Open Letter to the San Antonio Podcasting Community

To My Fellow Podcasters:

Creating and being a part of the San Antonio Podcasting Group has been an amazing experience. It started as a way for me to find local podcasters to share my excitement about, what at the time was, a groundbreaking medium.

It’s been 4 years since those humble beginnings back in September 2005. So much has happened since then. We fired up the early adopter tech/geek crowd and have done some first time events here in San Antonio. From our small group the New Media/Social Media Community was born.

From PodCamp to BarCamp to TweetCamp we have been pioneers involved in building what is now a wonderfully diverse and vibrant community. Pat yourselves on the back for being part of the group and making things happen.

As New Media evolved to Social Media we have been using the Meetup site less and less. What was once a chatty message board has become as silent as a library. It’s not that we aren’t still interacting online, however the location for our conversations have been happening on Twitter and Facebook.

There doesn’t seem to be a need for us to continue to host the group on Meetup. As we are well aware, Meetup charges organizers a fee to host a group. As the use of the Meetup platform has become anemic, it appears there is no need to continue with the group in it’s current form.

There are plenty of places for us to host our group outside of Meetup. There is Ning http://ning.com and even Facebook has a group feature. We still have the SA Podcasters blog site which Nathan Lott and Leslie Baldwin have been heading up for the last year.

I propose we allow the Meetup group to close and continue the conversation on either Ning or Facebook. I believe Ning allows us more features as well as an extremely feature rich platform. It’s my first choice, however I know that for the most part we are all already on Facebook so adding a new group to our existing profiles would be easier. I’m willing to go either way.

I won’t miss Meetup. I will miss interacting with you, my dear Podcasting Buds. Knowing you has enriched my life immensely.

Thanks for joining the fun!

Cheers,
Jennifer Navarrete

Crossing A New Frontier

I have always considered myself somewhat of an adventurous spirit. Not in the climb K-2 without oxygen kind of way, but more in the willing to try something new way. My most recent adventure has been to brave the live video stream for Tech in Twenty. It was something my co-host, Luis Sandoval, and myself had been discussing for some time. We had several listener requests for a video version of Tech in Twenty and with 9 months of podcasts under our belt we were ready to brave the video frontier.

So, on Saturday afternoon a little after 3pm, Tech in Twenty went live with our first video show from the IGOSA Studio. A few differences you’ll note is that the show was longer than 20 minutes. As a matter of fact it was 3x longer! Since Luis and I have no shortage of topics, ideas and opinions to share, discuss and disagree on, the hour flew by.

Topics were chosen by fans on the Tech in Twenty’s Facebook Page. An ongoing poll will select upcoming video show topics. The best way to have your say is to become a fan and vote!

Here is our inaugural show. We had a great time recording and thanks to Ed Lozano and Kaye Cruz of IGOSA for being the pros behind the camera.

Free video chat by Ustream

Being Active in the Community

There seems to be this perception that only a select group of folks can create community events. This could not be further from the truth. There is no secret club or handshake required for you or anyone to create a community event. Whether that’s a Tweetup or an UnConference.

If you have an idea and can find some other folks to champion the idea, then do it.

Don’t wait for permission.
Don’t wait for approval.
Don’t wait…period…amen!

As long as you follow the guidelines for an event which are usually on a wiki somewhere then you should be golden.

Do ask your fellow community members to help make it happen.
Do solicit advice from the more experienced members of your community.
Do be bold and adventurous.

So if you have been waiting for permission to make your community event go from concept to reality.

This is it.

Go! Do! Be!

Tubing on the Comal River

If you’ve spent any time at all in the Texas Hill Country during the summer months you’ll hear folks talk about “tubing”. As in, “Hey, you wanna join us? We’re going tubing this weekend.” Before you shake your head and wonder about the mental state of folks in Central Texas, let me explain the concept of tubing. First of all, let’s start with a picture of a “tube”.

tube

Now that we know what a tube is we can delve even deeper into a condensed and abbreviated definition:

“Free-floating tubing often takes place on rivers and streams. The tube riders are conveyed by the current of the water. People paddle with their hands to steer while groups of tubers often rope their tubes together creating a large floating group. This generally slows down the float but allows the group to pass food and drink around. Longer expeditions often include tubes mounted with coolers for food and beverages.”

