I’m going to Netroots Nation

Crossposted at Bent Alaska

Mel the reluctant political blogger is going to Netroots Nation after all — on full scholarship through the LGBT Netroots Connect initiative. Wanna know what I said on my scholarship application? Then read this post.

Netroots Nation, Minneapolis, June 2011I wasn’t going to go.  I didn’t want to go.  When I ran into Shannyn Moore at the Bear Tooth back in February, and she suggested I apply for a Democracy for America scholarship to Netroots Nation, I told her that since I was trying to steer myself toward my writing — which feeds my spirit in a way that political blogging does not — I didn’t actually want to go to Netroots Nation.  I directed the energy I might have used to fill out a scholarship application toward instead writing a post in support of the candidacy of my friend John Aronno of Alaska Commons — and, because he’s such a great ally of LGBT Alaskans, I asked Bent Alaska readers to support him, too. (And I’m happy to say that John won an NN scholarship in Round 1 of the competition. Shannyn is also going to NN.)

All of that was before I became as deeply involved with Bent Alaska as I now am: a coadministrator and behind-the-scenes geek, as well as an ongoing contributor.

So at the beginning of May, when Jeanne Devon of The Mudflats (aka AKMuckraker) wrote to me about an “interesting opportunity,” I went for it. Yeah, I decided.  I do want to go.

The opportunity she put me onto was for a full or partial scholarship under a new Netroots Nation initiative, LGBT Netroots Connect, which — well, let the mailer tell the story —

For the past three years, an activist named Mike Rogers has taken it upon himself to organize LGBT bloggers, organizations and their allies at Netroots Nation. His efforts have been so successful that we’re making it an official part of our program—a new initiative called Netroots Connect.

Netroots Connect will bring small groups of progressives together for a day of strategizing around a particular issue. We believe the conversations that happen here will lead to the next generation of organizing efforts for key progressive issues.

And most importantly, we want you to be a part of it. You can apply to be part of this special strategy day for LGBT bloggers, organizations and allies, which will take place June 15.

Click here to apply for a spot.

The program also features some budget for full or partial scholarships to attend Netroots Nation in an effort to make sure the LGBT community is fully represented at the conference.

The day-long event will bring together those with a stake in a strong LGBT movement—bloggers, key activists and representatives from various LGBT organizations—for a daylong session designed to help form greater strategic alliances within the movement.

As of this writing, the “Click here to apply for a spot” link still takes you to the application form I filled out.  But don’t bother filling it out — the deadline was May 6.  But feel free to take a look, if you’re interested in the kinds of questions I was asked.

This scholarship didn’t have a public “support your candidate” component like the Democracy for America competition John & Shannyn were in, but I did keep a record of my most important answers. So I’ll supply those to you too.

Write a tweet: Who are you and why should you be at Netroots Nation?

I’m a writer, poet, & deep thinker who aims to educate & persuade with fact & opinion expressed with reason, clarity, passion, & respect.

In 50 words or less, what do you hope to gain from your participation in Netroots Nation?

I recently became coadminstrator of Bent Alaska, Alaska’s LGBTQ blog. I hope to get counsel on how to bring in other writers/bloggers to enrich Bent Alaska with more content from more voices.

In 50 words or less, what do you hope to bring to Netroots Nation as a participant?

I bring my perspective: I’m ambivalent about being a “political blogger” because politics, commonly understood, tends to be about political parties, ideologies, who’s got the most votes. I want a deeper democracy, in which every person has right of participation in any decision affecting her/his life and work.

Blogging/Online Qualification * Scholarship recipients must be a regular blogger with an average of 5 posts per week or engaged as an online activist for 10 or more hours per week.

•    I blog 5 times per week on average for the past 4 months.
•    Other: I’m principle investigator of the Anchorage LGBT Discrimination Survey (in progress); we plan also to conduct a statewide LGBT community survey.

Website names/address(s)

www.henkimaa.com
www.bentalaska.com
alaskacommunity.org

Do you work for an organization or company working in the on-line arena? Tell us a bit about your experience and the work you currently do.

I’m a 20-year staff member of the Justice Center at University of Alaska Anchorage, where I’m a publication specialist and web manager responsible for our large research-oriented website and online and social internet activities. justice.uaa.alaska.edu

In 50 words or less, what issues do you focus on and what issues would you like to learn more about.

