The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish
August 24, 2010

BlogHer10 Conference Recap: Keeping It Real

BlogHer is about community, the power of women’s blogs and the promotion of women’s voices.  It’s also about corporate sponsorship, commercialism, and the tradeoffs made to create a platform and conference experience for 2,400 women. I LOVED my BlogHer conference experience this year.  It was a rockin’ good time.  Nevertheless, I am troubled by some of the fundamental values of the organization, and I won’t be participating on the Green Team for future conferences.

But first, the good stuff…

BlogHer10 WIN

1) Connecting with other women bloggers.

The BlogHer conference gives women bloggers a place to come together, to meet up in person, and to let our diverse voices be heard. According to Gloria Feldt in the Closing Night keynote, BlogHer is ranked as the #4 most powerful social media outlet. It promotes women’s voices in a time when men are still the loudest in the blogosphere. Here are just a few of the fantastic women I met up with in person:

(If for some reason you are unable to view the slideshow, please see my gallery of BlogHer10 images on Facebook [And while you're add it, why not "friend" me?) or Flickr [Likewise.])

2) A Change Agents session track for those of us who use our blogs to promote a cause.

I had the opportunity to participate on a fantastic panel:  Change Agents: Creating Tangible Social Change: How to Move People to Action. I shared how I used the power of this blog as well as the relationships I had developed with other bloggers, blog readers, organizations, and media outlets to wage the Take Back The Filter campaign to urge Brita to take back and recycle its plastic water filter cartridges. My energetic co-panelists were Gina McCauley from  What About Our Daughters and  Blogging While Brown, Stephanie Himel-Nelson from Blue Star Families, and Melissa Silverstein, who founded the site Women and Hollywood.

Blogher10 photos

And there were many other sessions on ways to use our blogs to promote causes and work on the issues we care about.  If you stuck to the Change Agents track on the BlogHer10 schedule, you might never have guessed you were at a conference that was just as much about making money as sharing ideas. (Not that there’s anything inherently wrong with making money, but please hear me out.)

3.)  Efforts to Minimize Waste

I was thrilled to see that at every dining  and session table were pitchers of water and real glasses.  And there were water stations in visible spots for filling up reusable bottles.  It was a vast improvement over last year, when women complained they had a hard time finding the water filling stations.

Blogher10 photos

Meals were served using compostable plates, cups, and utensils.  While I would have preferred reusable foodware, I was glad to hear that the hotel would actually compost those dishes rather than throwing them away.

While once again, there was a lot of promotional swag distributed by sponsors, a Swag Exchange Room was provided to allow participants to ditch what they didn’t want and pick up what they did want.  And this year, it was much better organized than last, with separate bins for different categories of items and staff people there to prevent the chaos that ensued last year.

Blogher10 photos

Other waste-reduction initiatives included providing the pre-conference guide digitally instead of printing and using the hotel’s digital signage in order to reduce paper/cardboard waste.

4) Vendors and sponsors restricted to designated areas.

Part of the anxiety women felt during BlogHer09 was from the constant assaults by vendors who wanted to get their products into our hands. You know how I said that BlogHer is the #4 most powerful social media outlet? Vendors know it and want to tap into that power in any way they can. And last year, you couldn’t walk down a hall, ride an elevator, or even sit in a session without being subjected to a sales pitch. Women complained. And this year was different.

First, only official conference sponsors were allowed to promote their products at the hotel, and they were required to keep to the Vendor Hall and some suites on the top floors. If you didn’t want to see what they had to offer, you didn’t have to.

Second, vendors that were not official sponsors were not allowed to throw parties at the hotel, rent suites at the hotel, or promote their products anywhere on the hotel property. Sure, the vendors showed up. But they hosted parties offsite, by invitation. Unlike last year, there was no frenzied rush from room to room to grab swag bags before supplies ran out.

5) Green Events

At A Green Affair (officially BlogHer hosted) and the Green Soiree (organized and hosted offsite by my friends the Three Green Angels), green bloggers were able to meet up, exchange ideas, plan strategies, and just have a great time.

The Three Green Angels did a fabulous job organizing an UNOFFICIAL gathering that was beautiful and waste-free, including real plates, utensils, and cloth napkins.

Blogher10 photos

Blogher10 photos

The vendors who were invited to the Green Soiree were small businesses selling sustainable products… businesses that could never have afforded the price of an official BlogHer sponsorship. Like LunaPads, Little Bites, Global Green Pals (which I’ll probably review in a future post) and many others. (As Annie Leonard said to me, “I’m not anti-business. I’m anti-sucky business.”)

