I came across an article in Bitch Magazine about a woman by the name of Damali Ayo and her experience with racism in the United States. I want to bring special attention to this article because it brings up a fascinating strategy for activism towards racial equality. Ayo is an African-American woman who grew up in the predominately white neighborhoods of Portland, Oregon. In the article, she reflects back on her life and recalls numerous experiences in which white people have expected her to educate them on African-American culture while viewing her as a symbol of diversity. “Ayo often felt she was the token black person relied upon for opinions and advice precisely because of her skin color (Lisa Katayama, 2005).” After Ayo expressed her discomfort with this dilemma, her mother once said to her that she can’t be everyone’s rent-a-negro. This here was Ayo’s “aha!” moment. ” In 2002, Ayo created www.rent-a-negro.com where customers can rent a “creative, articulate, friendly, attractive, and pleasing African-American person (Katayama, 2005).” In our capitalist economy, this is what I like to call the commodification of race. Her logic is this:

“We continue to look at black people in a service mentality, whether it’s bringing somebody their evening meal or serving up their education on racism,” she says. “And this, as we know, is not the role of black people in our society anymore. I was really interested in the way white people would get offended when I was reluctant to let them touch my hair or explain rap music to them. I realized that they had an expectation of me as a black person to do as they asked.”

Racism is an epidemic in the United States and I the first step in moving towards a society where everyone is treated equally is awareness. Ayo’s activism brings light to these societal issues; a light that is not turned on often enough. I am interested in hearing what readers have to say about this article and racism in general. Can you relate to Ayo’s experience with racism? How so? What do you think about her activist approach? Do you think its use of satire is a negative or positive thing?


Tonight I attended the Portland Plan Workshop: Phase II. The goal of the workshop was to bring communities around Portland together to plan for the next 25 years. Phase II of the Portland Plan focused on setting direction and answering the question: where do we want to go?

Workshop participants were divided into nine discussion groups based on their interest: transportation, technology and access; neighborhoods and housing; design, planning and public spaces; education and skill development; human health, food and public safety; equity, quality of life and civic engagement; sustainability and natural environment; and arts, culture and innovation.

Mayor, Sam Adams, facilitated the workshop and stressed on the importance of equity. “We can’t move forward without equity,” said Adams. Subgroup discussions about equity varied from increasing availability and affordability of healthy food to focusing outreach to demographic groups rather than geographic groups. Group discussions concerning equity agreed upon one necessity: listen to the community. And this, my friends, is what this workshop was all about: letting your voice be heard through civic engagement.

I recently finished Gary Vaynerchuk’s book, Crush it, and absolutely loved it. The book discusses how to build a career around what you are passionate by providing specific social media strategy analysis and Vaynerchuk’s secrets to personal branding. He truly believes that if you have enough skill and passion for something and put your voice to the world, you can build a business. He wrote the book to put that message out there and he definitely effectively voiced that message.

Vaynerchuk talks about how times are changing rapidly and how people are going to start consuming content everywhere and anywhere. It is social media that is producing this mass amount of readily available content and he believes those who are deeply passionate about something should take advantage of the. He also points out that the people that used to be in charge of these content platforms, television, radio, and newspapers, are no longer in control which is a large contributing factor to why social media can help build brand equity.

This book was so inspiring to me because I could hear the author’s integrity in his writing. He bases his success and his advice on how to be successful on mottos like “passion is everything” and “success is in your DNA.” He lives my three simple rules: love your family, work superhard, and live your passion. This is so refreshing to hear from someone who has made it big because it really defines what your career should be based on. I highly recommend this book, it is a quick read and motivating and just an all around impressive story.

I was watching T.V. the other day and caught commercial for the 17th annual Sip! Wine and Food Classic in McMinnville, Oregon. The commercial aired on a national T.V. station, which I thought was some aggressive advertising for such a local event. However, the event intrigued me and therefore the commercial successfully persuaded me to check it out online. Due to the fact that I spend a lot of time planning events for Ethos Magazine (a multi-cultural student-run publication at the University of Oregon), I am a big supporter of local events and therefore decided to blog about Sip! Wine and Food Classic.

The Sip! Wine and Food Classic is a weekend of wine tasting of the finest Oregon Wines and samples of a variety of culinary delicacies. The event takes place on Friday, March 12 (3-9:30 PM), Saturday, March 13 (Noon-9:30 PM), and Sunday, March 14th (11AM-5PM) at the Evergreen Aviation and Space Museum in McMinnville, Oregon. More than 70 Oregon wineries will offer tastings as well as wine tasting classes to help newbies learn the language of wine tasting as well as the intricacies of their product. More than 25 food vendors will be on-site offering baked goods, seafood, crepes, gourmet cheese and chocolate, plus more. In addition to food and wine sampling, guest chefs will give cooking demonstrations and vendors will have fine arts and crafts for sale. Tickets for the event cost $15 per day or $30 for a three-day pass. Tickets include admission to the Evergreen Space Museum, live musical entertainment and wine tasting classes. I hear it is a good idea to bring quarters to pay for the wine tastings.

