What in the World is Pecha Kucha?


Don’t get freaked out about a weird name. Hang with us here for a moment.

We’ll get to what Pecha Kucha means in just a moment.

One reason it sounds interesting to me is it’s being hosted by Larry and Tish Harris. Larry Harris is an absolute killer poet who recently retired from teaching – he taught for 26 years at Pioneer High School. His wife, Tish, has been an activist for healthcare access for much of her career. Now she’s pursuing what she loves.

So what the heck is Pecha Kucha Night?


Tish: Pecha Kucha started as a reaction to the abuse of the Power Point program. Many of us can relate to the frustration of Power Point presentations that go on and on, with the speaker reciting word for word what you see on the screen. I think that’s why Mark Dytham and Astrid Klein, two architects in Tokyo, decided to take Power Point to a whole new level by creating the 20 by 20 format. You have 20 slides and 20 seconds to narrate each slide. That’s it.

Next, take 8 to 10 passionate presenters, get an awesome venue, invite people of all ages, stages and orientations to attend, provide refreshments and, voila: You have an instantly fun, enriching, diverse community event — Pecha Kucha Night!

Pecha Kucha has spread virally around the world. There are currently 284 cities participating. That means that anything we produce in Redding has the potential to be viewed by a worldwide audience.
It sounds like this: Tokyo, Paris, New York, Glasgow, Redding, etc. We get 6 minutes and 40 seconds, just like they do.


Larry and Tish Harris
How did you discover Pecha Kucha and why are you both so passionate about it?


Larry: One day last summer, Tish and I just happened upon a Pecha Kucha Night in San Luis Obispo. We had no idea what was drawing such a diverse gathering of locals into a small coffee shop/gallery around a big projector screen. The pre-event atmosphere was electric and truly social (physical — social, not cyberspace — social). You could just feel those people crossing the invisible lines that tend to so often separate various sub-groups and keep everyone in his or her place.

Tish: That night in SLO, two things “hit” me. The first: In the same evening, I got to learn about resonator guitars, watch slides of premier surfing spots, accompanied by acoustic guitar and view several dramatized pictorials of the “faces of death” as depicted by different local artists. The second: I loved that teens and seniors were in the same room sharing their mutual experience. It was important, too, that the event was free.
Right away I said to Larry, “We’ve got to bring this to Redding.” And that’s just what’s happening.

What is Pecha Kucha Night NOT?

Larry: Pecha Kucha Night (PKN) is not intended as a soap box or a sales pitch. It is a grassroots celebration — REAL PEOPLE into a REAL ROOM, interested in each other. In fact, Tish and I made a handshake agreement with Tokyo to make NO money off Pecha Kucha. Of course, a natural outcome of sharing any passionate interest is the attraction of others to that passion. In that respect it could be very beneficial to the presenter.

And if the local businesses make money from the foot traffic that the event brings downtown, that’s fantastic! Which is why PKN-Redding and Viva Downtown are such a perfect fit.


How do you pronounce the words Pecha Kucha?

Larry: Well, that has turned out to be one of the little charms of the project — watching people struggle with the pronunciation of the words. First of all, it’s in Japanese, so we have no reference. From cities all around the world I’ve heard it pronounced many different ways. Even my own daughter-in-law, who is Japanese, when asked for a definitive pronunciation, alternated between two. This confusion is always the first part of the conversation about PKNight. At first I thought it was a problem, now I think it’s cool. It means that everybody who isn’t Japanese starts a little off balance asking: “How do you say it again?” I see using this confusion as a fun springboard to introducing the first evening.

When and where will the event take place?

Larry: Friday, April 16th, in the beautiful Atrium at the south end of Redding’s Downtown Promenade.

Who can present? Anyone. Children, seniors, teens, boomers — if you can talk, you can present.

What can be presented? Anything that you are interested in, that you love, that you are passionate about.

How does someone get involved as a presenter?

Entry forms for presenters are available:
• Online from Viva Downtown’s web page which has more info and links: www.vivadowntownredding.org/PechaKucha.html

• By email —  pechakucha_redding@att.net
• By phone — 244.6640

Jim Dyar

is a journalist who focuses on arts, entertainment, music and the outdoors. He is a songwriter and leader of the Jim Dyar Band. He lives in Redding and can be reached at jimd.anewscafe@gmail.com

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments