PechaKucha: A neighborly night of sharing

Nathaniel Janick with the Martha's Vineyard Museum talked about a current oral history project he is archiving. — Photo by Michael Cummo

The Martha’s Vineyard Museum hosted a lively night of PechaKucha at the Harbor View Hotel on Friday night. PechaKucha, which was first hosted by an architecture firm in Japan in 2003 and intended as a networking event for designers, is a simple presentation format consisting of 20 slides, each lasting for 20 seconds. The images advance automatically and the presenter talks along to the images.

PechaKucha draws its name from the Japanese term for “chitchat,” and is essentially an adult show and tell.

At a typical PechaKucha event, several participants will present consecutively, and the 6:40 time limit prevents any one presentation from running too long, for the sake of both the audience and the presenter. The format was created to limit the time of a presentation, to keep the presenter concise and the audience engaged. According to pechakucha.org, PechaKucha nights are intended to be “informal and fun gatherings where creative people get together and share their ideas, works, thoughts, holiday snaps — just about anything, really.”

The Island’s recent PechaKucha night proved to be just that. On Friday, which was Global PechaKucha night, six presentations were given in the Menemsha Room of the Harbor View Hotel, in front of dozens of neighbors and strangers alike. Topics were wide-ranging, and in true PechKucha format, the topics were not released before the event, making it a surprise for all.

Katy Fuller from the Martha’s Vineyard Museum shared a glimpse into her daily life commuting off-Island each day. Rizwan Malik, also from the museum, and his wife Allyson Malik, from the Oak Bluffs library, recounted their hiking adventures abroad. Martha’s Vineyard Times photo editor Michel Cummo presented on his work as a photojournalist, and Tierney Lane from FARM Institute spoke about her work on agricultural education. Finally, Nathaniel Janick with the M.V. Museum talked about a current oral history project he is archiving, and explained how the public could help him in his efforts.

Spectators sat listening, intrigued by the content, and following along with “oohs” and “aahs” and occasional laughter. After the presentations many attendees remained, complimenting the speakers and sharing knowledge and information. Museum staff thanked participants and commented on how successful the evening was. The museum attempts to host PechaKucha one night each month in the winter, but was forced to cancel last month’s event due to lack of willing participants. The struggle for speakers, according to the museum’s assistant curator Anna Carringer, is partially due to the fear of public speaking. It seems a misguided fear given the comfortable, communal context of PechaKucha, and one that could be easily overcome at the next event.

The next, and possibly final PechaKucha event of the season, will take place Friday, March 13, at 7:30pm, back in the Menemsha room of the Harbor View Hotel. The event is free and open to all to watch. If you are interested in participating as a speaker, call Jessica at 508-627-4441, ext. 123, or email kfuller@mvmuseum.org.