Prepping for Netroots Nation — #nn11 #nn11lgbt

Crossposted at Bent Alaska

A couple of weeks ago I announced that I’m going to Netroots Nation 11 on full scholarship through the LGBT Netroots Connect initiative. Now it’s time to finish preparing for it if only because I’m just about to fly outta here.

Netroots Nation, Minneapolis, June 2011I’m sticking a couple of hashtags in my post title so this post will tweet nicely. FYI, #nn11 stands for Netroots Nation 11, to be held starting next Thursday in Minneapolis, and #nn11lgbt is the hashtag for LGBT Netroots Connect program, via which I got the full scholarship to the LGBT preconference next Wednesday as well as NN11 itself. Got that? Cool. Too geeky for you? Oh well, sorry. I’ll translate: it’ll make my post, when Twitter picks it up, easily findable by other geeky NN11 attendees & vicarious spectators who want to know what’s being said about NN11 and NN11lgbt.

Bow ties are cool. — The Eleventh Doctor

Bow ties are cool. — The Eleventh Doctor

A few days ago I wrote on Henkimaa about the cool-as-bow-ties Netroots Nation 11 mobile app that I downloaded onto my iPod Touch. So cool that it turns my iPod Touch into a veritable sonic screwdriver.  Don’t get that reference either?  Here, I’ll help you out: it makes my iPod Touch even more useful a tool than it was before.  Especially, it makes it easy for me to figure out which sessions I want to go to at the conference, and where they fit in my overall conference schedule.

Then the app went funky on me. Obviously, the good folks of NN11 were fixing it. They loaded some Netroots Nations sessions into the app that hadn’t been in it before. But other sessions disappeared completely, including some of those I was most interested in.  The attendees registered in slowly started climbing, though. For awhile there it looked like 90% of them would have first names starting with M. Now other letters are starting to fill out.

And now most or all of the sessions seem to be in there too.  Again with the bow-tie coolness and sonic-screwdriverly usefulness.  And so I can, again, better prep for NN11.

Good thing, too, because I’m flying out tomorrow morning.  (I’m writing this Thursday night.  By the time you read this, I’ll be on my way.)


Obviously, since even the LGBT preconference doesn’t happen until next Wednesday, I must be doing something else first.  Yes: I’m flying to Portland — the one in Oregon — to see my ex-but-still-beloved Ptery.  Ptery, a transman, is currently (& somewhat by choice) homeless, and is a homeless activist living in Dignity Village, a city-recognized homeless camp. But tomorrow — that is, Friday — he’ll be participating in a peaceful & direct action for homeless rights: camping with homeless & formerly homeless community members on the Rose Parade route. And since it’s Friday I’m getting there, I’m participating too, and thus will be sacking out in a tent Friday night somewhere along that route.  I’ll spend a couple of nights at Dignity Village, too, with in-between a night with my friends Genny & Deirdre, who I haven’t seen in a couple of years.

I hope to write a blog post or two while I’m in Portland. Homelessness issues… the trans community of which Ptery is part… the incredible community response to a viscious gaybashing that occurred recently on Portland’s Hawthorne Bridge, about which we included an item (including video) in Bent News a few days ago.

Then Tuesday I’ll fly on to Minneapolis via Seattle & Denver… yeah, that airport layover thing again. Arriving there quite late Tuesday night.


And it’ll be pretty strange, after one night in a tent and a couple more at Dignity Village, to be residing for several days in the Hilton Minneapolis. Hopefully a hotel that’s not subject to the unfair labor practices that have been plaguing workers at Anchorage’s Hilton (as well as our Sheraton) the past few years.

The LGBT preconference will be all day Wednesday.  I have no idea what’s in store there, except to know that Mike Rogers, the guy behind LGBT Netroots Connect (as well as a whole lot else!) tells me that a lot of the folks down there are pretty excited that an LGBT blogger from Alaska will be there.  (I am still, by the way, waiting to see if anyone got the joke I inserted in my “I’m going to Netroots Nation” post about which famous Alaskan Mike was curious about. First person to write the correct answer in comments on this post gets some kind of cool NN11 swag from me.)

I should have Wifi, & whenever I do — here we go Twitter, again.  I intend to tweet from Netroots quite a bit.  So if you’re interested in what I or other LGBT Netroots Connect and NN11 participants are doing, get used to those hashtags. Here they are again: #nn11 and #nn11lgbt. Interested persons can also follow me on Twitter @yksin.  And my Tweets will be automatically compiled, as usual, into Daily Tweets posts at Henkimaa (but not at Bent), to which I’ll try to add descriptive subtitle & useful commentary as I have time.  I’ll also be writing regular posts (as indeed I’m required to by the terms of my scholarship), which will be posted at Henkimaa, and/or Bent Alaska (especially those that are directly LGBT-relevant), or both.

