Blogher 1, Dust Settling

Let me begin by saying what an amazing time I had at BlogHer 09, and how vividly I remember staring at my computer screen longingly last summer as the tweets flew by. But as a new blogger who’d just spent a chunk of change getting up and running, it didn’t make sense. So I was thrilled to be finally meeting many of the blog friends and heroes I’ve come to know through their posts.

Maybe it’s always been like this, or maybe a year made a big difference. But there was a lot of tension, and some full-on drama, surrounding some of the events and personalities at BlogHer. It can almost overshadow the good when viewed online. After all, negative events make for better, more dramatic tweets. But it would be a shame if that were all that came across from BlogHer 09. Telling Dad did an incredibly cool song that pretty much sums all of that mess up. He does it so well, I won’t drag you through my blow by blow. (Literally!) Watch this, and then come back after the jump for the upside.

So. A bunch of mommy blogger swag hos, whacking each other over sex toys and laundry detergent, and aggressively bleating their sponsor info at unsuspecting fellow attendees. Maybe, but wait, there’s more.

I was a mic wrangler for the International Activist Scholarship Panel. I watched in awe as the women, from vastly different backgrounds and countries, shared one common theme: a mission to use their voices to lift up their communities.

I thought of what the dollars spent on swag could do for their countries, and envisioned a future partnership where sponsors delegate some of their conference budget to the scholarship recipient’s causes, or causes by American blogger activists. And where the International Activist Scholarship honorees are put front and center at the Community Keynote, because they deserved to be seen and heard by everyone. They came from across the world, and it was sad to know folks were sprawled in the aisles in some of the business panels down the hall.

I was thrilled to see BlogHer founders Lisa Stone and Elisa Camahort in the session, and I honor their commitment to the program. But, as one American woman stood up and said as tears ran down her face, “They deserve to be in the ballroom- people need to hear this. WE NEED TO HEAR THIS.”

I agree, and am so grateful that I was in that room. I don’t know that I would have been, had I not been assigned it. I may have been off trying to learn some more branding or marketing or packaging or what have you, and while I know there’s a place for that, I think there’s a place for so much more, as well.

The entitlement of some individuals around snatching free items was disheartening. All that people are entitled to is air, food, water and shelter, and you know what, swag hags? You’re in a little slice of the world where most of us have those things. We’re pretty lucky. It was amazing to see women where much different circumstances are a reality, and the dignity they emanated.

But I really believe there were more community minded people at BlogHer than materially, and many bloggers, marketers and PR professionals I met were absolutely wonderful. I’ll be in NYC in 2010 for sure.

I’m also taking a step to make sure it’s clear which side of the mommy blogger divide I fall on. I’ve placed a “Blog WIth Integrity” badge in my sidebar. It’s about adhering to basic print journalistic standards regarding disclosures and product receipt, and letting readers know that’s my practice. As a working print journalist, I always have disclosed on this site, I just want to make it even more apparent.

Thanks to the amazing women who are leading the charge in bringing the pendulum back to center- Susan Getgood, Liz Gumbinner, Kristen Chase, and Julie Marsh. You saw an issue that many have lamented, and gave others a concrete step in the right direction. That makes you community activists of a sort, and I appreciate you using your megaphones for more than your own gain.

WIthout further ado, I bring you the International Activists:

Annie Zaidi, India

Blog Mission:”to use writing to force people to rethink positions or examine established ideas, and to break stereotypes about certain communities or groups based on gender, religion or race.”

Cristina Quisbert, Bolivia

Blog Mission: “The mission of this blog is to strive to show indigenous communities as a source of pride. There are a lot of misconceptions about indigenous people, and Cristina shows a more personal side and uses her own voice to represent other members of indigenous communities in the Bolivian Altiplano.”

Toyin Ajao-Dawodu, Nigeria

Blog Mission:”To provoke more thorough examination and investigation of gender and equality issues. She also writes a weekly series highlighting other women around the globe who are committed to helping women.”

