A week ago, I returned from a visit to NYC where I attended the BlogHer 2012 conference. As I do before any trip, I printed out my handy packing list and meticulously crossed things off as they entered the suitcase staging zone (a.k.a. the floor of my office). I was prepared for almost everything, including layers to ward off the chill of air conditioning, a thermal mug to keep my morning tea warm and my afternoon thirst trash-free, and a pen with an extra refill for all the notes I anticipated taking in the breakout sessions. I say almost everything because the one thing I was unprepared for was unpackable.
It looked like this:
I was filled with immense repulsion and curiosity about the swag that lured my fella bloggers to the expo halls in droves. Recognizing this as an opportunity to witness and experience the part of consumerism I regularly avoid, a conscious shift into observer mode took over. I needed something to make this feature of the conference tolerable, and having a like-minded friend along for the self-guided swag tours was key.
One could snack, sip and lip-smack their way through all the edibles. S’more-making stations in a faux-backyard environment in a hotel suite were ingenious and popular. Yogurt, juice smoothies, power bars, meat thingies, coffees, and more were available throughout the day. Aside from rescuing a piece of s’more-destined chocolate for a quick pick-me-up, I opted against all the edible samples as they produced one of my least favorite side-effects of these events: landfill-destined trash.
Now remember, this was a conference for bloggers, and one of my Bay Area blogging friends, Beth Terry, was worth the visit to the expo where she signed and sold her fabulous book, Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Plastic Habit and How You Can Too. Here’s Beth and one of my new blogger friends at the signing…
So what was the most perfect “swag” that came home with me? Small enough to fit into my back pocket and destined for the recycle bin when I’m finished with them is the stack of business cards from the wide array of bloggers I met over the course of three days. These are women from as far afield as Rio de Janiero and Zimbabwe, to as near as across the bay or the Upper West Side of Manhattan. These are women who are survivors of trauma such as postpartum psychosis, the loss of a child, and the shooting rampage in Tucson. These are women who are exploring identity, racial, political and social justice issues, and women who are simply blogging for the love of it. The conversations we shared, the cards we exchanged, and now the friendships we are forming are the greatest takeaways of all.
cross-posted at Liberated Spaces