Ananda’s March Digital Sisterhood Book Project Update (Video Blog)

Photo Credit: Ananda's Stack of Writing Goodies

Happy Last Day of March!

I hope this month has been a good one for you and your family. It’s been a wake up call for me and a time to get real about where I am in my writing process for my Digital Sisterhood book.  This morning I made a video update on my writing process so you would know exactly what I have been doing since January and what I am planning to do in April. See the video below.

What do you think about my writing process?



Support Ananda’s Digital Sisterhood Part 2 Kickstarter Book Fundraiser Goal of $500 by June 28

Photo Credit: http://www.kickstarter.com

It’s Digital Sisterhood Wednesday! What a great day for the launch of Digital Sisterhood Network’s second Kickstarter.com book fundraiser.  The fundraiser supports the publication of my next book Digital Sisterhood, a memoir.  The goal is $500 by June 28.

As many of you know, my first Kickstarter.com fundraiser (September-December 2010) was extremely successful. With the support of 39 backers, I successfully raised $1,159 online and an additional $70 offline. The grand total was $1,229.

I have $371 to raise in order to meet my long-term goal of $1,600. That’s why I have returned to Kickstarter with Digital Sisterhood – Part 2. Our $500 fundraising goal will cover the balance of the iUniverse, Inc.  self-publishing, mailing, and photography expenses.

Click here to listen to my audio blog about the fundraiser.

Click here to learn more about the fundraiser and make a donation.

Many thanks for your support!

PS: Please spread the word about the Digital Sisterhood Part 2 Kickstarter Book Fundraiser.  Please use this link: http://kck.st/i15fwC.


Ananda’s #HeartofHaiti Post – Fast Company Article on Mobile Technology in Haiti After 2010 Earthquake

Photo Credit: FastCompany.com

On Sunday, I was thinking about the Haitian presidential election.  Haiti was on my mind in a major way!  I found a great Fast Company article about the impact of mobile technology on Haitian people’s lives after the earthquake in 2010.  It reminded me of my recent trip to Haiti as a Heart of Haiti blogger ambassador in February.  Click here to listen to my audio blog about what I learned from the article. Enjoy!



Ananda is headed to Spelman for the Digital Doyennes in April

Photo Credit' Atlanta WIFTA

I was honored and excited to receive Spelman College’s invitation to participate in the Digital Doyennes: Wisdom from the Women who Lead in Social Media and Digital Innovation. Why? That’s a no brainer for me because Spelman embodies digital sisterhood, the feminine currency women use to create relationship wealth through the connections they make, conversations they have, communities they build, causes they support, collaborative partnerships they establish, and commerce they engage in with women they meet online and offline.

Since 2008, I have been researching women in social media (for my next book project Digital Sisterhood, a memoir) and tracking the unique ways Spelman uses social media and technology to promote its mission, academic programs, research, students, professors, alumni, social justice efforts, and community activities.  What I learned is Spelman has become a social media and technology trailblazer for women of color!  As an institution, it uses a wide an array of social media tools including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr, blogs, ezines, and webcasts.

Guess what tool is a big hit at Spelman?  Twitter.  Spelman’s Admissions Office, academic programs like the Music Department, LEADS program, Bonner Office of Community Service and Student Development, Museum of Fine Art, Digital Moving Image Salon, women of color conferenceSisters Chapel, Alumnae Affairs office, alumnae association and chapters, and student organizations such as the Student Government Association and Spotlight newspaper use it.  Recently, Spelman President Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum joined the Spelman Twitter bandwagon.

Technology also plays a major role at Spelman.  In October 2010, AT&T announced Spelmanites Jonecia Keels and Jazmine Miller won the 2010 AT&T Big Mobile on Campus Challenge with their HBCU Buddy, a mobile application created to educate and inform users about Historically Black Colleges and Universities in the United States.  Keels and Miller received $5,000 each, a mobile device of their choice, a lifetime development license for Spelman, and all-expense paid trips to the AT&T Higher Ed Board of Advisors meeting and the EDUCAUSE Annual Conference.

Did you know Spelman is located in Atlanta, the second most socially networked city in the United States according to Men’s Health (DC was ranked first — had to give my city a shout out)?  Men’s Health published its socially networked city rankings in March.  The Atlanta metropolitan area is also home to a dynamic blogging community of women including:

Social media savvy women entrepreneurs and women-owned businesses such as Clutch Magazine/Sutton New Media LLC founder Deanna Sutton, Tyler New Media co-founder Ronnie Tyler, Jacqui Chew, Latoicha Givens, Shannon Nash, Jonnice Slaughter, the Blog Rollers, and Everywhere are located in the “ATL.”  Several key conferences such as Blogging While Brown, Blogalicious, and lavish! were held there too.

While I am in Atlanta, I will get to see my attorney, best friend, and Howard University School of Law classmate Lauren Medlock Smith, founder of Catch the Verve, LLC.  Lauren is currently serving as the sponsorship chair for Women in Film & Television Atlanta, a co-sponsor of the Digital Doyennes event.

