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Green and bear it
by Muhammad Yusuf July 02, 2015
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1971 – Design Space, the multi-functional space dedicated to exhibitions and discussions on contemporary art, hosted its 7th PechaKucha night (PKN SHJ 7) on June 13. The popular event, named after the Japanese word for “chit-chat”, is held four times a year and allows all members of the public to share their initiatives and experiences in an expressive setting.

It was free of charge and open to anyone who wished to attend, and this time targeted members of the ‘green community’ who work in the field of environment protection and are involved in various UAE sustainability startup projects.

PKN SHJ 7 followed a 20x20 format, where each presenter had 20 seconds to show 20 images in a slide presentation to keep the evening running at a quick pace.

The topics that were chosen ranged from global warming, desert vegetation, Japanese fermentation processes and sustainable water supply, to bio-packaging, interior design and ethically produced clothing.

Those who spoke at the event were Matthew King, Co-founder of BaemBu, a performance apparel brand that is considered 100 per cent eco-conscious. BaemBu has the first t-shirts in the UAE made of bamboo and organic cotton. “We spend a lot of time ensuring our products can trace an ethical and sustainable path back to their origins, right through to the bamboo and cotton being organically grown”, said King.

Jo Marengo and Janine Sheard, founders of Bokashi, a home made method that uses a mix of micro-organisms to cover food waste to decrease smell, also took the stage to make their point. Bokashi derives from the practice of Japanese farmers centuries ago of covering food waste with rich, local soil that contains micro-organisms that ferments waste. After a few weeks, they would bury the waste. Some weeks later it would become soil.

The tall and imposing Tatiana Abella, Founder and Managing Director of GOUMBOOK, an online information platform and a reference point on green practices for environmentally conscious people and businesses across the UAE and the Gulf region, spoke about the goodness of the ghaf. The ghaf tree, she noted, took little water, but gave immense benefits. GOUMBOOK has a “gift a ghaf” programme, where it supplies ghaf seedlings to whoever would like to plant them.  

Ameera Al Haranki, a student from Ras Al Khaimah who completed a journey to Antarctica and witnessed the effects of global warming spoke about seeing sea lions and the perils of overheating the environment. Amal Taryam, a student at the American University of Sharjah who has helped create contemporary interior designs out of recycled wood and Lamis Harib, green designer and entrepreneur behind the first Arab owned bio-disposables design and supply business, BioD Packing & Packaging, also made informative presentations. 

Ada Natoli, founder of the Dolphin Watch Project, spoke about the results of the first ever dolphin survey conducted in Dubai waters and how the public could actively contribute to science by helping protect this species.

Ryan Ingram of Banyan Tree, Ras Al Khaimah, presented a talk on responsible tourism and the road to sustainable development. Alya Al Hamad at Diamond Developers talked about The Sustainable City development in Dubai and inventor Ali Abdel-Hafez introduced iSolarWorkx, the first company in the UAE dedicated to teaching the young generation about solar energy and how it can be applied.

The youngest presenter, Abdul Muqeet, a high school student known as the ‘paper bag boy’, spoke passionately about how he applied his own initiative and imagination to create recycled carry bags, using discarded newspapers. His presentation perhaps won the loudest round of applause – which included support from his co-presenters.  

Randah Taher, Founder of YomiCal, showcased her homemade, colourful stationery made from 100 per cent recyclable materials.

Speaking about the event, Dana Al Sadek, PKN SHJ organiser, said: “Pecha Kucha Nights is a great platform for those who aim to make a difference in their communities to share their creative thoughts and projects in a casual and fun setting.

“This was the first themed PKN event, and we received many impressive applications from prospective presenters, which proved the importance of sustainability in our daily lives”.

PechaKucha or Pecha Kucha chit-chat is a presentation style in which, normally, 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds each (six minutes and 40 seconds in total). The format, which is also elastic as it can be extended or contracted as the situation demands, keeps presentations concise and fast-paced, powering multiple-speaker events.

A typical PechaKucha Night includes eight to 14 presentations. In each presentation, 20 slides are shown for 20 seconds. Organisers in some cities have added their own variations to the format. The audience is usually from the design, architecture, photography, art and creative fields, but could also include people from academia.

Most presenters who participate are design professionals showing their creative work. They often speak of such topics as their travels, research projects, student projects, hobbies, collections, or other interests. Video art is also presented at some events.

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