June 25, 2005

In Praise of BlogHer and Why I Can't Be There

I let Lisa know a few days ago that I can't make it to California on the 30th for BlogHer. Time to let you all know too. I'm sorry sorry sorry because not only did I Really Want to Go to this one (as opposed to the many I have NOT wanted to attend), and I Really Want to be on the Naked identity panel, and I Really Want to meet everyone of these women I've never gotten a chance to meet, and I Really Want to try my hand at being on a panel. I think I'd do good. I think I'd learn so much.

But then real life comes in to intercept this other life I live. And the fact is that our once-a-year family reunion, we learned a couple of weeks ago, will take place in Buffalo the day after the conference. And the fact is that George is performing in Ain't Misbehavin'? in NY (think Long Island, not Broadway) and hopefully coming home before then, but that is never for sure in his business. And that I'd have to take Jenna with me, in a 48 hour span from Atlanta to California to Buffalo, then back to Atlanta two days after that. And that I don't want to tell you how many client deadlines I have between now and then. And that I'd have to be clear headed and keeping tabs on my seven-year-old every minute while trying to contribute and enjoy myself and all of you. And that it costs money. And also the fact that I have a trip up north scheduled mid July as it is.

I didn't make a pros and cons list. It wasn't that easy of a decision, and it wasn't that hard either. I just thought a lot about it over a week's time. And I thought about how tenuous my remaining family relationships are. (There aren't many left.) How important it is for Jenna and who she is to understand and know the Sessum part of her family in Buffalo that she has met precisely one time (last year at the reunion), and that it meant a lot to George to begin only now to know that side of his family, and what a toll that has taken on so many of us, and all of the other "thats" I've babbled about above.

The decision kind of made itself.

Lisa and the BlogHer gang were gracious in accepting my apology, my withdrawal, and my request to use my registration so someone else doesn't have to pay. I also pledged to sponsor another participant between now and the conference. It's the least I can do. They're not even kicking me off the Board. Least I don't think so. ;-)

Why do I believe that you should go to BlogHer even if I can't? For a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that the conference was a bottom-up response to a situation that many in blogland -- many women especially -- have been bitching about for years now. It was a brave response to the undeniable fact that mainstream Technology, Internet, Blogging, Podding, RSSing, and PISSing conferences look past women. They look past women when they pick speakers and panelists. They look past women when they schedule the events. They look past women when they decide what to talk about. They look past women when they begin talking and linking to other non-women. They look past people of color. They look past ideas that challenge their own. They look past out-of-the-circle-jerk conversations. They look past anyone who doesn't look like them.

Rather than continue to solely write about that fact, the BlogHer founders came up with another layer to their response. In additon to writing and talking, they got their plans together, their funds together, their team together, and their shit together in record fast time to hold a conference that doesn't look past women. And they went zero to 60 with the top down, baby. Got the venue; got the people; got the sponsors (keep em coming); got scholarships and assitance for attendees.

And the women who will be there are smart and strong and willing to listen and willing to talk and willing to shut up and learn as much as they are to slap you silly. That's the difference. I guarantee that unlike conference-as-usual events, this one will engage folks in a real exchange. Not just an exchange that claims to be an exchange because the bloggers having it are Technorati Top 100 list makers.

So go if you can. All of you. Men and women. Together. Engage. Talk if you can. Write if you can. Listen if you can. Clap if you can. Laugh if you can. Cry if you can. Say AMEN if you can. Blog if you can. Lunch and Dinner and Drink if you can. Shero Chalk on a brick wall for me if you can.

I will be watching.

Love you guys,