Blogher10 photos

6) Powerful Speakers

Blogher10 photos

I have to commend BlogHer this year for coming through with some serious keynote speakers. Saturday morning, we heard talks by the 2010 BlogHer International Scholarship recipients, which included Esra’a Al Shafei from Bahrain (MidEastYouth.com); Dushiyanthini Pillai from Sri Lanka (Humanity Ashore); Marie Trigona from Argentina (Latin American Activism); and Freshta Basij-Rasikh from Afghanistan (Afghan Women’s Writing Project).  Some of these women risk their lives to give voice to critically important issues, and the Internet makes their outreach possible.

Saturday’s closing keynote was titled, “How to Use Your Voice, Your Platform and Your Power,” and included Marie Wilson, Founder and President of The White House Project (and creator of Take Our Daughters to Work Day), author and activist Gloria Feldt from Heartfeldt Politics and journalist and environmentalist P. Simran Sethi, all of whom had strong statements to make about women and blogging and what it is we do with the platforms that we have.

But… did the message get through?

BlogHer10 FAIL

While there was great content and a real effort at minimizing waste at the conference level, what worries me the most about BlogHer is a culture of consumerism and corporate sponsorship.

1) Limited Power of the Green Team

I was part of the BlogHer10 conference Green Team this year. And I feel like BlogHer benefited more from being able to use my name than I did from being on the Green Team. Last year, the team created a ruckus when we demanded that Pepsi not bring bottled water. This year, BlogHer limited us to one conference call or Skype chat per month to give our suggestions. But our suggestions were just that. We had no real power to change anything.

So I was dismayed when a green blogger approached me after my Change Agents panel and said that she had debated coming to BlogHer but thought it would be better this year when she saw my name on the Green Team list. At the conference, she was shocked to see who the sponsors were and the amount of swag, and she was disappointed in the “greening” of the event.

And in fact, one of the prominent keynote speakers expressed some of the same sentiments to me after her panel.  What could I say?

2)  Questionable Sponsors

BlogHer sponsors include companies like Walmart (with its unfair labor practices), Procter & Gamble (producer of toxic home and personal care products), Pepsico (promoting the privatization of drinking water and greenwashing its junk food), Nestle (also promoting the privatization of drinking water and undermining breastfeeding in the developing world), Johnson & Johnson (producer of toxic baby products), and a whole host of other companies with questionable labor, environmental, and social justice records. These are companies that many of us green bloggers routinely criticize.  (Here’s the full list of BlogHer10 sponsors.)

What are BlogHer’s criteria for social and environmental responsibility of the companies whose sponsorship it seeks? I’ve argued that it’s important for us bloggers to define advertising and review policies based on our core values. It’s equally or more important for an organization that represents us to figure out what its standards are and choose companies that are not actively undermining our and our families’ health and wellbeing.

The Green Team had no say whatsoever about who the sponsors would be or what the criteria would be for accepting sponsorship.  That was not even an area where we were invited to make suggestions.

3) The Swag, the Swag, the Swag…

BlogHer presents every conference attendee with a huge bag of products from the sponsors.  Here’s what was in mine…

Blogher10 photos

A bag is allocated for each attendee ahead of time.  So refusing the bag at registration does nothing to reduce the amount of stuff in the first place.  All she can do is return it to the Swag Exchange Room, where whatever is leftover at the end of the conference is donated to the Salvation Army.  (I kept a mug and a pad of paper.  The rest went to the Swag Exchange.)

How many Jimmy Dean alarm clocks do you think the Salvation Army needs?

Blogher10 photos

When is a reusable bag really a disposable bag? When companies toss them at attendees as if they were disposable, and attendees leave them behind because they have no room in their suitcases.

Blogher10 photos

Terra Chips, what were you thinking?

Blogher10 photos

BlogHer may have cut down it’s own paper usage, but it was a drop in the bucket compared to what the sponsors printed and handed out.

Blogher10 photos

The Green Team made suggestions about what giveaways might be useful to women, but ultimately, BlogHer left it up to the sponsors to bring whatever crap they wanted.

4) Our Platforms for sale

Some sponsors hosted suites in the hotel to promote their brands and to entice bloggers to write about their products. That is, after all, what they get for sponsoring BlogHer. They are not trying to sell their products to 2,400 conference attendees, but to the audiences of 2,400 bloggers.

