A kind of quick-pitch arena for ideas and projects of all types, PechaKucha returns to Bangkok thanks to the efforts of this adventure-loving expat.
An expert adventurer, Scott Coates is the founder of Smiling Albino, a travel company that takes vacationers on action-packed holidays all over Asia. Although he loves to hike, bike, ski, raft and climb mountains, Scott can still appreciate the amenities of urban life, and so has made his home in the concrete jungle of Bangkok for the past 12 years. Always striving to improve himself and expand his horizons, Scott enrolled in an acclaimed fellowship overseas for a few months last year. While surfing and studying in the picturesque island of Hawaii, he stumbled upon a PechaKucha event that made such an impact on him that he decided to bring it to Bangkok!
In Bangkok, very few people have heard of or can even pronounce the name PechaKucha. Can you tell us what it’s all about?
It's a very unique opportunity for people to tell a story, talk about a project or share something they're passionate about in a neat format. Speakers have a very short time to present a total of 20 slides, which are only displayed on screen for 20 seconds to make their presentation. It really moves along in a rapid-fire fashion to keep guests engaged and really serve as a starting point for interested people to learn more about the presenter's cause/story.
What are the origins of PechaKucha?
It was started in 2003 by a couple of architects working at Klein Dytham architecture in Tokyo as a way for creative types to share projects they were working on with others. Since then it's grown dramatically, has chapters in more than 500 cities worldwide and brings an eclectic mix of interesting people together. The name comes from the Japanese word for the sound of chit-chat.
How did you first learn about PechaKucha?
I was doing a fellowship at the East-West Center in Honolulu, Hawaii, from August to December 2011 and got invited by a classmate to go to this strange-sounding event — PechaKucha. I really had no idea what it was at all. I was just happy to have something to do and a few people to hang out with. We rode a bus to the event, which was held in the backyard of a local arts center. There was a DJ spinning tunes, an outdoor bar being manned by volunteers, some sandwiches and a few small chairs for sitting. There were about 100 people there, and I'm sure it was the hippest collection of people in the city. I was really intrigued by the format of presentations. They were just long enough to tell a story in a compelling way, yet short enough as to not let you become bored. There was a break halfway through the ten presentations, and I loved the night.
What made you decide to bring PechaKucha to Bangkok?
A couple months after returning to Bangkok I remembered going to PechaKucha in Honolulu and wanted to find out when an event was happening in Bangkok. I went to the main PechaKucha website, searched for Bangkok and was surprised to find there was no active chapter here. Seems there were a few installments back in 2008-9, but it had since stopped operating. I contacted the head people at PechaKucha and asked what it takes to re-start a venue. We had a good number of back-and-forths, they vetted me and in April gave me permission for one -year to host at least four events. I know a pretty diverse range of very interesting people here, and those people know even more interesting people and I thought PechaKucha would be a great addition to Bangkok's scene. I hope to get a healthy mix of Thais and expats and think everyone's really going to enjoy watching the presentations.
How do you think Bangkokians will respond to PechaKucha?
Enthusiastically. After living here more than 12 years I'm still amazed at how this city seems to draw quirky, creative, interesting people, who are out there and willing to share their story and passion. There are a ton of networking events in the city, a few social ones, but nothing like PechaKucha that I know of. I think it's going to bring people together that perhaps otherwise would never meet or be at the same event. I think that's where the real benefit will come from — connections between people who would otherwise never intersect.
What are your upcoming plans for PechaKucha?
I'd really like to see this catch on and sort of become self- sustaining. It's not about any one person and really requires a wide range of people nurturing and helping it to grow and succeed. I think the first few won’t be too tough to pull -off, but it's ensuring longevity that's the real trick. I think that's why the first stab at PechaKucha didn't work after 2008. Bangkokians are pretty fickle and change their tastes quickly. Let’s hope this event really interests and continues to excite. Ideally, future events will be at very unique public and private spaces. I'm working on securing art galleries, workshops, a Thai boxing ring and a few other non-traditional venues for future PechaKuchas — let’s see.
Can you tell us what guests can expect at the first PechaKucha event in Bangkok?
The most important thing that guests will experience is a very cool and challenging presentation style. Speaking to 20 slides that will auto-change after 20 seconds is no easy feat. It's quite tricky to do — I still haven't presented — and will hopefully allow people to quickly tell a story. There's not enough time for anyone to become bored. The speaker lineup is really coming along nicely. I'm trying to get a broad mix of people, and at least 40% Thai. So far, we have a captivating woman that's going to share her story about going blind;, a passionate kid who will talk about her work with HIV- positive kids at Camillian Home;, another guy will talk about his love of 'whacking' — a pretty interesting form of dance;, an expat will share his love of exploring Bangkok's back alleys by bike;, a volunteer fireman will share his experiences working in rescue;, an artist will talk about his mission to take poetry/art shows on the road in Cambodia via bicycle; and another very interesting woman is sharing her work with Quiet Bangkok — an organisation that works to make the city a nicer place. There are a couple more in the works, but I think you see that this really is a broad range of, (hopefully,) very interesting subjects and presenters.
Where will the PechaKucha event be held and why did you choose that location?
I wanted to make things as easy as possible for this first event — somewhere people could easily reach, that's hip, fun and already has food and beverage services. The Nest (on Sukhumvit Soi 11, on the rooftop of the Le Fenix Hotel, opposite QBar) has been kind enough to confirm as the venue. The space is pretty fun and cool, they have a great spot for the projector and presenting and will be providing some really good THB 100 drink specials and free finger foods. Can't wait!
When: Monday, 9 July 2012 at 6.30pm
Where: Nest Rooftop Lounge, Le Fenix Hotel, Sukhumvit Road Soi 11
18/06/2012 - 11:24