#resound11 – Dec 9: Best Photo

12/09: Best PhotoToday, please post your best photo of the year. It doesn’t have to be the best technically, it doesn’t have to be the best visually, but it should be a photo that you consider the best. Does it have special meaning? Is it of a significant event or moment? Share it with us! (#)

I really can’t pick just one. So, I have more than one. Okay, this is basically the highlights of the whole year in pictures.

In March I gave a presentation at SXSW Interactive. That was a Big Deal.

When I saw these in the green room is when I really started to freak out.
Table Tents. It's official! When I saw these in the green room is when I really started to freak out.

But my family missed me while I was gone.

my family waiting for me to come home
My family waiting for me to come home. 🙂

In May we went to New Orleans for #nerdwedding11, the nuptials of my friends Tiffany Brown and Jason Toney. The party of the year. We rocked out. Not only was it great to celebrate with Jason and Tiffany, it was a rare coming together of most of whom I affectionately refer to as “the fam.” All folks I know/met online back in the early 2000s, and/or who I met in person through various trips to Austin for SXSW Interactive and in-between and subsequent visits elsewhere. My people.

Me and Missy at #nerdwedding11. Photo courtesy of Michelle Jones (mjones).
"The Incredibly True Story of..." Me and Missy at #nerdwedding11. Photo courtesy of Michelle Jones (mjones).
Swirlspice Will Educate You About 'Bust a Move'. It's her jam.
"Swirlspice Will Educate You About 'Bust a Move'. It's her jam." It is my jam! I know alla those words. Photo courtesy of Michelle Jones (mjones).
Tiffany Brown in her element at her wedding reception/the party of the year, #nerdwedding11.
Tiffany Brown in her element. Photo courtesy of Michelle Jones (mjones).
You Know How We Do. Toasting to Tito at #nerdwedding11.
The fam toasting with shots of Tito's Vodka, which is made and has been previously consumed in Austin, TX. (The groom and bride are on the right.) Photo courtesy of Michelle Jones (mjones).

Twin Cities Pride is in June. We marched in the parade for the first time, worked the Project 515 booth, and now I’m a Project 515 board member.

Marching with Project 515 in the 2011 Twin Cities Pride Parade
Marching with Project 515 in the 2011 Twin Cities Pride Parade

I’m a Minnesota Lynx season ticket holder. The Lynx won the WNBA championship this year. Games were fun all year, but playoffs in September and October were especially exciting.

Wearing my JPRGxLYNX Shirt at the Lynx Pre-Game Block Party
Wearing my JPRGxLYNX shirt at the Lynx pre-game block party ahead of Game 1 of the WNBA Finals. This photo appeared on WNBA.com.
Seimone Augustus Hoists Her 2011 WNBA Championship and WNBA Finals MVP Trophies
Seimone is standing atop the scorer's table at Phillips Arena in Atlanta holding the WNBA Finals MVP trophy and the WNBA Championship trophy. And I was there. Standing in the front row. As I had throughout the game, Looking right up at her.
me and the WNBA Championship trophy
Me and the WNBA Championship trophy. The photo opp with the trophy is hands down the best season ticket holder perk I've ever gotten.

The next weekend, Missy and I ran a 5k together. Missy’s first ever 5k! It was a fundraiser for Minnesotans United for All Families.

Big Gay 5k Finishers - me and Missy
Big Gay 5k Finishers

This week I learned I got accepted to grad school. Starting in January, I’ll be working on a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership at St. Kate’s. Missy made me a congratulatory sign.

congratulations sign - Bye-bye engineering... Hello LIFE!
Bye-bye engineering... Hello LIFE!

My Introduction to the Enneagram Personality System

Since I’ve been back on an Enneagram kick, I signed up for a daily “EnneaThought” email. I get a sentence or two designed to make me think about how I’m behaving and teach me more about all the aspects of my specific personality type (I’m a Six).

When a daily email particularly resonates with me, I’ve been sharing it on Google+. I’ve shared it enough and had enough conversations about concepts and resources that I decided to include some stock language every time I post about the Enneagram, or at least every time I post my daily EnneaThought. This is inspired by Chris Penn‘s daily social media posting of his Welcome aboard! page so his new followers can get to know him better.

