Pecha Kucha, Nature and You

Interested in horse racing? You should have heard Shirley Couteau’s talk on the Preakness Race at Pimlico, Maryland.  What about biomimicry – you know, that’s when a bullet train is designed to be as aerodynamic as the beak of a kingfisher, or a 6” drone is modeled on the physiology of bats.

Or what about Amelia May’s look at how man has constructed beautiful buildings from nature’s materials – rocks, mud and twigs – that last hundreds of years.

A crowd of almost 100 people heard those talks and much more at Pecha Kucha Nature Night last night. Rob Hartwell spoke about the success of the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River’s shad restoration in the Potomac River; sturgeon restoration is the next project.

Up next was Kate Norris with a presentation about her love of Hawaii, and closer to home Judy Gallagher talked about springtime in Woodbridge. The shared aspect of these disparate presentations, aside from the passion of the speakers, is that they were all six minutes long.

Six minutes doesn’t seem like much time to cover a big topic like the Rocky Mountains (Jim Knapp), but it’s enough time to whet your appetite to learn more if you hear something that catches your interest.

Jeannie of Haymarket expressed this thought when she  said, “It’s a good way to see new things you can’t see elsewhere and learn something, too.”

Jeff and Deb Irwin, newcomers to Woodbridge and the Prince William Conservation Alliance (PWCA), commented on the interesting travels of the presenters and their ecological observations. What Jeff found remarkable was the way the speakers “mixed human stories with an environmental message.”

The Pecha Kucha concept was first introduced in Japan, but has become a global phenomenon, and it was PWCA and the Lake Ridge Parks and Recreation Association that brought it to Woodbridge last night. The presentation format consists of 20 slides that are displayed for only 20 seconds each, enough time for the audience to learn something new, but not get bored!

Other presentations included slides of Alaska narrated by a recitation of a Robert Service poem, the  beautiful waterfalls of the Columbia River Gorge, a conversation with Mother Nature wondering why humans are replacing the flowers she planted for us with grass, and killing her natural pest control with pesticides. The evening was rounded out with a presentation on astronomical events that can be witnessed in 2012, if you’re in the right location.

Last night’s event, the fourth hosted by PWCA and LRPRA, was held at the Bungalow Alehouse on the Prince William Parkway (near Potomac Mills), but organizer Kim Hosen said the events are held throughout the county for the convenience of all. “We always get a good turnout and everyone seems to enjoy the speakers. This is a great community event,” she said.

The PWCA-LRPRA Pecha Kucha events aren’t regularly scheduled, so keep your eyes open and check the websites (here and here) often so you don’t miss the next one. It’s a lot of fun and you’ll probably bump into someone you know.

By the way, it’s pronounced “pa-chok-cha.”

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