(reprinted from Borderstan)
We first met neighbor Courtney Sieloff (photo by Luis Gomez Photos) almost three years ago through our dogs. That’s a common way to meet people in Dupont-Logan and we count numerous friends, neighbors and acquaintances through our pooches. Sieloff is a long-time progressive (I still say “liberal”) activist and blogger. She set up the first Bordertan.com template for us two years ago and taught us how to use WordPress. When I heard she was at Netroots Nation 2010 in Las Vegas, I followed up with some questions about this year’s annual gathering of progressive bloggers and activists.
Borderstan: What were you doing at Netroots Nation 2010? What’s your experience in the liberal blogosphere? Sieloff: I attend to exchange new ideas with friends and others who inhabit this space. I’ve been a political junkie and organizer forever, and I was quick to jump on the idea that new media offers creative ways to expand ideas and engage in the political process in new ways.
Plus, I love being among the first to play with new online toys—I’m currently a big fan of Foursquare and I get most of my news from Twitter. I founded and run an online membership organization called JobsthatareLEFT, that helps progressives find meaningful work. Currently my membership tops 12,000 people nationally. I’m also a founder of WIPT, a networking organization for women in the online political space.
Borderstan: How many have NN conferences you attended… and how did this one compare? Sieloff: This was my second Netroots Nation. I attended one—there have been five—in Chicago, in 2007. I would have loved to attend the two in between, but the DNCC was in 2008, and I got married in 2009. Chicago NN was particularly exciting as it was during the presidential primaries. Seeing all of the candidates, and listening to them speak rather candidly was very refreshing.
This year, NN10 was more focused on issues and policy, and what the current administration is doing. The crowd has seemed to grow and vary—there seemed to be a lot of people 50-plus who were very interested in joining this space, which is really quite exciting. One major difference seemed to be based on location; Chicago lacked the distractions of gaming and fantastic swimming pools so most of the attendees seemed to stick to the official events a bit more. For the record, I ended up “up” for the trip, winning at blackjack.
Borderstan: What are the one to three main points you’d share with readers about NN 2010? Sieloff: That NN10 is able to attract speakers like Van Jones, Elizabeth Warren, and AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka is a testament to the power of online communications in the progressive space. Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s presentation was amazing, and she ended with really inspiring advice for women interested in running for office.
The breakout panels are run by excellent practitioners in new media, and they are entirely accessible—you can have lunch with any of these folks after their panels. In addition to the panels and speakers, there are a number of other amazing offerings, like seeing documentaries, attending caucuses based on your specific political interests, and chatting with future elected officials from all over the nation. Here’s the link for the main speakers—worth a watch: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/nn10-pavilion.
Borderstan: What are you up to these days, blogging-wise… professionally? Sieloff: I recently finished a master’s degree in women’s studies and public policy, and was the executive director of a small nonprofit organization. Currently I’m pretending I’m on summer vacation, but really I’m seeking out a policy or new media position. I do have a small “vanity” blog, but right now it mostly has pictures of my potted garden and new recipes.
Borderstan: Tell me, again: How long have you lived in the Dupont-Logan-U Street area? Sieloff: I lived at 17th and R for two years, and I have been living on Corcoran Street for the past four years, along with my husband, Luke Peterson and our dog, Juno.