My intro to the Enneagram looks like this:

What I like about the Enneagram Personality System is it examines your motivations – the root cause of your behaviors, not just the symptoms. I had some real eye-opening, a-ha moments learning about my own Type Six personality. It gives you a path to personal growth. You can take it as simply or complex as you want to.

Read more about how the Enneagram works.

Determine your Enneagram personality type. The free RHETI sampler is a good start if you want to do some extra reading about the types to solidify your understanding of the results. If you want it to just tell you, take the full RHETI test for $10.

The Enneagram book I recommend starting with is Personality Types: Using the Enneagram for Self-Discovery.

My First Reiki

I’ve been doing some work this year around getting in touch with my intuition and manifesting positive change in my life. It’s been in fits and starts and I don’t have any real routine, but I have done a lot of reading and have become familiar with some concepts.

For a variety of reasons, not the least of which was positive testimonial from friends, I decided to try a reiki session. I am so not in touch with my intuition, but I felt like I’ve done enough work thus far that I was ready to give it a try. Whatever “ready” means.

I used to get massages from a guy named Scott, aka Northern Druid. Scott’s also a reiki master, but he’s not currently practicing, so I asked him for recommendations and he sent me to Angela at Artifex Manuum.

I came in, filled out the necessary form, and followed Angela down the stairs and into a room which was pretty typical of bodywork. Low light, nice smells, and soothing music. She asked how I was doing and noted I had said this was my first reiki. I said I was feeling great today. Work was boring and annoying and I generally didn’t move around a lot, but as usual I come home and see my wife and my dog and do some yoga and life is good. I felt quite energetic today.

She asked me if I had any questions. In retrospect I wish I had asked her what to expect. I didn’t think there’d be much to it. There wasn’t much to it. But it would’ve helped me transition into the whole thing.

I laid down on my back on the throw-covered massage table. She stretched out my legs so I was laying flat and presumably in reasonable alignment. I closed my eyes and we started with my setting an intention while she gave my neck a little stretch. I set my intention for clarity and guidance and then, per her instructions, enveloped it with love and light.

And then basically she laid her hands on me in various places over the course of 30 minutes. Partway through I turned over so she could repeat the process on my back. At each point she almost-imperceptibly moved her hands back and forth. I figured this was to help facilitate energy flow. I could be wrong about that.

I was trying very hard to calm my busy brain, so I mentally repeated my intention over and over for a bit. While this was happening, she laid her hands on my shoulders and the crown of my head. I then decided I would try clearing my chakras. I started with my root chakra and worked my way up. When I got to my throat chakra, her hands arrived there at the exact same time. At that point I realized she had moved from my crown to my forehead to my throat and that she was following my chakras in the other direction. I then thought my spinning my chakras might be counter-productive, so I finished up quick and then tried to just focus on my breath.

A number of times I got a full body chill. It was a tad cool in there, but the chill felt like it originated from deep within my chest.

I had expected a post mortem, but she left, giving me a minute to collect myself and let me wander back upstairs when I was done. So as I was checking out I asked her if she noticed anything in particular.

Before we get to what she said, I’ll mention that, as you may know, my project for 2011 is to figure out what my next career is going to be since I know my current job is coming to a close in the next 6-12 months.

She said she felt congestion on the back side of my neck. She pointed out that the throat chakra is where we manifest from.

The throat chakra represents communication and self-expression. It connects your thoughts with your feelings. I’m not going to overanalyze this one. I’ll just recognize that I’m lacking some clarity in where to go next. I figure this is probably related: the last two nights I have had dreams that involved me trying desperately to get somewhere but having extreme difficulty navigating.

You can help clear your throat chakra by singing and dancing. Looks like tonight calls for a pants off dance off!

She also said she consistently felt the presence of the Archangel Michael and that he was saying I have free will to stay in my job but if I want to move on he will help me do it.