Pilirani Semu-Banda
, Malawi

Blog Mission:”To bring awareness and change to Malawi’s social and economical problems. Some development projects have been kick-started based on stories published on the blog, including the improvement of monitoring programs to get rid of child labour in the tobacco industry and an increase of treatment to women suffering from fistula.”

Thanks for hanging through this loooooooong post. Check those ladies out, please- they’re amazing.

I greatly appreciate my partial sponsor for BlogHer, Daymon Worldwide, a nationally renowned private food label marketer. I appreciated even more them “getting” this space so deeply that it’s about a conversation between brand and blogger, and not expecting evangelizing at the conference. Thank you!

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Comments (27)

  1. JenniferG Wednesday - 29 / 07 / 2009 Reply
    I am where you were last year. I was obsessed with Tweets, Flicr accounts and all of that. I admit, I was feeling a little disheartened about the whole thing until I read this post. Thanks for giving me the desire to be at Blogher '10 again! .-= JenniferG´s last blog ..Now You Know How Much I Love You…An Open Letter To My Children =-.
  2. Ri, MusicSavvyMom Wednesday - 29 / 07 / 2009 Reply
    I am SO standing up and cheering for you right now!! Excellent, beautiful, uplifting post!! I had been really jealous of the BlogHer attendees prior to the conference, and eagerly awaited recaps. As I've read many, I've begun to think that the change I've been saving for BlogHer 2010 might be better spent elsewhere. Some of the stories I heard have frankly "squicked me out". *Yes, that's a technical term.* But now? Not only will I be at BlogHer 2010 in NYC, I am officially going to start petitioning, lobbying and if necessary, bribing you to be my roommate. So...stand by. Rock On, Mama! .-= Ri, MusicSavvyMom´s last blog ..Guest DJ: Ash from Behind the Lens =-.
  3. Pocklock Wednesday - 29 / 07 / 2009 Reply
    Well said. Amen. THANK YOU. .-= Pocklock´s last blog ..Like No Shit, Big Brother =-.
  4. Catherine Wednesday - 29 / 07 / 2009 Reply
    I'm still not 100% sure about BlogHer'10, if only because I've come across so much coverage of this year's event that points to it being quite mommy-centric -nothing wrong with that, but it leaves single, family-less-by-choice women like myself cold. However, the opportunity to meet and interact with other female bloggers on an international level is an exciting prospect, and again, something that might motivate me to attend next year in NYC. It would be incredible to interact with some of the women you've mentioned here, doing such inspiring work on a global scale. Kudos, and continued success in keeping "the Janis flame" alive! .-= Catherine´s last blog ..Yummy Humpday =-.
  5. jodifur Wednesday - 29 / 07 / 2009 Reply
    Such a lovely post, and I wish I would have been in that room with you. Thank you for reminding me what it is about. I wish we could have spent more time to together. .-= jodifur´s last blog ..The Hardest Part Is Over =-.
  6. laurie Wednesday - 29 / 07 / 2009 Reply
    Thank you, Lindsay. I'm so glad I got to kick my weekend off with the plane/cab adventure with you. I met Cristina in the lobby with Elisa on my way back up to the room after breakfast on Sunday. I thought my heart couldn't be any fuller, honestly, after spending three days with women and ideas and opportunities I truly care about. Wrong. We had a lovely conversation, and I look forward to sharing her photography on very soon. She has communicated with me since returning to Bolivia. She does not have a community of bloggers at home. Just being there, for her, was an amazing opportunity - something we have in common because my guiding belief is "I GET to be here. It's up to me what I do with the gift." She writes about indigenous peoples, but is so obviously proud of her photo work and that was where we connected. I'm sorry I wasn't in that panel more than any of them besides the body image (and the comedy, honestly, because Deb is one of my sheroes), but I kind of let this experience take me where it would this year. Thanks for collecting them all here because I will be visiting. Other lenses are essential and it would do us well to remember that in other places (even here) women are not always free to share their thoughts and images without the world, without personal risk or cost on many levels. ANd I'm