In the Hershey S’mores suite, I will admit to toasting one marshmallow over a propane flame and sandwiching it with half a Hershey’s milk chocolate bar between two Graham crackers. There went my vegetarianism for a minute. *Sigh* It was a very guilty pleasure.

Blogher10 photos

And then I sat down in the fake backyard with its fake plastic grass and fake plastic charcoal flames to listen in on the conversation taking place between bloggers and PR rep.

Blogher10 photos
What I heard freaked me out. These women were begging for a chance to promote Hershey’s products on their blogs. One woman bragged that she had peanut butter cups or M&Ms or some such candy as the theme of her blog, and that’s why they should advertise with her.  The problem, to me, wasn’t so much the fact that these women were at BlogHer to make business deals.  Everyone blogs for a different reason.  Its was the desperation I heard in their voices.  “Pick me! Pick me!”  Who had the real power in that situation?

Bottom Line

I’ll keep attending and writing for BlogHer because 1) I feel like the voices of bloggers for environmental and social justice are needed.  Witness the change in programming this year.  And because 2) It’s great to be able to connect up with other people whom I only know online.  In short: it’s really fun.

But I won’t lend my name and credibility to a Green Team that has no power to effect real green change.

What does “green” mean anyway? Is it pitchers and glasses for water on the tables and compostable plates instead of plastic? Or does it mean changing the core principles of a business to align with what is good for the planet? What good is reducing a bit of waste while at the same time advancing patterms of overconsumption that wreak havoc on eco-systems and don’t even make us happy in the process?   What does it matter if we offset our carbon for a weekend if in the long run we are helping to promote companies that are contributing to the destruction of life on earth?

After I got back, I ran across an interesting article about the power of company Green Teams and how they can be effective.    In “Is it time to re-think your green team?” the authors emphasize that for green teams to be truly effective, they must be part of the internal structure of the organization.  First and foremost, they must have strong executive support:

Buy-in at the highest levels of the organization means that green teams are aligned with the company’s goals and the companies themselves view sustainability as an issue that is an important part of their business values and foundation. Executives must view their work on an equal footing with new product or service development or launch. In short, the competitive advantage of effective green teams must be understood and embraced.

The article goes on to conclude:

Enterprise transformation for sustainable value has to be systemic and exist within the frameworks at the core of an organization, not at the fringe.

Change can be cosmetic and transient. It is externally driven and can easily be reversed. Transformation is core, fundamental, and lasting. It comes from finding shared sense of purpose through meaningful collaboration, from within enterprise, and as such represents evolution of culture.

The BlogHer green team exists on the fringes. In fact, there is a culture of “separation of church and state.” While it’s great that the marketing department and the editorial department are separate (meaning that sponsors do not dictate content on the BlogHer.com site), it’s not so great that the green team has no voice at the level where policy is made.

As long as the BlogHer Green Team remains on the periphery of the organization with little power except to make suggestions about superficial conference changes, I’ll pass. But a BlogHer green team with the power to influence the fundamental values of the company? That sounds interesting.

What other attendees had to say:

Lynn from OrganicMania: Towards a Better BlogHer
Diane from Big Green Purse: It’s Time for BlogHer to be Green — Inside and Out
Jen from Eco Women: Protectors of the Planet: Just How Eco Was BlogHer ’10?
Jen (the same Jen) from Jen on the Edge: Thinking
Lisa from Condo Blues: I Found My Voice at Blogher10

Do you have a post about the BlogHer conference to share? Please leave a link in the comments.

24 comments
Alexandra
Alexandra

Hi. I'm a green innkeeper and write a blog about living on Cape Cod. Could you tell us, Beth, whom to write to at BlogHer to demand changes for 2011?

Mary Hunt
Mary Hunt

Kudos Jennifer - I'm right there with you. I had to make choices this year as to which conferences I will attend, BlogHer wasn't one of them. Instead I went to Sustainable Brands and this week the Green Women conference in Pasadena. I will continue to put my money and mouth in places that are working for change, not enabling more pollution. To be fair, I know that Elisa is a strong voice for sustainable actions. BlogHer has it in them, but not until the entire flock goes in that direction. BlogHer leads from the bottom and that means it will be a long time before they take real action.

