2 comments on “#InternetGeek Tuesday: #InternetGeekat50 Lesson 4 B.L.O.G.”

#InternetGeek Tuesday: #InternetGeekat50 Lesson 4 B.L.O.G.

Happy #InternetGeek Tuesday!

Speaking at Press Publish - Photo Credit: Christine Holsey
Speaking at Press Publish – Photo Credit: Christine Holsey

#InternetGeekat50 Lesson 4 is B.L.O.G. Last weekend, I attended the WordPress Press Publish Portland Conference. I shared my B.L.O.G. mantra and how I began blogging for personal reasons and evolved into a social media leader for the White House during my “Blogging for Obama” session. Here’s what B.L.O.G. stands for:

B – Be yourself in your blogging process

L – Love the stories you tell on your blog.

O – Open yourself to new ideas and opportunities.

G – Give back.

I have included a more detailed description that I used in my session presentation below.

Photo Credit: Jerry Mahoney
Photo Credit: Jerry Mahoney

B – Be yourself in your blogging process. Give yourself space to manage the fluctuation of your energy, focus, and passion with digital wellness. I define digital wellness as a gift you give yourself to help manage your time online with mindful self-care practices. Mindful self-care practices encourage you to slow down, become aware of how you spend your time online, and identify and take small steps towards having a healthier digital life. Examples include breathing exercises, journaling, massage, meditation, physical movement (walking, running, yoga, and aerobic classes), rest (naps and a good night’s sleep), setting time boundaries, and using time management tools (HootSuite, TweetDeck, and an editorial calendar) to schedule your blog and social media posts (excerpt from my book Digital Sisterhood: A Memoir of Fierce Living Online.

I started blogging as a result of a writing block in my novel-writing process for Love’s Troubadours – Karma: Book One in 2005. My book editor urged me to blog to create a daily writing practice. Guess what? He was right. It worked because I wrote for myself. I didn’t think about attracting or pleasing an audience. I just wrote to express my thoughts about my book and its characters.
Photo Credit: Marcia Johnston
Photo Credit: Marcia Johnston

My blogging helped me connect with a diverse group of bloggers and social media influencers who discussed topics relevant to my novel and its characters. It also created an audience for my book before it was published. When my book was published, I started telling stories about my writing journey, the lessons I learned during the publishing process, background information about the novel’s characters, book readings, and radio and television interviews. These efforts led me to share stories about my life as an artist and yoga teacher. I ended up creating two different blogs and blog space on numerous online communities and social networking sites. That’s when trouble began. Blogger burnout. In 2008, I was overwhelmed by my self-made digital footprint. Following the advice of my life coach, I took a leave of absence from my blog. Stepping away from the blogging process helped me recharge. I also realized that I was in control of how much I blogged and it was okay to take breaks. So when blogger burnout happened again in 2011, I didn’t hesitate in taking a break. That same year, I decided to institute a monthly unplugging practice that turned into the Digital Sisterhood Unplugged Weekend.

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yogameL – Love the stories you are telling on your blog. Tap into what you are most passionate about. I tapped into my passion for yoga, creativity, and being an Internet geek as a guide in what I share on my blog. I also maintain three other blogs that reflect my passion for women in social media (Digital Sisterhood Network), digital citizenship, and my DC life and love for all things POTUS, FLOTUS, and the White House. I don’t maintain a regular editorial calendar for these blogs. I post when I feel called to or have a project I am working on that calls for blogging.

