Monday, June 22, 2009

Podcaster Heaven

Whew. I'm back from my first Podcasters Across Borders (aka PAB) conference in Kingston, Ontario, and I am just completely blown away.

I'd been listening to podcasts
of the conference sessions for the past several years on the Canadian Podcast Buffet, a show by and for podcasters, so I knew there would be high quality content. What I didn't expect was how moving the experience would be.

The opening keynote was by Jowi Taylor, creator of the
Six String Nation guitar. This guitar was constructed of 64 pieces (wood and other materials) representing all different regions and peoples of Canada. The idea is to bring Canadians together to bond with eachother and to contemplate Canadian identity. It's a beautiful piece of usable art, and it's a wonderful vehicle for sharing history and storytelling... as well as music! Jowi is a Peabody Award winning writer and broadcaster, and he really touched us when he shared stories of the guitar's source materials and the way people have responded to the guitar itself. We ended the evening by singing "I get by with a little help from my friends" along with the guitar, and by offering to help Jowi spread the word to gain more support for his project. Check out the Six String Nation book (not available yet outside Canada, but you can order from Canadian Amazon), and be sure to check out the video I've embedded at the bottom of this blog post. I encourage you to blog, tweet, podcast, or post to Facebook about Six String Nation whether you're Canadian or not - it's a beautiful project that really deserves attention.

The theme of storytelling continued throughout the weekend. While there were a few technical sessions, the majority had more to do with inspiration, thinking outside the box, living in the moment, and being true to yourself. The podcasters at this event were, for the most part, passionate hobbyists who use podcasting to share their interests, and that passion really came through in the conference sessions. It almost felt like being at a spiritual retreat instead of a conference!

Keep your eyes and ears on The Book of Life for upcoming interviews with some of the other book nerds I met at PAB -- Mark Blevis (PAB co-organizer) of the Just One More Book podcast, librarian Connie Crosby who gave a great library-related session at PAB, Hugh McGuire, founder of LibriVox and Book Oven, and Alexa Clark, founder of Mini Book Expo and co-organizer of BookCamp Toronto.

Thanks SO much to the warm and welcoming PAB community -- I walked in a stranger but soon felt like an old friend. And thanks especially for the litre of maple syrup I won in the PAB drawing (even though I wasn't allowed to have it until I sang O Canada)!


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