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Rising Tide Recap

I've had a few days to think about it, and I think my biggest personal gain from attending the Rising Tide 4 conference is just a renewed interest in being involved in what goes on in the city, and expressing my opinion on it. Which might not sound like much to some of you, but to me, it's pretty huge, actually.

I used to be pretty active in the New Orleans grassroots political community, via my various queer activist pursuits (LGBT Community Center, Dyke March, Lesbian Avengers, Queer Nation), attending lots of public demonstrations, and my work with Girl Gang Productions (RIP). But since the flood, living in Kentucky for three years, I've become detached, removed from much of what has gone on here, despite still spending a great deal of time here and spending an even greater amount of time reading and trying to keep up with things here. The detachment was partly due to geography, partly due to mental health needs, I think. But I've been back for a year now, and I've for the most part remained pretty detached, wrapped up in my own little world of financial stress and crafty collaboration (the New Orleans Craft Mafia has remained my one local involvement).

So, though no huge epiphanies struck me while sitting in Zeitgeist Theater's perpetually uncomfortable chairs (some things never change!) for eight hours as the culture, politics, health and sports panels happened in front of me - plus Harry Shearer's excellent keynote speech and a handful of short presentations from various New Orleans net-companies - I think what ultimately made it worth the $30 registration fee for me was discovering that I do still care, I do still have many opinions, and I do still want to be involved.

In a more tangible way, I did pick up a dozen or more new Twitter followers and followees, many of whom are members of the local blogosphere/social media mafia. So I feel just a little more hooked into the progressive group-think every day now, just reading my Twitter feed. And that's nice. Hopefully someday soon, I'll have something worthwhile for all of them to be reading too.

And the other somewhat tangible outcome of the day's proceedings is that I've decided it's time to start talking about James Perry as someone I'm liking, thus far, in the mayor's race. Granted, we only have a few declared candidates right now, but between those who've definitively said they aren't running, and the few others who've said they will be declaring soon, Perry appears to me to be the only credible option. I'm still not 100% convinced he's ready for the gig - his lack of political experience is both a plus and minus, I think - but given the other options so far, and the fact that everything Perry has put out publicly sounds very progressive and smart, I just think it's time to at least start trying to get his name out there so we can give him a fair shake. If I actually had any money right now, I absolutely would be donating to his campaign. And in fact, I'm scheming some design ideas to do a renegade stencil/poster/shirt/something to sell to raise money for him, something along the lines of what I did last year to raise money for Obama. Perry is modeling much of his campaign on Obama's success using social media as a networking and fundraising tool, so it seems to follow that perhaps those of us in the creative community that are interested in him and/or want to support him should be doing something to both heighten awareness about his campaign and/or raise money for him. So I'm thinking on it.

Aside from all this, Rising Tide was pretty fun and entertaining. I got to see and chat with friends I hadn't seen in a while, meet a few new folks, and at least put faces to many of the online names I've been reading since the flood. Plus the food was really great (Cafe Reconcile rocks), and the timing was, for once, good for me, in that I didn't have an art market that day and hadn't JUST returned from fest.

So thanks again to all the organizers of the event and to all I spoke to or Twittered with that day and since. Looking forward to Rising Tide 5 next year!

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