A crowd of 500 adults, children and more than a few dogs poured into Hemisfair‘s Yanaguana Garden Tuesday to listen to the rapid-fire storytelling that is PechaKucha.

The free, signature event was previously set for May 31, but was rescheduled due to inclement weather. Tuesday’s night weather was perfect for what was only the second PechaKucha to take place outdoors. PechaKucha 18 was staged at the Arneson River Theater in May 2015.

Guests browse paleta options for a dessert during the grand opening of Paleteria San Antonio. Photo by Scott Ball.
Guests browse paleta options for a dessert during the grand opening of Paleteria San Antonio. Photo by Scott Ball.

The evening program happily coincided with the grand opening of Paleteria San Antonio in the historic Pereida House at 598 S. Alamo St. The lines of people eager to try a flavorful paleta were as long as lines for beer and water. It appeared to be a banner night for the first new business to open up shop in Hemisfair.

In partnership with Las Casas Foundation, PechaKucha 22 featured Hemisfair’s director of real estate, a former career U.S. Army medic, a landscape architect, the founder of the city’s biggest social bike ride, a documentary filmmaker and educator, an artivist and vegan restaurateur, and an entrepreneur and community builder who took to the stage to share a project, concept, or their life story in 20 slides lasting 20 seconds each. Yogipreneur Kristal Cuevas from Southtown Yoga Loft was unable to attend due to family reasons and will appear on the August program.

Pechakucha takes place in more than 800 places around the world. It originally started in Tokyo in 2003, the brainchild of two expatriate architects. Every quarter, San Antonio hosts PechaKucha and invites eight people from different backgrounds to share their stories. As emcee and WOAI-TV NEWS4SA anchor Randy Beamer noted last night, “Some are funny, some are sad, some are supposed to be funny, well, just play along.”

The event was slated to begin at 8:30 p.m., but organizers waited a bit longer for darkness to fall to give audience members a clear view of the projected slides accompanying each presentation.

Beamer’s co-host was Kory Cook, music director at KRTU-FM.

For a full list of speakers and their respective bios click here.

Below you can find a few highlights from this season’s Pechakucha:


Gonzalez, a San Antonio native who went off to University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and then on to Stanford for a graduate degree, met his wife, Selsabeel Adham Gonzalez, a dentist, at Angkor Wat, a World Heritage site, while both were traveling through Cambodia. He went back in time to when he landed a job that involved a master plan to connect the four quadrants of the city on a 40-acre site that was once used for the 1968 World’s Fair. You guessed it, that job was at Hemisfair.

He described the building process behind Yanaguana Garden, touched upon how the city has become more transformative, and how Yanaguana has served to tell the story of what San Antonio is and means to all of us.


When Fermin was young, he was sent to Fort Sam Houston for training, and throughout his life he has always found himself returning to San Antonio. Today he happily resides in Southtown.

Fermin called his presentation a “thank you note to San Antonio,” as he reflected on the close-knit community he has found in Southtown, one where local artists have contributed to the landscape and who have personally inspired him over the years.

“My neighbours are my friends, except the ones that don’t appreciate our parties,” he said.


Kearney’s “chit chat” focused on childhood play, which inspired her to become a landscape architect in the first place. A lover of the outdoors, her parents were hippies out of Austin “who grow their own vegetables, grass-fed beef, and free-range children,” Kearney said.

Kearney applauded Yanaguana and mentioned other similar developments already in place or in the works, all of which encourage self-directed play and give children a deep appreciation for the natural world. Kearney added that children who play outside are healthier, both physically and mentally, and also perform better in school.


Moore talked about his life-changing decision to leave the couch and T.V. behind and ride a bike downtown instead.

Currently Moore is a part of SATX Social Ride, a diverse group of bikers that has grown to more than 300 riders. Moore rallied the audience to remind themselves that cyclists are normal people and should be respected on the streets.

The next step for the city, according to Moore, is to use our voices for bike infrastructure and bike safety as cyclists have a legal right to be on the road just like any other form of transportation.


Mariposa expressed pride for her heritage and talked of her struggles in a world controlled by ads that inhibit us from forming our own personal views or opinions on certain issues. She pondered on the cards stacked up against her in a world that “wasn’t made for brown women,” and all of the walls she has encountered, but retraced her journey of positive self-discovery by mentioning the books, meditations, and inspiring words that other people shared with her.

“Be the tortilla that puffs up,” Mariposa said. “Don’t let anyone hold you down.”


Lerma highlighted all of the shortcuts he has taken in his filmmaking career when it comes to special effects and expressing his vision on a limited budget. He emphasized the importance of being resourceful and surrounding oneself with friends and colleagues that help make ideas into reality.

In the end, the right people will help you attain the results you want and make it happen, he said.


“Where we live not only influences how we live, but also how long we live,” French said. “Physical communities impact our health and well-being.”

He applauded Yanaguana Garden as a good example of these overarching ideas, a special place where communities gather to share ideas, recreate, or recharge together.

Let’s mentally challenge the status quo and think about where and why we live in a certain place, let’s rebuild our community and refill our neighborhoods,” French added. “Refilling neighborhoods is the way to deliver housing for everyone; we are all community builders, together we can change the world.”


Disclosure: The Rivard Report is a media sponsor of PechaKucha San Antonio.

*Top image: Director of Real Estate at Hemisfair Omar Gonzales speaks to his journey that led him back to San Antonio.  Photo by Scott Ball. 

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