21 September

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

by Jon Katz
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.

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