UFV Theatre assistant professor Parjad Sharifi makes his PechaKucha pitch the Creative Chilliwack event held at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre last Thursday.

Column: Tapping into Chilliwack’s entrepreneurial hum

PechaKucha format provides a quick and refreshing look at Chilliwack's creative heart.

Creativity can’t happen in a vacuum. It takes a community of ideas, bouncing off each other like atoms in a reactor until something new and exciting emerges.

That’s the premise behind Chilliwack’s Creative Commission.

What began as the Chilliwack Film Commission has morphed into something that looks beyond movie and television opportunities for the city. Although film remains an important component, the commission’s new mandate has grown much broader.

Just how broad was evident last week at the group’s second “PechaKucha.”

PechaKucha has its origins in Tokyo, where young designers would use the technique to quickly and concisely make presentations to their peers.

The format is simple: Presenters offer 20 images every 20 seconds, using each image as a backdrop for their discussion before moving on to the next. The result is a collection of ideas and insights assembled in a tight, eloquent package.

Since its start in 2003, PechKuchas have been informing, enlightening and entertaining people around the world. Events have been held in more than 900 cities.

On Thursday last week it was Chilliwack’s turn. Rotary Hall at the Chilliwack Cultural Centre was packed as guests waited to hear from 10 local artists, entrepreneurs and industry experts.

It was my first time to see the PechaKucha format and it was impressive. Hosted by commission chair Ian Fenwick, the evening moved swiftly with only a short introduction between speakers. Questions were left for the informal gathering after the presentations.

But more impressive than the format, frankly, was the content. It was a reminder of Chilliwack’s economic and artistic depth, but also an education on the entrepreneurial hum that exists behind the scenes.

The free event featured presentations from multimedia artist Brunella Battista, Sto:lo business owner and entrepreneur Francine Douglas, Chilliwack Museum executive director Matthew Francis, local greenhouse operator and Fragro Herbs partner Julie Head, UFV Theatre assistant professor Parjad Sharifi, software developer Colin Schmidt, Fraser Valley Regional Library CEO Scott Hargrove, InSuits Marketing CEO Chris Webber, Murphy Aircraft production manager Tyler Penner, and acclaimed artist Chris Woods.

If that ensemble sounds impressive, their collective passion was even more inspiring.

Individually they have all achieved extraordinary success. Murphy Aircraft, for example, has gained worldwide recognition for aircraft design; Fragro herbs, with their distinctive label, are available in nearly every greenhouse; Schmidt, in addition to his software company Cnawlece Incorporated, is fostering monthly meetups and breakfasts aimed at making Chilliwack the hub of tech-driven industry and innovation.

Guests were reminded about the importance of the past, their connection to the present, and the potential for the future.

They were given insights into the creative process, and its application in our community.

The result, for me, was a renewed appreciation for Chilliwack’s potential, and a reminder that our collective success is limited only by our imagination.

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