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After presenting 37 of its speaker-centered events over the past 10 years, the PechaKucha San Antonio team, led by founder and chair Vicki Yuan, never figured it would have to reinvent itself on the fly.
But the coronavirus pandemic – like it has done to so many of the best-laid plans – changed everything.
For its 38th installment, the quarterly speaker series held at various local venues will go where it has never gone before: online.
PechaKucha Vol. 38 will happen live on the Zoom videoconference platform Thursday, June 4, at 7 p.m. and be streamed to PechaKucha’s YouTube channel. Fresh off of anchoring the ¡VIVA! telethon, alternative country singer-songwriter and The Lonesome Rose co-owner Garrett T. Capps will host the event and perform a song or two.
Yuan said that she and her team never really considered not hosting the June event, even with the pandemic causing cancellations of countless live events.
“We wanted to keep consistent, and we felt an online forum would make sense for us,” she said.
Yuan said that as a community-building event that “really strives to document the passions and journeys and stories of people in our community,” PechaKucha seems especially valuable at the moment.
“This is a really important time to document what’s happening in our community and what people are doing,” she said. “Even though we are all separated right now. We wanted to provide something positive and hopeful and to still highlight that connection to the community.”
Yuan said that there was a concerted effort to offer presenters that could, either directly or indirectly, provide “some meaningful insight into what’s currently happening.”
Presenter Kate Jaceldo is an educator, social worker, and co-founder of Compost Queens, a company that makes compost out of food waste. She said she plans to talk about “starting a business and keeping it going through crises like [the coronavirus pandemic], and how that is a lot like growing a garden in times of chaos.”
“Speaking in front of a bunch of people is difficult for me, so I’m excited to try this format,” she said.
Presenter Gabriela Santiago, an educator and a curriculum specialist, said that she will focus her presentation on “why being an educator is important to me and how the closure of schools impacted teachers and students.”
She said that she has “noticed that teaching online presents a new set of challenges, but has also extended our classroom.”
Santiago presented along with a collaborator at the very first PechaKucha in San Antonio, more than a decade ago. She described that experience as transformative and expects more of the same this time around, “even if it is online.”
The other presenters will include musician Jess DeCuir, food writer Jess Elizarraras, chef and corporate partner Gabriel Ibarra, and animal adoption advocate Ben Yanto.
The PechaKucha format, first developed by Japan architects in 2003, is simple: Six presenters get 20 slides each, displayed for 20 seconds. The pacing and brevity of the presentations force presenters to distill their thoughts into the elements that are most important to them.
Yuan said that Capps was the perfect choice to host this edition of PechaKucha because he is “great on camera and always manages to entertain himself.”
This event is free to view on YouTube, but donations made through the Las Casas Foundation, which manages PechaKucha’s finances, are welcome. Half of all donations received will go to the San Antonio Food Bank, with the rest helping fund the event’s costs.
Here are PechaKucha’s Vol. 38 presenters (biographies provided by PechaKucha):
Jess DeCuir, theremin fanatic
Jess DeCuir is a San Antonio artist with a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Texas at San Antonio and a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Webster University. An award-winning educator, she has taught art at San Antonio College and the Southwest School of Art for over 20 years. DeCuir and her partner, Jeff DeCuir, form the electronic music duo Hyperbubble. They are currently wrapping up a four-year documentary film, Cowgirls and Synthesizers. The film prominently features DeCuir’s favorite instrument, the theremin.
Kate Jaceldo, Compost Queen
Alchemist Kate Jaceldo is the co-founder of Compost Queens, a company that transforms food waste into compost. A special education teacher, social worker, and transition facilitator for a public school district, her passion for a sustainable food system and concerns about the climate crisis radically changed her course. Born and raised in South Texas, the Compost Queen seeks to save the planet – or at least San Antonio – one bucket at a time.
Gabriel Ibarra, corporate chef/partner
Gabriel Ibarra is a corporate chef and managing partner of Cappy’s, Cappyccino’s, La Fonda on Main, and Mama’s Café. Ibarra lovingly credits his mom as his first inspiration in his interest in the culinary arts. “My mom’s cooking was horrible, so it was either eat her bad food or learn to cook,” he said. He is an advocate for fair wages for restaurant employees, self reliance and growing your own food, and sustainability in the food supply chain.
Jess Elizarraras, curiosity connoisseur
Since moving to San Antonio in 2004 to attend UTSA, Elizarraras spent the last decade writing about (and eating her way through) her adopted city. The Rio Grande Valley native enjoys climbing giant towers of seafood and putting too much Lucas on her fruit cups. Now as the chief engagement officer for Dorćol Distilling + Brewing Co., she is exploring the fascinating world of marketing, public relations, and event planning.
Ben Yanto, animal adoption advocate
Ben Yanto is a photographer and animal lover who has made San Antonio his home for the last 16 years. In what started as a social media plea to help rescue a dog from a local shelter in 2014, he discovered that through his photography, he could help connect potential adopters with needy pups. To date, he has welcomed more than 185 foster dogs into his home, in addition to the four dogs that permanently reside with him.
Gabriela Santiago, educator
A fiercely creative self-starter with a focus on education, Gabriela Santiago develops pedagogical programming that weaves together a network of interdisciplinary resources to make learning engaging, accessible, and relevant – evidence that meaningful experiences have enduring effects. A certified EC-12 career educator, Santiago has designed and facilitated inquiry-based classroom and museum curriculum, out-of-school programming, and interactive public works for all ages. She is wrapping up a wonderful school year at Lamar Elementary. Outside of her artist/educator habits, Santiago is always looking for an excuse to spend time on a Texas river with her pup, Turkey.