Author: Michele Truty

More Memories

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The ladies of the VVC, in planning the next conference, have been looking back at our first event, mainly to remind ourselves of what worked and didn’t work, what AV cords would have been handy—you know, the practical stuff. But this warm and fuzzy feeling keeps rising up, reminding us of why we do this. Why we suppress basic human survival stuff like food and sleep. Why you all fly and drive from all corners of the earth for our vegan summer camp.

So here I am, the camera-shy Michele, to share with you two of my favorite memories of August 2011. Janessa will be up next, and if you missed the post from Jess, check it out.

packing swag bags vida vegan conTechnically, this is pre-conference, but tip-toeing through Janessa’s rather congested living room to fill SWAG bags. Following the unofficial meet & greet, while folks were out at the Vegucated screening then funning it up at Bye & Bye, we were playing elf, putting together these goodie bags of wonder (even bigger this year!), and sharing last-minute fears and hopes. Our sherpa/caretaker Tom stamped the last of the name badges, and we debated juuust how early we’d need to wake up in the morning to load in at the conference center. It sounds like work, but the excitement and anticipation far outweighed the anxiety. Something special was about to happen.

And the opening talk. Laura Beck nailed it. (Surprise.) We’d not previewed her speech and were blown away by how she set the tone for the conference—and the future of the Vida Vegan family. That we are a community of bloggers, and that is something so dear. Sometimes you need to turn to your community when you’re feeling alone, tired, or particularly beat down by the comments. You can listen to Laura’s talk here, and even if you weren’t there to hear it in person I’m willing to bet you’ll get a little weepy.

Of course, the two and a half days that followed were also filled with so many amazing memories, and even more blurry ones I’m pretty sure were equally fantastic. And I can’t wait to make new memories this year!

Save the Date: Galarama & Silent Auction

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CSNW LOGO 2-col HORIZ(2)

Undoubtedly, one of the best parts of running Vida Vegan is getting to support fantastic animal sanctuaries. We do that by donating a portion of our Vida Vegan Con registration and by hosting a silent auction/party/excuse to get a little fancy: the Galarama.

We’ve got sooo much to put together yet for this event (nibblies, music, cocktail/mocktail menu, exactly what kind of photo booth), but we wanted to give you a heads-up so you can start making plans. This event will be open to the public, so we’ll have admissions info up soon—of course, all full-access registrants get in free!

What do we know so far?

staver

The location: Staver Locomotive, in NW Portland. This insanely cool building has model train tracks running through it, little rooms tucked here and there, and a super pretty outside area (with more train tracks). We instantly fell in love and can’t wait to fill it up with all of you. Bonus points for being walking distance from the NW 23rd/Nob Hill neighborhood and the same Portland Streetcar line as the Art Museum.

The date: Saturday, May 25, 2013, 7:00 – 9:30 pm. Conference-goers will have time to get to their hotels, grab a snack, get gussied up (or not!), meet up with their date (again, or not!), and get over to Staver.

The beneficiary: Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest. This is a sanctuary in Cle Elum, Washington, founded to provide a safe forever home to chimpanzees exploited and discarded by the biomedical and entertainment industries. Read about them and the chimps here. (They have a fantastic blog.)

The sponsor: Our 2013 VVC Gold Sponsor, So Delicious, is helping us foot the bill for this event—and putting together something that can only be considered an Ice Cream Spectacular. (More to come on that.)  We can’t thank them enough; the less money we spend on this shindig, the more we can give to the chimps!

Want to help? If you or someone you know has an item or service to donate to the auction, find more information here. And thank you!

The 2013 VVC Schedule Is Live!

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It’s been a long time coming.

Maybe you’ve seen the photos on Instagram…

early schedule
Early days…remember summer?
schedule building
And the revamp (complete with cocktail).

Lots of big paper and little paper and multiple laptops open, cross-referencing speakers and classes and rooms to ensure we make the most of our talented speakers. And we think we’ve done it.

There may be a few more tweaks (moderators named, that sort of thing), but we’re so happy with how it’s come together. Next step is gathering final class titles and descriptions. And stay tuned, because as we get closer we’ll have some advance sign-ups for smaller classes and workshops.

So here it is, the 2013 Vida Vegan Con Class Agenda!

