Shared Passion

A passion for food

blogs yields real-world benefits.

by André Natta

There are times when I sit down to write this column that I feel as though I sound like a broken record. It leads to the worst kind of writer’s block—and it may keep me from making sure folks know about an event or an individual because of that fear of repeating.
One of the things I’ve hinted at many times in this space is the transformative power that the online world gives its users, though folks need to be remember that it’s only part of the equation.
Recently, two individuals helped create a new local blogging conference that drew a national audience and benefited two worthy causes. Shaun Chavis and Jason Horn spent several months leading a group of volunteers in organizing Birmingham’s first ever conference geared towards foodie bloggers. Food Blog South took place in late January, bringing more than 150 people together to learn about blogging and talk about issues affecting food in the Southeastern United States, but its effects will be felt long after.
Folks driving through Birmingham’s Woodlawn neighborhood along First Avenue North will be reminded of its influence the most. They’ll see the sign for the Desert Island Supply Company, also known as DISCO, a writing center based on the 826 National model first introduced by Dave Eggers in New York that currently exists in eight cities. It will take up a significant portion of the ground floor of Woodrow Hall, the beautifully restored former Masonic temple.
This conference turned out to be another way for the two individuals mentioned above to give just a little more. It also gave us a chance to learn more about the local businesses and individuals doing their part to expand the foodie scene in Birmingham.
If you don’t believe in the power of the digital word, I’d ask you to check out Shaun Chavis’ post about why she wanted to start Food Blog South (visit, click on the News tab and scroll down to Thanks for Your Support!).
Proceeds from the conference went to support DISCO as well as the Legacy Alabama Gulf Coast Environmental Fund. New friendships were forged in The Magic City and a lot of food—both physical and mental—were shared.
Was it successful? The online conversations have remained quite active long after the conference wrapped up. And people are already looking forward to next January.
Food Blog South will be back next year —those of us who were lucky to attend and present will do our parts to make sure that happens. It’s also nice to know that a quick visit to DISCO will give folks all the reason they need to continue to support and participate this gathering of people off-line to talk about how they share their passions online.

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