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Vancouver-based broadcasters, storytellers, tech wizards and activists shared their messages – in 20 slides – at Pecha Kucha Night Vancouver Vol. 32
On March 20, 2014, at 6:30pm, an hour before the show started, hundreds of people formed a line that wrapped around the block in front of the Vogue Theatre for Pecha Kucha Night Vancouver Vol. 32.
At 7:30 p.m., as the lights dimmed and co-organizer and emcee Steven Cox took the stage, over 1,200 bums were firmly planted in the cushy maroon chairs eagerly awaiting the multi-speaker event, myself included.
Pecha Kucha is a presentation format that gives speakers 20-seconds each for 20 automatically-advancing slides, for a total of less than seven minutes to get their point across before the next speaker takes the stage. There are usually about a dozen speakers, give or take, for each event, which now happens in over 700 cities around the world.
“PechaKucha Nights are informal and fun gatherings where creative people get together and share their ideas, works, thoughts, holiday snaps – just about anything, really – in the PechaKucha 20×20 format,” reads the pechakucha.org website, run by founders Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Klein Dytham architecture, who launched the first PechaKucha Night in Tokyo in 2003.
In keeping with PechaKucha’s mandate for “thinking and drinking,” events are held in “fun spaces with a bar,” like Vancouver’s Vogue Theatre which has been home to PechaKucha Night Vancouver for the past few years.
Steven Cox and his wife and business partner Jane Cox founded Cause + Affect, a branding and design agency, in 2004, and in 2008, after applying to start the 20 x 20 format presentation nights in Vancouver, were selected as the city organizers for the PechaKucha brand.
Since then, say the Cox’s, “the local version of the global phenomenon has put over 300 people on the stage and over 25,000 people in the audience adding crucial weight to the cultural currency of Vancouver.”
On this night, 11 Vancouver-based broadcasters, storytellers, tech wizards and activists were set to share their message – in 20 slides.
But first, Juno and MMVA nominated artist and producer Matt Brevner and musical guests amped everyone up with their energizing multi-media performance that included some of the artist’s latest music videos as well as live performances of some of his latest singles.
The next Pecha Kucha Night Vancouver, Vol. 33, will be held this summer. Visit pechakuchanightvancouver.com for more details.
Erin Ireland is one busy and inspiring lady! As the owner of To Die For Fine Foods (famous for its To Die For Banana Bread) and a contributing food reporter for 102.7 The PEAK, The Rush TV, BCLiving and CTV Morning Live, much of her life revolves around food. Her message was that her passion for discovering to-die-for food that’s good for the planet and adopting a flexitarian diet is win-win for your body, Mother Nature and all of her creatures.
“Four years ago when I launched my food site,” she said, “my young goal was simply to find those culinary experiences that would blast the taste buds of Vancouver. Well, things have changed and I’ve learned too much not to change my ways. As a food reporter, I have a huge responsibility and I’m embracing it for our health, our planet and the consideration of our animals.”
Her flexitarian diet is primarily plant-based, with a focus on local, seasonal produce, with small amounts of high-quality animal proteins like sustainable fish and seafood and ethically-sourced meat.
Colin Easton is nearing Day 100 of The Stranger Project 2014, a 365-day exploration of strangers he meets on the street. Every day he explores Vancouver’s streets and asks people if they’re interested in having their photo taken and sharing their story. The first person to say yes is that day’s featured stranger.
“I’ll be going out to meet a complete stranger, every day and connect with that person, to find out who they are, and try to discover more of their story,” Easton says on The Stranger Project’s Facebook page, which already has over 3,000 likes.
Vancouver has a reputation for being an unfriendly city where it’s hard to connect with people. I’ve never found this to be true but maybe that’s because I work in an industry where there’s a lot of networking, and maybe it’s because I make a point of actively pursuing people who seem cool. Anyway, Colin’s closing comments really resonated with me.
“Everybody is interesting. It’s about taking the time to hear their story. Be the friendly you want to meet!“
“Find a farmer and support them because this is the hardest it’s ever been for small farmers,” said Alice Jongerden, co-owner of Home on the Range Organics, to the sold-out crowd.