I also hope to spend time with my digital sister and fellow Heart of Haiti tripster Danica Kombol, a managing and founding partner of Everywhere, another co-sponsor of the Digital Doyennes event.

So now you can see why coming to Spelman and Atlanta in April is a digital sisterhood dream come true!


Ananda Celebrates the Power of Women & Girls at WOMANIFESTING in Action on March 19 in DC


Saturday afternoon was filled with powerful moments at the WOMANIFESTING in ACTION event held at the Martin Luther King, Jr. Library in Washington, DC.


My digital sister Tracy Chiles McGhee, founder of Womanifesting, co-sponsored the event with the DC Public Library. It featured a call to action by Yasmine Arrington, a DC high school student who created ScholarCHIPS, a scholarship fund for aspiring college students with incarcerated parents. Yasmine is a senior at Benjamin Banneker High School. She is fierce, forward thinking, and filled with positive energy.  She is also a true leader and fashionista!  Watch a video of her call to action below.

I served as a panelist for the event and shared lessons learned from my recent trip to Haiti as a Heart of Haiti blogger ambassador and work with the Digital Sisterhood Network.  Check out my video recap below.  See the list of  program participants below.
Discussion Moderators:
-Marita Golden, Acclaimed Author, Master Literary Teacher and Co-Founder of the Hurston/Wright Foundation

-Nikita Mitchell, Gen Y Writer/Blogger, who was recently named one of the Top 10 Nonprofit Bloggers to Watch in 2011

Program Participants:

-DC Councilwoman Muriel Bowser

-Patricia Nalls, Founder & Executive Director, The Women’s Collective, 2010 Washingtonian of the Year

-Carrie L. Ellis, Director of Project Management, KaBOOM! & Board Chair, Teaching for Change

-Marielle Mariano, East Coast Coordinator, Chalk4Peace

-Jessica T. Solomon, Founder, The Saartjie Project & Chief Visionary Officer, Spark Creativity

Click here to listen my audio blog about the event.

Check out my Flickr photos from the event.

Read Tracy’s blog about the event.

Yasmine and Tracy
The audience
Yasmine & DC Councilwoman Muriel Bowser
Marita, Nikita, and Marielle
Marita and Ananda
Ananda and Jessica
Nona and Pat


Ananda’s #HeartofHaiti Post: Reconnecting with KOFAVIV’s Haitian Young Women


Young Haitian women painting picture frames at KOFAVIV in Port-au-Prince, Haiti

Yesterday, the Haitian people went to the polls to elect a new president.  Throughout the day, I wondered about the young Haitian women I met at KOFAVIV, a Haitian women’s organization that serves women and girls who experience violence, during my Heart of Haiti blogger ambassador trip in February.  Before I left, we took a lot of photos together.  I took some time to look at our photos and noted the pride they displayed on their faces as they showed me their beautiful hand-painted picture frames (see photo- omitted the young women’s faces to protect them).  They were works in process that are probably finished by now.  I am hoping the young women will be able to sell them as a part of their work with KOFAVIV’s young women’s microenterprise program (funded by MADRE). Two young ladies asked me to keep in touch with them via email. So I sent them an email in French with the photos.  I hope they respond so we can begin a digital sisterhood connection. I know this email exchange will open the door to ways in which I can expand my support of KOFAVIV in 2011 and beyond.


Click here to listen to my audio blog about my email and the KOFAVIV young ladies.

FYI: This morning I also sent the KOFAVIV staff (listed on their Facebook page) an email about the photos so they would be aware of my communication with the young ladies.



Ananda’s #HeartofHaiti Post: Croix-des-Bouquets Metal Artisans & Their Connection to Ogoun, Haitian god of metalwork (videos included)


Ananda holding a metal bowl by a metal artisan in Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti

Croix-des-Bouquets is an amazing city bubbling with creativity in Haiti.  Creative genius Wyclef Jean, a Haitian musician, record producer, philanthropist, and former member of the Fugees who ran for president of Haiti in 2010, was born there.

Heart of Haiti metal jewelry created by Croix-des-Bouquets metal artisans
Croix-des-Bouquets metal artisans
Photo Credit: Ogoun's Veve by Catherine Beyer - http://altreligion.about.com/od/symbols/ig/Vodoun-Veves/Ogoun.htm

When I visited Croix-des-Bouquets and met the talented Heart of Haiti metal artisans during my blogger ambassador trip in February, I was reminded of Ogoun, the Haitian Vodun warrior spirit who presides over metal work, fire, hunting, politics, war, and the unemployed. Click here to listen to my audio blog. Check out more photos of the metal artisans’ work here.

Metal artwork featuring Haitian love goddess Erzulie's heart by J. Romy

Ogoun gives strength through prophecy and magic., and is known as the Father of technology and one of the husbands of Erzulie, Haitian goddess of love. Ogoun is also associated with healing and seen as a combat medic, thinker, strategist, and diplomat. His colors red and blue.