SO with you on this: "But I really believe there were more community minded people at BlogHer than materially, and many bloggers, marketers and PR professionals I met were absolutely wonderful. I’ll be in NYC in 2010 for sure." I've read a ton of comments from people saying "Oh wow, I'm glad I wasn't there." Or "Seems like I didn't miss anything, whew." And if they need to feel that way, cool, but you can't judge it based on the slices of crazy and beautiful that have been shared in so many words already online. It was what it was for all of us, and while some of the themes emerging are legit, it's the people and their perspectives that I was after and, as ever, got. .-= laurie´s last blog ..You're the deepest well I've ever fallen into =-.
  7. Blue Gal Wednesday - 29 / 07 / 2009 Reply
    I don't mind a bit if you out me as the American woman who cried at the international panel. I posted it at my place. Thanks for this post. Awakening and honesty is progress. .-= Blue Gal´s last blog ..This Post Brought To You By Liberty Mutual Insurance =-.
  8. Blue Gal Wednesday - 29 / 07 / 2009 Reply
    And yeah the title to that last blog post is IRONIC. ha.
  9. Jane Wednesday - 29 / 07 / 2009 Reply
    I think you're just about the coolest, most authentic person I've ever met. You do *everything* with integrity. Thank you for sharing this. .-= Jane´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday: Sunflowers =-.
  10. Marie Wednesday - 29 / 07 / 2009 Reply
    What a fantastic post. First, I have to say that I am sad we did not get a chance to meet as I so enjoyed our phone conversation a few weeks back. I wish I could've been at this panel - how inspiring! Aside from all the "drama" and the backlash, for me the most powerful portion of BlogHer was the community keynote. Having 20 bloggers read their thoughts and posts was truly an amazing experience. At the end of the day it was a great reminder about what bloggers contribute to the world and how they can affect people with using just words.
  11. Deb on the Rocks Wednesday - 29 / 07 / 2009 Reply
    Love the focus on the International Scholarship winners. Awesome. .-= Deb on the Rocks´s last blog ..BlogHer 09: Everybody Let Go, We Can Make a Dancefloor, Just Like a Circus =-.
  12. rockrollmama Wednesday - 29 / 07 / 2009 Reply
    You guys, thank you so, so much. I really appreciate you sharing your thoughts, and it's heartening to hear so many others who had a positive experience in the midst of the ruckus- and those who will have one next year.:) Jennifer- Can't wait to hopefully meet you in NY! Ri- So I guess I can stop looking for a roomie! (Save a spot for Brenda at Seriously Mama too., she broke her foot this year!) But we won't sleep, judging by our phone killing ways. PockLock- Thank you! It's nice to see you here.:) Catherine! I met SOOO many cool non-mommy bloggers, don't let the vocalness of that community in the space shake you- there's def. something for everyone. I hope to see you! Jodi: I KNOW!!! How did we do that? We need to have a mini MD Blogher again.) Laurie: That was the most perfect start to the weekend. I was so glad to have that time with you! Blue Gal: I was so glad you spoke up in there, I was going to cry. THANK YOU for speaking your heart and mind, and I'll out you in the post after lunch.: ) Jane: Wow. Coming from you, that means a know the respect I have for you and your family. Thank you. (Pricking pin in head to get through door.) PS Right back at you. Seriously. Marie: Thank you! I saw the Child's Play was sponsoring, which was awesome. I enjoyed our chat as well, and look forward to seeing you next year or sooner!:) I've heard so much about the community keynote, and cannot believe that I missed it...but was deep in conversation with several new friends by the river. Sigh. Blogher definitely made me want a teleporter. Deb! Thank you. You were SUCH A ROCK STAR this weekend, and I'm so glad I kept seeing you to huugggg! You guys rock. You, and others like you, are why I'll be there in 2010.
  13. Ellen G Wednesday - 29 / 07 / 2009 Reply
    RnRM, SO happy I met you at the conference. Even though it was when I was making sour lemon faces at a speaker. You're totally cool and I have enjoyed reading your blog. That's the great thing about BH - you never know who you're going to meet, but you are almost guaranteed to have something in common with the woman sitting next to you. GREAT post. I'm sorry I didn't go to that panel, and I'm glad you let everyone know what we missed. I'll be looking for the recap somewhere. Very proud of these women and that BH gave them a place for their voices to be heard. .-= Ellen G´s last blog ..A “Lovely” Giveaway =-.
