As any hip city dweller knows, the coolest spots are the ones that are a little bit hard to find. There’s a sense of pride and privilege that comes with being “in” on something nobody else has discovered yet.
In Dayton, Pecha Kucha might just be a victim of its own coolness.
The Dayton chapter of Pecha Kucha has been around since August 2009, and Dragonfly has been its sponsor since 2011. (Pecha-what? Learn about the Tokyo-born presentation craze here. The name is Japanese for “chit chat.”)
The group is a magnet for Dayton creatives. (Dragonfly writer Jill Davis helps organize.) So it’s no surprise that PKers prefer to gather in out-of-the-way digs—the first presentation slides of November’s session implored visitors to “volunteer your poorly lit space!”
I attended the 17th installation of Pecha Kucha during a whirlwind trip to Dayton last month, in between meeting with a few of our awesome writing clients. The evening’s theme: inspiration through science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). We walked in to Synergy Incubators, the local food kitchen tucked beneath a downtown parking deck, right on time. Presenters were prepared, and wine and beer were flowing. But the mood at Synergy was one of mild panic.
Too many people had shown up, and the venue was over capacity. Planners weighed the options: stay put and risk disaster in the event of an emergency? Take the event outside, into the November drizzle? Reschedule for another night somewhere more accommodating?
The outlook wasn’t great—until you remember that this is a group with no shortage of good ideas. An intrepid organizer asked the Crowne Plaza across the street to host the PK revelers, and they graciously obliged. And so the crew of 200-plus made the half-block trek, leaving half-full glasses behind.
Presentations got underway swiftly at the much roomier Crowne Plaza ballroom. And the wait was worth it: I learned about everything from salmon smoking (harder than you’d think!) to the merits of Makerspaces, to Troy, Ohio’s onetime community of all-steel houses (“not unlike living inside a refrigerator,” the speaker explained).
Sheldon Williamson, a self-proclaimed “renaissance man,” sculpts, welds, and stunts. He’s also designed a line of light-up hoodies he’s hoping to get funded on Kickstarter.
And the kids of For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) showed that building and competing with robots can be fun, educational, and character-building. They even coined a new term to describe their approach—“coopertition” (cooperation + competition), which I plan to start incorporating into my writing immediately.
Owing to the starting delay, presentations proceeded without the customary intermission, fondly known to PK regulars as a “beer break.” Given Pecha Kucha’s rapid-fire format, the break is a chance for presenters to answer questions and visitors to reflect on what they’ve learned.
So, what of the wine glasses and brews left behind back at Synergy? After the evening’s speakers wrapped up, attendees had no trouble finding their way back to the small, dim space and sharing a drink or two. It wouldn’t be PK night otherwise.
Mary Dixon is a writer and editor for Dragonfly Editorial. She believes in coopertition, creativity, and bonding over beer.