DogPound Courage: We Choose to Be Here

CLEVELAND – Courage and passion. These words lingered as I left Touch Supper club last night, the back room still abuzz with laughter and exchanges over topics from Go Daddy, WordPress and self-hosting to diet and training regimens for the Boston marathon.

As my right arm still smarts from a rendezvous with the frying pan/bacon grease this morning (I lost –serves me right for being half-awake, on the phone and trying to make breakfast simultaneously…), here are a few insights I gained during the Ohio Blogging Association meetup last night:

Cleveland Ohio City blogging bloggers Byron Fernandez

Photos courtesy of Alicia Hansen and the Ohio Blogging Association

>>It takes courage to tell your story, courage to be accountable for who you are and who you want to be. In the words of George Eliot, It is never too late to be what you might have been.

>>Didn’t mind being the baby of the group. Some bloggers were celebrating one or two-year anniversaries (kudos!), others were seasoned veterans on the Cleveland scene. Whether bloggers of dieting or fitness, yoga, food and wine, running, tech, lifestyle, sustainability or PR and marketing, it was clear we all had one thing in common: a love for this city.

>>The food and hospitality was great (Yelp review here: Touch Supper Club). We were actually in the same back room another group and I had over New Year’s Eve –great for private parties and events.

>>Something Jen, the author of Why Cleveland? shared really hit home for me: We choose to be here. She, too, is not originally from Believeland (having moved back twice throughout education, personal and career travels), and mentioned one of the main reasons for beginning her blog was because she was so tired of hearing the inane “Why are you here” and “Why would you come back?” jabs from people who’ve been born and bred here.

The same ones that complain when Forbes or Newsweek list Cleveland as the most Miserable City in the country…when they were likely the ones said media interviewed! (Touché, Jen!). Dually refreshing and amusing, it also gave me added resolve for creative, snarky responses when people find out I’m from California and New York…

>>WordPress is favored over blogger/blogspot, both from blogger and reader ends (during a conversation with Maria from Germany, I shared how I’m a visual nerd, and liked that WP seems more fluid, customizable in shape and form).

>>We all shared concerns, challenges with making the transition to self-hosted domains. “Monetizing” and other pros/cons of ads, negotiating financial, post schedules, etc. with the creative, artistic freedoms inherent in the process of blogging for fun. As I am only a few months out of the gate, I’m still enjoying the wide-eyed role of learning and absorbing all I can as I connect and meet those in the professional and personal community. As Alicia mentioned, the opportunities for collaboration in our local communities and the blogging ecosystem at large are endless.

Regardless of background or age, everyone present mentioned they just needed an outlet, a way to write and share their story. Pretty neat.

As Thoreau says: How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live. 

Touch supper club ohio city cleveland blogging bloggers

Courtesy of Alicia Hansen and the Ohio Blogging Association

Thanks again to Alicia Hansen, a fellow alumni of Baldwin-Wallace, for hosting the event!

Guest list:

The Life of a Blogger: TweetUps, Round Tables, MeetUps and Fests (Oh, My…)

CLEVELAND – There’s no other way to describe it than this: Blogging’s pretty slick, dude.

Have you heard of SXSW (aka South by Southwest)? For those of you who haven’t, SXSW is an annual film, interactive conference and music festival held in Austin, TX. And no, I didn’t get to go this year lol. Meh. But I know this guy, who knew this guy… ;-)

I have, however, been to Coachella, BonnarooEric Clapton and Dave Matthews (have a feeling I’ll still be going when my kids/grandkids are…Marching Ant incarnate) since high school and college. Other favorites: Garth Fagan, STOMP, the Cirque shows in Vegas (KÀ, Mystère and Jersey Boys are more recent ones…ultimately I wanna see them all). And yes, as of November 2009, one of GaGa’s “little monsters.” She transcends cultures, genders – pretty much everything (I liken it to sensory overload).

I remember my first music concert (other than classical ones, which I naturally grew up with during the vocal and concert pianist years of training): Relient K in Buffalo, NY. It was then that I first learned what moshing was lol (and ringing ears for the next week). Ah, the days of Sadie Hawkins, Young Life summer camp at Lake Champion or vacations in Cape Cod, the Algonquin and/or 1000 Islands, Ontario. Come to think of it, I was spoiled rotten growing up….we used to frequent DisneyLand and DisneyWorld, too. Never a dull moment when friends and family line the West coast (and global trail)…

What was I talking about? Oh yea, music…film, arts, technology. Ah, the convergence of all. How many of you have been fortunate to grow up immersed in the arts? My wish is that everyone know this life. It’s wicked fun.

So anyhow, I’ve been learning a bit since my debut in the ‘blogosphere.’ Chiefly:

1) The internet has no borders. I’ll say it again: The internet has no borders. It’s unreal. In the past week alone, I have been in touch with bloggers and web developers from Australia, Boston, Canada, Dubai and South Africa. Quora has also quickly become one of my newest vices.

2) Bloggers are some of the most fascinating, supportive and genuine people I’ve interacted with on the virtual level. Everyday I learn and create with an established or new contact, and someone says thank-you, or well-done. So much love to go around. It’s like we’re all connected … (pun intended).

3) The passion and euphoric rush we get out of writing is something that builds an instant rapport/bond, regardless of what we’re blogging about. As Guy Kawasaki recently quipped, “Nobodys are the new Somebody” in social media.

4) The timeless buzz of stortytelling and ‘breaking news’ largely conducted via the Pony Express, newspapers, magazines and other traditional channels throughout the past is very much alive in the social media realm. As Erik Qualmann said in Socialnomics, online word of mouth is the new ‘world of mouth.’ Crazy.

5) The most valuable (and exhilarating) part? Making the virtual to human transition and touch point: where we step from outside our computer screens and desks and meet in person, bridging the gap between our online identities, Twitter handles and personal brands for some well-mannered public face-time. These curious events are apparently called “TweetUps” or “MeetUps.” At the end of the day, this is what it’s all about.

Nice to Tweet You

Speaking of community events, anyone in the Cleveland area interested in joining my group for the 22nd annual Majestic Steel 5k Walk for Hunger Saturday, May 14 is more than welcome. Each year during Mothers’ Day weekend, fundraisers benefit the Hunger Network of Greater Cleveland’s over 100 hunger centers and hot meal sites. The walk through downtown Cleveland includes free breakfast, lunch, and entertainment, and over 2000 participants are expected this year.

The deadline to register is Friday, April 15th. The cost to enroll is $35 and is due by Wednesday, April 27th. Feel free to contact me either directly on here (via the comment section below), or via whichever social network you use most often (Googling me will pull up all my media channels).

Other than that, I look forward to lunch tomorrow out in the Tremont district (Cleveland’s East Side) with a PR and marketing contact I met over the New Year. I’ve never been to the 806 Martini & Wine Bar, so a Yelp review will likely ensue. Stay tuned…

Courtesy of, the Indians and Digital Sports Network

And finally, those of you interested in the upcoming Ohio Blogging Association’s Round Table at Touch Supperclub in Ohio City are also free to contact me for further details.

Until then, happy blogging!