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PechaKucha: 20x20 format shares personal stories for sold-out crowd

Ten diverse, creative and passionate people shared thier stories with a sold out crowd at San Chez Bistro in a unique 20x20 format called PechaKucha.
The sold out crowd at PKGR6

The sold out crowd at PKGR6 /Dan Terpstra/ Terpstra Photography

Want to share your story?

PechaKucha’s next event will be held in Febuary. (exact date and location TBD).

Check out the videos from previous events on their webpage or on their YouTube Channel


Dave Foster & Bart Sumner

Dave Foster & Bart Sumner /Dan Terpstra/ Terpstra Photography

PechaKucha audience

PechaKucha audience /Dan Terpstra/ Terpstra Photography

On Wednesday, November 6 at San Chez Bistro, 10 diverse, creative and passionate people shared their stories with a sold out crowd. The format was simple: 20 slides, 20 seconds for each slide. That left six minutes and 40 seconds per presenter. Six minutes and 40 seconds, translating into something that resonated a lot longer. This event was PechaKucha.

PechaKucha (a Japanese word that roughly translated, means ‘chit chat’) is a presentation format originally devised by Astrid Klein and Mark Dytham of Klein Dytham Architecture. The format provides a concise way for architects to share their portfolios. Now, viral globally, with city affiliates all over the world, it’s become much more. PechaKucha is a way for anyone, from age 5 to 75, to share their unique story.

PechaKucha Grand Rapids (PKGR) returned with its sixth event after a year-long hiatus. Dave Foster and Dan Terpstra, the organizers behind PKGR, served as co-hosts, introducing each presenter and keeping the event running smoothly. Each played to their strengths, balancing the others' personality and witticisms, right down to their refusal to pronounce PechaKucha the same.

Sponsorship, provided by Tiger Studio Design, ensured a well-organized event with smooth transitions from one presenter to the next, and Terpstra Photography captured the evening on film. That, plus a cozy atmosphere with hospitable staff, drink specials and tapas, made PKGR VI a relaxing, entertaining night that encouraged dialogue between presenters and attendees, and plenty of discussion afterwards.

Alaina Kraus shared her connection with Owasso and a whole different concept of "community," while Adrienne Pennington explained how a talking pig screwed up her life and caused her to make some major changes to her everyday interactions with food. Ryan McCarthy talked about spirals and shared how he eventually found his way out of the loop, continuing his life on a path where he was meant to be. Ken Valkenburg broke down what it means to be a scientist, and what it really means to be a scientist, translating the trajectory from bench to bedside.

Corey Ruffin talked about the perils of graded mountain roads and how Super Happy Funtime sometimes means pooping in the desert.  After a short intermission, Dan Terpstra was in the hot seat, where we learned way too much about his weekend habits. Bart Sumner’s story was deeply personal, defining how parenthood does not end, and how comedy can help heal the most broken of hearts. Kate O’Keefe asked us to reconsider first impressions, and reconsider Heartside.  Michael Sweaton told us the secrets behind encouraging innovation (even with a bunch of nerds) and Jeremy Clymer let us in on tricks of his trade, the keys to comedic success.

Humorous and serious, honest and ultimately real, PKGR provides neutral ground, an environment where any one of us can share our passions, our stories or a little bit of ourselves. PKGR also gives the audience the opportunity to discover the unknown, rethink the familiar and to get lost in the story.

Because when it really comes down to it, life is all about the stories.

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