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Blogging Community 101 – BlogHer ’10 Experience

43 Comments 14 August 2010

I have decided that the best way to explain my experience at BlogHer ’10 is to tell you who I met (at least some of them).  To me, it really comes down to relationship, to community and while there was a lot going on, it was the small and meaningful conversations that will, I hope, make me abetter writer/blogger…not to mention, a better human being!

But first, I wanted to mention a couple of things that, for me, were the best moments of MY BLOGHER ’10 experience…

I am not really afraid to go places alone, however, this was a very daunting undertaking.  First, I really know very little about the blogging world and secondly, I don’t really have a “blogging community.”  So, walking into the Hilton New York last Thursday was a bit like walking into the seventh grade hall as a 5th grader!  A friend of mine always says, “walk like you know where you are going,” and this was my thought on the conference.  After all, I love New York City and I travel there at least once a year because of this love, so at least I knew where I was going most of the time out in the big city!  But inside that hotel, oh, it was a different world altogether.  Intimidating…to say the least!

I had delightful roommates, in both of the rooms that I stayed in at the conference.  They brought a plethora of talent to the table as well as their own experiences with blogging and their lovely lives!  It was great fun and like being back in college and being shoved into a room with women you do not know and being forced to sleep with them!  Ha!

If there was a downside, and as a “newbie” I hate to even talk about a downside, it was all of the sponsored parties!  In the weeks leading-up to the conference I was inundated with information on how to get an invite and figuring out what to wear to the parties.  Then, once I arrived at the conference, I was surrounded by ‘swag’ or freebies from all of the sponsors.  Now, let me be clear, no one is unappreciative when people start practically throwing free merchandise at you, however, it is a bit distracting.  And for me, since I didn’t really have a group of friends who I knew were of the same mindset as myself, I was tossed to and fro like a beach ball at a Brad Paisley concert!  It was like being invited to attend a blogging university, with classes and excellent professors, and yet the social life, which could at times be likened to sorority rush, was hounding you at every turn.  So, I repeat, I am VERY thankful for all of the wonderful exposure to all of the great products and services of the sponsors, but I am just too ADHD to keep my mind on learning when parties abound!  Make sense?

Ok, now for the upside…I found great community!  It came in spurts and varied from day to day, but I really gained some valuable insight into the blogging community at large.  One certain highlight was going to the ‘Blogging Autism: Shattering Myths, Opening Eyes and Finding Your Tribe’ breakout session that was lead by Shannon Des Roches Rosa.  Shannon and Jennifer Meyers, who I had met on twitter before I arrived, immediately embraced me and made me feel welcome.  The session was very insightful and helpful and gave me a window into the world of parents who blog about their children’s special needs.  I laughed, I cried and I longed to take them all out to dinner and really ask the questions that were whirling around in my head.  SO, a definite highlight.

Another significant highlight, as far as the organized conference was concerned, was the breakout session entitled, ‘Where’s the Line or the Lie: Storytelling, Memoir and Poetic License’ which was headlined by the blogging celebrity of Jory Des Jardins, Jenny Lawson and Julie Marsh.  These women are all known bloggers, Jory is one of the original founders of BlogHer, Jenny is The Bloggess and Julie, from The Mom Slant, is a straight-talkin’ mom on a plethora of touchy issues.  It was a very helpful, not to mention hilarious, session.

Next, (I know I said a couple, but hey, you know me!) I consider it an honor that I was able to attend the breakout session called ‘Grief, Loss, Tragedy and Community on the Internet.’  This panel/session brought a new appreciation for how “real” the blogging community is for those who are suffering.  So many people see the blogging community as some make believe world with imaginary friends, however, if they listened to Anissa Meyhew and her hubby speak about how the REAL support of this community buoyed them through the darkest hours, days and even months of their trials since she suffered two strokes, they would know that is not the case.  They would have heard human beings being honest, humble and humorous about how their readers and online supporters brought inspiration and care to their family, via the Internet.  They weren’t the only ones to speak of this reality, but their story moved me in beautiful ways.  It was a delightful picture of the joy that comes through even the most dibilitating suffering.

Okay, I know I am going on an on, but this is the last thing I will say.  The ending keynote ROCKED and not just because I randomly ended-up at a table with Aimee (a.k.a. @Mommaloves), who immediately took the time to ask me about myself…and get this, she really wanted to know!  She is a big blogger, someone who knows people, and yet there she was, during the last part of an exhausting conference, really listening to me and my vision for my blog.  IT WAS FANTASTIC – one of the best moments of the conference for me…Why?  Because we all want to be known, that’s why!  We want what we are about to be heard and we want to feel, well…not so invisible!  She listened and she actually loved what I was about.  Crazy, but true.  Then she began introducing me to people like Deb (a.k.a. – Deb On The Rocks) who was gracious and hilarious!  All three of us were moved by the panel that spoke at the closing keynote.  The speakers were, Marie Wilson, Gloria Feldt, Simran Sethi and Alison Stewart.  They were women who empower other women to use their voices and change their worlds!  In other words, they were my kind of women!  Afterwards, Aimee took lil’ ol’ me to dinner with her and my new friend Pam (a.k.a. – Outside Voice) and an even newer friend Karen (a.k.a.-Volunteer Spot).  Some good ol’ Ray’s pizza and then a couple of parties…and by the end of the night I was ready to tuck these gals in my pocket and bring them home with me!

