J. Matt Thomas and Richard Spera introduced the Pecha Kucha "20 slides x 20 seconds each" format to Taos in 2011.
Volume 27, titled "Things That Matter," comes to the Taos Community Auditorium Thursday (June 14). Doors open at 6 p.m. for guests to enjoy pre-show snacks, music and Pecha Kucha's literal translation, "chit-chat." Show time is 7 p.m.
While most volumes have been curated by the organizers themselves, they have sometimes handed over the reins to guest curators. Thus, "Things That Matter" is curated by Marjorie Luckey and Janie Farmer.
"Marjorie and Janie approached us with 'Things That Matter,' and we were excited for it right away," Thomas said. "We really heard it as a question to the community, hopefully empowering others to stand up for what matters to them."
Luckey spoke about the Taos United group, to which she and Farmer belong. "The idea of curating a Pecha Kucha was born out of our ideals as an organization: to bring our diverse community together in one place, to celebrate the richness of our diversity. It's going to take our whole community and our world to stand for what we believe in."
"For me, 'things that matter' means our community and the variety of people and issues that our community embraces," Farmer said. "What we hope people will come away with is an appreciation that we have a lot more in common than differences."
• Artist Maye Torres will be presenting with Silver City blues vocalist Edie Steed, who began singing here in Taos. "Our topic for 'what matters' is: Renaissance 20/20," Torres said. "It will be a global renaissance that will shift the present paradigm."
• Pascualito Maestas is an educator, economist, mathematician, activist, veterans' advocate, husband and father. As of March, 2018, he is also the youngest Taoseño ever to be elected to serve on Taos' Town Council. He will be presenting on a range of forward-thinking topics.
• Daniel Escalante described himself as "Chicano, parent and grandparent, Llano Quemado resident, carpintero, member of Taos Interfaith Intercultural Alliance, founder of Taos Reading to End Racism, organizer with Regeneration Festival, director of Casa Taos Retreat and Training Center, group facilitator and anti-oppression trainer. Escalante's take on Things That Matter: the importance of taking a stand. "Society has conditioned us to fear taking a stand," he said. "This can and must be unlearned."
• Common Grounds features Taos High School and UNM student activists, including poets Nianna McCracken and Michaela Lewis, and Jill Cline. Common Grounds is a youth outreach project of St. James Episcopal Church.
• Mary Alice Martinez told us, "I'm a proud Tiwa woman from Taos Pueblo believing in family and family values, always preserving and representing my indigenous Taos Pueblo Identity. I enjoy political involvement by registering voters, promoting candidates I believe in, and being part of political process by serving as Democratic precinct chair 13."
• C.J. Bernal and Megan Yackovich have been pushing the boundaries of traditional dance forms. "Megan and I are excited to be presenting at Pecha Kucha this year," said Bernal. "The title of our presentation is 'Collaborative Movement Matters.' We will be talking about the importance of dance and dance education in Taos and why collaboration is important living in a rural community."
• Lyla June Johnston will present on the topic of indigenous food sovereignty matters. "I'm a educator, anthropologist, human ecologist, poet and musician originally from Taos, New Mexico," Johnston said. "I'm looking forward to showing Taos ways in which it can stand behind the traditional food ways of indigenous peoples. The current network, overseen by a few corporations, is inherently unsustainable."
• Siena Sanderson will be co-presenting 'Children Matter,' with Taylor Etchemendy and recently re-elected Magistrate Judge Jeff Shannon. The reality is that things have really improved for children in the United States overall, but we have much to do to continue to make the lives of children safe and fulfilling," Sanderson said. Judge Shannon will speak about children and the juvenile justice system.
• Jose Adrian Gonzalez, along with Sanderson, is active in Los Cumbres Community Services, an organization whose mission is "to provide quality services, public awareness and integrated community supports" for New Mexico families. Gonzalez also works with families of students at Enos Garcia Elementary School.
• Dawning Pollen Shorty is a Taos Pueblo-raised artist and educator known for her innovative work in micaceous clay, for which she has won countless awards. She is a longtime artist-in-residence and art educator at Taos Public Schools. She will be presenting on "Art and Unity."
-- Tom Madden was an Associated Press reporter in Washington, D.C., for years before relocating to Taos. He is active in Taos United and will speak about political and constitutional concerns.
-- The Imagine Choir includes singers Kate Harris, JoJo Ortiz and Leah Epstein. "It is so very important for us all to recognize that we must come together to accept and honor our differences,so as to be able to create the world we all want to live in," Harris said.
Volume 27 will feature instrumental music by The High Desert Acoustic Duo, featuring Mark Dudrow and Justin Dean.
Food will be provided by Quechua Peruvian Restaurant. Quechua's Trotsky Barreto was born in Lima, Peru, and arrived in the United States at 22 years old. "I met my wife in Los Angeles not long after my arrival. We've opened our first restaurant in Taos with the purpose of sharing the love of my culture with other people, involving ourselves with the community and bringing more than just delicious food to the table. Thanks to all of the blessings this past year, we will be opening a second restaurant in July 2018."
"The great joy having done this is getting to know how talented, committed and involved people are in trying to make our community and our world a better place," said Luckey. "There are so many wonderful people here."
Tickets are $10 at the door. The Taos Community Auditorium is located at 145 Paseo del Pueblo Norte. For information, call (575) 758-2052.