I just got off of I-95, returning from the Converge South conference on the campus of North Carolina A & T University, an historically black university in Greensboro, North Carolina - a city that will be a stop on the BlogHer 2008 Reach Out Tour.
I'd never been to Greensboro before, and had no idea that it's known as "Blogsboro". Who knew? Not me - 'til now. The conference itself was a really cool mix of the political and personal, intensely local, regional, and - with the addition of speakers from the West Coast and attendees like me who drove in from outside of North Carolina - national, too.
I can report that the ladies made news at Converge South this year. Elisa Camahort, BlogHer's co-founder and COO, gave a keynote speech today about how blogs are changing the world, and then spoke on a panel about social networking with Ruby Sinreich from Orange Politics and Soni Pitts, a business blogger who's taking some time off to work with Americorps. Anil Dash of Six Apart was slated for the panel, but a cancelled flight kept him from attending, and the other two women were perfect pinch-hitters.
I wrote a wrap-up of today here, including Elisa's keynote and the panel. The post below it is a recap of Friday's activities, with a special shout-out to Chris Rabb of Afro-Netizen for speaking up in the interactive panel on the poor treatment that many women receive online. He said that he definitely receives hate mail, but it's nothing like what he sees sent the way of his female colleagues.
Oh, yeah - there were men there. Lots of them. Some of them were really cool, even, like Anton Zuiker, who is involved in North Carolina online communithy building and also has a storyblogging site for a project he's working on that has young people work with older adults to capture their histories digitally. He did a panel about it today but I missed it. But for our purposes here, naturally, I'm letting you know about the ladies.
EDIT, 10/21/07: I want to add a few notes from Elisa's keynote in case folks don't click through to the liveblog - because some wonderful women who are writing important things were mentioned, and I don't want to miss a chance to send you their way. Most of this is paraphrased from my blog, just a bit:
Elisa did a great job this morning going in-depth into how blogs change the world, with a focus on the "transformational quality of personal blogging."
Blogs are changing...How we age. How we survive. The way we make a living. The way we participate.
How we age...Elisa mentioned Millie Garfield and Ronni Bennett as examples of how older adults are getting online in larger numbers, and how writing about one's aging process is definitely approaching it in a different way than ever before. Here's a link to a shot of Ronni and Millie together, taken by Millie's son, Steve.
How we survive...People go through events, acute and chronic, online. Katherine Stone blogged through post-partum depression, a personal act that turned into activism.
Laurie blogs her experience with cancer, clearly among other things, at Not Just About Cancer.
Changing the way we make a living...Bloggers have business cards. They represent themselves as business people. Chloe Spencer and Elise Bauer have been financially successful with their blog efforts.
How we participate...Politicians realize that they ignore people in the blogosphere at their peril. Even nonpolitical blolggers are participating...Talking to millions of people, especially women, who can swing an election.
Blogs and Hurricane Katrina...Grace Davis managed some relief efforts from her Santa Cruz home, and the team of Cooper Munro and Emily McKhann started blogs to collect resources to send to people who lost so much on the Gulf Coast. Blogs got stuff to people before the Red Cross and FEMA did.
Chez Pim's A Menu for Hope has food bloggers gathering to raise money for UNICEF. Last year they raised $60,000 for the UN World Food Programme. (Pim left me a comment on my blog today to help me get the numbers and the organization right! Thanks, Pim.)
Amber Rhea liveblogged Elisa's keynote really well. Amber runs the Georgia Podcast Network along with her boyfriend Rusty Tanton, whom she met when she noticed his series of "terrible driveway pictures" on his blog. Amber is also the woman behind Sex 2.0, an unconference on the "intersection of social media, feminism and sexuality" slated for Atlanta in 2008.
Jayne England Byrne identified herself as a BlogHer on our
Health and Wellness blog list during Elisa's keynote. Her site illustrates one way that Elisa indicated blogs are changing the world by blogging her experience with cancer. She says,
I'm a breast cancer SURVIVOR & I live one day at a time. I'm also a freelance writer, incredibly happily married, and the mother of three amazing sons.
Sue Polinsky is one of the conference organizers and has updates, ruminations and wrap-ups over at Sue's Place. Sue set up the ConvergeSouth2007 Flickr group. Jude from Iddybud Journal took a bunch of photos and has them posted here.
I also had a good conversation with Donna Fryer, who's a podcaster and researcher, but not yet a blogger. She promises this will change by the time we come back to Greensboro next year.
Tiffany Jones at a Difference of Opinion wrote a recent post about Jena 6 and the spate of noose incidents on college campuses this year. She writes that she is "young, gifted and black," and clearly takes on important issues with heart and mind engaged.
Advocate for the homeless Cara Michelle Forrest of Chosen Fast was none too happy about what she perceived as bias against conservatives on one of the panels.
Here are some of the other women who attended. I didn't talk to them personally, but just from some quick glances I can tell there's some good content here.
Tiffany B. Brown writes about "Web development, web technology and internet culture with frequent detours into other stuff."
Betsy Muse from NCPolitico
Writer, internet trainer and "librarian without walls" Marylaine Block.
Jennifer Rollett from Organic Food and Fitness
Kristen Osha from Putting the Pieces Together
Sandy Carmany, Greensboro City Council member and blogger.
Janet Edens and Nancy Watterson from Xark.com.
Deb Rogers from Deb on the Rocks.
Farrah Hoffmire from Organic Process Productions
Mary Ann Ruggiero from Citizen Journalist Review
There were several students present from North Carolina A & T. Several of them do not have blogs listed, but I appreciated their participation and wish I could tell you more about them, too. Dr. Teresa Styles, from the journalism and mass communication department at the university, was a presenter.
Are you a Greensboro blogger not registered on BlogHer? Were you at the conference? Give us a shout - add your name to the bloglist - and we'll see you on the road next year.
Laurie White blogs at LaurieWrites.
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