Along with a commercial, the Sip! Wine and Food Classic utilizes promotion via social media. They have a very information and user friendly website along with a Facebook. The event received quite a bit of local news coverage which proves their advertising to be successful. Personally, I would love to plan an event like this; I think it would be so much fun. I am looking forward to hearing what attendees have to comment about after the event. I am sure lots of them will be blogging away about it.

Wine tweetups sound like the new social hour for wino’s. Tweetups are when a group of tweeters meet up in person. Wine tweetups are tweetups focused around drinking wine and participants tweet about the selected wines before and after the gathering. When tweeters meet in person, they are able to exchange thoughts without being constricted by Twitter’s 140-character limit. I like this idea – I think it is a beautiful pairing of the wine industry and social media. In addition, I think it is transforming traditional “wino culture” into something better fit for this day in age. Gary Vaynerchuk, host of Wine Library TV, is most likely quite of fan of the wine tweetup. He is all about reinventing the concept of wine tasting for a new generation and is a strong advocate of social media. I am reading his book, Crush It , which talks all about how to brand yourself through social media. So far, great book; highly recommend it.

Tweetup at Alexandria Nicole Cellars, Woodinville, WA (photo credit: Seattle Wine Gal)

While anyone can host a wine tweetup, many times it is a winery or some other business (restaurant, wine bar, etc.) hosting in order to attract online viewers and encourage discussion about the business. I couldn’t help but think of a local Eugene winery, King Estate, whom I have been focusing on in one of my PR classes. King Estate Winery is an active participant in social media (especially Twitter) and, in my opinion, would be a perfect tweetup host. Interested in hosting a wine tweetup? HOW TO: Organize a Succesful Tweetup

I have found it ladies and gentlemen! The best food blog ever. I love love love food and could read and look at pictures about food all day. Smitten Kitchen, my new favorite food blog, is a home cooking blog from a kitchen in New York City “with a focus on simplifying daunting recipes and being fearless in the kitchen.” Deb, the blogger, takes the most amazing pictures of food and fills up her posts with cooking tutorials of different recipes. Some examples of recipes include chocolate souffle cupcakes with mint cream, chana masala, ginger fried rice, and walnut jam cake (from left to right). Photography from SmittenKitchen.com.

With so many aspiring foodies out there, it is hard to tell who knows what they are talking about and who doesn’t. Deb from Smitten Kitchen isn’t a professional blogger; she just loves food, writing, and photography and realized she could do all of this things and make them presentable via blogging.

Anyone can create a blog; if you don’t have a active online presence it is hard to verify credibility. This is probably the most controversial aspect of blogging, however; blogging is an opportunity for anyone to get involved in social media. In order to avoid faulty information, it helps to become comfortable with the bloggesphere before relying on information you read via social media.

How do you get people to start talking about your restaurant? Advertising? Branding? Coupons? Like with almost any other business, opening a restaurant requires a significant start-up cost that takes quite awhile to make back (depending on how successful the new eatery is). Due to the high-start-up costs, most restaurant owners don’t want to dish out a bunch of money to promote their new spot. The answer to this dilemma is social media, a cost-effective public relations strategy that will successfully communicate your message to your audience(s). Social media doesn’t cost any money, with a computer and internet connection you can sign up on numerous social media networking sites for free. (Yes, free! $0! One of the very few things that are free in this day in age; take advantage while it is still free!)

I recently learned about a sake brewery and restaurant in Minneapolis that inspired my post today. I read an article that I found through the Above the Buzz blog on my blogroll, in Meetings: Minnesota’s Hospitality Journal, about Moto-i sake microbrewery and restaurant (the only sake brewery outside of Japan).

Moto-i’s owner, Blake Richardson and director of marketing and public relations at Sterling Cross Communications, Chris Lower, created a social media approach in order to create a buzz about this new restaurant idea. Through Twitter, Facebook, Website and e-newsletters, Moto-i gained an audience of nearly 30,000. In addition, Moto-i was featured in over 40 publications within 90 days of opening. Clearly, the social media approach was extremely successful, and of course, cost-effective. Moto-i gained a loyal and active audience without traditional and expensive marketing strategies.

Check out the article: Moto-i Case Study