Jennifer Margulis
Jennifer Margulis

This post is written with so much grace and clarity, Beth. Like others have said, it was well worth the wait. I wish I could feel as optimistic and enthusiastic about BlogHer as you did. It was my first BlogHer conference. I am a professional writer and I am paid for the blog I write at Mothering magazine's mothering.com by the magazine itself. Though there is some advertising on the blog, this is all done independently of me. I have the luxury of not needing or accepting corporate sponsors and not doing give-aways or accepting swag (though after checking with the magazine editors and arguing with myself, I did agree to a cloth diaper made by an independent manufacturer after telling her that I probably would not be reviewing it on the blog. I have also had several wonderful books sent to me for free, though I have yet to write reviews of them.) I was so dismayed by BlogHer. I still feel sad when I think of it. As you mention here, the sponsor list is really unconscionable. And I was the blogger you wrote about in this post -- after I saw how it was sponsored, I decided I would not go. Then when I saw your name on the list and the fact there was a Green Team, I decided to go. But really this was greenwashing at its worst. And I'd be willing to bet that not one plate was composted. In fact, since the chopsticks I brought with me were mistakenly thrown away, we actually went through the trash. Maybe they were planning to separate it later? I'd really like to know if that happened as the staff had no intention or knowledge of doing so when I asked about this. This sentence that you wrote really rings true for me: "It’s also about corporate sponsorship, commercialism, and the tradeoffs made to create a platform and conference experience for 2,400 women." We have to stop polluting the planet. We can't greenwash and think we'll get away with it. We homo sapiens are on a fast road to extinction (or at least to a greatly reduced population). Some of the companies sponsoring this event are so directly involved in creating and promoting suffering (for humans, other animals, and the planet) that I am ashamed I attended a conference that they were at. Instead of begging these companies to visit our blogs, we need to use the power of the Internet and social media--as you do so eloquently and with so much integrity--to insist that they change. Now. For real. Corporate greenwashing is intolerable. I think you are doing it right-- participating and criticizing from the inside in a thoughtful, well-reasoned way. I wish I could be more like you. But I doubt you'll see me at another of these events, unless it's outside on a picket line.

Kathryn Grace
Kathryn Grace

Beth, this is a fabulous recap. I know it takes monster time to write, edit, find and input all the links, so I say THANK YOU in the biggest type I can do in this little comment form. Excellent commentary. I completely understand your decision not to lend your name and reputation further to the BlogHer Green Team. Right now, I call out to everyone of your readers to write to BlogHer and ask them to do what it takes to get you back. Let me say that with a bit more volume: I CALL ON EVERY FAKE PLASTIC FISH READER to write to BlogHer and ask them to do whatever it takes to get Beth Terry back on the Green Team. We need a stronger Green Team, not weaker. I give gratitude for BlogHer's steps in the right direction, but from the outside looking in, they do appear to be a bit short. Baby steps are fine, but while BlogHer is learning to walk in the Green world, rain forests are crashing and the polar ice caps are melting. Right now we need giant steps and a megaphone to direct the traffic. Stepping down off soap box. I'll do my best to get to every one of the links you offered us, and thank you again for posting a solid, useful, piece--everything we know and expect from you.

Melissa @ HerGreenLife
Melissa @ HerGreenLife

Thanks for the honest and comprehensive recap. The whole excessive commercialization and very questionable corporate sponsors definitely make me question whether I will ever attend a BlogHer conference, despite the good things you mention. Not that I never attend events with unscrupulous sponsors (I'm afraid they're pretty hard to avoid), but a whole conference might be more than I can take!

Emily
Emily

I think it is ironic that Pepsi, by being a main sponsor of Blogher is funding in part your efforts to encourage people not to drink Pepsi. I am glad that you are still going to go to Blogher because I am happy to see you suceed and this conference seems to add value to your work. It seems like they made many improvements over past times. I like the bins idea for sure - also good feedback to the vendors on what people consider junk (I know, like they need to be told) I think though that you should continue with the Green team again and here's why - like Mary said above - only a very small percentage of people are hip to these ideas. Out in New England - even though our recycling is free and single stream in our town - most people on my block don't participate (can you believe it??) A couple of my best friends saw 'Food Inc' and felt that it was just "some organic farmers conspiracy theory"... (whaa?) I guess my point is that if you or any other green blogger from that conference are able to reach someone or even make some small improvement in general thinking - you might be trading a small mountain of annoying swag for the ongoing savings of a larger mountains of plastic.