Michael is a warrior and a protector. He is often depicted wearing armor and carrying a sword. He’s a great defender (particularly against the devil) and leader of the charge (particularly championing the chosen). There are only two or three or four archangels, depending on which religious tradition you follow. Michael is the most powerful. Chief. And he’s here to help.

(Aside: The grade school I went to in Southfield, MI was St. Michael. Our mascot? The Warriors. I only just now made that connection.)

I found this TherapeuticReiki.com blog post about Michael interesting.

I began connecting with Archangel Michael during the Reiki treatment sessions for one particular client, who was keen on his direction. And indeed he responded to her with practical and directive answers. As I talked to him, he showed a wonderful sense of humor. His choice of words was really funny. However, he not fooling around with respect to the content of his advice. In my experience, he has always been direct, clear, practical plus kind-hearted. His words related to both our heads and hearts.

So I may not know where I’m going (or I may have not yet become able to listen to the answer that’s out there), but I definitely know I have help.

The throat chakra part is not surprising. The Archangel Michael thing I’ll have to sit with.

Next time I go in for reiki I’ll do some things differently.

  • When we start I’ll go right for meditation right away and stop thinking so much.
  • I’ll take care to craft an intention ahead of time instead of trying to come up with something on the fly. I think a better intention would be more specific than the one I had, like a specific question that I’d like answered. Or possibly a better intention would be more vague like a desire to achieve a certain emotional state. I ended up in the middle and it felt muddled and clunky.
  • I’ll definitely ask right away when we finish what feelings, images, and/or messages she got. It’s not an intuitive reading, so I wouldn’t expect there to be much more information to convey at the end than what she gave me today.

The post session instructions are to drink a lot of water. All that energy moving around requires some lubrication.

All in all, I didn’t physically feel anything earth-shattering. Nor did I experience any especially strong emotion. But the message I got at the end felt significant and was worth it. I’ll definitely do it again.

P.S. Artifex Manuum is located in my old neighborhood so it was nice to hang out there for a bit. It’s in an office building on a totally residential corner that also houses a bike shop and some other kind of medical professional. It’s a two block walk from the apartment building I used to live in.

P.P.S. I can get $5 off another 30-minute session if I rebook with Angela within 24 hours. I flipped through my calendar and my schedule did not match up with hers for another two months so I didn’t sign up right then. I have a gift certificate for craniosacral therapy which I am now especially eager to book. A good ol’ shiatsu massage to get my chi moving would be really nice, too.

The End of fresh.mn and cinna.mn

As of mid-July, my cityblog fresh.mn will cease to exist. I will let the domain expire. The fresh.mn tumblr and Twitter will hang out for a while as they are not hosted on that domain. My other .mn domain, cinna.mn, will also be expiring. I am shutting down both that blog and The Dish mailing list as well.

I’ve had a lot of fun working on these projects. They’ve fundamentally changed the way I approach and experience living here. I think it’s fair to say that the cityblogging specifically is part of the reason I still live here.

I’m at the point where I can say “been there, done that” and be comfortable that I’ve done all I’m willing and able to do with it. I’m at the point where what got me here won’t take me to the next level. I’m confident that the things I’ve learned and the people I’ve met won’t disappear when the sites go away.

This wasn’t a hard decision to make in and of itself, but I sat on it for a long long time, letting myself get distracted by and bogged down in technical details and logistics. I thought too hard about it and then got overwhelmed. That’s a normal phenomenon for me. Finally, the expiry of the domains forced my hand. It could and maybe should be more elegant, but I certainly have the freedom to simply stop doing it.

I said in my farewell to fresh.mn’s readers that I hope each person reading learned at least one new thing about life in the Twin Cities that they didn’t know before. I never explicitly stated that as fresh.mn’s mission, but that was pretty much it.

That same philosophy applied to cinna.mn. I have a little more guilt stepping away from cinna.mn. The mere fact that a site focusing on minority experiences in Minnesota even existed was important to people, even though I never gave it as much attention as it deserved. I also hosted The Dish, a newsletter for queer women of color and friends, on cinna.mn. It was pointed out to me that social media has all but made that newsletter (in its current/historical form) obsolete. Sistas are doin’ it for themselves with facebook and blogs and tweets. That was the perspective I needed to lay it to rest.