O – Open yourself to new ideas and opportunities. I opened myself up to new ideas and opportunities when I started going to blogging conferences and local social media and tech events including Blogging While Brown, BlogHer, Blogalicious, BlissDom, Feminism 2.0, Latinos in Social Media, She’s Geeky DC, Social Justice Camp DC, Social Media Club DC, Social Media Week DC, and DC Digital Capital Week. These experiences helped me establish relationships and build community with a diverse group of people. My connections and interactions exposed me to new ideas and opportunities to express and share my passion for:
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My greatest opportunities have occurred as a result of my passion for President Barack Obama. In 2008, I used my digital presence and yoga teaching skills to support his first Presidential campaign. During President Obama’s second campaign in 2012, my father and I volunteered in the Prince George’s County, Maryland campaign office. We also used our blogs and social media platforms to discuss the Obama campaign. After the election, I searched for ways to increase my support and began applying to participate in the White House Social events. Last year, I was selected by the White House to serve as a social media leader for the State of the Union, French Arrival Ceremony for French President Francois Hollande, and the Tumblr Q&A session on education. The U.S. Department of State invited me to serve in a similar capacity during the International Women of Courage Award Ceremony.
French Arrival Ceremony, February 2014 - Photo Credit: Dave McCulloch
French Arrival Ceremony, February 2014 – Photo Credit: Dave McCulloch
International Women of Courage Award Ceremony, February 2014 - Photo Credit: U.S. Department of State
International Women of Courage Award Ceremony, February 2014 – Photo Credit: U.S. Department of State
G – Give back. Use your blogging and social media skills to give back to causes, communities, and organizations you care about. I have used my blogging and social media skills to serve as a technology volunteer for Blogalicious Meetups in 2009-2012, CrisisCampDC and Chilean Earthquake in 2010, Andy Shallal’s DC Mayoral Campaign in 2013-14, and BlogHer’s Veteran Blogger Mentor Program in 2014. I have also given back through the Digital Citizenship Project and Digital Citizenship Month.
Photo Credit: Badge designed by Dariela Cruz
Photo Credit: Badge designed by Dariela Cruz
Many thanks to Automattic WordPress developer and designer Michelle Langston for working with me to redesign AnandaLeeke.com. Like many people, I had an older website in addition to my blog. During her session “A Tale of Two Sites: A Case Study,” Michelle discussed how we worked together to combine my two sites into one that would truly express my personality and meet my online goals. I participated by sharing the web content challenges I faced and how I overcame my fears with her support.
Michelle and me at Press Publish
Michelle and me at Press Publish

TRANSFORMATIVE is the best word to describe my Press Publish experience. I invite you to read my #Storify blogs which feature social media highlights including tweets and photos that I hope will give you an idea as to why the conference was so transformative for me.

Click here to learn more about Press Publish and the upcoming April 18th conference in Phoenix, Arizona. REGISTER NOW so you can have a TRANSFORMATIVE experience too.

0 comments on “Macy’s Path to Peace Project: I Am Thankful for Women’s Empowerment”

Macy’s Path to Peace Project: I Am Thankful for Women’s Empowerment

Photo Credit: www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk
Photo Credit: http://www.keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

November is a great month to reflect on the many things I am thankful for. Women’s empowerment through creativity, education, economics, health, law enforcement, politics, reproductive health, safety, and technology is one thing I am extremely grateful for this year (every year).

2014 marks the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. In roughly 100 days, close to one million Rwandese women, men, and children were murdered. In the aftermath, women became the largest population group. In an effort to move forward, they turned to their past, reclaimed their unique heritage of weaving, and organized groups of weavers.

I remember watching the news reports on television in 1994 and thinking, “how could this happen?” When I traveled to the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women that was held in Beijing, China in 1995, I had many discussions with African women from countries bordering Rwanda. Their insights, stories, and connections to Rwandan women allowed me to have a deeper understanding of what happened.

Photo Credit: Rwandese artist Nabayo Prisca who participates in the Macy's Path to Peace Project - http://mblog.macys.com/small-acts-with-big-impact-meet-nabayo-prisca/
Photo Credit: Rwandese artist Nabayo Prisca who participates in the Macy’s Path to Peace Project – http://mblog.macys.com/small-acts-with-big-impact-meet-nabayo-prisca/

This year, I am celebrating the creative and economic power of Rwandese women who participate in Macy’s Rwanda Path to Peace Project which was established to provide trade, not aid in 2005.

