Why I’m Traveling to Zambia Next Month

Tree on South African SavannaI’m headed to Africa again next month and I cannot wait to get there.

I will be in Zambia for ten days in July! I need to soak that in for a moment. The trip has been on my calendar for a few months, but it’s quickly becoming real now that I have less than twenty days to go before I travel to the southern part of Africa for the first time.

I’m excited!

In May I was selected as a new media journalist by John’s Hopkins’ International Reporting Project to report on global health, specifically HIV/AIDS, malaria, and tuberculosis in Zambia. So for now on every post I write before, during, and after the trip to Zambia I will identify myself as an International Reporting Project Zambia Fellow. It does have a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? While this isn’t my first fellowship, it’s the first that has allowed me to travel outside of the country. For that, I am extremely grateful. I was so happy when my Zambian Visa arrived earlier this month. And I am even more thrilled, probably more thrilled than anything, that all of my vaccinations are up to date.

While in Zambia I will be in excellent company traveling with brilliant freelancers and journalists who write for publications from Nature to Al Jazeera to Mashable. You can see the ten of us here on the International Reporting Project Zambia page. We’ll all be diligently writing while we’re in Zambia so be sure to follow our coverage. My focus will center on these three communicable diseases and how they acutely affect mothers and children. I can’t wait to tell some amazing stories from the ground through video, audio, photography, and posts. I’m going to play around with a lot of different sites and mash them up to make one big cohesive narrative. I have some ideas rolling around in my head. I’ll just have to execute them when I’m there.

I leave mid-July and will be back just in time to make it to Blogher. Oh, and by the way, if you would like to apply to also be a new media fellow with the prestigious International Reporting Project, applications are now open to travel to Tanzania to cover poverty, hunger, and food security. I know that’s going to be an amazing, informative trip. Go! Apply!

Next Week: India

Next Week: india

Those of you who know me well know I will hop on a plane and turn up on the other side of the world whenever I get a chance. Usually I travel alone, but this time I am taking the wonderful Social Good Mom and Global Team of 200 member, Nicole Melancon (ThirdEyeMom.com), with me. We are going to India next week to visit Mom Bloggers for Social Good partners and see their work on the ground.

Traveling to see global development work is important to me because it gives me a crash course about what’s happening in the field. It allows me to tell better stories, but better yet it allows me to connect with others who can tell their own stories. Trips to Kenya with the ONE Moms and Ethiopia with Save the Children were immensely powerful for me because I was able to garner a better understanding about what I read and write about every day. Those trips put faces to statistics and names to those who work at NGOs.

When I started Mom Bloggers for Social Good I wanted to provide that same up close and personal opportunity to members. Now, the time is here: Social Good Moms’ first insight trip. This is the first, but definitely won’t be the last.

I have a long trek to get to India traveling through Europe and the Middle East, but that is all a part of the magnificent journey.  And when we get to India we’ll be sharing what we learn from visiting frontline health workers to learning about water projects in the country.

I hope you follow along. You can follow at #SocialGoodMomsIndia all week. You can follow me on Twitter at @SocialGoodMoms and @JenniferJames and Nicole Melancon at @ThirdEyeMom.

And finally great thanks to Sevenly who helped make this trip possible.


[Photos] Good Times, Great Food in Seattle

The Palace Ballroom

Last week I visited Seattle on a press trip with Microsoft (which means they paid for everything and fed us very, very well).  The purpose of the trip was to learn about Windows 8 and Office 365. Although I am a hardcore digital maven I admit I didn’t take to the changes to Windows very well. I shunned them, in fact. I absolutely didn’t want to learn anything new and furthermore I just didn’t have the time to do so.

That said, I am here to tell you Windows 8 really changed my life. Everything is so seamless, connected, and very functional. My apps and Windows Phone sync beautifully so when I take a photo with my phone it automatically goes to my Skydrive account like magic! I remember when people used to caution us about the cloud. Now, I can’t think of living without it, frankly.

As someone who takes a lot of photos and has collected a ton of them on my desktop in various folders I can tell you having your photos stored in the cloud on Skydrive is one of the best things that has happened to my digital career. It has just made everything easier – simple as that.

