Archive for the 'Blogher' Category

Winter Projects

I turned in my application to the MA history program with an exciting proposal to collect oral histories from the last women to give birth on Pelee Island,Ontario, back in the 1950s. By then most women were relocating to either mainland Ontario (Leamington or Windsor) or to Ohio to give birth. Pelee Cottage SunsetI’m excited because there’s a personal connection – my grandmother was one of the last women to give birth at home on the island (to my father). Even though she died over 10 years ago from breast cancer, I feel connected to her through this project. It also means I’ll get to go to Pelee to talk to people and talking to the older generation of islanders is always a hoot. (photo credit Jonath, Click the image to go to the photo’s flickr page.)

I’m working on a directed study this semester, cross-listed between the Women’s Studies and History departments about how the emerging technologies of blogs and user-generated media have changed the form and content of communications between mothers and information about mothering. I’m not a mommyblogger but I’ve followed the flurry with interest since BlogHer 2005 where it was identified as a radical act by Finslippy. I’ve watched La Leche League change from a personal mother-to-mother organization for breastfeeding help to an organization with a strong emphasis on online helping and information sharing – including providing mothers and health care professionals with links to Dr. Jack Newman’s video clips for help with latch and positioning and the online Community Network for leaders, and forums for mothers. It’s still mother-to-mother, but it’s changed. Online communities help with the sense of isolation mothers can feel after having a baby, but the technology changes the style and who has access to helping. The project is still too large and it’s hard to cut out pieces of the research in order to make the project more manageable, but it’s getting there.

I’ve begun writing a summer project grant that will (hopefully) allow me to make podcasts of historical Canadian texts in the public domain. I’m excited about it and hope to work with Toronto’s Mitchell Girio for production quality and also hoping for some original music from Mitch and some local Windsor artists. I’ve had some skeptical response to the idea from traditional historians who wonder if people would actually be interested in downloading and listening to Canadian history on an mp3 player — but I see it as a great way to encourage interest in our past — and to give attention to works that maybe haven’t been included in the traditional canon of what is Canadian History. I think it’s incredibly exciting and of course, you never know until you try. I know I would do it, and I know my kids would be into it too. That’s enough for now, for me.

Actiongirls is getting busy too. We’ve planned a pile of Stitch n Bitch sessions with more to come. This project is slowly attracting community interest. There was a reporter from the Windsor Star at our meeting yesterday who asked plenty of baited/leading questions. No doubt there will be an article filled with misquotes in the paper on Monday. /sigh/

So… I’ve discovered that there are places where people with ideas like mine gather and brainstorm and plan and Norther Voice Banner develop and change the world. One of the conferences I’m trying to get to is later this month: Norther Voice 2007. They’re offering a travel subsidy (deadline today, Feb 2 at 12 PST). I never considered that I might be able to go to this since travel across Canada is crazy expensive but when I found out about the funding assistance I decided I should try. With the bursary I could get there and learn and contribute my experience as a women’s-studies-history-IT-student-mom-activist-artist-geek. Without it, there will be nothing but homework and dishes and laundry for me until I save more pennies. Maybe it will help me sort out where I’m headed, trying to combine computer science, history, feminism, activism, and art. Either way I’d get to see the Rockies.

Not a mommyblogger, not a Jane

I’m on my way home from BlogHer 2006 and realizing that there are a lot of things I am not. Mostly today I know I’m not a mommyblogger.

Mommy/parent blogging does have incredible potential to support new parents in what can be overwhelming isolation and a shocking discovery that babies are not all crisp cotton, cute bunny flannel, and eyelet lace. But there was a sense that BlogHer 2006 was a mommyblog love-in. I know mommy bloggers are plentiful and organized into communities and websites and it makes sense that many would want to attend BlogHer to meet their blog crushes, friends, etc., but… they’re a tough clique to crack – and not all women desire these things. I felt like I was crashing a party or like Hermie the wanna-be dentist elf who just didn’t fit in.