Photo Credit: Macys.com - Path to Peace baskets
Photo Credit: Macys.com – Path to Peace baskets

Through the 10-year-old Project, Rwandese women weavers have created baskets that generate income for their families. They also receive the opportunity to actively shape their future as entrepreneurs and the future of their families, communities, and countries.

Rwanda Path to Peace basket
Rwanda Path to Peace basket

Check out my Path to Peace basket that Rwandese women made using sweetgrass and raffia. The design incorporates traditional Rwandan weaving techniques.

One way you can support Rwandese women is by purchasing a basket from Macy’s Path to Peace Project collection. Give it as a Thanksgiving gratitude gift or December holiday gift. Click here for more information.

Disclaimer: I am a member of the Everywhere Society and Everywhere has provided me with compensation for this post. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own.

1 comment on “Celebrating the Holiday Season at Macy’s Metro Center in DC on November 22”

Celebrating the Holiday Season at Macy’s Metro Center in DC on November 22

Photo Credit: Macys.com
Photo Credit: Macys.com

Happy November!

The Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday seasons are fast approaching. They are two of my favorite holidays. What are your favorite holidays? How do you celebrate them?

I celebrate Thanksgiving with a family dinner hosted by my parents. My brothers, sisters, cousins, and family friends attend the dinner. Some folks bring dishes. Others help set up and clean dishes. It’s a team effort!

During the Christmas season, I invite friends and family to visit the National Christmas Tree and go on walking tours to see festive decorations on apartment buildings, businesses, and houses in my favorite neighborhoods: U Street, 16th Street, Adams Morgan, Dupont Circle, Logan Circle, and Columbia Heights.

This year, I am starting a new tradition by going to see the holiday window displays at Macy’s Metro Center on Saturday, November 22 (outside on G Street, NW) at 2:00 p.m. American Ballet Theatre’s Misty Copeland and Fox 5 news anchor Allison Seymour will co-host the event with a count down to the grand reveal of the window displays with the Ballou High School Marching Band and Santa Claus himself. The event will include performances featuring Bystorm/RCA recording artist Mali Music and The Voice contestant Ddendyl, The Washington Performing Arts Society’s Children of the Gospel Choir and excerpts from The Nutcracker by The Washington Ballet on the Main Stage. Afterwards, you can head inside of Macy’s for an afternoon of excitement and holiday joy – there’s something for everyone!

Disclaimer: I am a member of the Everywhere Society and Everywhere has provided me with compensation for this post. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own.

0 comments on “Macy’s Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration”

Macy’s Hispanic Heritage Month Celebration

Photo Credit: NationalHIspanicHeritageMonth.gov
Photo Credit: NationalHIspanicHeritageMonth.gov

Happy National Hispanic Heritage Month!

National Hispanic Heritage Month was established in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week and expanded to Hispanic Heritage Month in 1988. It is celebrated from September 15 to October 15 in the United States. During the month-long celebration, the contributions, culture, music, and history of Americans whose ancestors came from Cuba, Mexico, Puerto Rico, Spain, the Caribbean and Central and South America are honored.

My love affair with all things Spanish began in 1977 when my father insisted that I take Spanish in seventh grade. At the end of my eighth grade year, my family took its first trip to Puerto Rico. During the trip, I was able to practice my Spanish as I visited San Juan, Carolina, and Ponce. Four years later, my family visited again. It was the summer of 1982. I was headed off to college and much more confident in my Spanish-speaking abilities. My brothers and I ventured out into San Juan on our own and discovered a beautiful city of people, art, music, food, and culture. That’s when I fell deeper in love with Puerto Rico and returned home feeling like una Latina. The photo below was taken on the beach in San Juan in 1982 and reminds me of when I felt like una Latina!