Mary Hunt
Mary Hunt

Putting down the guns of war will always be easier than putting down the lattes of consumerism. At best, only 15-20% of population will change their habits, the rest will participate regardless of the event, office, school, store... The only way to turn the tide is by companies latching onto real, sustainable standards and raising the bar so that no one has to make a choice, it just a way of life. That only way that will happen is if more women speak out like Beth just did and support these global standards and then use only the products that meet them. The new market is about co-creation at every level; even parades of people marching to the same drummer are meaningless unless they have an audience to parade by and participate in the moment. So, I'm with Beth--I intend to march on, play loud, and know that the direction is now being backed up by mandates from the government and global standards. It doesn't take a nation to create a tipping point, sometimes it only takes one blogger. Thank you for your inspiration and leadership, Beth.

Sommer
Sommer

Beth, you did a great job summing up your feelings and pointing out the good and the "bad" about BlogHer 2010. I'm happy you liked the Green Soiree and the sponsors for this event. I really appreciate your feedback and thoughts about BlogHer. You have given me a lot to personally think about and I love that about you!

Pure Mothers
Pure Mothers

Bravo Beth. I love that you can re-evaluate and change course when principles don't align with your intention. On another note, I wanted to let you know that after reading The China Study and Skinny Bitch (3 of their books!) my entire family went vegan; including my rib-eye, hamburger-eating husband and my mom who loved meat too. (I only ate poultry & fish and dairy for the past 18 years.) But we all feel healthier, have been enjoying trying mew recipes and I can look a chicken in the eyes again :-) I hope you are enjoying the San Francisco summer. London is all fog and rain already.

LInda Anderson
LInda Anderson

Beth, I did not go to Blogher this year because it is too expensive for what I could get out of it. I attended last year and the best (and long lasting) thing I got out of it was meeting you and other green bloggers. I really value that. I wanted to learn more about improving my blog, not marketing it. That did not happen. And the amount of swag, plus the "gimme" attitude of many bloggers was a huge negative for me. It sounds like you and the Green team made huge progress this year. Maybe you don't see it because you are in the middle of it. When other bloggers, green or not, see some of the green practices that have been put in place, they take it home in the back of their minds. Then - they may put it in practice and blog about it. You can't always see they ways that good practices affect others. I think that you have made a great contribution to the greening of Blogher. Thanks!!!

Isle Dance
Isle Dance

I read. I clicked. It really, really helped. I'm so glad to hear these details. No, BlogHer is not a green conference. Most conferences are not. But that point doesn't apply anymore. In fact, it's the very reason the green is necessary. Our world has changed. There was an Oscar. In Hollywood, for Pete's sake. The Green has come out of the closet. Green change is supposed to happen. Because it's the right thing to do. It's called r.e.s.p.o.n.s.i.b.i.l.i.t.y. Besides...there are some AMAZING organic, green and stylin' goodies out there which can be given away as swag (or simply introduced) to help make the world a better place. I hope BlogHer lets that happen in '11.

Jeremiah
Jeremiah

Great post, Beth. I wanted to highlight passages and I don't have a plugin to do that, although I'm sure there is one. A favorite: "What does it matter if we offset our carbon for a weekend if in the long run we are helping to promote companies that are contributing to the destruction of life on earth?" That dichotomy between genuine transformative change and well-funded interests extends even beyond our environmental concerns, to every aspect of blogging with conscience.

Reenie
Reenie

Even the best green companies may not give it their best, due to the profit factor. I scrolled through the sponsor list and had questions about P&G and many others. They still have an enormous power over the majority of consumers, product loyalty, for ex., for Johnson & Johnson. How many new parents have parents and grandparents who have used J & J exclusively, for baby shampoo etc. Fees for being a sponsor or vendor may be a steady chunk of revenue for BlogHer, so there's no way they would allow a Green Team to dictate criteria. If you had been able to use your ecological intelligence, as described in Daniel Goldman's book, also called Ecological Intelligence, most of the companies, upon thorough inspection, probably wouldn't score so high. I help people and small businesses green up their homes and offices, usually starting with getting rid of the "nasties"...like Comet, bags of leaky blue granules of plant fertilizers, leaky rusted cans of oven sprays, drain declogging chemicals, stainless steel cleaners, ammonia and bleach products, hair sprays .... I have been watching the pitching and rolling of the Ship of Commerce as it gives a wink and nod to green, tosses out a few lame efforts like compostable plates, and then goes on, ala biz as usual. The money aspect is the thing. I have met with green teams in our area and to my view they haven't been empowered at the core, but admitted they were still trying to make changes. So they were really green window dressing. We all have our personal green ethics; many organizations/companies have yet to establish theirs and then live by them.

Condo Blues
Condo Blues

As Lynn mentioned being a venture capital company Blogher has greater financial obligations than a privately held company. They are trying to be all things to all people which is noble but difficult given the diverse female blogging world. They created a non sponsored ticket option for next year. It's a higher price and I guess you won't get the swag bag. Does anyone know for certain?