I’m eclectic. I write about writing, my life, health and mental health, the justice system, politics, religion, philosophy. Politically, my most important focus, especially on Bent Alaska, is LGBTQ equality. I’m especially interested in unlocking the lock rightwing Christianist ideologues have on religious discussion of LGBTQ people and issues.

Three links * Please enter three blog post links you would like to include in your application. (Important: Do not worry about design issues at all, this is about original content.)

http://www.bentalaska.com/2011/03/harm-at-the-center/
http://www.henkimaa.com/2009/09/03/no-debbie-title-vii/
http://www.henkimaa.com/2009/05/29/prevos-devil-masks/

[I also thought about these links, but opted for the 3 above. Actually, I thought about a whole buncha other links too, but opted for the 3 above.]

http://www.henkimaa.com/2009/05/22/prevos-red-herrings/
http://www.bentalaska.com/2011/01/anchorage%E2%80%99s-lgbt-discrimination-survey/

Here’s your chance…. Anything you want to share that is not covered above? This is the place.

I’ve accomplished some important work in Alaska toward LGBTQ equality, including blogging about the 2009 “Summer of Hate” in Anchorage regarding a sexual orientation/gender identity equal rights ordinance. I’m also known here for some of my in-depth posts on Sarah Palin, Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan, and efforts by rightwingers to overturn provisions of Alaska’s constitution on judicial selection and retention, among other “political” posts.

But by far the most important work I’ve done for the cause of LGBTQ equality and progressive politics in general is to live openly and matter-of-factly as who I am — as a lesbian, yes, but also as a writer of poetry and science fiction/fantasy; as someone with a B.A. in Religion who continues to be fascinated by the human religious impulse; as someone who has struggled lifelong with depression/despair; and as everything else I am . That’s how I live my daily workaday life, and it’s also how I blog.  Thus, I write about all sorts of stuff that I care ranging from day-to-day trivia to philosophical ponderings to the well-researched and documented political.  I think it’s important to fight the political fights we fight, but it’s also important to live the lives those political fights are about — and to reflect our lives, with integrity, in how and what we write.

And so, this past Sunday night I got the word: I was in.

Mel the reluctant political blogger with Brian the Moose

Mel the reluctant political blogger with Brian the Moose at the True Diversity Dinner, September 2009. Photo by Jeanne Devon (AKMuckraker) of The Mudflats.

I did inform a few people — notably Jeanne Devon, who told me about it in the first place, and my co-admin at Bent Alaska, E. Ross, and my fellow members of the newly created Bent Alaska News Team — but didn’t get around to writing a post about it until now because, well, I’ve been busy writing other blog posts. Oh yeah, and doing some of that writing that I told Shannyn Moore back in February I wanted to do instead of any of this political blogging.

Besides, I also wanted to get my travel arrangements in place.  I did that today, with the help of the very activist whose efforts over the past few years led to the LGBT Netroots Connect, Mike Rogers.  Turns out that this is the Mike Rogers who’s the managing director of Raw Story — and a really cool guy who’s looking forward to get an Alaska LGBT blogger down at Netroots so he can grill me about… well, you know which famous Alaskan he wants to grill me about. ;)

Now I really want to go.

You’ll be hearing more about Netroots Nation on both Henkimaa and Bent Alaska over the next few weeks, especially when I’m right there in Minneapolis: one of my obligations as a scholarship recipient is to write at least two 125+ word blog posts per day over the course of the conference.

(125 words? Ha! Think I could possibly ever right a blog post shorter than 125 words?)

Meantime, I want to thank Shannyn for thinking of me back in February, Jeanne for thinking of me back earlier this month, Mike Rogers, for deciding he’d like to meet me in Minneapolis on June 15, and E. Ross, who founded Bent Alaska in March 2008 and single-handedly made it the single most important source of news and information for LGBTQ Alaskans and their friends and allies.

(She really should be going to Netroots Nation herself,  but unfortunately has other obligations.)

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2 Responses to I’m going to Netroots Nation

  1. OzMud says:

    Totally, completely and utterly proud *beams* You so deserve this! And while you’re doing all that schmoozing and writing and gettin’ grilled – don’t forget to have some fun! (Let us know where you’re putting those daily posts so we can have a sticky beak and try to keep up with you :)

    • Mel says:

      Hey OzMud, thanks! The posts I write will be on Henkimaa and/or Bent Alaska.

      Hope all’s bright & sunshiny in fair Queensland — especially after the floods of summer. Really gotta get more of my Oz photos up!

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