I don’t think I’ve made enough of an effort to really find a place in any blogging community in particular. I’ve been a blog hermit and a blog transient: I read daily, I write occasionally, but mostly I keep to myself. I can make a conscious effort to try to break out of my hermit ways but what about the many other non-mommybloggers there this weekend? I wish someone had organized a session that would have taken on some of the heavier issues that were only brushed upon this weekend. I thought the feminist blogger birds of a feather session might have done this but it was over before it really got going. Maybe had I attended the post BlogHer Woolfcamp…

It takes a certain amount of confidence to walk up to someone and start talking. It takes a belief that you have something worthwhile to share and/or enough courage to say ftw if no one cares. BlogHer was just too big for me. I would have done better with some smaller break-out sessions – though maybe these happened in other sessions and I missed them. How many other bloggers are introverted and have a hard time jumping in to large group discussions? The long days with back-to-back sessions wore me out. I know that many, many bloggers are insightful and intelligent and I would have loved to talk to more of them.

I also know that I’m not a Jane. I’ve done home repairs (and foresee many more in my future) but I get sweaty and I swear when it gets rough. Which, at my house happens quickly. My tools are crummy because many of them used to live outside on my grandparents’ farm. The house really should have fallen down at least a generation ago. Keeping it standing is not an exciting weekend project, it’s an ongoing struggle that I’d rather not think about. It’s far from a girls’ night pajama party but maybe that’s because I’m not staining my driveway or hanging a shelf, I’m dealing with a rotting foundation. A rotting foundation that I’m very happy to have considering the stats for single mothers in Canada.

BlogHer highlights for me: drinks on the patio Friday night and finding out Saturday morning that one of those awesome women writes arse poetica (one of the first feeds I ever grabbed!!!) and meeting the great and multiblogous Sour Duck at the Day 2 welcome.

Getting Ready for BlogHer 2006

BlogHer begins in 4 days. Here are some of the things I’ve been doing to get ready (in no particular order):

  • Choose sessions! (Day One) here and (Day Two) here. So many things look interesting and I’m not sure how I’ll manage to be in more than one place at a time. I’m really hoping that all the sessions I don’t end up going to will be podcasted so that I can catch them later.
  • Pack. Am I really going to get up that early for yoga? At least I have the change in time zone going for me. Only with that on my side do I stand a chance. And all this talk about tiaras and ball gowns – yikes!
  • Plan what to do for the extended vacation before and after the official conference. (San Francisco) and (San José) is good for this and so is 43places (San Francisco) or (San José).

I know I want to go to Sunday Lindy in the Park – anyone else? Every Sunday there’s a free Swing dance/Lindy Hop in Golden Gate Park in San Francisco from 11 am – 2:00 pm with a free beginner/refresher lesson at 12:30. I love swing dancing (any dancing for that matter) and outdoors in California sounds like the perfect venue. Maybe there’ll be swing dancing by the BlogHer poolside. Now that would be cool BlogHer style networking.

I’m still looking for good Thai, Indian and other vegan-friendly restaurants – please leave a suggestion in the comments if you have a recommendation. Will travel for good food!

Mt Tam, taken by kodama

Other things I’m hoping to do include basking in some redwood shade and maybe hitting a beach or two (the second link may be nsfw). My friend Marilyn from Oregon says Muir Wood is too over run by tourists so I’m leaning towards Mount Tam. Rob isn’t afraid of tourists I guess since he wants to check out Fisherman’s Wharf.

See how easy it is to get distracted from work when a a trip like this must be planned? It’s so easy to get lost surfing all the cool things there are to do when you go travelling. Only problem is that if I don’t finish the work that needs doing before I can leave I won’t be able to leave! Back to getting ready . . .

  • Eat all the food in the fridge so that there’s nothing stinky or scary greeting you at the door when you return. Clean the toilet. Same reason.
  • Download and listen to all of last year’s podcasts from the BlogHer sessions. Especially if you couldn’t attend you might want to catch up and see what you missed. Offerings include:
  • Try to pack but get sucked into World of Warcraft because you just learned some really cool tailoring recipes and people at the auction house reeeeeeeeeally need new clothes. Anyone up for creating a BlogHer WoW guild and going on a raid at the conference?
  • Water the garden (put it on a timer maybe?), arrange for someone to look after the children and pets, let students and employers know that you will be out of town and unavailable Until Further Notice (or sometime next week, whichever you prefer).
  • Set some clear goals for the conference. Remember when you first started your blog or registered for the conference? Why did you do it? Has that changed at all? Use this to figure out what you want to gain from BlogHer 2006. Maybe it’s technical skills? building some community? making new friends? something else specific even if it’s only to step away from the computer? Meet up with your favourite bloghers maybe? Change the world? Dismantle patriarchy? No goal is too large for BlogHers united.

