rising tide 7 is this coming weekend!

if you’ve been wondering what the hell this rising tide thing is that i keep tweeting and facebooking about incessantly, lemme try to explain – at least how i understand and have experienced it. (official rising tide history page here.)

as those who lived through it will remember, in the days and weeks and months immediately following hurricane katrina and the ensuing federal flood, many of us learned rather quickly that information coming directly from everyday citizens on the ground was more trustworthy and relevant than what the majority of the mainstream media was telling us. (the heroic coverage of the staff of the times-picayune and a few of the local tv/radio stations notwithstanding.) so we turned to the internet – bloggers and others who used various sites (for me it was the new orleans livejournal community) to document what they were seeing, hearing, doing and learning about conditions on the ground in new orleans. the internet became a lifeline for so many, and drew folks together that would have never otherwise crossed paths. (i will forever be grateful to that guy who rode katrina out in a building in the cbd with a generator and liveblogged the whole thing on livejournal – i can’t remember his online name now – but he was amazing. that was some gripping writing, lemme tell ya.)

as the weeks and months dragged on to years and folks started making their way back home, the numbers of blogs only grew, each with its own voice, perspective, story. the new orleans blogosphere experienced an explosion. some were still stuck far away, trying to get back home; some were back home trying to make sense of the mess they’d returned to; many were gutting and rebuilding; some were grappling with survivor guilt on the sliver by the river; some got involved with neighborhood organizations, schools, city planning groups, etc. to help steer the direction of the city’s rebuilding and future. most were documenting the “new normal” living in nola and used their blogs as a way to share information and effect change. (i will offer the caveat that some of these blogs most likely existed well before the events of august 29, 2005, but i and many others only became aware of them in the wake of the storm/flood.)

one of the things that happened via a group of some of these bloggers (who were also the organizers of the new orleans geek dinner) was this idea for the rising tide conference, to try to bring together those interested in the power of the internet/nascent social media to effect positive change in rebuilding of the city. to inspire more citizen activism, to pull folks in to get them talking, sharing ideas, and getting involved.

seven years later, rising tide is still basically hoping to do the same thing: draw folks in; blow their minds with brilliant speakers who run the gamut from academics to grassroots activists to politicians to culture-makers and more; get their synapses firing all while offering them a great networking opportunity; and hopefully inspire more folks to get involved in shaping the future of our city. (and, widening the circle even further, starting last year, the entire day’s programming on the main stage was and will be this year live-streamed on the web, so folks who can’t make it down to xavier can still tune in and be involved online via social media.)

now, i could go on and on about the amazing lineup of panelists and keynote speakers on the schedule this year, but really, you can read their bios and do some googling yourself to see how impressive they are. instead, i would like to underscore what a wonderfully fun and entertaining day it is, during which coffee and pastries for breakfast and a yummy taco bar from juan’s flying burrito for lunch is included. also, there is a great kickoff party the night before, friday night, at the big top, at which the tbc brass band will play – and the party is free! you don’t have to be registered for the conference to go, though we will certainly try to convince you to register while you are there. (rsvp at the above link for the party, please!)

for me, the most valuable thing i gained from going to rising tide 4, 5, and 6 (and their respective opening parties) was a whole lot of new friends and acquaintances who are all really interesting and amazing people who do wonderful things for this city via their jobs, blogs, and/or various civic/community engagements. and i learned a LOT about my city and how it is run, how to be more critical of government and politicians, and discovered so many nonprofit and community  agencies and organizations who are doing incredible work on behalf of the citizens of new orleans. and i came to really appreciate the transformative power of social media to motivate, educate and bring people together – which i kinda already knew, but got to see in real live action.

oh, and i drank a LOT of beer. 🙂

not bad for $20, huh? (i always register early – i think it even went down to $18 this year if you signed up when registration opened months ago. or if you’re a student it still is $18.) but even at $28, which is what you’ll pay right now until the day of the conference, or even $38 on the day of – it’s still a ridiculous bargain. (and just to be clear, ain’t nobody making any money off of rising tide – the organizers are all volunteer and the group is nonprofit. we just try to break even, cover our costs, and leave a little seed money in the coffers for next year and possibly for throughout-the-year additional programming as it comes up.)

so. take another look at the website with all the info about this year. if you still need some convincing, look back over the history of what this group has presented in the past six years – you can even watch the video archives of all the main stage panels from last year, from our live webcast! oh, and did i mention? we even have really cool merch – snappy tshirts and art print posters (pictured above) with this year’s “zombie paperboy” graphic theme. (you can order merch and pre-register all from one convenient URL via eventbrite.) also, some of the finest vendors of all kinds of cool stuff will be hawking their wares – including octavia books, which will have titles from our keynote speakers and some of our panelists – in the main hallway outside the conference room, for whenever you need to stretch your legs and lighten your wallets.

so what are you waiting for? yes, yes, you can just show up on the 22nd and pay at the door if you don’t mind spending the extra $10. we’re happy to take your money. but it does help us know how many to expect if you register early, and it saves you enough to buy a beer or two (or a book or some other fabulous merch).

so spread the word. and bring a friend. you won’t regret it, i promise you. (oh, and bring a sweater or jacket, cuz xavier’s air conditioning in the student center is downright frigid!)

i hope i see you there!

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