazing how many events have been organized all around the world! Oh and Ken, I love that you included the falcon picture. Pieter was up next and he talked about some of the work he has done in places like Vancouver and Haiti with photography. In addition to telling stories about his travels, Pieter has taught others in the places he has visited how to use photography to tell their own stories.

Pecha Kucha Night Edmonton #13

Nadine was up next to talk about the charitable sector. As promised, it was very different than her last PKN talk. In fact, I think it was my favorite presentation of the whole evening, because Nadine put forward an idea that inspired conversation. She challenged us to think differently about the charitable sector – why do we always ask charities about their costs and whether they are keeping them low but never if they are achieving their outcomes? Why is it okay to get rich mining for diamonds or drilling for oil, but not saving lives? Nadine said that we treat the charitable sector as if we want it to cut costs. Instead, we should treat it as if we want it to do good!

Amy and Mike told us about Operation Fruit Rescue Edmonton (OFRE) and the work they are doing to rescue fruit and build community. It’s pretty amazing what the group has been able to achieve in just a few short years, and I’m sure the best is yet to come. You can learn more about what they do and where the fruit goes here. The final presentation of the evening was Omar’s hilarious talk on cats. He was the perfect choice for a closer, because he made everyone laugh but also expertly snuck in some serious points about cats as well! He started with LOLCats and the idea that cats are more popular now than ever before. Unfortunately, because most people don’t pay anything for their cats, they are also among the most abused and least looked after pets. There was one moment in particular when everyone in the crowd looked at each other in disbelief – Omar told us about the Canadian Avalanche Rescue Cat Association. Yes, search and rescue cats save lives. I can’t remember ever experiencing such a full-on “are you serious?!” moment at Pecha Kucha, so nice job Omar!

I have to say that while I enjoyed myself and loved the venue, I didn’t exactly walk away from PKN13 feeling inspired nor particularly challenged. I guess that’s okay – people can share whatever they like – but I prefer the presentations that really do lead to interesting conversations and discussions.

Pecha Kucha Night Edmonton #13

Before the show got started, Mayor Mandel joined a few NextGeners on stage to proclaim June as Next Gen Month in our city. He remarked to me afterward that he is really impressed by how much the community has accomplished! There’s a lot of great stuff happening throughout the month, so check out Edmonton Next Gen for updates.

Pecha Kucha Night Edmonton #13 Pecha Kucha Night Edmonton #13

Our hosts for the evening were Thomas Scott and John Loveseth, and I thought they both did an excellent job. The giant LED screen on stage was provided by Allstar Show Industries, and despite a few technical difficulties at the beginning, it worked really well. DJ Justin Foosh from All Out DJs provided the musical ambiance, while Molly’s Eats and The Act served hungry attendees all evening long. It was great to have the food trucks on site! Sharon and I took the free PKN Shuttle Bus from the University to Hawrelak Park – thanks NextGen for arranging that! One other sponsor note – everyone in attendance received a gift card from Famoso Neapolitan Pizza for a free pizza before June 30!

Stay tuned to @EdmNextGen on Twitter and check out the website for updates on PKN and other events. See you at PKN14 in the fall!

You can see a few more photos from the evening here, and you can read about past Pecha Kucha Nights in Edmonton here.