Asthma & Allergy Network Bloggers Summit 2018: Washington DC
By the time my flight landed at Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC—airport code DCA—from Minneapolis-St. Paul (MSP), I was already 12.5 days into the Tour de Chaos (and aptly, I couldn’t figure out if I actually had no in-flight entertainment system or if I couldn’t figure out how to fold the tablet out from under my seat). I had arrived at DCA for part four, the Asthma Bloggers Summit, which spilled into part five, Allergy & Asthma Day on Capitol Hill.
Upon arriving, I had a misadventure in ordering room service for the first time (never again, $17 for food and $17 in fees + tip? Nonsense!), and on Tuesday morning, met with Asthma.Net blogger Andrea and her husband and son in the lobby and headed next door to Starbucks. After they headed out to visit the National Holocaust Museum, I went for a walk and then back to my room to enjoy the Bluetooth speaker I’d found, and get ready for the Asthma Bloggers Summit.
Meeting new bloggers and advocates The Asthma & Allergy Network was hosting what I believe to be their first Bloggers Summit. While several bloggers and advocates I know weren’t able to make it due to a variety of constraints, it was great to catch up with Andrea and meet a bunch of new bloggers! I am not in the allergy blogging space at all, so it was a lot of fun to meet people writing from the allergy/food allergy/atopic disease (including eczema/atopic dermatitis) perspective! Just like I feel about cross-disease communities, the allergy and asthma parallels are great, and there is much we can learn from one another.
Throughout the afternoon, we shared our experiences in blogging, moving from passion to work, and learned more about the Allergy & Asthma Network’s work, and the role they want to play in supporting bloggers who are sharing their stories of navigating asthma and allergies.
Key highlights from the Blogger's Summit One of the key highlights for me was a panel discussion about the steps bloggers take going from casual bloggers to making blogging a “business” or career move. I don’t know about the rest of my colleagues in the space, but I ended up here by accident—it wasn’t calculated, and I didn’t go to school to be a blogger or have to navigate the obstacles of asthma or ADHD or other health stuff. The panel was comprised of an industry representative from Astra Zeneca, an Allergy & Asthma Network staff member and blogger, Allie, and a writer/consultant who spent six months blogging full time. The panel format was the best I have ever seen, and maybe a product of the small room, but Tonya Winders—CEO of Allergy and Asthma Network—would ask a question, the panelists would respond, and then turn the question to the room. It was an engaging panel format and one that I plan to “steal” in the future! I found this a great way to facilitate discussion on topics people tend to be very opinionated about—specifically, monetization, ads, paid content, and so on. I had divergent views than most involved in the discussion on certain topics, but that’s what makes these conversations so fun.
We also went through some of the newer science around asthma—some of it was pretty basic, but other elements are things I made notes on to revisit here on Asthma.net—so stay tuned. Those discussions included complex things on TH1 and TH2 pathways, classification of severe asthma, and more thoughts that arose in this overthinking, under-focused brain triggered by some of the content!
Closing thoughts on the Asthma & Allergy Network Bloggers SummitAs I said in my feedback survey, I’d have loved a full day to connect for the Blogger Summit, with more opportunity to just chat! Six of us had a great conversation over dinner together the night of the Summit, as well as some amazing discussions in the noise of the welcome reception, and I would have loved more of that! The event was definitely not exactly what I expected, but I think it was facilitated really well for the amount of time we had, and covered diverse but relevant topics to asthma and allergy bloggers. And, of course, I came home recharged, connected with more bloggers with asthma and allergies, as well as parents of kids with asthma and allergies. And of course, finding your people is a thing I’m really passionate about! Thanks, Allergy and Asthma Network, for seeing the value in bringing us together, and helping me find more of my people than I knew existed.
Disclosure: My expenses on the Washington, DC portion of the trip were entirely covered by the Allergy & Asthma Network and their industry partners, including airfare, hotel, meals, and ground transportation. I was not required nor requested to write about my experiences. (But let's be honest, if someone invites you to a Blogger Summit, chances are you’ll write about it.)
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