Netroots Nation 2009 Round-up.

It is always interesting reading what different people get out of conferences and how they apply it to the work they do. Netroots is one of those spaces that are unique in that people from all walks of life converge for something they are passionate about, something that they often don’t get paid to do and something that is trying to bring some semblance of justice and accountability to our legislative process. It is this process that Feministing has given me some access to, by having such a loud megaphone to discuss issues that I think are important and I want you, the voting public, to read about.
Netroots was an interesting experience for me, but not for the same reason it may be for other bigger bloggers, or bloggers that are professional, maybe more moderate and often, don’t write about their personal experiences or opinions in the way that I do. Netroots was exciting because it connected me with a subculture of people that drift around the Netroots and connect everywhere we go, constantly engaging in what we have learned thus far, how far we have come and what we can do to better incorporate the voices of our most marginalized in our coverage.
I won’t lie, I was critical of how I would feel at Netroots, similar to how I am critical of many mainstream conferences that are consistently by and for a very specific subset of able-bodied, heteronormative, white, male, middle class, college educated constituency. And I was right, the conference at a cursory glance was not as diverse as say, The Allied Media Conference or the US Social Forum, or Sister Song and other spaces that foster and centralize diverse voices.
But what was notable, and made me happy to be there was to be able to connect with all the people that make my world go round and to further make our impact known in a world that has been historically dominated by certain voices. Perhaps it was the hallway conversations with Baratunde Thurston and Jill Filipovic. Or the late night drinks with Amanda Marcotte and Khari Mosley. Or bumping into Melissa Harris-Lacewell and James Perry (or rather, them catching us staring at them and admitting what big fans we are, FYI MHL loves Feministing!). Or late night eats with Davey D and Goddess Jaz. Or bumping into Biko Baker and Billy Wimsatt in front of the convention center. Or partying with Jaclyn Friedman and our very own Ann. Or hanging out with the bad-ass ladies of the Media Consortium. Or finding out that Atrios knows who I am? Or seeing a fantastic panel on Immigration coverage with Rinku Sen and Cheryl Contee and some other awesome folks and watch them call out progressive bloggers for their inability to effectively cover immigration. Or the sit down I was graciously invited to with Jerry Nadler, aka “one of the good ones.” Or perhaps it was sitting on a panel with some really talented lady-bloggers and watching as people inhaled our every word, that made me realize, again and again, we need to be here.
It is easy to have our voices drowned out, even in a crowd that may have the same values as we do. But despite that reality, we cannot deny the constant murmur of justice as held by the figureheads I named above and the impact of the work they do, to not only bring diversity in the Netroots but in bringing the power of the netroots to their diverse constituents.
That is what made Netroots rock for me, and yeah, that story is not about specifics on how to change policy, how to use these tools in accountability or how to reframe the healthcare debate. But all of that is affected by the diversity of the people doing the work, and the more diverse it is, the more effective and comprehensive any change we make using new technology will be.

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