So, what did I learn at BlogHer ’10?  I learned what I knew already, but in a deeper way – COMMUNITY is what we all long for and need.  There is power in numbers, yes, but there is “EMPOWERMENT” in community!  I left the conference feeling like I might just have a new community of peers, and that I was empowered to build community among my readers.

There were other moments of community sprinkled in and around those big moments…like getting to know my roomates:  Dawn – @dawniemom, DawinieMomReviews, Jenn – @jens_skittles, Jen’s Photo Stream, Sherrie – @sherriemae23, Good Karma Baby, Silver – @silvernelson, Silver Thinks, Ashley – @plucypea, The JimmiesSurvival of the Hippest, Lindsey – @linzlovesyou, BirdsIViews and Nichelle – @STYLEMOM, Style Mom.

Meeting some Alabama Bloggers: Rachel – @objectivityrach, Grasping for Objectivity in my subjective life, Jen – @jennelsonlane, Hey Ya’ll, Kim – @kimt205, Live from the 205.

Having lunch with a complete stranger and discovering we both had a special needs child: Angela – @hangingwitmrsc, Hanging With Mrs. Cooper.

Being included and invited by COOL ladies:  Jessica – @mommasgonecity, Mommas Gone City, Carol – @NYCityMama , New York City Mama, Melissa, @rockdrool, Rock and Drool, Melysa – @melysaS, Melyspeaks, Lauren – @laurencarlton – Mommy Is Rock n’ Roll, The Mouthy Housewives, Aiming Low.

Finally meeting women that I follow on Twitter:  Kate – @guavalicious, The Guavalicious Life, Fadra – @allthingsfadra, All Things Fadra (ok, so we STILL didn’t meet, but we tried dammit!), Alison – @sassymomchicago, Sassy Mom in the City, Ann – @annsrants, Ann’s Rants, Rita – @ritaarens, Surrender, Dorothy, Val – @disneyfamily, Heidi – @c2cmom, Coast 2 Coast Mom, & Maria – @boredmommy, Bored Mommy.

Having total strangers offer me money and take me in when I lost my wallet (oh yeah, I lost my wallet in a taxi the 2nd night!):Kate – @bigpieceofcake, The Big Piece of Cake, Jill – @houseofgirls3, The Perlman Update, Anna – An Inch of Gray, Christy – A Lil’ Welsh Rarebit, & Dre @walktherope, Life On A Tightrope. Or having an old friend give me cash, Whitney – @jugglingmommy .

All in all…a great experience in community!

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43 Comments so far

  1. keri says:

    wow…sounds exhilarating and motivating and so exciting…and a little bit scary! so glad it was a great experience for you and sounds like you met some amazing people. but even better…they got to meet YOU and that makes me happy!

  2. What a great recap, Jorja. It was a joy to meet you and hang out with you and just known you IN REAL LIFE!

  3. Thank you for the kind words! And if I remember correctly, based on your photo, you even told me in person how much you enjoyed the session – made my day!

    • Jorja says:

      Julie, thanks for stopping by! Yes, that was me that grabbed you in front of the Wii Dance thingy…i really appreciated your perspective on “the line.” I tend to be fairly open, but honestly there are lots of topics that i would like to address that could get me in hot water! i’ll just read you and get my fix! thanks again.

    • Jorja says:

      jenny, thanks for taking the time to drop by my spot! i did indeed like the panel and as i tend to be a bit of a naked blogger myself, i enjoyed hearing about your “lines” or lack there of…ha! clearly you have the power, the audience and the humor to say whatever the hell you want and keep ’em coming back! oh, maybe one day for this little newbie! thanks so much!

  4. wendi says:

    loved hearing all about the trip. i was thinking of you while you were there–and about our trip to NY 12 years ago (with Misty). great women. great city. it never gets old.

  5. Pammer says:

    “…I learned what I knew already, but in a deeper way…”

    Smart, smart girl you are. You are such a delight and bright spot in my weekend! I would LOVE to see you in Texas at Bloggy Boot Camp or in NOLA at the Mom2Summit, lady.

    Or, you know, on a girls’ trip. 😉

    SO glad we met.

  6. Carol says:

    Hi Jorja! Aw…I feel bad almost that I wasn’t there to greet you! But I’m glad you had great company and walked away with so much..beyond swag (I hear ya!) xoxoxox

    • Jorja says:

      carol, can’t believe you were able to pull off all that you did…and so beautifully! you are a blogger/woman superhero! loved it and loved meeting you, even if it was for just a moment!