One of her slides highlighted the difficulty of present-day farming, with feed costs increasing 120 per cent since 2007 and land costs increasing more than 50 per cent in the last five years. No wonder good quality food is costlier than the stuff that’s mass produced and factory farmed! She said that the same production of milk is gained from only hundreds of cows today, whereas it was thousands producing the same amount in previous years, which is obviously a dramatically increased stress on the animals.
To address the problem of growing feed costs, the clever cattle producer got herself a hydroponic sprouting machine that produces enough barley grass to meet her herd’s daily nutritional needs.
Jongerden is also very passionate about raw milk – an unprocessed product that her family has been drinking for generations – and changing Canada’s laws that don’t allow it to be sold to consumers. While you can’t find raw milk, legally, at any stores in Canada, across the border and in Europe it’s widely available.
Ever since she was a kid and got swept away by the magic of books like Harriet the Spy, Jen Sookfong Lee liked the idea that you could write stories about people. She was drawn to write her own stories about the people she was exposed to during her childhood in East Vancouver and no doubt the characters inspired by the stories she imagined about their lives.
Many of her stories involve the dynamics of communities colliding, she said. Her first book, The End of East, published in 2007, was inspired by her grandpa and their fellow Chinese Canadians living in Vancouver’s Chinatown.
She showed slides of beautiful old photos from the late 1950s capturing Vancouver’s bright neon lights, colourful billboards and interesting characters taken by photographer Fred Herzog, who she admitted to being mildly obsessed with – which inspired me to familiarize myself with some of his incredible work (as well as pick up a copy of The End of East).
Even more than the stories of Chinese immigrants, or Herzog’s images, Sookfong Lee said that her biggest inspiration for her work has been the city of Vancouver itself, a city of opposites, a city that she loves and is endlessly fascinated by.
“My talk is called ‘Hamilton Street: 25 years of art, inspiration and employment,’” said Grant Lawrence. The CBC broadcaster, musician and author has in one way or another been intricately linked to the street, which he points out is Vancouver’s very first street.
As a young buck, he worked at 27 Hamilton Street in one of the colourful heritage row houses flanked by modern condos as a concert promoter and convinced his boss that grunge was cool and to bring a little band called Nirvana to perform in Vancouver. Next, he started his own band, The Smugglers and worked at Mint Records in the big orange Dominion Building at the corner of Hamilton and Hastings in the 1990s.
After landing a job as a researcher at the CBC on Hamilton Street, he finally convinced his producer let him go on air. During a lengthy lockout at the CBC, he spent some time at his family’s cottage in Desolation Sound, which inspired his first book, Adventures In Solitude: What Not To Wear To A Nude Potluck And Other Stories From Desolation Sound. His first public reading of the book was at the central library – on Hamilton Street.
His latest book, The Lonely End of the Rink: Confessions of a Reluctant Goalie, is a memoir that explores his relationship with hockey, in part the 2011 Vancouver Stanley Cup riot, which largely took place on – you guessed it – Hamilton Street.
Lawrence still works at the CBC, enjoying a successful career promoting Canadian independent music. His fan club now includes his wife, musician Jill Barber, and his young son Joshua.
Nikolas Badminton is the principal consultant at DesignCultureMind, a Vancouver-based innovation and product strategy agency, and the curator and executive producer of From Now, “a conference about humanity with technology.” For someone so tech-savvy, his message was both surprising and wonderful: technology is great but don’t forget about human connection.
“We live in a world where we have become addicted to mobile devices and social media,” says Badminton.” This is deeply affecting youth, changing the importance of connection between people and leading to a dumbed down society. In the future, we will be able to have deeper and more emotional connection with the people around us augmented by using devices as aides versus the devices fundamentally changing our ways of connection. In all honesty, a pathway to that is to leave our devices at home, fend for ourselves once in a while and socialize like the old days.”
His parting advice, after decrying, “Don’t give your kids iPads!”: put away your device and go dance in a field with people! Hear, hear.