Be prepared to answer questions like:

  • Who are you?
  • Where do you blog? (i.e. the URL, though your hometown works here too.)
  • What’s your blog about? and the follow-up: What’s that?/What does that mean?
  • and the 20-million dollar question this year: Why do you blog?

It might also be helpful to have a list of questions to ask people in those awkward moments when you’re side-by-side and frozen by shyness and cannot think of anything to say. Tuck a cheat sheet into your sleeve or get a tattoo if you’re really worried. Here are some ideas:

  • Who are you?
  • Where do you blog? (followed by, “No, I mean what’s your URL?” unless you really were after their hometown.)
  • What’s your blog about? and the follow-up: What’s that?
  • and of course

  • Why do you blog?

Questions not to ask and things not to say:

  • Have I ever read your blog? ~Really, how would anyone know that but you????
  • You’re not at all what I pictured! ~You’re likely to send a blogher into fits of self deprecation for not measuring up to audience expections if you say this. Don’t do it!

(I will do my best to not say any of these things.)

I really want to have a clear and concise answer prepared for when asked what my blog is about. I also need to make some more contact cards. Hmmmm.


Add to list:

  • Bring contact/business cards

Further things I know I have to do:

  • Charge camera batteries
  • Empty flash cards
  • Clean up laptop and flash drive, backup important files
  • start a list of all those last minute things that can’t be done until the last minute that I don’t want to forget.
  • and very important! update the blogs!

Only 4 more days!!!!

Yay Canadian BlogHers!!!

Hooray for Kate!

After BlogHer 2005 (which I could not attend) I got really keen for bringing it to Canada. I talked with the team at BlogHer and they put me in contact with Alexandra Samuel. Unfortunately my house was robbed right as the excitement was building and with no computer it was a challenge to keep up the momentum. Then the new semester began and here it is April…

Luckily Kate has started up with the idea and there is interest! I’m so excited – it will be a great way to meet other bloghers, and a fabulous way to share the work of planning.

Doing too much (again)

I don’t know how it happens. Last week I was enjoying a visit from my oldest and dearest friend and her son, cooking meals and eating them sitting down. I had clean laundry and exciting plans for the upcoming semester. Now it’s four days into classes, I’m overwhelmed by assignment due dates, already behind in the readings, falling asleep all over the place, giving up on a grant application, dropping plans everywhere, bailing on lunchdates with friends and just generally sinking into depression. Luckily the kids are still fed and mostly have clean things they can wear so I know it’s not that serious.

I drift between feeling great/wanting to do all the things I’ve ever dreamed of and wanting to hide and never come out. I keep surfing to the BlogHer site and dreaming about going to the 2006 conference. I imagine all the things I could learn, all the cool discussions that will take place, and all the amazing women I could meet. I even checked out the hotel site and the assorted cheap flight sites. I want to go. I do. But I just can’t bring myself to do it. Read more »

Blogging from the poorhouse – Blogher 2006

Blogher 2006 has been announced so mark your calendars: July 28 and July 29, 2006. Sour Duck has asked the question of how to get economically disadvantaged women to the conference this year. If you scroll down here to the comment section you can read Lisa Stone’s response which includes what helped last year. Some of the solutions included donations, free passes in trade for volunteer hours, and sponsorship.

If you have any ideas on how to help cover the costs of Blogher for those who can’t afford to jet set across the country, continent, or globe, contact Blogher and help open doors.

Regarding the challenge of poverty, I really feel strongly about blogging as a people’s media. I like to read opinion blogs, but I get a lot more out of experience blogs, or when the two are brought together. I like to read about what is happening in the world based on people’s real lived experiences. I like it when practice shows theory – after all, the personal is political only if made so.

Access to blogging does suggest a certain minimum level of prosperity. There is an inherent technology required for blogging, and to own that technology can be expensive. As universal access increases however (at least in the western world) public libraries and computer centres are helping to minimize the need to own your own computer. But still. Blogging from the poorhouse is important and should be supported. Read more »