Netroots Nation itself begins Thursday, June 16.  If you’re curious, you too can download the cool-as-bowties NN11 mobile app from iTunes or whatever Android users use (assuming the app is there too). Or you can simply visit the Netroots Nation website.

Now, the reason I’m going to NN11 isn’t for Henkimaa.  The kind of conference Henkimaa would want me to go to would be one in which a whole bunch of writers sat at tables with laptops and coffee and wrote, wrote, wrote, wrote.  But hey, I do that with my writing buddies every Side Street Saturday and every Sugarspoon Tuesday — just a walk up the street or a brief ride on the People Mover.

No, I’m going to NN11 for Bent Alaska. Which is an LGBT blog.  And a blog, furthermore, which — well, let me quote from my scholarship application:

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.

That question, that answer, is my single biggest reason for going to Netroots.  Hand-in-hand with it is the desire to connect with other LGBT bloggers and allies around the country to talk about our common goal of LGBT equality and how we, as the “media voices” of our movement can help to bring that about.

Thus, the very first session I added to my schedule as a “must go” was Managing a State Community Blog — “Need ideas for expanding your state blog’s reach? Trying to build your frontpage crew?” — no kidding, yeah.  I am. Especially to build the frontpage crew — because, y’know, I’m still that reluctant political blogger, who still wants to be a Henkimaa‘s version of a conference, where I can write write write write my “own” stuff.  We want to get more people in on Bent — more bloggers, more voices, more parts of the state represented.  (And not just on “political” stuff, but on the whole gamut of LGBTQ life, culture, politics, interests.)

Then I went through and added everything in the LGBT topic:

But there’s also lots of other sessions I’m interested in, and none — well, let’s say “not all” —  of these are cast in stone.  If there’s any Bent Alaska reader of an activist nature who sees something in the NN11 sessions that you think I should really consider going to — please get in comments or message me via my Facebook profile and tell me why.  And I’ll consider it. I really will.

If I had a highest goal of this Netroots: it’s that my participation in it this year could lead to the participation of someone else from LGBTQ Alaska next year. Someone, I hope, who becomes as committed to the health & welfare of Bent Alaska & the whole of the Alaska community we serve, as we strive to be.

* * *

But there’s one last item of note in my preparing for NN11.  I wrote on my scholarship application,

[B]y 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 .

Emphasis added.  That bolded item is another big part of why I initially had no interest in going to NN11.  It’s also the reason I didn’t go to my college class 30-year reunion, which was held last week, despite the urging of friends that I come.  And one of them — a classmate I didn’t know well in college, but with whom I’ve recently been getting better acquainted (no, not that way) — seemed just a little hurt, or at least dissapointed, when she learned that I’d stood up reunion, but was going to Minneapolis.  So I wrote to her:

I basically decided to go if & only if I got that LGBT Netroots Connect scholarship … & mainly because I felt (& continue to feel) that the conference can drop some wisdom on me about how to get other folks involved, consistently & reliably, with the blog. Because I am subject to burnout, thanks to my well-known (because I write about it) propensity to go into some Very Bad Places Inside Myself when I become overwhelmed with too much to do that doesn’t feed my spirit, that isn’t “mine.” (Like my writing is.) I want to do what I can for Bent, but not at my own expense.

I just wanted you to know that. I didn’t just stand up reunion in order to go to Netroots. Either of them is somewhat dangerous for me, b/c the Bad Places Inside Myself shit —

… (I don’t much like calling it “depression” anymore b/c what used to be a term of convenience for what I consider primarily a spiritual issue, though it does have it’s biological components, has been so medicalized & psychiatrized)…

— can easily have its wire tripped by big social events containing lots of people wanting to be talked & schmoozed with, with little downtime. Kinda like reunion. Kinda like NN. In fact, I’m just about to start writing a blog post about prepping for NN that will include some discussion of this: the care I’ll need to take to avoid derailing myself through what is otherwise a pretty cool thing.

I don’t mean to give the impression I’m some fragile vase or something that will shatter at a touch… but it was a long hard haul, figuring out how to take care of myself around this stuff — my dance with despair is the central stuff of my life — & I pay it mind.

So while you’ll find a lot of afterhours parties and late entertainments on the NN11 schedule — I doubt I’ll be going to many of them. With all the excitement of learning lots and meeting lots of cool people, I know I’m likely to become overhwelmed.  And I’m going to need some heavy duty downtime, and plenty of sleep.  If anyone wants to drop in the occasional reminder for me to remember that, please do.  I want to come back to Alaska invigorated… not swamped in a pit of my own making.

Did I say plenty of sleep?  And here it is 12:10 PM, with a 7:00 AM flight.  And I haven’t even packed yet. Gee, Mel, that’s a great start.

I’m prepping this for posting at 8:00 AM, Alaska time.  By that time I’ll be an hour in the air on my way to Portland.  Fast asleep, I hope.

See you on the other side.

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