Ananda on the beach in San Juan in 1982
Ananda on the beach in San Juan in 1982

In 2004, I was able to travel to Cuba with the Cuba AIDS Project. It was a dream come true for me because I wanted to visit the country and experience the culture firsthand. During my trip, I spent most of my time in Havana and visited Cienfuegos and La Regla. La Regla is a town located across the bay from Havana. It is the home of several artists and the place where enslaved Africans were first brought to Cuba. I had a chance to tour the town, meet several artists, and visit the port area where enslaved Africans were bought and sold. It was a very emotional and spiritual experience. I left feeling like I had been home. The photo below was taken during my visit to La Regla. I hope to live there one day.

Ananda in La Regla, Cuba in 2004
Ananda in La Regla, Cuba in 2004

Guess where I’m headed tomorrow?

Macy’s Hispanic Heritage Month celebration at Macy’s Wheaton Center at 2:00 p.m.

Photo Credit: Macys.com
Photo Credit: Macys.com

The celebration will feature a discussion with Latina celebrities Jasmine Villegas, Kiki Rocha, and Julie Sarinana of Sincerely Jules on what being Latina means to them, their influences and their style. Follow me as @anandaleeke on Instagram and Twitter for live event updates.

Photo Credit: Macys.com
Photo Credit: Macys.com

Jasmine Villegas is a multi-talented actress and singer.

Photo Credit: Macys.com
Photo Credit: Macys.com

Kika Rocha is the former fashion and beauty editor of People en Español.

Photo Credit: Macys.com
Photo Credit: Macys.com

Julie Sariñana is the author and founder of Sincerely Jules, a curated fashion, lifestyle and travel blog.

FTC Disclaimer: I am a member of the Everywhere Society and Everywhere has provided me with compensation for this post about Macy’s Hispanic Heritage. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own. The photos attached in this blog are my own and from Macys.com and HispanicHeritageMonth.gov.

2 comments on “My White House Tour with #SOTUSocial Social Media Leaders”

My White House Tour with #SOTUSocial Social Media Leaders

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Greetings from the White House!

This morning, I joined my fellow State of the Union Social attendees for a White House tour. Each of us applied to participate in the State of the Union Social (#SOTUSocial) a few weeks ago. The White House selected us to serve as digital citizens and to use our online presence to develop and curate content, utilize the content to engage online communities, and live tweet at the #SOTUSocial (including the #SOTUChat panel discussion with White House officials and U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez after President Obama’s address).

Guess what? Over 6,000 applicants applied to participate in the #SOTUSocial. Only 60 social media leaders were chosen to visit the White House and attend the #SOTUSocial. What an honor to demonstrate our digital citizenship through serving our country and communities with our digital presence!

Photo Credit: WhiteHouse.gov
Photo Credit: WhiteHouse.gov

During the tour, we had a chance to get to know each other. I discovered we are a diverse group of fun, friendly, passionate, and smart social media influencers and professionals, college students, public policy professionals, and teachers. We represented cities like Atlanta, Georgia; Boston, Massachusetts; Denver, Colorado; Greensboro, North Carolina; Madison, Wisconsin; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Seattle, Washington; and Washington,  D.C. Together, we looked and sounded like the America I love.

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After the tour and many photos, we walked to Starbucks for an impromptu meet up. I am so glad we spent more time connecting, sharing our experiences, and discussing what we hoped President Obama would highlight in his address.

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PS: I developed three digital resources (one Pinterest board and two Twitter lists) to prepare for President Obama’s State of the Union address. Click here to read more about them.

Since it was cold in DC today, I decided to wear what I call a “femme chic” winter warm outfit that came straight from my closet by way of Macy’s Petites (Alfani knit jacket, blouse, and pants).

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5 comments on “Happy Creativity Thursday: Celebrating My Author Creative Style”

Happy Creativity Thursday: Celebrating My Author Creative Style

Happy Creativity Thursday!

Today’s blog post discusses my creative style as an author. Earlier this year, I started collecting pictures from fashion magazines that illustrated what I wanted to look like as an author during my fall and winter Digital Sisterhood book events. I fell in love with gold jewelry, knit dresses with lots of zippers, leather wedge boots, colorful trench coats, and purses with funky side stitching.

dsauthorcreativestyleThanks to my incredibly creative and fashion savvy niece, Jordan, I knew I could find my gold jewelry — a funky ring and bangles from Forever 21 during one of my Labor Day sale adventures.