I may aggregate all the archives somewhere, just because I’m a packrat like that. Plus, importing from tumblr could be a good exercise in playing with WordPress’s new post formats capabilities. Maybe I’ll have a burst of freedom and light and just blow them up. They’re all in the Google machine if anyone really wants to see them, though it is a body of work of mine that may be useful for other purposes.

This is just one part of my ramp down as I prepare to make a mid-life career change. It feels like it’s a big one; I’m imagining I’ll reclaim a good chunk of time and brain cycles. We’ll see if that’s true.

Actually, it’ll be true if I make it true. This is as much a matter of me changing my habits and thought processes as it is a reduction in actual or perceived responsibility. Affecting this change could be harder than the status quo has been thus far.

See? Bogged down in details.

But excited for the possibilities. Next!

How to Ensure a Diverse Tech Event

This is the companion post to the presentation I gave at SXSW Interactive on March 12, 2011.

The hashtag is #diverseevents. Search for tweets. Tweets on the whole series can also be found at #F15Diversity. Tag your posts. My slides are embedded below.

Also, Invisible Knapsack LOLcats.

It’s an honor and a privilege to present this topic at SXSW Interactive of all places. Not only is it highly relevant, SXSW is an example of an event that is doing a lot of things right.

That said, I noted a strange irony in the seriously broad range of panel topics alongside the heavy big-brand marketing presence.

Let’s also remind ourselves that most events are not only not nearly as big as SXSW, they are way smaller. A lot of the concepts still apply, but things involving costs may work very differently.

I spent less of my time on actual how-to and more on the concepts of representation and building awareness. The key words and phrases are inclusion, representation, and structural barriers to participation. It’s really hard to distill the concept of privilege and oppression down to a 12-minute presentation, much less further apply it to why various groups are or aren’t represented at tech conferences of all sizes. But it’s critical to the conversation, so I did my best.

I can give you pages of ideas for outreach, but if you aren’t aware of the social forces behind all of it and aren’t willing to truly re-think how you go about things then no progress can be made. A conference is a manufactured environment; it necessarily reflects the ideology of the creator. Understand that some may reject that framework in favor of their own or none at all.

As promised here are some further resources specifically addressing how to increase representation of marginalized groups at your tech event.


The following posts address the topic of representation at conferences. Each one of them has a bulleted list of tips and hints.

Carmen (Van Kerckhove) Sognonvi – Top 4 Mistakes Meeting Planners Avoid If They Want Diversity and Inclusion at Their Next Conference

Savvy meeting planners carefully sculpt both their advertising and their agendas to appeal to a culturally diverse population. But far too many planners still don’t understand the fundamentals of culturally-sensitive hosting.

Here, then, are the four biggest mistakes meeting planners should avoid, followed by their more appealing and appropriate counterparts.

Nicole Sullivan (aka Stubbornella) – Woman in technology

Usually I avoid topics like women in technology because (1) it is a can of worms, and (2) I can really only speak for myself. For the most part, I’d rather be seen as a person in technology than a woman, but this weekend the twitterverse erupted with opinions about Google sponsoring female students to attend JSConf. As a woman who is often the only-woman-in-the-room, I want people to know it isn’t always easy. I was a bit shocked by the blatant failure to empathize.

On the Big Web Show, I talked about being a women in a male dominated field (min 7:12). “I was a carpenter before I got into web stuff, so you guys can’t really compete with the carpenters, no matter how unruly you get.”

CV Harquail – Advocating for Inclusion: A roundup of ideas from post-TEDx636 roundtable

Create alternative conference spaces built on inclusion and diversity as a foundational principle

If you were designing, from the ground up, a scalable conference about ideas that embraced inclusion of women and men, and people of different cultures, races, abilities, and orientations, it would probably not look like TED….

An inclusive conference might include team presentations, interactive conversations, tummeling, unconferencing, and a whole range of learning and discussion strategies that are implicitly less hierarchical than having everyone watch the ‘sage on the stage’. It would not depend on the transmittal model of learning (where wisdom flows from the speaker to the passive, receptive audience) and involve more co-learning, facilitated discussions.

