I’m probably making a huge blogging mistake, posting what I consider to be an important entry on the Saturday of a three-day weekend. While people are most likely on a beach, hiking or taking a technology break I have spent hours today writing about the second full day of the Vida Vegan Con. At this point it’s going to take eight posts to describe my Portland / Vida Vegan Con experience, and it was so last week, so I need to wrap this series up!
Let me start with this. Today I turned 46. Yep, I’m no longer “post-40.” I’m now “approaching 50.” You know what I love? That last weekend, my last as a 45-year-old, I was hanging out with so many amazing people, the majority significantly younger than me. And I felt like I belonged. Age is just a number. I feel more alive, healthy and vibrant than ever. Vida Vegan Con provided a space to be a part of a community as well as to turn inward and reflect.
The second full day of the conference (you can read about day one here) left me pondering this important question: What’s my mission statement? Specifically, what’s my blog mission statement and what’s my personal mission statement regarding my veganism? As I describe the panels I think you’ll understand why I began ruminating on these questions.
Oh wait, my day began with (another!) 4-mile run and then a repeat of the fabulous breakfast buffet.
Okay, now I’m ready.
I attended this session because my vegetarian to vegan journey has been an interesting one. I became vegetarian because of an animal but I became vegan for diet. As time goes on I’m identifying far more as an ethical vegan. I wanted to learn how I might deal with the ethics more directly on my blog, keeping in mind that my audience is varied. Here’s a snapshot of what I learned:
- Bake sales are a great way to promote veganism (delicious food!) and raise money for animal rights.
- Find your voice and be true to it.
- Wearing animal rights shirts, carrying an AR tote, etc are simple ways to engage conversation and be an activist.
- Most of us weren’t born/raised vegan. We came to it. Remember that when you’re working with non-vegans.
- “How do we talk about Animal Rights on our blogs without alienating our readers?” Be genuine. Know your audience.
- A blog is a conversation. It is not set in stone; it’s dynamic.
- How to use food as activism: Write letters to editors (of cooking magazines?) Bake once a week and take it to work and handout the recipe and a few facts on animal rights. Host an all-vegan holiday dinner. Reach out to restaurants requesting vegan options.
I write requests for funding for a living. I’m not a trained food writer (trust me, I know I’m not telling you anything you haven’t already figured out if you read my blog). I wanted some help. Session highlights:
- Why do you blog? What differentiates your blog? Thinking about these questions will help you focus.
- Show, don’t tell. If a nut is delicious, describe why it’s delicious. Slow down and think about the five senses.
- Verbs: get specific. Did you walk or did you stroll, wander, amble. Find another way to say “is” or “are”.
- Adjectives are like accessories: do you want a “delicious” brownie or an “orgasmic” brownie?
- Adverbs are like MSG: overused and often unnecessary.
- Every word should be there for a reason.
- Blog posts should be 150 – 300 words (I heard this at the BlogHer ’11 conference too. I am a too-many-words offender! This post is an example — however, note that I did choose to break down my VVC experience into eight posts instead of a one post dissertation. I’m trying!)
- Stay focused, don’t wander, don’t assume.
- Ground readers with a title.
- Be careful with “always” and “never” and “perfect”. Nothing is absolute in this world.
- Exclamation points are like decadent fudge. You don’t want to eat it every day.
- Before you click publish: Revise (does this reflect my voice? review verbs, cut words); Check links: Proofread.
Story-making and Food Blogging (There’s a dragon in my tempeh taco..): Terry Hope Romero
You sense a theme here, yes? I craved tips for enhancing my writing. Session highlights:
- What story am I going to tell and how is it going to make my blog different?
- If you tell a good story, it will help keep your blog afloat.
- You have to be your own editor.
- What is a story? Beginning (the promise/hook), middle (information + emotion) and end (the promise delivered).
- Brief posts: consider linking to a recipe instead of including the recipe text in the post.
- What’s YOUR story? Why do you blog? What’s your blog mission statement? (Make it story friendly) Describe your blog in one sentence.
- Never write a blog post that starts with “I was bored at work.” We all get bored at work. Who are YOU & why will readers come back?
- If you haven nothing to say on your blog, post a picture of a cat.
A full morning! It was lunch time and I was bad blogger. The food looked so good I just started eating. Fortunately Bianca took a great shot.
The taco buffet included soy curls (a new favorite) and walnut meat (raw). So good. After a poolside chat with Gena I scurried off to the final session.
Jasmin kicked things off and this statement resonated with me completely: “Say what you want. Say what you mean. Say it with fervor. Let the comments fall where they may.”
- The satirist wants you to snap out of it. See something old in a new way.
- Put to use your sense of humor, sense of outrage…your vision of a better world.
- Don’t let mean comments stop you.
This session turned into a dialogue among the panelists and the audience. It was engaging and gave me much to consider.
and a send off from Isa Chandra Moskowitz and Terry Hope Romero.
This ends my recap of the actual content of the conference. Be sure to check out Episode 86 of Our Hen House for Jasmin’s take on the Con. I just listened to it this morning and my heart was full. I kept thinking “I was there!”
My final Portland / Vida Vegan Con recap (yep, eight in total) will highlight a dinner date of my dreams, a lunch date of my dreams and a crazy trip home to New York.
This post is 1,196 words. Sorry Dynise and Terry!