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25 Things I Learned at Creating Change in Philly

With thanks to comrade West Philly Mama.

2,316 words | 10 min. read

Thanks the combo of parent + full-time employed person + I’m no longer crazy enough to go without sleep, my processing speed is like that of one of those old putty-colored, 128k Macintoshes, circa the mid-1980s. So! The notes below are what I finally compiled from last weekend, i.e. the post-inaugural one, as opposed from this past weekend, i.e. the most recent one following our first week of the bull-in-the-china-shop  attempted coup d’état (and if you need any convincing on that score, read Yonatan Zunger in Medium, thank you Kelly Wickham Hurst).

Last weekend I attended the National Lesbian and Gay Task Force Creating Change Conference, for work. The conference location is determined over a year in advance, and always falls on this weekend, the one following the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday. They knew it would be Inaugural weekend, they knew it would be some kind of historic inauguration. Just not what kind. So it came to be that some 4,000+ LGBTQ activists and I found ourselves in Philadelphia, the birthplace of our nation, caucusing and workshopping and strategizing and networking about justice and a more perfect union, just blocks from the building in which, around 260 years earlier, dozens of other folks with much worse teeth were caucusing and debating and strategizing and networking over pretty much the same things. All this on the top-of-the-rollercoaster weekend, when our democracy began its plunge into years and years of what will surely be one of its greatest tests, if not its greatest.

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Begin again

I find multitasking and code-switching a tad challenging. For this reason, three years ago, when I launched into a non-communications/ non-social media-ish job, I found myself essentially hanging up my bloggy spurs.

I did not, however, melt them down and make lawn art out of them. Fortunately for my neighbors.

Fig. A.

And  yet! I now find myself, much to my delight, in the position of directing communications at this selfsame organization. This job is not only in the right ballpark (I was there already) but at the right position therein.

Hosana and not a moment too soon!  Because in a scant few weeks we’re due for quite a political sea-change, something that – for me, and 65,844,953 others like me – looks to be more challenging than rivers being turned into blood, the dust of the land becoming lice, being strafed by swarms of flies, watching helplessly as livestock fall grievously ill, gaping in horror as festering boils break out on all of us everywhere, fruitlessly seeking shelter from thunderstorms of hail and fire, swatting back boatloads of locusts, enduring three days of darkness, or the tenth – which I can’t even speak of.

Yep, I’m talking the Eleventh plague, totally overlooked by biblical historians and prognosticators, whom I don’t blame for not calling this Trump thing because it took a lot of other people by surprise too.

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Camp It Up!

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Year-old tie-dye hanging out to dry, Berkeley, CA.

As it turns out, tie-dye shirts which have yet to be “set” and rinsed can indeed sit in a crumpled ball for a year, intimidating and then later forgotten, and be resurrected the weekend before departing for the family camp whence they came the year before! Patience (and neglect) rewarded.

Heading up to Camp It Up! family camp for the week. I sang its praises at VillageQ last year upon return, and don’t mind saying that if you don’t currently squirrel away all your spare pennies for a queer family camp (you queer families), well, you should try. Because it’s worth every one of those pennies.   (Here’s a regionally varied list of them I did back in April at VQ.)

Up at camp there is – ! – no cell phone reception & no cable/ wifi internet access. Schlubs who have internetty work to do make their way into the nearby town for the wifi-enabled cafe. I believe I’ll be among those schlubs, in which case I may also have the opportunity to share a photo or two.  I share this tidbit because I’m working hard at the whole “please keep blogging” thing with which I ended my talk the other night. It’s almost as good for the mental health as a nice, long, family vacation.

 

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10 x 10, inch by inch

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Voices of the Year/ 10×10 audience at BlogHer ’14, San José, CA. 

 

Don’t they/ you look fine?

The woman toward the right with the nice DSLR pointed at me is Danielle Tsi, BlogHer’s event photographer (and a brilliant one).  I’d worked with her at about a half a dozen BlogHer events, and she was kind enough to take my new cutie mirrorless camera and take a few pictures with it for me, so’s I’d have a clue what I was looking’ like (et voilá).  What’s not to love about a person whose generosity matches their talent?

On the occasion of its tenth annual conference, folks at BlogHer had asked ten longtime community denizens to take ten minutes to reflect on the past ten years online (and to imagine where we may be going in the next ten). I was honored to be among them.

