back from chicago

Cloud Gate (otherwise known as "the bean"), Millennium Park, Chicago. Photographed July 24, 2009.

I'm back from the BlogHer '09 conference in Chicago. As usual, the conference was generally considered a rousing success, I think; although, if I'm honest, I spent most of the weekend working on my book, rather than attending the sessions. I got so much done, in the way of interviews and photoshoots, and Sweet Mother of Gumby, am I feeling pretty triumphant about that. Also, and oh by the way, the day before I left for Chicago, I managed to pick up a copy of the BLaD for my book, so I'll tell you all about the book and the associated shoots I had this weekend in the coming days, I promise.

One session I did attend and participate in was the Community Keynote. This BlogHer tradition began last year: the lovely Eden Kennedy of suggested that perhaps it would be a good idea to invite bloggers to submit their favourite posts, the very best of which would be read by the authors themselves at the closing of the first days of the conference.  The posts were judged by a panel led by Eden, to ensure that the final curated selection truly represented the best of the hundreds that were submitted.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but the first year's selections, at last year's Community Keynote, positively BLEW THE AUDIENCE AWAY.  As we watched the bloggers read their posts, actually heard their writings in the authors' voices, there wasn't a dry eye left in the house:  there were tears of empathy, sympathetic anger, and helpless laughter.  The selections were in turn moving, inspiring, and breathtakingly hilarious.  The entire experience was so transformative, by the end, it was obvious that a new tradition had been born.

And so, you can imagine how honoured I was to participate in this year's Community Keynote.  Just like last year, my co-presenters who read their posts told stories that were so fully emotional, inspiring and hilarious, more than one person commented that the session was worth the price of admission.  It was certainly the highlight of my weekend, and together with being on an amazing panel with Stefania Butler, Heather Barmore and Kelly Wickham, and the many other opportunities I had to connect with online-friends-turned-real-life-friends over the past few days, I came home in all-round-fantastic mood.

Irene Nam, me and Andrea Scher, warped and distorted in the bean.

Incidentally, in the off-chance that you might be interested in reading the amazing posts that were part of the Community Keynote this year, here they are, in the order they were presented.  My understanding is that they were all recorded; when the videos have been officially published, I'll link to them.

1. Georgia Getz of i am bossy: Dr. Seuss' ode to a Blog Conference

2. Issa of Issas Crazy World: Uncle Marky

3. Me, reading: Reflections on why the election of Barack Obama affected me so deeply

4. Sheri Reed of Today Is Pretty: amends

5. Julia D. of i do things so you don't have to: I Faked a Concussion

6. Mike Adamick of Cry It Out: Don't all kids play in vacant warehouses?

7. Pam Mandel of Nerd's Eye View: Wheelie Suitcase Blues

8. Amy Turn Sharp of doobleh-vay: On September 3rd 1973, at 6:28pm and 32 seconds, a bluebottle fly capable of 14,670 wing beats a minute landed on Rue St Vincent, Montmartre

9. Black Hockey Jesus of Wind in Your Vagina: 5

10. Danielle Henderson of Knotty Yarn: stuck in the middle with you

11. Tanis Miller, of Attack of the Redneck Mommy: Dear Internet, I'm Placing You on Notice

12. Tarrant Figlio of Retro Food: Love Song in a Foreign Language

13. Grace Davis of State of Grace: Forgiveness where it belongs

14. Melissa Ford of Stirrup Queens: Updating the Donation Room Porn

15. Pauline Edwards of Classy Chaos: Finding my place in the world, as an immigrant

16. Wendi Aarons of Wendi Aarons: Coke dependency

17. Nina Gotua of Laughs! Thrills! Pathos!: Memory box 1

18. Kelly Graham-Scherer of Don Mills Diva: Privacy? Schmivacy

19. Corynne Corbett of That Black Girl Site: When White Women Become Experts on Michelle Obama’s (And Our) Hair

20. Catherine Conners of Her Bad Mother: Lost Boy

21. Heather Spohr of The Spohrs Are Multiplying: Known

And with that, we'll return to our regularly scheduled Chookooloonks.  For all of the fun, it's good to be back home.


SongShine by Alexi Murdoch (from the Away We Go soundtrack)