  14. EvilSlutClique Wednesday - 29 / 07 / 2009 Reply
    Awesome post! We're so glad we got a chance to meet you. We weren't at the international activist scholarship panel, but luckily we're friends with BlueGal and she filled us in. We couldn't agree more with both of you about the importance of that and how much those women deserve to be featured more next year, and the opportunity that we have to put more focus on community and activism and less on...well, swag hagging. .-= EvilSlutClique´s last blog ..Nikon Does Not Hate Babies =-.
  15. Lee of MWOB Wednesday - 29 / 07 / 2009 Reply
    Why hello rock and roll mama! You came over to my place the other day and here I am at yours and wow. Lots to think about. I am bummed I missed that session but from what you say here I can totally say I agree with you that these international bloggers needed to be FEATURED! I would love to have heard them but who knows where I was? I was probably searching for some inspiration elsewhere....I found it at the Blogging as Storytelling session AND at the community keynote AND in the tons of cool women I met. I laughed at Telling Dad's spoof but really that was not my experience AT ALL. Thank God. Sure too many women were talking about swag and focusing on getting to the parties early to get the swag but I did not see any drama or fighting or anything. There were so many friggin' cool people there and I was lucky to find a lot of them. BlogHer is what you make of it, I learned, but I do think as an entity BlogHer should give a little more love to uh, writers!! That's what we are right? The sessions on SEO almost killed me - there were like 3 of them every single day. Exhausting. ANyway - I am a new rock and roll mama fan....see you around town sister... Lee .-= Lee of MWOB´s last blog ..BlogHer '09: The Top 10 Things I Learned as a First Time Attendee =-.
  16. Susan Getgood Wednesday - 29 / 07 / 2009 Reply
    Thank you for focusing on the positive side and for your kind words about Blog with Integrity. We have been renewed by the positive reaction to the pledge and badge, and hope it helps us all come back to a place of common ground. .-= Susan Getgood´s last blog ..Blogola and boycotts and burnout, oh my: Announcing the Blog with Integrity pledge =-.
  17. rockrollmama Wednesday - 29 / 07 / 2009 Reply
    Ellen- Thank you. It was so wonderful to meet you- the funny thing is, as soon as you said your profession, I knew who you were going to name. It was kismet.:) But getting to meet such a smart, funny, good hearted woman- that was whipped cream to the day. EvilSLutClique! LOL, I chuckle every time I read that- I know I'm not supposed to out you, but you guys are SO NICE. Seriously. Your name should be Smart Little House On the Prairie Girls WIth Eyeliner and Sassy Attitudes. Lee- I LOVE your blog, what a great concept and message. I'm glad you're here! I agree that alot of the negative stuff was only evident if you were right there for it or saw it on Twitter. But it became very real to me when someone showed me the full on handprint on their upper arm from being manhandled on the expo floor. That was sobering. I do think the drama was probably more evident from a distance. Susan! Thank you so much for stopping by. I love BWI because it clarifies what many would take for granted as bare necessity standards, but raises the question for those who may not even realize those conflict of interest issues are pertinent to them. And it sends a clear signal to those looking to engage with bloggers about if they've put thought into their policies. I also want to clarify that while I wish more people had been there, I'm not implying anyone is at fault or remiss for not having been. It read more like an awards presentation than a panel in the description, and if I hadn't been assigned it, I likely would have missed it as well. (As I'm sure I missed MANY worthwhile panels at Blogher.) But I would love to see the leaders of Blogher really let the women who win next year shine And also, I have nothing against swag per se- lord knows my bag came home a little heavier than when I left. It's just when it turns grown women into feral creatures, or bratty, entitled blackmailers, that I have an issue with it. I don't like it as the central reason for people to choose to enter a room. Thank you all so much for your support, I see on my stats all the folks going to check out the work of the Activists, and I'm so glad. You Rock.:)
