How to Plan a Feminist Conference (Without Really Trying), or, BlogJam 2016 Notes from a Feminist Killjoy

BlogJam Recap Time!

BlogJam 2016 was almost three weeks ago and I’m still getting my bearings again after the whirlwind of planning and hosting such an incredible event. Overall, I think it was a resounding success and I know my teammates and I are already looking forward to ways we can build and improve on the event for 2017.

Rather than gush too much about what a great event it ended up being – and it was largely thanks to our amazing volunteers, speakers, sponsors and participants –  I wanted, instead, to shed some light on something that is, personally, a very important part of BlogJam Atlantic but that wasn’t, and isn’t, necessarily highlighted as an aspect of the event. Specifically, I’m talkin’ feminism.

My personal brand of feminism is intersectional and inclusive. (I believe feminism isn’t for everyone – it’s for women – but it does benefit everyone…Eventually. The ultimate goal is a society of equals regardless of gender, culture, race, socio-economic background, etc. BUT, that’s a post for another day!)

So, for me, BlogJam 2016 needed to be both woman-powered and inclusive in as many ways as possible.

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Female Keynote

Erica Ehm was an amazing choice for a Keynote speaker. Not only is she a badass blogging wizard, but she demonstrates how women can be successful in this industry while balancing career, family, events, partnerships, and all the other amazing endeavours she pursues.

Diversity of Speakers

BlogJam had a strong female representation, don’t get be wrong, but what enhanced the speaker’s line up was that it also included men. Sounds contradictory? It shouldn’t! We all have stories to tell and this event welcomed the voices of all, regardless of gender, culture, race, or any of the other factors with which we are generally divided. And don’t worry, the voices of our female presenters will continue to be amplified at future BlogJams to come.

Diversity of Participants

Ditto for participants. I was beyond thrilled to see such a range of genders, ages, abilities, and experiences.

Accessibility

We wanted to ensure that the space was accessible to varying mobility needs. While Pier 21 itself is accessible, I will admit to wanting to do more to be accommodating and inclusive in this regard. BlogJam is going to continue to grow and that means making sure that all participants can experience every element of the event comfortably.

We were also able to accommodate babes in arms and breastfeeding, which is a really important way our event empowers women and participants in general.

Accessibility also means affordability of the event. We worked hard to get sponsorship and create partnerships that would allow us to keep the price of the event low for participants while still delivering awesome content. Anyone for whom the cost was still out of reach was welcome to join us as a volunteer – an offer we’ll continue to extend to future participants.

The BlogJam Unofficial Code of Conduct

While we have yet to ratify anything as the BlogJam Atlantic Management Team, we do operate by a Code of Conduct that aligns and supports my scheming, bra-burning feminist agenda. Some of my favourite highlights are:

Commitment to a Safe Community

  • BlogJam Atlantic will not tolerate any harassment or inappropriate physical conduct, sexual attention, objectification, or threatening of any participant at any time
  • While dialogue is encouraged, sustained disruption or deliberate interruption of speakers/conversations is not permitted
  • Like the blogging community, BlogJam seeks to showcase and welcome the diverse community of its audience regardless of gender, age, (dis)ability, physical appearance, intellectual ability, ethnicity, or religion

Commitment to Inclusion

  • Whenever possible, the costs associated with attending this event will not be prohibitive to participants of any economic status with provisions being made for anyone who wishes to attend
  • The event is hosted in a mobility-friendly, accessible space
  • Participants requiring additional support to attend the event will be accommodated as much as possible (support personnel, interpreters, printed material, etc.)
  • The event welcomes all individuals and respects all forms of gender identity or expressions of gender or orientation and is LGBTQ2+ safe

(Don’t worry, we’ve got some other clauses thrown in there to protect the environment and some other stuff too.)

The Team

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What’s a feminist conference without a team of strong, smart, creative women at the helm?

For many of us, so much of this is common sense. Unfortunately, it’s for that very reason that it’s so easy to let these pieces fall by the wayside when planning events. We need to be conscientious of all of these (feminist) factors to make sure that all voices are included and heard.

I believe doing so will improve the experiences of all our events.

I’m so proud of our team, the volunteers and speakers, and everyone who helped contribute to the positive outcomes of BlogJam 2016. Did you attend? I’d love to hear what you thought!

So, who’s ready for next year?

Krista

2 thoughts on “How to Plan a Feminist Conference (Without Really Trying), or, BlogJam 2016 Notes from a Feminist Killjoy

  1. I’m so ready for next year! Krista, #BlogJam2016 was all you described and more. The organization was exquisite, a credit to the team of volunteer organizers. I loved the “Happy Bar,” and received some excellent advice and assistance regarding my blog. See you next year.

    • I’m so glad to hear you had a good time! That Happiness Bar was so cool, we’re going to have to make sure they get a bigger presence next year for sure.

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