Conference spaces themselves would be designed to facilitate interaction, many modalities of learning, opportunities for reflection, and even opportunities for practicing new skills.

Danny Brown – Why Tech Already Has Women (And Why They’re Better Than Arrington)

Instead of supporting old structures for speaking — such as soliciting speaking submissions from chest beating male A-Listers — build an editorial mission for the conference, and seek out great male and female speakers beyond the comfortable and immediate social network.

Geoff Livingston – Mindfulness the Key to Finding Female Speakers

First, I co-organized the first BlogPotomac with Debbie Weil, and together we set the precedence for the event series. We mindfully decided that at least three of the seven speakers will be women. This seemed like the right thing to do, especially considering that there are more women in communications than men. We wanted to represent our stakeholders with a group of speakers that at least came close to matching our audience.

Each of the three BlogPotomacs had predetermined topic areas, and speakers were matched to the topics. In almost every instance there were natural choices that made sense. A couple of times the would-be speaker was not available. So we found someone else! In one case, I held the spot for two months until my networking yielded the speaker.

But I didn’t give up. And when men asked for speaking spots (women rarely solicited a speaking spot, in fact I cannot remember one), I said no. I did not want the loudest chest beater. I wanted quality lady speakers, was committed to achieving that result, and would not be distracted.

Geek Feminism – Ten tips for getting more women speakers (Everything in this post is gold.)

If you’re a conference organiser or on a papers committee, go out of your way to attend sessions by minority speakers. If you’re in a rush, you can even just pop in for a few minutes. I saw one of the OSCON folks doing this to great effect the other week: he asked me, “Is $woman a good speaker?” She’d spoken at many previous conferences, but he had no idea, so I suggested he go see her in action. He went off and was back in 5 minutes. “She’s great,” he said. Her confidence and speaking ability had impressed him in no time flat. And yet he’d never known about it before.

In some fields and at some conferences, you’ll notice that women tend to speak about community management, documentation, and social tech rather than programming, hardware, sysadmin, and other more technical subjects. If those women submitted two proposals, one “hard” and one “soft”, the soft one may have been chosen to provide balance and texture to the conference procedings. However, the effect is to type-cast women speakers, and a vicious cycle may begin to occur. See if you can break the cycle by accepting more hard talks from women, or soft talks from men.

Allyson Kapin – Where are the Women in Tech and Social Media?

While women need to be more aggressive in promoting themselves and submitting panel ideas, conference organizers need to do their part too and share the responsibility. So what can conferences can do diversify their panels? The key is to ramp up outreach and publicity and to target women in tech and social media and encourage submissions.

Reach out to groups such as the Anita Borg Institute, She’s Geeky, Women Who Tech, National Women of Color Technology Conference, Women In Technology International, Women 2.0, Social Media Women of Color, The National Center for Women and IT and Girls In Tech and ask for suggestions of women speakers based on conference objectives and target audiences. Build a relationship with these organizations so that the communications pipeline is always open.

Allyson Kapin again – Too Few Women in Tech? Stop Playing the Blame Game

If you’re a conference organizer and someone declines a speaking invitation, ask for 3-4 suggestions of other women who would be a good fit. Likewise, if you’re invited to speak at a conference, but aren’t able to participate, recommend 3-4 good women speakers.


The following posts address people’s experiences as under-represented participants in tech conferences. All of these posts were written within the last two years. Some have happy endings. Some are clearly written out of frustration. Some fall into the “I can’t believe this shit is still happening” category which should tell you why we’re still having this conversation.

Prude or Professional? by Courtney Remes

Will Launch Be Just Another White Tech Guy Event?

Why Are New Media Conferences Lacking in Minorities?

gender and sex at gogaruco

Why technology, startup, entrepreneur, social media conference organizers cannot fix the lack diversity problem at their events.


If you have questions about the presentation, care to argue, have tips or experiences to share, or want to see what a longer version of this presentation would be like, please let me know either in the comments or privately via my contact form.