  18. melissa Wednesday - 29 / 07 / 2009 Reply
    amazing. and you're right. donations instead of swag could have made a huge difference where it was needed. and then, people wouldn't have gotten bruised and created stupid hashtags. i always blog with integrity. i always have. and i always will. i just wrote a whole post about the little issue that is going on. and i can tell yours...even without a badge...scream integrity. and those are the ones that i'm drawn to. keep doing what you're doing. you're awesome!!
  19. rockrollmama Wednesday - 29 / 07 / 2009 Reply
    Melissa! It was so great to meet you this weekend.:) I love your new design, and thank you for your kind words. Going to check out your post now. MWAH!
  20. Tiffani Wednesday - 29 / 07 / 2009 Reply
    This is why I love you! I've never been to BlogHer and it's doubtful I'll ever go, but I agree that it should be about more than swag and marketing and money. It should also be about doing what you can to help those who need it. Thanks for reminding us of that! .-= Tiffani´s last blog ..Here I Go Again =-.
  21. amy koppelman Thursday - 30 / 07 / 2009 Reply
    hi, i don't know how to contact you directly so i went to your blog. HOW COOL! anyway, thanks for responding the my papercuts piece. i really appreciate it. amy
  22. Julie @ The Mom Slant Thursday - 30 / 07 / 2009 Reply
    Thanks for the kind words and inspirational thoughts - the session you worked is at the top of my must-read-the-live-blog list. Looking forward to meeting you next year in New York! .-= Julie @ The Mom Slant´s last blog ..We don’t hate brands – we just love each other =-.
  23. Kim Thursday - 30 / 07 / 2009 Reply
    Hi there. I am so glad to hear about the panel - I decided on day 1 to go to the Leadership - Hope and Change panel and I felt so glad to see people using their platforms as a tool for change, and it sounds like the scholarship panel was that times a million. It was great to meet you - we chatted quite a bit at the cocktail party on day 2 - and thank you for being so nice and friendly. :) Go Maryland. :) To your friend Catherine above - you are not the only non-mom out there blogging their stuff! I can tell you this: I went in totally full of trepidation about being a non-mom in a sea of moms, but I came away feeling VERY strongly that I didn't give a crap who had kids and who didn't, I was just glad to connect with folks I had stuff in common with, and it was totally worth it. I talked to plenty of moms and plenty of n-ms and it rocked!
  24. Myg Friday - 31 / 07 / 2009 Reply
    I didn't get to attend Blogher '09, but have to say, I have read more recap posts than I can now count or even remember. Yours is, sadly, the first that actually mentions what sounds like THE panel to be at. I know that the marketing and learning how to be a better blogger and finding your voice stuff was important in its own right and when I go to Blogher '10 I'm sure I'll go to some of these. But I think if the individuals making up the bulk of the women's blogging movement could trade a little navel gazing for more global thinking, a powerful force for good would be unleashed in the world. .-= Myg´s last blog ..I am a great father =-.
  25. Cammie ( Thursday - 06 / 08 / 2009 Reply
    Wow! Don't know how I got so lucky as to hook up with you just before Blogher. Ok, it was Twitter, love it and have been introduced to some amazing people through "tweets". I am fairly new to the website/blogging world and was hoping to learn about Blogger through you. And I am, thanks! I hope to be there in 2010! What an amazing opportunity to meet these women who really make a difference. It makes you stop and take inventory and decide how you can use your website/blog to make a difference in your neighborhood, community, state, country and world. It brings new meaning to using your words to make this a better place.
  26. Michelle Lamar-WTM Tuesday - 11 / 08 / 2009 Reply
    Girl I wish I would have gotten to spend more than 30 seconds with you BUT next year, you and I are going to hang out. Because I plan to stalk you. .-= Michelle Lamar-WTM´s last blog ..Dogs as Smart as Two-Year-Olds? =-.

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