I've been meaning to write this post for nearly two weeks now, but things keep getting in the way. Things like post-conference nap-taking (I slept for two days straight. For realz) and catching up on all the TV I missed over the past, um, FOREVER and oh-snap-I-need-to-photograph-some-recipes-because-FOODBLOGGER and, y'know, life in general. I've also been putting it off, I think, because I just haven't been sure how to write this post. How are you supposed to sit down and sum up more than a year of your professional life in just a few paragraphs??
I've known (and so have you, if you've been reading this here bloggity blog for awhile!) for over a year that I was headed to New Orleans in June for some seafood lovin' - but there were a lot (a LOT a lot) of moments over the past 14 months when I didn't know who - if anyone - would be there with me. (And, ummmmm, planning a conference is exhausting enough without freaking out every five minutes about people buying tickets). There are days and days of scheduling to work out, you have a billion people (okay, like...10. But that's a LOT) calling you every day and mayyyyyyybe you're also finishing your Master's thesis simultaneously because you're COMPLETELY INSANE and then there are days where it's like "whoa...have I eaten anything in the last 24 hours?" ("no" was usually the answer, followed by "oops") and then there are also days where you - you who has worked for years as a professional nonprofit event planner and is no stranger to the stress of the whole managing people dealio are still like "I WANT TO CRY AND PUNCH SOMETHING AND ALSO SOMEONE HAND ME A BEER. IMMEDIATELY."
(Thankfully, people DID buy tickets, and the planning DID come together, and my Master's DID get done, and we all went to New Orleans for a super awesome super-fun-times weekend. Wahoo!)
So I'm finally making time to wrap up the inaugural Sustainable Seafood Blog Conference (SSBC15) - because honestly, I think it just now hit me, this thing we did. This crazy, difficult, sleep-depriving, panic-inducing, passion-driven, incredibly important and insanely rewarding thing we did. Because WE DID IT. (And, um, it was awesome).
At the end of June, fifty people came together in New Orleans to eat great (amazing! incredible!) food, talk about blogging, and make ourselves better advocates for a sustainable food system. We had the most incredible speaker roster - and I was completely blown away not just by the caliber of the speakers and the content they presented, but by their kindness and willingness to take time out of their weekend to share their stories with us. We had the most wonderful, passionate, inspiring, and energetic group of blogger attendees. And we had (in my opinion, at least) the best, tastiest, most exciting food of any blogging conference I've ever been to (shoutout to Chef Scott Majure at The Maison Dupuy for being all kinds of awesome! If you're ever in New Orleans, go eat his food. And tell him I sent you. And get the gumbo!!!! DO IT).
I also want to take a moment to recognize the amazing sponsors who joined us in New Orleans. I love love LOVE these brands: they don't just practice what they preach (sustainable foodways! Hey-o!) - they also believe in the power of storytelling to affect change. They took a chance on a completely new, slightly crazy, totally unheard of conference concept, and they all went all. in. I'd love if you could take a moment to click through to their sites or give them a follow on social media as a small thank you for everything they've done for SSBC15 and for our food system:
Bristol Bay Sockeye
Certified Authentic Louisiana Wild Seafood
Gulf United for Lasting Fisheries (G.U.L.F.)
Whole Foods Market
Wild American Shrimp
I think my favorite thing about The Sustainable Seafood Blog Conference is that I loved it not just because the planning and execution were huge achievements - it's easily the biggest project I've ever taken on, including my academic degrees - but because I also had the opportunity to be, at least in some part, a conference attendee. I got to spend three days learning, eating, and getting to know other bloggers, SSBP Partners, and marketing pros. If you've been to a blogging conference before, you know how that kind of a weekend can be just the kick in the butt you need to come at your blog and your work with a renewed sense of purpose.
I came home exhausted and reenergized at the same time, and I've been thinking a lot over the past week about what my next steps should be with both Life As A Strawberry and The Sustainable Seafood Blog Project. Now that I'm done with my Master's (hey-o!), I'm streamlining my vision for what I want this site to become - and I'm jumping head first into a few new, exciting projects that I can't wait to share with you all.
Lastly, to everyone who reads Life As A Strawberry, who works with The Sustainable Seafood Blog Project, and especially to everyone who joined us last weekend - thank you. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU. Because YOU = THE BOMB DIGGITY. Your comments, speaker suggestions, "you can do it!" emails, tweets and shares and clicks and enthusiasm - you're the reason this conference was possible. As far as I'm concerned, SSBC15 was 100% a team effort - and I couldn't be prouder to have each and every single one of you on our team.
We created this. We did this. We made a difference.
Want to read more about the inaugural Sustainable Seafood Blog Conference? Check out the recap posts below!
PS - have questions about the conference, event planning, working with bloggers, or how many margaritas it takes to forget about your massive to-do list for a few hours? I'm all ears! Shoot me an email or leave a comment on this post.