Q & A: Amey Mathews of Vegan Eats & Treats

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11It’s the return of our blogging Q & A! This time, we’re joined by the super talented and lovely Amey Mathews. We are so excited to have Amey return as a speaker for Vida Vegan Con 2013—whether you can make it or not, check out her blog, Vegan Eats & Treats. We love Amey for her positive, genuine attitude. She is smart as hell and is an endless font of adorable little drawings.

Where do you see blogging going?

It’s amazing how many blogs there are now—which is really great. When I first started blogging, there were just a small handful of vegan blogs. Today there are so many, that everyone can find a sense of community for exactly the way they enjoy eating and being vegan. There are all the PPK community blogs, all the raw date-ball blogs, the no-salt-oil-sugar blogs, vegan athlete blogs, and so on. Sometimes I’ll stumble onto a new blog that’s outside of my usual favorites, and find a whole sea of comments from other bloggers I’ve never discovered before… It’s pretty amazing.

Also, I was just looking at some old posts the other day and looking at how crappy my pictures were. Ha ha! There are a handful of bloggers like Hannah at BitterSweet, or Susan at Fat Free Vegan, or Allyson at Manifest Vegan, who take SUCH great pictures—I think they’ve really helped raise the bar for the rest of us. Even if you’re not gonna spend 30 minutes staging your picture (I gotta eat dinner, man!), you’re also not going to be satisfied with a yellowish picture with dirty dishes in the background.

One last thing, is how many bloggers are turning their blogs into cookbook deals. It’s amazing and exciting! I wish I could write recipes, but it’s really not my strong point. But if anyone needs little doodles for their cookbook, I’m here to help.

What’s your favorite photo editor?

I use ArcSoft Photo Studio if I want to actually cut and paste and combine my doodles and photos and all that, but usually I just use PhotoShop for simple things like brightness or color balance. The best is making dinner before dark so I can just use natural light, and not need a photo editor at all.

What blogging trends are you liking? Disliking?

Liking: Great photography—especially the folks who really take photography seriously. I love that blog writing is evolving into something much more focused and not just “I had some seitan and broccoli for dinner,” like it was in the old days of blogging. I’m LOVING all the mofo themes, and people who are doing a different theme every day for the whole week. It’s a cool idea even for non-mofo-season! In general, I love that the blog designs seem to be getting more attractive, more classy, and more appealing to look at. I love that Blogger—my old faithful blog host—has really improved its design options…and I LOVE that we can finally respond to individual comments on Blogger!

Disliking: my number-one blogging pet PEEVE is the whole weird giveaway thing that is going on. Kittee calls it “Like Gate,” which I think is hilarious. This is the situation where someone says “I”m giving away a free pizza coupon”…”but first you have to ‘like’ me on Facebook, and ‘like’ the company on Facebook, and tweet about this contest to everyone you went to kindergarten with, and leave 10 voicemail messages on your parents’ answering machine, and leave a comment for every single thing you do, so that I have 1,000,000 comments by the end of it!” It makes me grumpy, as you can tell. For me, it makes the blogosphere feel crass and corporate and pander-y, instead of having it feel like a community of friends who want to do something fun like have a giveaway for the fun of it. I feel that as vegan bloggers, we should be serving one another (our fellow vegans or aspiring vegans), and not serving the companies. I don’t mind product reviews or cookbook reviews, because I think that’s news everyone can use…but I think some discretion is needed. Changing the whole tone of your blog post into something with an advertising tone just so someone can win something worth $5 isn’t worth it to me.

What blogs/websites do you read?

I read so many blogs! I usually read anything in my blog crawl on the side of my blog. I love reading randomofo.com SO MUCH—I’ve marked so many new favorites this mofo season.  A few of my standby favorites are: ColdandSleepyCooks, Meet the Wikos, Cake Maker to the Stars, Tahini Too, Manifest Vegan, Julie Hasson… But gosh, the list goes on!

What’s your go-to vegan meal in Seattle?

I actually lived in Seattle, for 2½ years after I graduated college. Back then, I was just a vegetarian—not yet a vegan, and Seattle had only a couple of all-veg spots. But halfway through my Seattle stint, a beautiful veg spot called Carmelita opened up, quite near my house. I was a pretty poor youngster back then, working part time for minimum wage…so I only went to Carmelita once, when my aunt took me out for dinner. I haven’t been back to Seattle in years, but next time I go, I’d really like to go back to my old neighborhood and try out Carmelita again. For old time’s sake!