Here are some photos I took with my camera at Tom Douglas’ The Palace Ballroom and  Tavolata and then uploaded to my Skydrive account. I love that all of my photos will now be in one place that I can access at any time, anywhere!


Copyright: Microsoft

The Palace Ballroom

The Palace Ballroom




Be Ye Not So Flattered: Always Protect Your Interests

As a blogger sometimes it is so flattering when a big media company comes knocking at your door that you simply want to work with them and work with them now! I’ve been there and done that and am here to tell you that you must always protect your interests no matter how attractive an opportunity looks.

Recently I was asked to write weekly for a large, well-known Web site. I was happy to be asked and was glad to have fallen on their radar. But when it came time to read and sign the contract I had to laugh and laugh I did!

The contract contained a lot of double speak as well as their right to own my content perpetually worldwide. How funny is that, friends? So, in other words, they could repackage my content and publish it in a book and I wouldn’t see a dime from sales. Or, they could take my content and re-run it on a Web site they might launch five years down the road. Needless to say I turned down that faux opportunity because I have to protect my interests first and foremost. No potential opportunity is worth the possibility that your content will be used over and over again without your consent or proper payment.

I want to tell you a quick story, one that I have told before. When I was a newbie blogger a big media company came to me and wanted me to join their ad network. I was so thrilled to be speaking with this company that I lost my marbles. I became a part of their ad network and signed an exclusivity contract, and signed away my traffic to them in the process. Sure, I was able to write for said media company and it was a great byline, but I was stuck in a contract for a year that limited my earning potential. We all know how ad networks can do that sometimes.

This is all to say that while I have learned a lot along the way and can share my advice with you I had to walk through the fire first before becoming wiser. Always remember, don’t be flattered just because a brand or media company comes your way. Carefully weigh the pros and cons then make a measured decision.

My Upcoming Adventures

The next weeks are going to be amazing and I cannot wait. They’re going to require serious travel coordination and a lot of time living out of a suitcase, but I’m ready for it.

This Friday I will make my way to Washington, DC for Blogalicious! I love Blogalicious. It is by far one of my absolute favorite conferences of the year. I can’t wait to catch up with tons of my friends. This is going to be a phenomenal weekend.

Then directly after Blogalicious I will stay in DC for meetings with ONE and the other ONE MOMS. We’ll be meeting with members of the Obama Administration and our elected officials. I cannot wait to see everyone. The last time we all saw each other we were saying our good-byes in Amsterdam.

Then I am off to London for some meetings and meet-ups and a conference. It will be a whirlwind for sure as I’m not staying very long; just long enough to do everything and fly back home. I can’t wait. I think I’m secretly excited about flying Virgin Atlantic for the very first time.

And then yesterday I was asked to speak on the mom blogging panel at the Alliance for Women in Media Symposium on November 2 in New York. The panel moderator will be René Syler from Good Enough Mother. I will join Susan Getgood, Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Blogher and Ilana Rosengarten, President, Mommy Shorts.

So excited! Will you be traveling anywhere soon? Will I see you at Blogalicious?

Why EchoSign Gave Me My Sanity Back

I’m a workaholic. I admit it. I don’t even take Mother’s Day off! It’s a shame, but true. Mother’s Day is a great day to reflect and to receive really beautiful cards and gifts from my family, but the reality is Monday is quickly approaching and Mother’s Day doesn’t matter when a new work week is upon us.

I want to share with you quickly the most amazing discovery I had last week that has completely changed the way I work. Each week I have countless contracts and agreements that I must sign. It is tedious work! What I have been doing is printing out the documents, signing them, scanning them, and then attaching the docs in an email. That process takes forever and completely messes up my work flow. And when I run out of printer ink (which seems to be perpetually!) it delays how quickly I get contracts back.

In a fit of desperation I Googled “electronic signatures” last week and fell upon a few web sites. I tried out one, but the learning curve was so steep it was taking even longer to turn around signed contracts. Then I stumbled upon Echosign. It is such a time saver! I was able to turn around three contracts last week that have been sitting idle in my inbox for over a week.

If you have to sign a lot of documents and don’t want to worry about printing, faxing, or scanning I highly recommend Echosign. It’s $19.99 a month,  a small fraction to pay for sanity. Plus, it’s great for the environment. Paperless, anyone?