I thought I might publish here what I read that night, for any of youse who were there and wanted to get a reminder, and for any of you who didn’t go, but might be curious. If I find out I have permission (nettiquette FTW!), I might embed the slides which I produced, but which were polished off by BlogHer’s designer & thus might be theirs.  If I can’t, your imagination will have to fill in the blanks. Which people’s imaginations generally tend to do anyhow, so.

Herewith, my ten minutes’ of reflection, courtesy BlogHer’s YouTube channel. Below the embed is the text, complete with slide cues, because this is cinema verité here, people.

 


 

[SLIDE: note of gratitude]

 First, thank you. Thank you Elisa, Lisa, and Jory. Thank you Stacy, and thanks also to the many very hard-working women behind you for this stage and what it has meant to so many of us over the years. I know first-hand what it takes to make this happen, and it is truly a labor of love.

 Thank you also for the opportunity to reflect on the past ten years, from my point of view. I would sit in rapt attention listening to all sorts of people doing the same thing – in fact have, and will. It’s a great privilege to take a stab at it myself.

 [SLIDE: 2008 Community Keynote audience, courtesy Elan]

I can say in all honesty that two of the things most precious to me now, I owe to blogging: the clarity I have as a parent, and the opportunity I have to be doing the work I’m doing now in support of LGBT families in my community and online.

And it’s not an exaggeration to say that it all began on the BlogHer stage, 50 miles to the north of here and six years ago.

Six years ago, I stood backstage waiting to read a post at the first Voices of the Year. The ballroom was packed, but with about a third as many people. Backstage were a bunch of folks, none of whom I knew, even though I knew of them. We didn’t know what was about to happen. All we knew was that whatever it was, it seemed like a damned good idea.

I had spoken in the morning on a panel moderated by the inimitable Lindsay Ferrier.

[SLIDE: Lindsay’s pumps; riff; try really hard to not say anything untoward; resist the urge to speak randomly about muffins, as you are wont do]

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Spoiler alert: Squirrel Nutkin gets away

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Pages 54 & 55 from The Tale of Squirrel Nutkin by Beatrix Potter.

 

So in a little less than 10 days I’m going to be giving a short talk at the upcoming BlogHer conference in San José (details of the “10 x 10” series here). It has been so dadgum long since I wrote in here that I feel like I practically have to explain everything, what with me no longer really knowing (as if I ever did, but still) who’s reading or why. Back in the day I would do annual reader surveys, and it was great; “lurker’s delight” I called them; I learned a ton about what folks read for, what they preferred, what they wanted to see more of, so on.  Lately, though, it’s a field here that I’ve left to go fallow, which of course isn’t the worst thing in the world, from the standpoint of the field. Fertility is restored.

Whoever you are reading this thing, hey! Thanks! And welcome to the ground floor of a building remodel. We’re just about to swing some hammers.

The above image popped up when I was rummaging around in my early Flickr stream. I remember it accompanied a post (this one). I was rummaging back there because I was hunting down images from the 2008 BlogHer conference, the first one I went to, slack-jawed in amazement at it all. The changes/ evolutions/ you-name-its since then have been so big. In my own life, in my sense of what I can or should write about, in what this particular vehicle has been about (meaning: the blog), in the blogosphere generally.  So much has changed that people expect monetizing and dread publicizing and presume multiple platforms and blah blah blah. Not all people. But enough. Whatever the case, some hybrid of self-awareness and self-consciousness is part of the whole dealie-o. Continue Reading →

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Deli scene/ ode to Elan and Aidan

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David’s Delicatessen, Geary Street, San Francisco.

This is a test. If this were a real blog post, it would have appeared loooooooooong ago.

Slowly trying to blow the gunk out of the engine, here with an image of my favorite old companion (20 years together means we get to say “old,” right?), taken with my  favorite new companion, a wee little mirrorless camera that more or less fits into my pocket. I’m daring it to take noticeably better pictures than my cameraphone (who ever thought that would be an issue for any kind of quality camera), and also daring it to be in my life so effortlessly and regularly that it actually does help me see/ share the world via visual images nearly as much as the proverbial cameraphone in the pocket does.

I blame Palinode, specifically this post of his, for even getting the notion of nabbing myself a mirrorless 4/3s . Continue Reading →

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