Ananda, Croix-des-Bouquets metal artisan J. Romy, and Fairwinds Trading Haiti Country Director Nathalie Tancrede
Ananda standing by metal mixed media sculpture by metal artisan J. Robert Jacques

Did you know many believe Ogoun planted the idea for the Haitian Revolution of 1804 in the minds of the enslaved Africans? Some say that he led and empowered the enslaved Africans to create Haiti as an independent nation. Others believe Ogoun is now called to help the Haitian people obtain a government more responsive to their needs. May Ogoun give the Haitian people the wisdom they need to vote for a new president on March 20!

After the March 20th elections, the people of Haiti will still need our support. One way you can support them is by purchasing the artwork of Heart of Haiti metal artisans at Macy’s. Their beautiful and decorative artwork will make great Easter and Mother’s Day gifts. They also serve as fantastic graduation, wedding, birthday, and Father’s Day gifts. Visit the Heart of Haiti collection on Macys.com.

PS: Here are several videos featuring the metal artisans.


Ananda is speaking on 3/19 @ WOMANIFESTING IN ACTION in DC and will share lessons learned from Heart of Haiti trip.

Photo Credit: Womanifesting's Logo - http://www.womanifesting.org
Photo Credit: Ananda Leeke - Tracy Chiles McGhee at DC women in social media focus group in October 2010

Have you heard of Womanifesting a/k/a WOMA? WOMA is a DC-based non-profit organization established by attorney Tracy Chiles McGhee to develop and support  programs that foster self-empowerment, sisterhood, and service in the lives of women and girls.  Tracy and I met two years ago during a writers’ workshop and realized we shared similar interests – law, writing, women’s creativity and empowerment, social justice, and service.

Last fall, I invited Tracy to participate in a focus group that discussed how social justice and nonprofit women leaders use social media. She stepped up to the plate and shined her wisdom and insights during the focus group.  She also supported my Digital Sisterhood Network and Kickstarter book fundraising project.  Her commitment and support to women and girls is above and beyond the call of duty. That’s why it was so easy for me to accept her invitation to participate as a panelist for WOMANIFESTING IN ACTION: How Local Women Leaders Make A Difference Through Community Building, Collaboration and Social Activism on March 19 from 2:00 pm to 4:30 pm at the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library, 901 G St., NW, Room A-5, Washington, DC. During the discussion, I will share some lessons learned from my recent trip to Haiti as a Heart of Haiti blogger ambassador and work with the Digital Sisterhood Network.

Check out the dynamic women who will be speaking at the event below.

Discussion Moderators:

  • Marita Golden, Acclaimed Author, Master Literary Teacher and Co-Founder of the Hurston/Wright Foundation
  • Nikita Mitchell, Gen Y Writer/Blogger,  who was recently named one of the Top 10 Nonprofit Bloggers to Watch in 2011

Keynote Speaker:

  • Yasmine Arrington, a DC high school student who started a college scholarship fund for aspiring college students with incarcerated parents

Program Participants:

  • DC Councilwoman Muriel Bowser
  • Patricia Nalls, Founder & Executive Director, The Women’s Collective, 2010 Washingtonian of the Year
  • Carrie L. Ellis, Director of Project Management, KaBOOM! & Board Chair, Teaching for Change
  • Shannon and Chai, Co-Founders  of Holla Back DC
  • Marielle Mariano, East Coast Coordinator, Chalk4Peace
  • Jessica T. Solomon, Founder, The Saartjie Project & Chief Visionary Officer, Spark Creativity

Ananda’s #HeartofHaiti Post: Next Haitian President Could Be A Woman – Mirlande Manigat


Poster of Haitian Presidential candidate Mirlande Manigat in Jacmel, Haiti

While I was visiting Jacmel, Haiti during my Heart of Haiti blogger trip in February, I saw posters of Rally of Progressive National Democrats’ Presidential candidate Mirlande Manigat, a 70 year old politician, legal scholar, former Senator, Sorbonne-trained academic, mother, grandmother, and wife of former Haitian President Leslie Manigat.  Guess what? In three days, the former First Lady and vice rector of the Université Quisqueya in Port-au-Prince could make Haitian women’s history by becoming the first woman President of Haiti. Click here to learn more about her.


Ananda’s #HeartofHaiti Post: Sending Haitians Positive Energy on Their March 20th Presidential Election


Yesterday I listened to a discussion about former Haitian President Jean-Betrand Aristide’s plans to return to Haiti after a seven-year exile in South Africa on NPR’s Tell Me More. Tell Me More host Michel Martin and Jacqueline Charles, the Caribbean correspondent for the Miami Herald, engaged in a lively discussion about the impact of Aristide’s return on Haiti’s presidential run-off election on March 20. Click here to listen to the show.  Former First Lady Mirlande Manigat and pop singer Michel “Sweet Micky” Martelly are the presidential candidates.

Martin and Charles’ discussion reminded me of the many presidential candidate posters I saw on houses and buildings during my recent trip to Haiti as a Heart of Haiti blogger ambassador in February.  Sweet Micky”s posters appeared to dominate Port-au-Prince, Croix-des-Bouqets, and Jacmel. No matter who wins the election, I hope and pray Haiti’s next president will help stabilize, heal, and rebuild Haiti and the lives, families, and businesses of her daughters and sons.