I was trying to finish up my Zin Day Post yesterday, when I noticed on my WordPress dashboard a call for speakers for the upcoming international 24 hour marathon WordPress online WordFest set for Friday 1/22/21.
Well that sounds fun!
So I checked it out and noticed right off the bat that in 90 minutes the submissions to speak would close. I instantly switched gears from Zinfandel to what should I talk about?
Because here’s the truth: I love public speaking. Always have. And I love teaching, and sharing and interacting with an audience. I love developing lectures, guiding listeners to connect the dots, and tying loose ends together. I love thinking about ways to bringing in media and to catch people by surprise, to grab and maintain their attention. I hosted poetry readings for years, competed as a slam poet, performed my poetry across the West, and completed two major public poetry commissions.
But this was a WordPress Conference.
What could I bring that would be relevant? I’ve attend quite a few WordCamp events in San Francisco, the location of WordPress headquarters, so I had an idea of the typical tech and SEO oriented content.
Not my forte. And while I’ve taught blogging to my college students for years, I’m not expert, and in fact, I’m terrible at the new version of WordPress, preferring to return to the “classic editor” for my writing.
Wine and writing — those are my strengths and what I’ve spoken about at previous Wine Media Conferences in 2012 and 2016.
This was a WordPress Conference called WordFest. As such, there are tracks that are more traditional content — AND THEN THERE’S THE FESTIVAL TRACK! Could I REALLY talk about wine at WordFest? Could we maybe even DRINK WINE during a session?
So I slid into her DMs… and by her I mean Michelle Frechette, one of the organizers. She responded very enthusiastically: she LOVED the idea of doing a wine tasting for a session, and even thought it would be great for one of the sponsored stages where they “are planning the FUN stuff” (capital letters hers!)
The event is free but they are suggesting a $10 donation to Big Orange Heart which has a mission “To support and promote positive well-being and mental health within remote working communities.”
As the world’s first peer support community dedicated to remote workers, it provides access to well-being support and a thriving community with free Coaching And Mentoring Calls, Webinars And Workshops, and a Resource Library.
When more people than ever are working remotely and many of them not by choice and under unusually stressful circumstances including rearing children who are also working remotely and doing school at home, there is a need more than ever for programs and resources like this. Cost?
“We provide membership free of charge but if you have the ability to support our mission, a donation would enable us to continue to deliver free support,” they say.
While joining is free or a minimum donation, keep in mind, that in delivering free well-being and mental health support to the community, Big Orange Heart incurred annual costs of £123,012 GBP ($156,069 USD / €136,470 EUR) through 2019. You can read more in this Open Report.
To support this mission further, you might also consider becoming a “micro-sponsor” for $250.
Curious what sessions I suggested? Here are the sessions I pitched which will likely get tweaked and keep in mind I came up with the ideas, ran them by Michelle, wrote them up and submitted all five with a few minutes to spare before the deadline. AND I took a phone call and answered some questions from my kid.
- How To Be A Wine Blogger (and get cases of free* wine!). Whenever Gwendolyn Alley tells people she writes about wine and gets sent cases of wine to write about every month, they say “I want that job!” While it may not pay the bills, Gwendolyn definitely drinks well above her pay grade. So do you have what it takes to be a wine blogger? Find out in this session! PS Wine may or may not be included but we will do a guiding tasting together and discuss best practices for writing about wines including those received as samples.
- Wine Tasting 101 While you may not write about wine, you likely enjoy a glass or two while you are blogging. Join wine blogger Gwendolyn Alley in a vineyard and in a solar powered adobe winery for a chat with Clos des Amis winemaker Bruce Freeman about what to look for and how to taste wines from white to rose to orange to sparkling and even dessert plus an intro to how wine is made.
- Around the World with WordPress and Wine (with food pairing too!).As WordFest circles the globe, moving from time zone to time zone, learn about the wines of the world as well as food pairings in a series of sessions! Join Wine Predator Gwendolyn Alley as she shares some of her favorite wines from worldwide regions including Australia, New Zealand, Italy, France, New York, California, Chile, Argentina, Japan, and more! Learn a little about the terroir that produces the wines and the foods that go with them.
- Wine and Food Pairing 101 Do you enjoy wine with meals but not sure how best to pair it with food? Do you wonder: can you pair food with sparkling wine? can you have red wine with fish? what cheese goes best with which wine? Learn the basics of food and wine pairing with wine, food, and travel blogger Gwendolyn Alley from Wine Predator. Using discoveries from writing her blog since 2008, she’ll share some of her go- to, never fail pairings as well as simple recipes paired with food friendly wines from around the world.
- How To Get Rid of Writers Block plus Tips How can you be a better writer? What can you do about writer’s block? In this life changing session, learn some tips and tricks from college writing professor and WordPress blogger Gwendolyn Alley.
And here’s my totally last minute conference bio:
Gwendolyn Alley receives cases of wine each month to write about on her WordPress blog Wine Predator. A member the US Wine Tasting Team which travels each year to France to compete in the World Blind Wine Tasting Championship, Gwendolyn has been blogging about wine on WordPress since 2008; she recently published post #1000. She’s spoken about writing about wine at Wine Media Conferences in Portland and Lodi, and about food and wine pairing and writing about it at the International Food Bloggers Conferences in Santa Monica and Sacramento. While she may write about pairing food with wine from all over the world, she’s a big fan of the wines made near her coastal home in Ventura County, California where she works as a cellar rat and teaches writing at the local community college.
Over 150 sessions have been submitted, and forty sessions will be accepted. They will take place during a 24 hour period, they explain: