Pecha Kucha pronounced pe-cha-ku-cha (with the same emphasis on every syllable) has been an ongoing (and somewhat un-pronounceable) event for almost two years. Edmonton’s NextGen Commitee hosted the first Pecha Kucha in Western Canada back in May of 2008 (Vancouver and Calgary followed soon afterwards with their own events).

Western Canada's first Pecha Kucha Night was held in Edmonton on May 1, 2008

Pecha Kucha, (for all those wondering out there in the great Edmonton yonder) simply means chitchat in Japanese. The first Pecha Kucha was held in Tokyo in 2003 and now can be found in over 170 cities worldwide. It’s a night that brings presenters on the creative forefront in from various design fields from the same city together to share, discuss and debate with the public. The catch, is that the powerpoint presentation format is limited to 20 slides, 20 seconds a slide in order to avert the “death by powerpoint” doldrums.

The crowd at the first Pecha Kucha watch introductory greetings from Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Klein Dytham architecture, creators of Pecha Kucha

The crowd at the first Pecha Kucha watch introductory greetings from Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Klein Dytham architecture, creators of Pecha Kucha.

The mandate of Next Gen is to develop the opportunity for the voice of young people to be heard and take an active role in the development of our community, a perfect fit with the concept offered by Pecha Kucha. It’s an evening out that gets people talking and increases their awareness that there are many creative ways to get involved in the development of their city.

Former Next Gen Committee member and Pecha Kucha organizer, Elicia Elliot explained, “The ability to make partnerships between different groups of designers from photographers to architects and the public is something that would not normally happen without an event like Pecha Kucha.”

Aidan Rowe presents at PKN 2 (©Raffaella Loro)

Presenter Aidan Rowe at the second Pecha Kucha Night held at the Trans-Alta Arts Barn, Sept. 2008

So far, there have been six Pecha Kuchas to date, with a seventh on the way. Each on has their own unique theme, venue, audience size and attendees who are always keen to provide what they loved, hated and were impartial to. They do this through the Next Gen follow up survey posted on edmontonnextgen.ca and the fast #pkn hash tagging fingers plugged in though Twitter during the events.

Presenter Tobias Olivia at Pecha Kucha 3 speaks about the University of Albertas Student Design Association.

Presenter Tobias Olivia at Pecha Kucha 3 speaks about the University of Alberta's Student Design Association.

All Pecha Kucha events have featured performances from local talent. Pecha Kucha 3 featured DJ Jaycie Jayce of Shout Out Out

All Pecha Kucha events have featured performances from local talent. Pecha Kucha 3 featured DJ Jaycie Jayce of Shout Out Out.

Notable Pucha Kucha moments to date include Pecha Kucha 4, which was held while the City of Edmonton was hosting the ICLEI World Congress on Sustainability during June of 2009.

Pecha Kucha 4 was held during the ICLEI World Congress. Participants shared some of their wishes for a more sustainable city.

Pecha Kucha 4 was held during the ICLEI World Congress.Numerous Congress delegates made a point of stopping in to see the presentations that focused on the theme of sustainability.

The opportunity meant Next Gen organizers were able to use the same facilities as the congress and capitalize on the meeting of  the international association of municipal governments from 57 countries. The Congress has held at the Shaw Conference Centre and due to the large size of the facilities NextGen was able to invite a crowd of 600 to this third installment of Pecha Kucha. In the end, there were more than 600 participants and  50 ICLEI delegates who spent the evening exchanging ideas abou the concept of sustainability across many different professions.

Pecha Kucha Edmonton #4Creative Commons License photo credit: dave.cournoyer

Pecha Kucha 5 was able to build on the success of Pecha Kucha 4 and was held at the equally impressive Myer Howerwitz Theatre thanks to the support of the University of Alberta Art’s Alumni.

Pecha Kucha Night 5 Edmonton
Creative Commons License photo credit: mastermaq

Presenters have been able to capture the changing mood and the eclectic mix that is Edmonton’s hard working populace. From land development project managers, industrial designers, volunteers, art and design students, graphic designers, photographers, social activists, architects, public art directors who always find a way their own way to incorporate each unique Pecha Kucha design related theme into their 6 minutes and 40 seconds in front of the crowd.

The open invitation for presentations gets a good number of submissions, but the Next Gen crew is always on the lookout for more Edmontonians to share with others what they are up to through a Pecha Kucha night.

Design is always the underlying concept for Pecha Kucha nights, but inevitably some presentations tend towards  self-promotion or pure abstraction that can make the audience shake their heads. Six Pecha Kuchas in, it seems the best presentations are those that use humour, odd segways and references to share an awareness of projects that are underway in the city or brewing below the surface of people who live, work (and play) in our northern city.

Pecha Kucha 6 was held at McDougall Church.  There were over 450 people in attendance. This evening sparked a lot of spirited comments from the audience, many who shared their thoughts online.

Pecha Kucha 6 was held at McDougall Church. There were over 450 people in attendance. This evening sparked a lot of spirited comments from the audience, many who shared their thoughts online.

Not all Pecha Kucha events have a theme. The theme for Pecha Kucha 6 was Psst... Its a Secret, which led to some interesting interpretations by presenters.

Not all Pecha Kucha events have a theme. Pecha Kucha 6 was slightly obscure (Psst… It's a Secret) which led to some interesting interpretations by presenters (some more successful than others).

The beauty of Pecha Kucha comes from the fact that an industrial design student can jump up on stage after a much accomplished land developer, and both are equally subject to the sharp, no holds barred commentary of the audience. But that commentary is the point of Pecha Kucha. These presentations are meant to inspire chitchat about ideas that will help motivate us, out of inspiration or frustration, to create a better city.

For more info on Pecha Kucha Night in Edmonton visit: www.pecha-kucha.org/night/edmonton/
If you’re interested in presenting at PKN 7, please email: nextgen@edmonton.ca for the info on how to submit a presentation.

You can also see more images from all of our Pecha Kucha events in the NextGen flickr pool.

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About the Author
Xanthe Couture
Xanthe is a volunteer with Edmonton's NextGen Committee. When she's not helping to organize Pecha Kucha events in the city she's working towards equal access to education, political and citizen engagement and global networks.
8 Comments
  1. Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by CityofEdmonton: Blog: the sound of chitchat http://bit.ly/arb4O3 #yeg…

  2. 7 years ago

    Hi Xanthe! great article.

  3. 7 years ago

    This was really well done, and a nice introduction to PKN in Edmonton so far. Don and I are both eager for the next PKN.

  4. […] Good post from Xanthe on Pecha Kucha – The Sound of Chit Chat. […]

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