A Love Letter to Podcamp Halifax

Dear Podcamp,

It has been so many Januaries now, that I’ve come to anticipate your glowing presence. Although I was unable to attend the 2018 iteration, I am hoping that my attendance and volunteering this year will more than compensate.

I have been attending Podcamp since its inception; each year another opportunity to build community virtually and face-to-face with so many bright and brilliant individuals working across the digital landscape.

The first year I attended Podcamp (and its first year being held in Halifax), I had lived in Nova Scotia for only two short months. I was working for Symphony Nova Scotia who had tasked me with “figuring out Twitter” and so I thought it a good opportunity to learn a little more about social media and marketing opportunities.

I didn’t know anyone, nor did I know the city. I sat awkwardly alone in the hallway of Alderney Landing during lunch — unsure about where to venture in search for food and too shy to introduce myself to anyone. But, I had been captivated and learned enough to feel compelled to return for a second year.

In year two, I invited someone I only knew through blogging and Twitter. This time she was the newcomer to town — having only moved to NS herself that summer. It was the first time I bridged the virtual-IRL divide and what a pay off that leap had for me. Not only do I still consider her a friend, but she introduced me to another with whom I’ve been able to connect in profoundly important, personal ways. My community was growing richer still.

Over the next few years I came to anticipate Podcamp with a vigour nearing that of Christmas morning. As I bounded from session to session, I unabashedly exclaimed “hey! I follow you on Twitter!” as a truly under-appreciated but highly-effective ice breaker.

On one occasion I saw a cluster of attendees from my workplace. There were individuals from a few different departments, including a faculty member or two and a couple of students. (I guess I missed the memo.) They were clearly there for business purposes. Admittedly, I did receive the requisite nod of recognition and a “hello” but there was no invitation to join the cohort.

I didn’t belong with them. I didn’t belong with them but it was okay because I did belong at Podcamp. Podcamp is for everyone.

Now when I attend Podcamp I recognize so many faces from online interactions and real-life friendships. Beyond that, I feel the kinship with even those whom I don’t recognize because I know we share a passion for something that is an integral part of Podcamp. It extends beyond a love for social media and online business and into a real bringing together those who seek to make connections and actively participate in Community.

I try to emulate this intangible magic in other aspects of my online work (like through hosting BlogJam for bloggers of Atlantic Canada), but know that you, Podcamp, are the impetus for it all. Through the noise of the new and shiny and promises of something “we’ve never had before,” we have you.

Thank you to the Podcamp Halifax organizers for their steadfast devotion to building this event. Your efforts do not go unnoticed or unappreciated. I know that there’s someone attending who was in my shoes that first year. So, thank you for creating and nurturing a space for that person to belong.

See you soon, #PodcampHFX

 

xoxo
Design

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

That Time I Fell in Love (with Annapolis Royal)

I’m so lucky to have friends who live in the beautiful Annapolis Valley. I love going to visit them and getting to explore the area. If you haven’t been, it’s GORGEOUS.

 

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This visit allowed for a Saturday trip to Annapolis Royal to check out their bustling farmer’s market and take in a few other local sites.

Maybe it’s because it was a sunny, bright day. Maybe it’s because of the happy faces that filled the downtown. Or, maybe it’s because of the beautiful ocean views. I just have to say, that town is BEYOND charming.

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On a stroll down George street, we encountered a friendly tour guide who welcomed visitors in for a free tour of Sinclair Inn Museum, one of the oldest wooden structures in Canada.

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I’m a sucker for local history and I get especially weak in the knees for historic interiors. I’m particularly fond of tin ceilings. They’re always so intricate and interesting. Way better than the stucco in the house I grew up with.

Tin Ceilings

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Annapolis Royal has a lovely short waterfront trail that features a few beautiful exhibits of public art.

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“Maudified” House! As an homage to Maud Lewis. How great is that?

When we needed to cool off from the heat, a stop at Sissiboo Coffee Roasters was just the ticket. I swapped my normal order of iced coffee for a cold Italian soda made with fresh lemon and local strawberry syrup. SO delicious.  (Also, the decor was a dream…and, you guessed it, TIN CEILING!)

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Possibly the most interesting new information I came away from the trip with, was a lesson about Rose Fortune. She is an important figure in Canadian history amongst Black Nova Scotians and women! She was a business owner and something of a first female police officer in Canada. Very cool.

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What local travelling are you doing this summer?

Krista