So in other words tubing looks like this:

tubers1

I’ve lived in San Antonio since 2003 and almost from the beginning I would hear folks talk about tubing. I had a vague sense of what it was, but it wasn’t until I actually went tubing that I truly understood the attraction.

Up until recently my floats have been on the wild and untamed Guadalupe River. However, this year because of low rainfall and drought conditions we decided to give the Comal River a try. Let me tell you it was love at first site and by the time I was floating down river, I was hooked!

Here are a few helpful tips to get you started:

Start off by stopping at one of the local River Outfitters. You can bring your own tube and manage a two car drop off/pick up plan. In my time as a tuber, I have been very happy using the services of the River Outfitters. In doing so, I am supporting the local economy while making my float experience fun and hassle-free. Price ranges anywhere from $14-$20 depending on whether the tube you select has an attached bottom or is au natural. I highly recommend opting for a tube with a bottom. Other than being a place to rest your bottom, It has the added benefit of being a place you can hold your extra gear.

We always rent an extra tube for our ice chest to hold ice cold beverages and sandwich fixings. Being in the sun for a few hours has a tendency to make you hungry so it’s always a good idea to take some food along. Before you leave the River Outfitters, make sure you grab some rope and a trash bag. You’ll want to tie that ice chest tube to your group and of course we want to keep the river clean so a trash bag is a must.

The last thing you’ll need before you leave is plenty of sun block. The water is as ice cold as the sun is hot. After a day of fun the last thing you want is a nasty sunburn. I won’t go into the details about how I know this to be true.

Now that I’ve given you my tips for a successful river float, let’s get back to my recent Comal River experience:

The water was cold and flowing which meant I didn’t have to paddle in order to keep moving. In the triple digit heat we’ve had recently this was exactly what we needed. One of the first things I noticed about the Comal River was it’s neat and clean appearance. The next thing I noticed was how organized the tubing experience was. I was glad to see Park Police were on hand to keep folks safe and secure.

I also noticed signs along the river letting us know what was coming ahead. No surprises meant we could relax and enjoy ourselves instead of being concerned with unexpected rapids or drops. What was especially impressive was seeing Life Guards before and after the River Chute. We were able to enjoy the excitement of going down the fast rushing water chute knowing there were trained responders on hand.

When we were done with our 2 1/2 hour float we picked up our tubes and headed to the waiting River Outfitter vehicles. They loaded our tubes and drove us back to the starting point. We could pack up and go home or for the bold and the brave go for another round of floating. Naturally, we jumped right back in the ice cold water and went for round two.

The Comal River float winds through the City of New Braunfels, TX in the Heart of the Hill Country. Our family had such a wonderful time last weekend. So much so that the Comal River will be our next river destination. The good thing is that we won’t have to wait long. We’ll be part of the folks flocking to the Comal River this 4th of July weekend. I can think of no better way to celebrate Independence Day Weekend than to relax and enjoy the freedom of a river float. Wave if you see me there. I’ll be the one with the water gun helping keep folks cool.

Cheers!

UPDATE:
If you want to have even more fun, check out the other activities on the list. Other San Antonio bloggers have provided their take on some of the best activities in the area.

Take a look:
5. San Antonio Missions Baseball Game Fourth of July Extravaganza, by Derrich Rodriguez

4. Fourth of July Celebration in Luckenbach, TX, by Luis Sandoval Jr.

3. Tubing on the Comal River (New Braunfels, TX), by Jennifer Navarrete (good thing you’re already here, eh?)

2. Celebration on the River (Kerrville, Texas), by Shelley Cook

1. Aqua Boom Festival on Lake LBJ, by Jessica Young

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ImageHost.org
The locals will tell you there is simply no better way to spend a hot, lazy Texas afternoon—and the fourth of July is no exception. Independence Day is regarded as one of the best days of the year to break out the swimsuit and float down the river with a group of friends. The water of the Comal River is cool and quick, perfect for a day of relaxation and fun in the sun.
This blog post is part of the JW San Antonio Hill Country Resort & Spa “List of the Best Things to do in the Texas Hill Country” Blog Scavenger Hunt. The goal is to compile a list of the best ways to spend this Fourth of July (and any day of the year!) in the Hill Country. Thank you for helping us discover the Hill Country – the home of the newest and largest JW Marriott Resort, opening January 2010.

