BlogHer '11: I Think the Real Me Met the Real You
Yes, I really did return home from BlogHer '11 -- despite my disappearing act since. Thanks to a home visit from Author and Blogger Karen T. Smith (aka Kayti), bearing chocolate, I think I'm finally ready to try to write about it.
"How was BlogHer?" asked Karen.
"Uhhhh" I said, tearing up. "Amazing." Then I couldn't shut up. I told her:
- Ashleigh Burroughs showed me a scar from one of her three bullet wounds.
- Kathryn Finney told a room full of bloggers to learn how to shake our tail feathers and tell the world when we succeed.
- Ree Drummond put a whole room at giggling ease by asking their permission to adjust her Spanx. Then she did.
- Jose Antonio Vargas pledged to picket the front lawn of anyone who threatens Pat Hyland, the educator who became his second mother after he learned he was an undocumented immigrant.
- Kelly Wickham and Heather Barmore told Tanya Van Court about the Heathers.
- Elianne Ramos represented for Cuban activist Yoani Sanchez when Yoani wasn't allowed to travel for her BlogHer scholarship.
- PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi told Willow Bay that -- given the power and influence of the women at BlogHer '11 -- Nooyi was surprised more CEOs weren't there too
- Elisa and Eden Kennedy broke my tear ducts with the HTCVoices of the Year, which this year included one of the women I follow as my own personal writing Jesus, Lori O'Hara of In Pursuit of It All.
- Fatimeh Fakhraie blew stereotypes of Muslim women by talking about vaginas on stage.
- Ricki Lake, one of the most stereotyped celebrities in the world urged women to be less judgmental of each other.
I'll stop -- I could go on forever -- but I loved that BlogHer '11 felt so real, so connected. It's ironic that at our biggest event ever -- even bigger, even more diverse than we anticipated with 4,100 attendees and nearly 100 sponsors -- the community felt the most grounded, closest and most intimate for me. We puzzle and fret lovingly about the feel of our conferences at BlogHer world headquarters -- about how to allow our great big annual blogger family reunion to expand to meet demand, while contracting in feel, in vibe, in mojo so that the specialness of our conversations is preserved. Like most things -- like writing -- keeping it simple takes more work.
And for me, it did work. As almost always, Deb Rox said it best:
That it worked is due to the incredible commitment of our events team, led by Co-founder Elisa Camahort Page. Take one beautiful San Diego convention center, add world-class sponsors who genuinely value the influence of women in social media to help us keep the cost to bloggers low and the fun factor high-- perpetual hat tip to Co-founder Jory Des Jardins, who nurtures these relationships. And then stir in the key ingredient -- a warm, welcoming community that discussed more and more diverse topics than just about any event we've ever hosted -- that's BlogHer '11.
And my links are just one woman's experience -- and don't even include all the many wonderful, private, 30-second connections and disco-dance moments with women I love and never see. You know who you are.
Heck, I'm still discovering everything that happened -- while I was co-hosting a press lunch with Elisa, #OperationGlory literally erupted in the lunch room. THAT video makes me want to go out and karaoke on top of a piano. So thanks ladies -- I've got my inspiration for the next 12 months.
I know I say this every year, but I think BlogHer '11 was my favorite annual conference ever since Elisa, Jory and I banded together in 2005 to answer the question "Where are the women who blog?" If you were there, thank you for joining us - we look forward to hearing what you think, either in the comments below or in our follow-up survey. If you weren't, we'd love to see you next summer in NYC.
Now I need to curl up with my laptop and read some more.
Lisa Stone, BlogHer Co-founder
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