  7. Ann's Rants says:

    Sounds like you had a really successful trip. And after all that linking you now need another 😉

    Thanks for the shout out.


  8. melissa says:

    seems you found your blogging community, eh?!

    • Jorja says:

      melissa, hell yeah, it seems that i have and what a fine group they are…indeed! thanks for being so gracious to me!

  9. Lauren says:

    HOLLA! I am amazed that you took the time to link up everyone that you mentioned in your post! You’re FABULOUS! And I second what Melissa said. Welcome!

    • Jorja says:

      lauren, yeah, didn’t really think that through when i started the post…FOUR DAMN days ago! ha! it was worth it though…i really appreciate you girls letting me hang out at barher! look forward to learning more about all of you!

  10. Jen L. says:

    LOVED sitting with you on the plane!Can’t wait to see you locally.

  11. Jill says:

    You are just adorable Jorja! I’m so glad to have met you – and spent time with you both nights at BlogHer. I hope that our paths cross again someday … like next year in San Diego??

    • Jorja says:

      Jill, I would love it if our paths crossed again! I’ve enjoyed reading some of the Perlman Update, look forward to more. 😉

  12. Deb Rox says:

    Wasn’t that Keynote everything?! I just bought Marie Wilson’s book. So glad to have shared that bit of revival with you. We tap into the spirit of community when we throw ourselves into it–and you sure did! I was particularly thrilled to meet you because I’ve been looking for a diversity of southern voices online. Represent!

    • Jorja says:

      Deb, yes the keynote was fantastic and i am so thrilled i sat down at that table! great to have met you in real time!

  13. Loved meeting you! Definitely one of the highlights of my trip.

  14. Hey Lady,

    What a wonderful post. I had no idea you lost your wallet. It was sooo great having lunch with you. I was just talking to my mom about you the other day and how we connected and how our children have sooo much in common in their disabilities. I look forward to getting to know you more through your blog and shout outs on twitter.

  15. It was wonderful to meet you! You are just one of those people who you want to befriend. 🙂 Are you going to the Mom Summit in NOLA? I am considering it.

    • Jorja says:

      hey kate, @outsidevoice is trying to talk me into coming there or to bloggy boot camp in austin, tx. right now i have to figure out how to pay my mortgage!

  16. c2cmom says:

    I was thrilled to meet you right out of the gate that first morning! You were on my mental list of people I was going to hunt down to meet up with in person! I hope you enjoyed your time at BlogHer and in NYC . . .I’ve been thinking about you and that lost wallet.

    • Jorja says:

      heidi, you were so kind and i loved meeting you. it was great to see a familiar face at the blogher events, even if it had only been familiar for a couple of hours!! never found the wallet…my daughter mari-helen who is ‘special’ always says, “too bad, so sad, oh well!”

  17. It was so great to meet you and share a nice, quiet, easy-to-converse cab ride with you! That was probably the calmest conversation I had all weekend!

    I’m glad you had a great time, and I’m so glad to have gotten a chance to meet you!!

    • Jorja says:

      rachel, hope your conference was good and that you got to hang out with some friends. it was so great to meet you and jen on the plane…crazy how small the world really is, huh? maybe i can make it to the next alabama bloggers thingy. take care!

  18. Jillian says:

    What a great account of the conference.

    I can’t help but think that I, who also didn’t know a soul, did it all wrong.

    I truly wish that I had met all of you fabulous bloggers. I guess I’ll have to make up for what I missed by connecting online!

    • Jorja says:

      jillian, hate that you didn’t meet some of these gals! they exceeded my expectations for sure! i am happy to meet online though! thanks for reading!

  19. Shannon says:

    Really loved meeting you, Jorja. So much — I cherished that “one of us one of us” feeling that kept happening throughout the conference, whether we blogged about similar subjects or not. You are good people, and I look forward to getting your info about your state’s resources for the Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism, hint hint hint. 🙂

  20. Meeting you was a highlight!! Had a lovely time chatting with you at Redemption, and hope to see you again soon.

  21. Stimey says:

    There are some truly amazing women that were at that conference. And being in that Blogging Autism room was really incredible.

    I’d also like to shout out to Aimee too. She is incredible. Truly.

    • Jorja says:

      Jean, thanks for dropping by the site. it was great for me to come to the panel on autism as it is really hard for me to ever really find a sense of community with MH not having a clear diagnosis. i loved being there and you guys made me feel a part…so appreciated your insight. thanks again.

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“I am a frayed and nibbled survivor in a fallen world, and I am getting along. I am aging and eaten and have done my share of eating too. I am not washed and beautiful, in control of a shining world in which everything fits, but instead am wondering awed about on a splintered wreck I've come to care for, whose gnawed trees breathe a delicate air, whose bloodied and scarred creatures are my dearest companions, and whose beauty bats and shines not in its imperfections but overwhelmingly in spite of them...” Annie Dillard

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