Diane MacEachern
Diane MacEachern

I continue to maintain that it's irrelevant that BlogHer wasn't a "green" conference per se. For many of the reasons laid out in this blogpost, BlogHer has not just an opportunity, but , I believe, a responsibility, to show that there is no line between being a "green" event and being a responsible one. I hope BlogHer will pay attention to all of the posts that have raised questions about the way the women who attend its conferences are being encouraged to promote consumerism, regardless of its impact on people or the planet. Maybe it's time for an alternative conference?

Amber
Amber

I haven't attended BlogHer yet. I plan to next year in San Diego. I'm glad you were able to make the changes that you were. And I hope that more progress continues to be made at future conferences. However, I think you're right about the culture of consumerism. I am mostly a 'mom blogger' myself, and I see that rampant consumption promoted on a lot of mom blogs. I see nothing wrong with trying to use your platform to make money for yourself. And I see nothing wrong with discussing products that you believe in. But I think we need to be selective, and we also need to recognize our own power. Ideally, we should not be begging for a candy company to send us their products, we should be thoughtfully considering their request to use our platform. I think there is a lot of progress still to be made in terms of how we monetize our blogs, how we relate to companies, and how we define our values in the process.

Kerri
Kerri

Great post! I have never attended a BlogHer conference, but found this to be a very interesting read nonetheless. The photos of the piles of stuff really showed what you were talking about. I can't believe people compete to get more junk.

Alexandra
Alexandra

I found this post really interesting. Everyone else I read who wrote about BlogHer complained about all the mommy bloggers. You offered real substance. It is clear your decision not to participate next year has been well thought out. I wonder whether you will write to the folks who organize the conference with the same clarity of purpose and explain this decision? While there may be some bloggers desperate for Hershey's advertising dollars, there are probably more who do not want the waste and "swag." I read a lot of complaints about the swag, too. Glad that you did enjoy some aspects of BlogHer. I envy your having made so many friends in person, judging from the photo album above.

Sandra Lee
Sandra Lee

Fantastic overview. You very artfully weave together all the various issues and really give us some scary insight to what's really making corporate American and far too many bloggers tick. The section on women begging Hersey's to advertise with them really freaks me out! Thanks.

Lynn from OrganicMania.com
Lynn from OrganicMania.com

Beth, Bravo. It was worth the wait for this post. I hope that readers will click on the links you placed next to each sponsor's name...because you've linked to some great information about each of those companies. I got the sense you were pained by your experience with the Green Team, and I really feel for you. I think you've laid out a great challenge for BlogHer, one I hope they embrace in some fashion. I made some of the same points in my post, so of course I agree, but I did add one other point you only alluded to: I don't think BlogHer could really impose such rigid environmental and social criteria on sponsors, because BlogHer is not a private organization. It is a venture funded company with major investors who are looking for big returns. And as you pointed out, the sustainable companies we "love" don't have the big bucks to pay for BlogHer sponsorships. There's a lot to be said for a very diverse conference like BlogHer (enabled by those big sponsors) that attracts women without as much awareness of environmental issues as us - who than learn and are inspried by what they discover in sessions such as yours (which was PACKED, by the way!) By the same token, I do think that there is a lot of room for "goals," "rewards," and "incentives" that could incentivize BlogHer sponsors to do the right thing. It might be that we bloggers - rather than BlogHer - have to lead the way. In that same vein, I'd like to see an "opt-out" option on swag with the money spent on swag reallocated to the social causes the BlogHer community most cares about. And as for the pix? I can't believe there's no pix of us together! I sometimes am too camera shy!

Heather
Heather

Great post with lots of great info and ideas. I'm glad you continue to participate and engage rather than giving up and moving on. I'm thankful I met you at BlogHer and your words continue to challenge me to improve the world I live in.

Jen on the Edge
Jen on the Edge

You and I met at BlogHer at lunch on the first day and I expressed the same concerns then. I was very put off by the commercialism of the conference and by the lip service given to greening the events. I wrote all this in two different blog posts at my two different blogs -- http://ecowomen.net/2010/08/17/just-how-eco-was-blogher-10/ and http://jenontheedge.com/2010/08/12/thinking/. I did get a response on the first post from someone at BlogHer and I was pleased to note that they are paying attention to what's being said. Still, there's a lot more that can be done and I'm really hoping that they'll give next year's Green Team some actual power to create change.