Lesbian Reflection on Netroots Nation 2012: Part One

“Reentry” as I like to refer to post-vacation/travel time seems to be over – work schedules resumed, pets reclaimed from assorted boarding venues, cats no longer glued to our sides and a new gallon of milk has been purchased. Ah, the glamorous life of two middle aged Pittsburgh lesbians … happy that we get through a day without a pet vomiting.

What a difference a week makes.

Last week, Ledcat and I headed off to Providence, Rhode Island to participate in the Netroots Nation 2012 Conference, courtesy of the LGBT Netroots Connect project. It is a lot to process & share so settle in …

Travel

We took our very first Megabus trip. The first leg took us to the heart of Manhattan  and then a connecting bus (running late) took us on to Providence. The trip to & from NYC was pretty good … bus is comfortable for those of us with short legs, its pretty clean and ran close to schedule. Megabus is very no frills. On one leg, we had to load our own luggage. I don’t object in principal, but I’m simply too short to left a loaded suitcase that high into the air. Fortunately, our fellow travelers helped us out. The specifics on moving from the Megabus drop-off spot in NYC to the Megabus departure spot in NYC are a little sketchy. We resorted to a taxi which was the best $7.50 + tip off our trip.

It is true you need to arrive wicked early to get a decent seat, especially in NYC. One bus had a clogged toilet, the other had no hand sanitizer (I had some in my purse which I shared with other riders.) There are no public bathrooms for blocks and blocks around the NYC departure spot. Or shade. 🙂  But overall, it is a decent way to travel for the money and the luxury of not driving.

On a related note, the City wants to relocate Megabus from the Convention Center to some suburban location. The owner of Lenzner told me it is being worked out. Megabus is a useful, affordable travel resource that fills a gap in transit services for low and moderate income travelers.

UPDATE: Sources tell me the Megabus will be relocated near the T station. That’s a positive. But the issue seems to be that the owner doesn’t have enough staff on site and they simply need to have a bathroom for people to access.  It is a shame that they couldn’t work it out with the Convention Center.

Location

Providence is a beautiful city with some incredible architecture. It also has three rivers, a bit more laconic than here in Pittsburgh. We were near the Capitol and had a great view. It was a fancy hotel so they didn’t have vending machines (I’ve never heard of such a thing.) One of the best features of the week was “Waterfire” – they literally set the river on fire!  They have gondolas, Portuguese music and a very festival like ambiance. It was absolutely gorgeous and a mere 4 or 5 blocks from our hotel. What a send off.

It would be super to see Pittsburgh add something like this to our riverlife – not an exact replica, but with the trails and various fountains — it seems a doable way to bring people to the rivers.

We were watching our pennies so we opted for three “special’ meals – a very nice upscale seafood restaurant also along the river, a farm-to-table lunch and a local brewhouse. All the food was great. I indulged in clam chowder twice and it was magnificent. My only feedback in this area would be for the conference or the visitors center to direct us to some affordable options.

Nuts and Bolts

Anticipating hefty hotel fees for Internet access, I added mobile hotspot service to my Android so we always had Internet. It was free in the preconvention and convention sessions, but not our room. This is good, because I had forgotten that this blog is often blocked by web filters that identify anything with “lesbian” in the URL as nudity or porn. Verizon doesn’t do that so I never had a problem. One of my co-participants wasn’t so lucky; her blog Transgriot was blocked by her hotel and they did not resolve it.

I keep saying this an issue, a progressive issue of silencing our voices & rejecting our identities, a techie issue of controlling the interwebs … it is an issue.

The Providence Convention Center (named the Dunkin Donut Center but I refuse to write that) was nice. It is attached to the hotel so that was convenient. Much to my surprise, the conference was not very green. Lots of handouts and no indication that any of the materials were printed on recycled materials or so forth. The Center recycled cans, glass and paper but it did not appear to recycle plastic bottles. Or lids.

Occupy Providence was present. They held a protest inside the nearby mall and encountered some police resistance.  They were told they were being arrested, but they ended up being banned from the mall for a year. A new friend who blogs as Ian Awesome at One Angry Queer documented that aspect of the conference – the only real “anger” in the conference.

I met a lot of interesting people, heard some great talks and speeches and presentations and generally learned quite a bit. It was a terrific experience. But I’ll get into those details in another post.

Quick notes:

  • The next time I go to Manhattan, I do not want to have to pee in a gas station bathroom with no “amenities” … or tip a guy in a reflective vest to do so.
  • Remind me never to travel home from NYC on a Sunday again. Just wait for Monday.
  • PF Changs seems to be on a roll with serving scorched wontons. Sheesh, that’s two cities!
  • I smelled the ocean!

 

sdf

 

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