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River float image by Texas Tubes

My own thoughts after the red carpet interviews

Being part of a red carpet event in San Antonio is no ordinary thing. However, it was an experience I hope to repeat. With the fast changing pace of today’s media, it looks like this could be a more common occurrence in the Alamo City.

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Post Red Carpet Interview with Kaye Cruz

An interview with Kaye Cruz of 24 Hour Entertainment as he was tearing down the broadcast set up for the red carpet interviews of Valentino: The Last Emperor.

I took the opportunity to chat with him to find out how everything came to pass. From concept to reality in 48 hours.

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Museum Reach San Antonio River Expansion Preview

smcsa-group-pic-river-previewsmcsa-river-expansion-tour-picutterli-image
smcsa-group-pic-river-previewSocial Media Club San Antonio was asked to participate in a sneak peek preview tour of the new Museum Reach Expansion phase of the River.

There was lots of picture taking, tweeting, facebooking, live streaming via Kyte and yes, even this audio post on Utterli. You can find all info using hash tag #sariver

A big thanks to Andi Narvaez of KGB Texas for helping to arrange this private tour in advance of the grand opening on Saturday, May 30th.

Group photo courtesy of FlickrClubSA http://www.flickr.com/…317537_com

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Getting to know you…

conker-acorn-boyWhile connecting online is a great thing, connecting in person is even better.

There will be plenty of opportunities over the next few months to get some face-to-face time with the folks who are making Social Media happen in San Antonio.  In addition to the monthly gatherings, there are several Camp, Startup and Workshop opportunities coming up. The best way to become involved with the community is to participate. Stay tuned or better yet, show up to any and all upcoming events.

You may ask yourself, “What are these face-to-face meeting opportunities?” Well, here are just a few of the events I’m involved in:
PodCamp San Antonio 3.0 May 16th El Tropicano Hotel 9am-5pm: This is the event that started the whole UnConference movement in San Antonio. Organized by the San Antonio Podcasting Group, this event covers: Blogging, Podcasting, Online Video, Virtual Worlds & Social Media. Registration is open now.

Startup Weekend San Antonio II May 29-31st If you’re interested in the Startup Scene, then this is the event for you. This 2 1/2 day event will take you from the concept on Friday night to a fully launched business on Sunday evening.  Registration opens on May 1st.

TweetCamp San Antonio July 18th If you love everything Twitter, but want to know more then this is the event for you. Or if you don’t know what Twitter is but keep hearing about it on the Tonight Show and CNN then get ready to get immersed in the Twitter-sphere! From terminology to third party apps to  mobile tweeting, you won’t want to miss a minute of this micro-blogging event. Registration is open now.

For those of you who are early birds and like to get your Social Media fix in with a hearty breakfast and a strong cup of Joe, then Social Media Breakfast is the event for you. Every third Wednesday of the month you’ll find topics ranging from Journalism and Social Media to Social Media 101. Registration is ongoing.

There is also the group that attracts the tech and early adopter crowd, Social Media Club San Antonio. We think it might have something to do with the fact that most of the tech-centric crowd can more closely relate to the night owl than they can to the early bird.  Meetings are every second Thursday of the month from 6:00-8:00pm. Feel free to join the community site where we’re able to connect in between monthly meetings.

There are also impromptu gatherings which allow fans of the micro-blogging service Twitter to congregate for some face-to-face networking. These events are called Tweetups and can be organized and attended by anyone who is either part of Twitter or at least Twiter-curious. The best way to find out more about these events is to stay tuned into the Twitter stream or at least have a friend who keeps track of such things.

This is by no means a comprehensive list of the events in town. I happen to know for a fact that every first Friday of the month, Susan Price hosts a First Friday Co-Working at Firecat Studio. This monthly event recently celebrated it’s one year anniversary. It has grown in popularity with each passing month. One reason is the highly interactive Brown Bag Lunch which is based around current points of interest in business, marketing and social media. There are additional Co-Working spaces around town such as T-14 in the San Antonio Technology Center as well as C4 to name a few. Find out more on the Co-Working San Antonio Blog.

These events are just the tip of the iceburg. Every day it seems I’m hearing about folks in the community coming up with new and innovative ways to connect. There has never been a better time to be involved. Jump in. The water is not only fine, your friends have already joined the fun.

Cheers!