Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Report from Progressive Women's Voices Project (This Time, My Own)

So as promised, a bit about my experience participating in the Progressive Women's Voices Project, a new media training and spokesperson program from the Women’s Media Center to connect media professionals with media-savvy women experts in a variety of fields. Funded by a grant from the NoVo Foundation, the program provides its participants with intensive media training and ongoing support "to promote their perspective and message into the national dialogue."

Let me first say that the WMC--founded by Gloria Steinem, Jane Fonda, and Robin Morgan--is graced with an amazingly talented staff. The joint expertise of our trainers (Carol Jenkins, Glennda Testone, and Kathy Vermazen) knocked my socks off. On camera practice with these women? Invaluable. Learning from women with tremendous experience being out there in the public eye? Priceless. To wit: Board member Gloria Feldt shared savvy wisdom about the importance of embracing controversy, and Gloria Steinem shared an adage that has stayed with me: "Progress lies in the direction you haven't been."

The group of participants is in a word, well, powerful. Aside from soaking up massive doses of inspiration from these women and some of the best messaging training I've seen, we supplemented whatever knowledge we already had about a range of media tools--including blogging. And, as readers know, whenever I go somewhere where an experienced blogger shares tips on blogging, I like to pass them on. See one, do one, teach one and all that. Emily McCann of The Motherhood and the Been There Clearinghouse stopped by on Sunday to share her know-how with us and here's some of what I gleaned:

-Want to post images in your blog, legally? In addition to Wikipedia and Photos from the Library of Congress on Flickr, other sources for open source images include Creative Commons, also at Flickr, and Photobucket.

-Seen some term or techy acronym on a blog recently and had no clue what it meant? Check out blogossary, a site billed as the blogosphere's dictionary.

-Ready to create your own wiki? Check out pbwiki and wetpaint. (Confession: I came home and created one right away. I'm hooked.)

-Lastly, two hugely popular blogs that I hadn't heard of and sound interesting include How to Change the World Blog, and 37days.

And speaking of changing the world, did you know that more women than men are now online? And also, women are twice as likely as men to pass forward an idea about a campaign or a cause? More on that in a book coming out in June 2008 by another of the weekend's speakers, Lisa Witter. The book is cleverly titled The She Spot: Why Women Are the Market for Changing the World--and How to Reach Them.

This little report is the tip of the iceberg. In addition to the trainings, each week we participate in an issues briefing conference call, with experts from different realms. This week's call was with economist and President of Bennett College Dr. Julianne Malveaux. Today, the economy. Tomorrow, the world!

Ok, I'm getting carried away. It's only been a week in The Program.

I'll post here when the WMC posts a notice for future applications. To would-be pundits out there: Trust me. If you have the opportunity, this is something you don't want to miss.