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The black knit dress with zippers was a hard one to find. I started looking at my usual spots — Ann Taylor Loft, Macy’s, Marshalls, and TJ Maxx, but had no luck. While I was walking home earlier this week, my inner fashion goddess who lives inside my head whispered, “Drop by Dress Barn to see about the black knit dress.” So I listened (my inner fashion goddess is never wrong!) and found a petite black knit dress with gold zippers for $42. Yes, I said $42!

dsauthor-dress

My Tahari black leather wedge boots were easy to find. I just had to look in my closet and find my boot container with boots I purchased two and three years ago. I had the heels fixed during the summer.

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Looking for a trench coat has been a two-year challenge. I finally found one that fit my author creative style requirements (colorful), body size, and budget from Marshalls on a Sunday morning after church. It was love at first sight. Thank goodness Jones New York makes cinnamon double-breasted petite trench  coats that end up in Marshalls for $60!

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My black leather purse with funky silver side stitching is an oldie but goodie purchase I made at Violet Boutique (one of my favorite places to shop in D.C. — especially for jewelry, purses, coats, and jackets) in 2011.

dsauthor-purse

The piece de resistance of my author creative style is my red tiger glasses by Oliver Goldsmith (OG), a London-based family run business that is synonymous with fashion and style. OG has been in business for the past 80 years. Fashion designers Christian Dior, Givenchy, and Vidal Sassoon, and actors Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Peter Sellers, and Michael Caine embraced OG eyewear early in their careers.

Photo Credit: OliverGoldsmith.com
Photo Credit: OliverGoldsmith.com

I discovered my red tiger glasses during one of my summer visits to Dupont Optical, the place that has helped me select signature eyewear for over 20 years. Dupont Optical owner and optician Ben Herman recommended my red tiger glasses and another very cool pair of casual glasses I can wear as sunshades.

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What are you wearing this fall to express your creativity?

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You can purchase Digital Sisterhood on Amazon.com.

If you are in Washington, D.C. on October 19, please plan to attend my  author talk and book reading from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Joan Hisaoka Healing Arts Gallery, 1632 U Street, NW (three blocks from the U Street/Cardozo Green Line Metro Station). Click here to register for the event. See you on October 19th!

0 comments on “Happy Creativity Thursday!”

Happy Creativity Thursday!

Happy Creativity Thursday!

I love watching people express themselves through the clothing and accessories they wear. The color combinations, shapes, sizes, and textures are all very exciting to see. Each piece of clothing and accessory has meaning and perhaps a story.

How do you express your creativity through clothing and accessories?

What does your favorite piece of clothing or accessory mean to you?

Does it have a story?

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creatthurs2Today, I expressed my creativity by wearing blue and cranberry red together.  The color blue corresponds to my intention to have a calm and peaceful day.  Cranberry red represents my intention to have a spring easy breezy day of positivity, passionate and playful fun. Click here to read about the meaning of colors better known as Color Psychology. My accessories included a wrap around lapis lazuli necklace (purchased at the Essence Music Festival in 1997), silver bangles from Forever 21 ($4 — purchased a few weeks ago), and a lapis lazuli ring (purchased from a Dupont Circle DC vendor in 2003).

Clothing Details:  My blue blazer is from Dress Barn ($35 with a coupon). My blue t-shirt ($10 weekend sale in April) and cranberry red skinny pants ($40 from Fall 2012 sale) are from Ann Taylor Loft. My comfy Anne Klein black wedge shoes are from Macy’s (30% sale two weeks ago – approximately $45).

