21 September 2015

News: The First Bedlam Farm Blogging Workshop: Nov. 7-8, At Pompanuck Farm

First Blogging Workshop

First Blogging Workshop

I have been writing on Internet blogs for nearly 30 years, and in that time the blog has moved from the periphery to center of American culture, of creativity, publishing, individual expression, and for many people, business and work. In the Corporate Nation, big media has become tightly controlled by profit-making corporations who often curb expression to meet marketing goals and make money.

Technology is freeing us.

I started my blog in 2007, it has transformed my writing life and has partially replaced the book as the center of my creative work. I hope I will always be a book writer, but the blog has become my living memoir, my great work. I'd love to help others and share what I have learned. I love teaching, I've taught at NYU, the Hubbard Hall Arts Center, Yale and other colleges and at various workshops and literary conferences.

I've written 28 books, and various articles for Rolling Stone, Wired, The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. I worked at the Washington Post and the Philadelphia Inquirer and was Executive Producer of the CBS Morning News.

My blog gets more than four million visits a year, and has about 350,000 unique users. I am into the third year of a subscription program, which I believe is the future for writers and creatives like myself.

The blog is about individual voice and expression.

We forget that the original American media was begun by farmers and merchants who wrote essays and arguments and posted them up on their fences and trees. The Internet has returned this great and important gift to people, however rich or poor, wherever they live. The only thing you need to be a blogger is a computer and some strong creative ideas about what to write or publish on it. Blogs can be free, or can be customized depending on resources.

I believe in the blog, my blog has changed, empowered and enriched my life, and especially my creative life. A few years ago, blogs were a choice for creatives. Now they are an urgent necessity. So I'm going to teach a one-and-a-half day workshop November 7 and 8 at the very beautiful Pompanuck Farm Institute outside of Cambridge, N.Y. Pompanuck Farm is a gorgeous retreat and learning center, 90 beautiful acres to walk on and appreciate. The meeting rooms are beautiful and comfortable. The farm borders a vast state park and is a beautiful and peaceful place to spend a weekend in the Fall.

There are rooms available at Pompanuck for those who wish to stay there, the rooming arrangements are separate, although we can guide you with arrangements.

The fee will be $400 and will not include food or lodging. On Saturday, the class will from from 10 a.m. to 4:00, and on Sunday from 10 a.m. to noon. I will teach most of the time, but we all also talk about the creative elements of blogging, what makes a blog enduring and successful. Alex Dery Snider, a very gifted writer and communications specialist, will talk about social media and it's impact on the blog and on individual expression and creativity. Rachel Barlow, a writer and computer expert will talk about the concrete details of how to set up a blog, what the options are,  and how blogs work.

The class is meant for bloggers of every level, I don't wish to focus too much on the technical details of blogging – this is not a software or computing course.  I am not a computer whiz or expert, but we will cover the basic steps of building blogs from scratch. Experienced bloggers who wish to talk about content and direction are very welcome.

I find that many people, especially those over 30, are frightened about blogging, they are concerned about coming out in public with their ideas and their work, uncertain about whether they have anything to offer, whether their friends and family will like what they say. We will be talking about fear of blogging and how to overcome it. The Internet can be a raucous and intimidating place, we will talk about how to handle it.

Red and Fate will be workshop dogs. Dogs keep things loose. I'm limiting the class to 10 people, nothing is required but a desire to learn about blogs and a willingness to be open, to share and listen. I will ask people who wish to attend the class to submit a very brief – two or three paragraph – explanation of who they are, where they are, and why they want to take the course.

This will be a helpful class – no hostility or pressure will be permitted. You have to be comfortable and safe to learn. I believe teaching should be stimulating and fun. I believe people should be encouraged, not discouraged.

You can send inquiries and reserve places by contacting Deb Foster, our friend and event co-ordinator. She will handle  applications and payments and has information about food and lodging (Lunch is available at Pomanuck, food is not included in the workshop fee). You can e-mail her at [email protected]

I expect the class will fill up, but if for any reason we don't have ten people we will postpone or cancel the workshop. This is somewhat of an experiment, the first of a series of workshops and gatherings Maria and I are planning to conduct at Pompanuck, all relating to art and creativity.  Bedlam Farm and Pompanuck are teaming up to bring creative workshops there. I am excited to be offering this, people have been asking me for some years to do it, we'll see if the interest is real. I'm ready.

So if you are interested, e-mail Deb Foster (not me, please) and let's get started: [email protected] Hope to see you in November. Information will also be available at the Bedlam Farm Open House on Columbus Day Weekend if spots are still available.

Posted in General

Beauty Everywhere: Clothesline Art And Technology

Clothesline Art

Clothesline Art

Life with an artist is nothing if not colorful and surprising. I never had a clothesline in any home in my life until Maria got the bug last year and put one up in the back yard. I am grateful for it. The clothes smell fresh in a way I do not recall before and feel good. There is something timeless and ritualistic about seeing clothes flapping on a clothesline, seeing the sun light up the fabric, reeling the clothes in and back.

But as importantly, there is color and light. Artists wear colorful things and buy colorful fabrics. I am not colorful, really, I wear blue shirts and jeans, chinos sometimes, white underwear.

But the clothesline has added some grace and beauty to our home and it is magical in the morning when the clothes are on the line, it reminds me that we are awfully quick to abandon beautiful and healthy things because we think technology can make our lives easier. Technology is expensive, sometimes wasteful, and often leeches the color out of our lives.

I love the technology that helps you to read these words, but am happy to have rediscovered the color and feeling that comes from a simple thing like a clothesline. It is easier and kinder to Mother Earth.

Posted in General

Video: Sheep Time. Fate Finds Her Way

Sheep Time

Sheep Time

A calmer and gentler period with Fate. She is seven months old now, growing up a bit, still explosive and mischievous and joyful, still so full of instinct and drive that I sometimes think her head will explode. I have  really slowed her down and she has slowed herself down, and she approaches the sheep, circles them and then walks up and begins practicing the border collie eye.

A great trainer once told me that you can only teach them so much, you have to let them learn by themselves when it is safe and they are ready. She is  ready, as this video shows.

I am fascinated to see the way she tests one sheep, then another. She backs up quickly when challenged, but more and more, is standing her ground, finding her way. Lessons here for me, for anyone who wants to learn. Sometimes you teach best by doing little or nothing. Fate and I are communicating almost seamlessly now, for me, that it is the ultimate goal of animal training. Come and see.

And thanks for coming to see my videos, thousands of new views. Another way to tell my story.

Posted in General

Cassandra And The Joy Dog

Cassandra And The Joy Dog

Cassandra And The Joy Dog

The Joy Dog loved everyone at the vet. Lisa the receptionist, the people waiting in the outer room, the dogs waiting with their people. She especially loves Cassandra, and climbed right up into her arms. My dogs are popular at the vets. Cassandra thought – mistakenly – that she could keep Fate out of the way of things, but she gave up on that soon enough. Fate was not about to let Red get examined without her involvement.

Posted in General

Vet And Dog: Examination

Examination

Examination

I am often touched when I see a caring vet examine a dog. This morning, Suzanne Fariello of the Cambridge Valley Veterinary Service checked Red for arthritis, and he has some, he has been moving stiffly after working. Red doesn't like walking on linoleum, he never walked on floors much before he came to the United States. So Dr. Fariello gets down on the floor with him. I am guessing he has been in some pain lately.

Posted in General