The Petcha Kutcha Bug

Maybe it’s because I’ve been living under a rock, or maybe its because is just not that popular yet, but at the start of this month I’d never heard of Petcha Kutcha and had absolutely no idea what it was. When a friend mentioned it to me and tried to explain it I was interested but skeptical. The friend thought it might be good for us to go along and promote the period poverty drive that we’re setting up in York with YFC (more on that to follow) but we realised that we wouldn’t have enough time to prepare for the event on 11/04 so the two of us decided to go down last night and suss it out.

The basic idea is that it functions a bit like an open mic night- people book up slots in advance and are allowed 20 seconds to talk about each of 20 images they have chosen in beforehand. The topics can be on any subject that a person is passionate about so its kind of like an open mic come soapbox event. All of the talks are recorded and uploaded online for anyone to watch.

A quick look on the official Petcha Kutcha website made things a little clearer and they describe the events as being like ‘bottom up’, local TED talks. This idea appealed to me so I was intrigued to see what a Petcha Kutcha night would be like, especially as the presenter’s topics are not advertised ahead of the event so I had no idea what to expect.

I arrived at the local bar/restaurant about 15 minutes before the advertised start time, and managed to find my friend, get a drink and get seats in the packed out backroom of the bar. By the time the event had got started the room was full with around 50 people all ready to sit and watch.

The host for the evening got up and explained how the format works and that a bucket would be passed around for contributions to cover the costs involved. He suggested a donation of £3 which was fine, but as this wasn’t advertised, and given the ‘grass-roots’ nature of the event, I think a PAYF format might have been better. That said, there was no indication that a donation was compulsory or enforced so I suspect one could have paid less or not at all.

Without further ado, the first speaker was up and began talking passionately about increasing participation in adult education and returning to learning. Her talk was interesting and engaging and I started to get a feel of how the format worked in practice. In total there were 7 talks on such a diverse range of subjects

  • Adult education
  • Sustainable/ off grid living
  • Pavement parking
  • Cyborgs
  • Trecking to Mount Everest’s Base Camp
  • Shapenote singing
  • A beautiful short story/poem

I thoroughly enjoyed each of the talks and the varied mix of speakers and topics makes for a fun evening. The pavement parking talk was not my bag but thats the beauty of Petcha Kutcha, if something isn’t up your street, its only a couple of minutes before the next speaker and there’s bound to be something that you’ll enjoy.

That said, its probably not for everyone, the night definitely had a hispter vibe to it (but that doesn’t bother me too much as I think I have hipster tendencies myself, am just not ‘cool’ enough to carry them off!), but I love meeting new people and hearing their stories, and Petcha Kutcha gives your the opportunity to dip into new worlds and experiences that you might never have encountered so I loved it and have definitely caught the Petcha Kutcha bug and will be going back for more!

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