A group of Tokyo architects looking for a fun way to showcase their work gathered in 2003 for the world’s first PechaKucha — the phrase means “chit-chat” in Japanese — and the unique presentation style caught on.

To date, PechaKuchas have been held in 700 cities around the globe, with each speaker narrating 20 slides for just 20 seconds each — about six minutes and 40 seconds total. The result is a quick format that can be easily replicated and shared online.

About 50 people gathered at the Travel Bug bookstore and coffeehouse Wednesday evening for Santa Fe’s first PechaKucha, where eight presenters talked about everything from 3-D mapping to the lives of millennials to SITE Santa Fe’s educational programs.

Santa Fe’s PechaKucha organizer, newcomer Colleen Rubart, said she was surprised that the city hadn’t yet had a PechaKucha. (There is one in Taos.) She said she attended her first in San Francisco several years ago.

“In some cities, PechaKuchas are informal neighborhood gatherings with a keg and a projector, while in other cities, like Austin, they’re incorporated into events like South by Southwest,” Rubart said. “When I moved here last year, I wrote to PechaKucha headquarters in Tokyo and asked why Santa Fe didn’t have a PechaKucha. They wrote back and said, ‘Good question. Why don’t you start one?’ ”

PechaKucha invites comparisons to TEDx, the independently organized version of TED talks, in which presenters talk about a wide variety of subjects in a collaborative, forward-thinking setting. “[PechaKucha] is unlike TED in that everyone can do it,” Rubart said. “For TED, you have to be invited [to speak]. … PechaKucha is a volunteer-driven nonprofit. It’s more from the bottom up, and TED is a bit more exclusive.”

Rubart recruited Wednesday’s eight presenters through cold-calling and word of mouth. The presentations were mostly arts-oriented, with a bit of technology and economic development thrown into the mix. Wednesday’s speakers were Marina de Palma, a poet and book designer; Zane Fischer, co-coordinator of MIXSantaFe; Tori Hughes, an artist and creative coach; Joanne Lefrak, director of outreach and education at SITE Santa Fe; Dienke Nauta, a visual artist; Gail Snowdon, a photographer; Katelyn Peer, a project coordinator at the nonprofit Creative Santa Fe; and Pete Kelsey, the founder of Adventures in Rediscovery, a company that does 3-D mapping of natural environments and historic sites. (Kelsey also is Rubart’s boyfriend.)

Peer’s presentation was titled “Millennials: Why they Matter and How to Keep Them,” and focused on the importance of communities retaining members of the loosely defined millennial generation — people who were born in the 1980s and 1990s. Peer highlighted economic realities for millennials, outlining how they have less disposable income and spend more on health care, education and housing than baby boomers did at the same age. She spoke about the importance of creating viable public spaces and about making communities more affordable.

Though a couple of the presenters struggled to time their talks to the slides, the flow was generally smooth. “I really liked the format,” Peer said after her presentation. “Each presenter having 20 slides for 20 seconds really levels the playing field, and there’s actually a lot of creativity that exists within the structure.”



“This kind of reminded me of BenchWarmers at the [Santa Fe] Playhouse,” said attendee Jane Rosemont. (BenchWarmers offers several short, unrelated plays in succession.) “I didn’t know what to expect, but the presentations made me curious about everything. I wish I’d brought a pen and paper.”

“It seems like a perfect slice of Santa Fe,” said Brian Blount, who attended with his wife, Caryll, after reading about Santa Fe’s PechaKucha on the website Meetup.org.

“It’s very exciting to see what people are doing,” Caryll Blount said. Eventually, PechaKucha Santa Fe hopes to host three or so events per year. For the next one, Blount suggested beer and wine sales, as well as a venue that seats more people.

“Typically, once the word gets out and people understand what PechaKucha is, they’re very excited about it,” said Kelsey, whose presentation focused on Adventures in Rediscovery’s 3-D mapping projects in Micronesia, bat caves in Arizona and Easter Island. Kelsey has given two other PechaKucha presentations; while one in Las Vegas, Nev., was also about 3-D mapping, another in Chicago focused on that city’s blues music.

“It’s huge fun,” Kelsey said. “The format changes so fast. If you think 3-D mapping is boring, well, up comes this fabulous artist to tell you about her passion.”

Contact Adele Oliveira at 986-3091 or aoliveira@sfnewmexican.com.

On the Web

• To learn more about PechaKucha, visit www.pechakucha.org. For Santa Fe-specific information, check out the Facebook page, www.facebook.com/pk.santafe.

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