On Friday March 4, 2011 Edmonton NextGen hosted its 9th Pecha Kucha (PKN9) at the Royal Alberta Museum Theatre. Drawing from the Japanese term for the sound of "chit-chat", Pecha Kucha's presentation format is based on 20 images on for 20 seconds each, for a total talk length of 6 minutes and 40 seconds. The Edmonton Social Planning Council's Jennifer Hoyer and Joseph Ahorro were both invited to give a talk at PKN9.
Joseph's reflections on Pecha Kucha
My talk was about 'cosmopolitianism' and how it relates to the global and local levels. Most will agree that cosmpolitanism strives to find community among all human beings regardless of social background, economic status, or political affiliation. It also about lending ourselves to new ideas, different perspectives, or contrasting values with the intent of finding some commonalities amidst real or perceived difference. Cosmopolitanism is closely related to global citizenship. While we can strive to be citizens of the world, we are also citizens of Edmonton.
At the global level, I was able to find value in my backpacking travels in the Middle East. All the stories I read on the news now seem to hit me closer to home. For example, meeting a group near the souq in a northern town in Iraq and later telling me how they just lost a friend in a car bombing. More recently, I find the images of revolutionary protests in that region to be very striking. These are the same streets and plazas in Cairo I had walked and talked with locals. In my mind, I don't feel like a lucky Canadian to be living in a 'safe' country and to not be there, but to be grateful that my friends and fellow humans in Egypt are fighting for their self-determination.
At the local level, we find the same oversights with the homeless population. I remember interviewing a couple who were homeless and were bottle pickers. What struck me during the interviews was their sense of humour and love for their children. Indeed, they were no different from my own folks who have similar parental concerns. Finding this common bond made it easy to relate to them and conduct the interview in trust.
I remember the Homeless Memorial where we commemorated the 57 individuals who passed away as a result of homelessness. Gary Moostoos, an elder-in-training, offered prayers and said something poignant, "Although these people were without homes, they still had community." Boyle Street Community Services was their community. It was where they found comfort, familiarity, and a place to be with their friends. The desire to be a part of a community and the yearning for belonging are feelings we all share as Edmontonians.
From my travels abroad or research in Edmonton, I find cosmopolitanism a virtue worth pursuing, of seeking out some commonalities amidst real or perceived differences. It has helped me reimagine being a part of a global community, and reoriented my thinking of what it means to live in an inclusive society.
Jennifer's reflections on Pecha Kucha:
There's nothing like a tight schedule to force presenters to distill their thoughts into the most important points! I presented a 6 minute and 40 second overview of storytelling, drawing on my librarian experience in school libraries and the nonprofit sector. Whatever our story, we need to pick the most appropriate way to connect with our audience and the most appropriate medium for transmitting the information we want to share. There are a lot of ways to tell and access stories - opening a book, accessing a website, turning on some music, or drawing a picture. My own ideas on storytelling draw as much from my experience as a librarian as from my background as a performing musician. In every community we interact with, the process of storytelling gives us an opportunity to learn from each other.
Many of the ideas in my presentation have already been discussed in an earlier blog post on information sharing in the nonprofit sector, so I won't repeat that here. That post has been picked up in other discussions on information sharing, notably the IssueLab nonprofit blog carnival on openness in the third sector and Wild Apricot's discussion of sharing nonprofit stories. My pecha kucha story about storytelling was illustrated by visual stories: drawings by Montréal-based illustrator Josiah Henderson.
Our work to cultivate storytelling in Alberta's third sector continues with threeSOURCE. If you're not already accessing the resources shared on this great website, check it out now!
For more thoughts on the latest Pecha Kucha, check out Mack Male's summary of the event, Brittney Leblanc's article, or Sarah Chan's blog post. Edmonton NextGen has a recap as well, and they have a few photos from the night.
The Edmonton Journal has posted a photo gallery from PKN9. They also livestreamed the event; you can view it here.