0 comments on “Ananda’s Adventures at Macy’s Celebration of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month with Far East Movement”

Ananda’s Adventures at Macy’s Celebration of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month with Far East Movement

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Happy Friday! Last night, I attended Macy’s Celebration of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month with Far East Movement at the Metro Center location in Washington, D.C. The event featured my new favorite hip hop group Far East Movement, a Los Angeles-based group of Asian American men who have created an incredible sound and collection of music.
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I really enjoyed listening to their interview about their musical journey. They told stories about staying motivated by their passion and writing music that touches people’s hearts. Their creative energy was so POSITIVE.
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Their live performance had me dancing nonstop. I got quite a workout. After the concert, I decided to create a Pandora music station and to purchase their CDs on Amazon.com this summer.
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While I was at the event, I had a chance to hang out with my digital sister Thien Kim and her cool family. We took lots of photos since we had front row standing positions.
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If you are looking for some great music, Be sure to check out Far East Movement. Click here to watch a video of Far East Movement performing “Rocketeer,” my new favorite song for the spring season! Enjoy!fem-me2

DISCLAIMER: I am a member of the Everywhere Society and Everywhere provided me with compensation for this post about the Macy’s event. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own.

0 comments on “Unique Mother’s Day Gifts That Promote Social Good”

Unique Mother’s Day Gifts That Promote Social Good

Photo Credit: https://authoranandaleeke.wordpress.com/tag/heart-of-haiti/
Photo Credit: https://authoranandaleeke.wordpress.com/tag/heart-of-haiti/

Hi All!

Mother’s Day is almost here. Are you ready? Have you found a unique gift for your mother and/or the women in your life who are mother figures?

This year, I am giving my mother a gift that promotes social good: a handmade picture frame made by a Haitian artisan who creates beautiful work for the Heart of Haiti collection at Macy’s (see photo below).

Heart of Haiti picture frame
Heart of Haiti picture frame

The Heart of Haiti collection features more than 40 home decor items including qulits, metalwork, ceramics, and paintings made my Haitian artisans. The Heart of Haiti is a “Trade, Not Aid”initiative that was launched by artist and social entrepreneur Willa Shalit, The Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, and Macy’s after the 2010 earthquake. The initiative provides Haitian artisans with an opportunity to make a living, feed their families, and pay their children’s school fees. To date, the initiative has employed 750 artisans resulting in financial benefits for an estimated 8,000 in Haiti. What a powerful way to give back and do social good!

In 2011, I traveled as a Heart of Haiti blogger ambassador to Haiti and met the artisans who make the metal frames and other home decor items. Seeing them create and talk about their artwork helped me truly understand how powerful “Trade, Not Aid” programs are.  Since then, I have continued my work as a Heart of Haiti blogger ambassador by using my blog and social media presence to raise awareness and celebrate the artistry and regrowth of my Haitian brother and sister artisans.

I encourage you to give back to the Haitian artisans by purchasing a Heart of Haiti gift for your mother and/or the mothering women in your life. Click here to explore the collection on Macy’s web site.  Happy Social Good Shopping!

DISCLAIMER: I am a member of the Everywhere Society and Everywhere provided me with compensation for this post. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own.

0 comments on “Celebrating Asia-Pacific American Heritage Month with Far East Movement at Macy’s on May 9”

Celebrating Asia-Pacific American Heritage Month with Far East Movement at Macy’s on May 9

Photo Credit: Macys.com
Photo Credit: Macys.com
Happy May!

May is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, an annual celebration of Asians and Pacific Islanders in the United States. This year, I am attending Macy’s Celebration of Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month with Far East Movement on May 9 at the Metro Center location in Washington, D.C.

Far East Movement Photo-1

During the celebration, Far East Movement, a Los Angeles-based hip hop band quartet that launched in 2003, will discuss how their culture has influenced their musical style. They will also perform live! I’ll be live tweeting and posting Instagram photos during the event. On May 9, check Twitter for tweets from @anandaleeke, @Macys, and @FarEastMovement.

DISCLAIMER: I am a member of the Everywhere Society and Everywhere provided me with compensation for this post about the Macy’s event. However, all thoughts and opinions expressed herein are my own.