In Portland?

Oh Portland! I love Dovetail Bakery and Back to Eden most of all, because where I live (in Santa Cruz), no one is making delicious vegan baked goods. I usually load up, and come home with a huge supply that go straight to the freezer for the times when I want a baked treat and I don’t want to bake it myself. For proper nutrition, my two favorites are Native Bowl and Blossoming Lotus. I love the bowls at Native Bowl—so full of flavor and veggies and proteins…filling and fun! I also really love the food at Blossoming Lotus—so far I haven’t ever had a dud there. Once I got to go there for brunch, and that was totally amazeballs!

24-Hour Tech Seminar Sale

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Hey, everybody!

We’re trying to get final numbers (ordering coffee, printing coursebooks) for the Tech Seminar, so for those of you waiting to register, here’s a little push to do it now:

For the next 24 hours you can use this link and save $25! That went fast! You can still register at full price.

Find more information about the November 3 Seattle seminar here.

And, of course, email us at VidaVeganConference [at] gmail.com with any questions!

Tech Q&A: WordPress.com v. WordPress.org

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What’s the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org? Which is better?

I don’t know if there’s a single “better” between the two, but there is probably a “better for you right now.”

The obvious plus for WordPress.com is that it’s a potentially free, user-friendly service. In less than an hour you can have a blog up and running. For $13 you can map to your own domain name (registered through WordPress or not)—no domain.wordpress.com. The drag-n-drop widgets make it pretty easy to add buttons, links, and social networking functions. It does, however, have its limitations, even if you upgrade for CSS design flexibility or video hosting. Also, WordPress.com, in exchange for this free to low-cost service, will run random ads on your blog. For $30 a year you can prevent this, but you are not allowed to run ads of your own.

WordPress.org is not as simple, right out of the gate. You’re on your own for hosting, so to get it started, you’ve got to know a little something about FTP uploading, databases, and the like…or know someone else who does. But once it’s all set up and you’ve chosen your theme (of which you have many more choices and are free to customize) and plug-ins, it pretty much acts like WordPress.com. With WordPress.org, you can install plug-ins for monetizing ads, stats analysis, and e-commerce.

What seems to make the leap to WordPress.org easier is a hosting service such as Bluehost. For $5-10 a month, you can choose WordPress scripting and it’ll take care of much of the nuts and bolts of it, making this pro option more accessible to the less tech savvy among us.

So what’s the tipping point? If you just feel a little penned in by the “.com,” and it’s worth upwards of $100 a year to you, then it might be time for “.org,” perhaps with the help of a hosting service or a super geeky friend. And if you get stuck or scared, WordPress has a huge support site and community.

Bottom line, don’t feel bad about taking your time. Plenty of respected bloggers use free blogs. Focus on your content and get to the flashy stuff when you can.

Have you got a tech question? Hit us up at VidaVeganConference [at] gmail [dot] com. We’ll dig up the answers!

It’s Not You, It’s Facebook.

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So you have 500 Facebook fans but only 100 saw your post? Grrrrr. It may not be your fault, but it is your problem.

Facebook recently made some changes to clean up people’s news feeds…to keep them from being inundated by news they asked to see! Rather than unliking or clicking that little X to hide, Facebook has just decided to prevent posts from showing up in the first place.

What can be done?

Pay to play. You can promote a post on Facebook, to reach your fans—or even your fans’ friends. I am personally saddened by this. We aren’t huge companies trying to advertise; we’re bloggers trying to share information with like-minded folk. But the feature’s there, and if you’ve got a big announcement, it might be worth it for you. You’ve probably seen the little drop-down to promote. If you click on it, there’ll be a number of options, and $5 or $10 will make sure your post finds its way to a bunch more people.

Master the organic system. Facebook will continue to show posts in news feeds of fans who interact regularly with you. Your posts will also show up for more people if they are engaged with early. Most of the marketing information out there suggests a few general guidelines to make the most of your posts:

  • Short posts with pictures and a call to action (What’s your favorite seitan recipe? Caption this photo!) receive the most attention and engagement.
  • Learn what time your fans are most active. For some it’s Saturday night, for others Sunday around noon—experiment a little and see what happens.
  • Don’t post too often. More than two a day and you could make your fans feel spammed, then you can be met with resistance to engage, unliked, or hidden.