Guest Post by Tony Vargas (@TonyTorero)
Today is Memorial Day, a day for remembrance as well as symbolically a launch pad of sorts for the beginning of summer. Here at LATISM, we have been so busy launching exciting efforts that a time to stop and remember the tremendous strides our movement has taken over the past year always help fuel us as we ready ourselves to take off toward our next exciting milestone.
Did you attend the last LATISM National Conference in Chicago during November of 2011? If you did, you likely have a story to tell. Everyone who attended last year’s event has several stories to tell. As we prepare to move full-speed ahead with preparations toward the 2012 edition of the LATISM national conference from October 25 – 27 in Houston, Texas, we want to take a moment to share some of our stories with you. We invite you to share yours as well in the comments section below. Feel free to start packing your bags now for LATISM 2012. Ours have been packed since last November!
Alexandra María Landeros
The evening of the LATISM awards banquet, the keynote speaker was Dolores Huerta. Ms. Huerta co-launched the National Farm Workers Association in 1962, with the legendary César Chávez. She was not only instrumental in gaining farm workers’ rights, but also in advocating for women’s liberation and youth education and well-being. She strongly believed that everyone – particularly the working poor – should have access to basic good health, a clean environment, education, and information on how their government and financial institutions operate. At the end of her speech, she had the entire LATISM conference vivaciously chanting “Sí se puede! Sí se puede!”
After the banquet, myself and several LATISM friends, headed back to the hotel, absolutely exhausted from a full day of panels, workshops, networking, and meeting new people. As we were headed toward the elevators, Melanie suggested we stop into the hotel bar for a drink. “Sure, why not,” I said. “I’m in Chicago – I should take advantage of every moment! I’ll sleep when I’m dead.”
As we walked into the bar, we ran into Elianne Ramos (Vice-Chair of Marketing and PR for LATISM) who was with none other than Dolores Huerta! They suggested a room that was hidden behind the regular bar, which sounded much more than lovely. Before we knew it, we were seated at a rustic wood table with Dolores Huerta. This was truly unexpected; an evening I will never forget.
Dolores told us about many of her adventures, but there are a few that stood out. Before she partnered to work with César Chávez, she literally had to chase him around, until he was finally able to see her incredible talent for leadership – as well as persistence. Originally, César had come up with the idea of boycotting potatoes. Dolores rightfully pointed out that would have been appropriate in Idaho, but not so much in California. She suggested boycotting grapes, which is what César Chávez is most known for (¡UVAS NO!).
For me, LATISM 2011 was so special because not only did I have the opportunity to network, learn from pros and meet new people but I also had the opportunity to connect and meet people face to face that I had been talking to online for over a year!
LATISM 2011 felt like a family reunion. The sense of community, feeling of empowerment, tech knowledge and genuine networking were all things I experienced in Chicago.
There’s a reason why, every time you ran into me in the hallway at LATISM 2011, I had a cup of café espresso fuerte con leche in my hand, those of us involved in the event logistics at LATISM 2011 worked very hard to ensure smooth conference function. But, I would gladly do it all over again each week if given the opportunity! Even while we were all working, there was very tangible love and affection shared among the team and this extended, I believe, outwardly to those who attended the event. I can’t wait to do this again in Houston, come October!
The two events that stick out the most to me from the conference as being the most rewarding for me personally were:
- The advanced Twitter workshop I taught, which we both live tweeted and streamed live as well as it unfolded. After being in the conference logistics room for most of the early parts of the conference, this was my first chance to participate hands on with the conference attendees and I was lucky to have the best group of conference workshop attendees of the whole event! They were engaging and made my job easy and a LOT of fun!
- The radio interview I was honored to give with Abraham Velázquez Tello of Gozamos.com and Jean Manuel Jiménez of LatinBlah.com where I basked in half an hour of doing what I do best: Geeking out about technology & using a LOT of acronyms with two of the most intelligent and pleasant individuals that I had the pleasure of interacting with while at the conference.
Wow… Remembering is fun! Of course, creating new memories in October at this year’s LATISM conference in Houston stands to be pretty amazing as well. We’ll see you there!