In the kitchen with some blogging moms

I spent the morning with bagels, cheese knives, coffee, and intense gossip with Grace, Mary, Jill, Pam, and Beth at Jill’s house. We tease Jill about her martha-stewarty mad hosting skillz. Pam knows the tricks of buying cheese knives post-holiday. Mary says she never knew what a cheese knife was while growing up, since you don’t need one for a “kraft single”. Pam from Silicon Valley Moms’ Blog told me some old gossip that the Palo Alto PTA voted to give their official support to the Los Altos High School GSA (Gay-Straight Alliance) who had an LGBT Pride March this summer (here’s some photos!). That was cool to hear.

We talked email lists, politics, schools, wealth and poverty, our general visibility, and (duh) blogs and blogging. BlogHer & the conference. Cliques/friends/being shy/encouraging clustering or small groups/meeting up. (Extremely brief digression onto Scoble/Winer posts and flak. ) Group blogs, examples of. Structure – editing? Or no? Editorial guidelines. Subjects for your bloggers, or focus, or a schedule, or controlling the “flow” of when posts go up? When your bloggers aren’t coming from a place of being writers, or bloggers, or tech people. We discuss the model. This was all fascinating. I show and Technorati favorites and Bloglines and Ecto and Performancing to Beth, the CTM (Chief Technological Mom) for svmoms. We talked about our own backgrounds in computer programming and what it’s like to leave that, have some kids, and then be drawn back to that world but everything’s changed on top of any other “reentry” problems or already existing annoying sexism in an industry.

And more. We all talk at once, pleasantly. Ads on blogs. People wanting to do interviews. Print media. What does it all mean? What are we doing? What’s happening? Club Mom, ivillage, Blogher, blogads, Blogging Baby, Babycenter: how they’re structured and what they pay. People wanting “free focus group” info and wanting to pick our brains. What is the point of one’s group blog. Not that. But we still have to deal with it. How? What we want to create: Empowerment – face to face meetup component – pairing up with other moms- community – everyone having a voice online – public discussions in a better forum than email lists – local interest. But what about when you’re read by people outside of the area? What do they want / need? Stats. Comments. How to measure success? Who is reading? We talk about Technorati rank. Do we care?

We talk about diversity. It is good and amazing that svmoms is getting lots of women blogging who weren’t before. I mention kind of obnoxiously that I make a bad token lesbian mom because I’m married to a guy. Jill grins at me and says that I have an Interesting Life. We all crack up. Question raised, when your kid thinks they’re gay, considering home-schooling them to protect them from bigotry. I am pondering this and would be very curious to talk to other parents about it. I bet PFLAG has lots of discussion and advice on that issue.

At some point Pam talks about being the geek wife at conferences for years and what that is like and what it’s like for her now to blog from her own point of view about her life and her work (which is unpaid.) (It is much like the traditional unpaid job of “faculty wife” from my pt of view.) We all talk about this. What we do (economics of it) in support of partner’s job is not recognized as economic contribution, although it’s huge. To have professional careers, we need “wives” too. This is messed up – not right – society needs restructuring – we know other feminists have said this before a hundred times – how did we get here?

“We’re only *having* this conversation because a bunch of us have nannies.”

Discussion of spreading out fundraising efforts among schools in a district. The movie “From First to Worst”. Palo Alto schools are good for the area, but still awful compared to 46 other states (California is number 47 out of 50.) We talked again about wealth and how odd it is that no matter how rich or poor we are, we have been in the place of richer people treating us like their token poor person. Jill is the least rich person on her street! (!!) How we look to people in other parts of the country. (Rich and scary.) Digital divide & economic divide in Silicon Valley itself. Palo Alto’s “token poor” are grad students… Mothers’ clubs and parents’ clubs. I sheepishly tell Jill that I am possibly considered a bit of a mom’s club troublemaker – a loose cannon – fair warning. She can ask Betsy or Camilla for their perspective on me if she pleases! I don’t mind!

I have the weird feeling like we are diplomats, 3 from Blogher and 3 from their new thing, svmoms, and it’s pretty cool.

Blogging classes at the library? Everyone interested. I need to check out the library’s computer lab space. Hair coloring and fashion comes up. We look at Vox. Concluding thoughts – we talked about Mary’s wish to have a northern cali bloggers-who-are-also-moms meetup or low-key coffee hour and maybe this will happen in conjunction with SVmoms, everyone we know, everyone we read, and anyone from BlogHer who happens to live here. Outside on the way out, I warn Mary that this meetup could get really really big. She looks at me like I’ve just discovered my own toes. “Yeah. I think it just did.”

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23 Responses to In the kitchen with some blogging moms

  1. JM says:

    That's it. I'm totally going to borrow a kid for a day — you guys have all the fun and the best conversations!

  2. Liz says:

    Julie!! I mentioned your books and that you are willing to try out co-teaching some blogging classes!You will notice I didn't have Moomin with me. He was at camp! The kids there were in a far-distant room, doing something ominously silent. – liz

  3. JM says:

    liz! "willing to try" is an understatement. "totally stoked" would be more appropriate.

  4. jill says:

    Thank you for spending the morning with us! We really had a great time meeting you and learning SO MUCH for your experiences!Look forward to seeing you again real soon – btw, love the fact that you are teh squeaky wheel of your moms club! That is so cool!!!! (coming from the ex prez of PAMP)again, great time together!jill

  5. pamela hornik says:

    Wow, we did talk about alot. Great to meet you. Coffee at my place next time. So many issues, so little time.

  6. Elizabeth says:

    Wow, you did cover a lot of topics! I wish there was a blogging Moms group in my town. I only know of one, whom I 've already met, but how do we find the others?

  7. CityMama says:

    Sounds fascinating! …count me in for a for a future NorCalBlogapalooza meet-up.

  8. Beth Blecherman says:

    It was so great seeing you, Mary, and Grace. You were all so generous with your wisdom (and had so much of it to share). I almost feel like blogging has tapped into that "open-source" nature of people being so eager to share information. Really enjoyed the tech talk and the virtual tour of organizing blogs for viewing. I had been using the old fashioned "browser bookmarks" (oh – so pre-Web 2.0), but now I am going to try bloglines. Hope to have more blog-tech talks, maybe at our future coffee discussions so we can share it with other interested bloggers.

  9. Mom101 says:

    I would have loved loved LOVED to have been there. Seriously. This sounds just wonderful and smart and Socratic and all good things.

  10. Mary Tsao says:

    You have a wicked good memory. I don't think you left out anything, including my own thoughts!Thank you for making me sound funny and smart.

  11. Thida says:

    Sounds interesting! Count me in for future meetups.

  12. Meghan says:

    I wish there was some sort of instantaneous transport to Minneapolis. I would love tohave been a part of that conversation ( I was running on about 2.5 hours of sleep and total exhaustion at the last wolf camp… I may have looked deceptively comatose but I was paying attention!)I may need to try to get a northern fation going.

  13. Lisa Hirsch says:

    A comment about "society needs to be restructured:" there was an annoying article in the NY Times Science Times section a while back that I should have written a letter about. A prominent European scientist – female, I think Nobel prize winner – has established a foundation to help woman scientists stay established in science after they have children. Her solution? Grants for childcare.I wanted to scream. YES, it's a good thing, but NOWHERE was there any mention that 1) men don't need this because they have wives to take care of the kids 2) science needs restructuring if women are generally unwilling to put in insane hours after they've had children 3) attitudes need to change so that NO ONE has to put in insane hours to be in science.

  14. badgermama says:

    Yikes, now I'm sure someone will make Mommyblogapalooza. I love the idea of mom coffee hours becoming not only the emotional / social support and political strategizing that they already are (frex the endless discussions of pta and schools, which is politics just as much as whatever discussion happens on Daily Kos) but also information sharing, teaching each other stuff. The way feminists teaching each other to fix cars was radical – we're doing that now.

  15. Liz says:

    Oh! And I just came across this again this morning because of something Koan said:Bev's notes on Nancy's talk on online competencies. Full of useful ideas and take-off points for talking. Y'all SVmoms will like this!

  16. crazedparent says:

    i love it – mommyblogapalooza. count me in!

  17. Jenn says:

    I want to come play! Foot stomping and arms crossed. I think the commute for coffee would be rather long (but worth it!)Hello? North Dallas Moms? WTH are you? I am SO moving in with Grace now!

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  19. Indeed a workable perspective there. Thanks.

  20. SS Flange says:

    Nice perspective Indeed

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  22. Wow! This was simply amazing