Posted in Entrepreneur, Social Media

Interview with Ananda Leeke of The Digital Sisterhood Project

By Kiratiana Freelon, DJTF, Author, Kiratiana’s Travel Guide to Black Paris 
  
The digital footprint of Ananda Leeke touches everything—video, talkshows, blogs, twitter chats—and she touches everything with a purpose. She doesn’t use these tools just to promote herself. She uses them to help people and to create strong digital communities. In the last year, she has launched multiple online projects related to The Digital Sisterhood Network, and the Feminism Online Network. She also uses her influence to help non-profit organizations in Washington, D.C. and abroad.  In the interview below, Ananda, a woman with six titles, talks about how she manages to do everything and what she’s doing the rest of the year.

ND: What do you do?

AL: I like to call myself woman with six titles. It has been a challenge to wrap my head around everything I do – author, artist, coach, yoga teacher and innerpreneur (someone who has the will to do what is within himself and treats it as a business).

As a yoga teacher, I practice and I teach it online and offline. As a coach, I am a creativity coach. I work with entrepreneurs and creative professionals in helping them develop what is the game plan in what they want to do with their business. In that coaching process a lot of my clients have not developed a liking for social media. I also help them incorporate social media tools that will help them.

ND: What do you consider your biggest success digitally?

AL: Right now The Digital Sisterhood Network is my biggest success. It is coming from a place deeper than me. This is not about me and my promotion of a novel or book. This is about “Digital Sisterhood.” Digital Sisterhood is 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.

This is morphing into a digital movement. This thing called digital sisterhood is now a movement of self-care, self-discovery and social justice for women in social media.

The Digital Sisterhood Network includes ten projects and initiatives that serve women in social media. See below:

1) Digital Sisterhood Wednesdays give women in social media a weekly opportunity to build and strengthen their communities. Each week women are encouraged to celebrate and promote their digital sisters by using the #FF (Friday Follow) format. They are also encouraged to tweet about their digital sisters’ businesses, wisdom, creativity, blogs, Facebook pages, causes, videos, and web sites. In addition, monthly tweetchats are held.

2) Digital Sisterhood Monthly Tweetchats give women in social media an opportunity to chat about issues, interests, and causes they support.

3) Digital Sisterhood Month, an annual month-long celebration held in December, gives women in social media an opportunity to celebrate their connections, conversations, communities, collaborative partnerships, and commerce.

4) Digital Sisterhood Network is a web site that houses Digital Sisterhood’s projects and initiatives.

5) Digital Sisterhood Blogger-in-Residence Program serves a woman living with health opportunities (transformed the word challenges into opportunities) in the Washington, DC metropolitan area.The Blogger-in-Residence for 2011-2012 is lifestyle bloggerKamaria T. Richmond.

6) Digital Sisterhood Radio features interviews with women in social media and people who self-identify as feminists and womanists. The Stroke Diva Fabulous Show hosted by Blogger-in-Residence Kamaria T. Richmond also airs on Digital Sisterhood Radio.

7) Digital Sisterhood Legacy Campaign invites women in social media and technology to help one woman or girl in their life or community who needs assistance in understanding, accessing, and using social media, the Internet, and/or technology.   By sharing what they know, women in social media and technology will create an individual and collective digital sisterhood legacy that increases the number of social media, Internet, and technology savvy women and girls.

8) Digital Sisterhood Unplugged! is a self-care initiative that encourages women in social media to step away from their technology and social media tools and unplug for an hour, half-day, full day, weekend, week, month or longer so they can take a break and recharge themselves. This year the Digital Sisterhood Network is observing Digital Sisterhood Unplugged Sundays on the third Sunday of each month beginning in April.

9) Feminism Online Project celebrates the rainbow chorus of feminist voices in the digital world through the Digital Sisterhood Network web site, Talkshoe radio show, Twitter page, and Tweetchats.  Through these efforts, a diverse group of feminist voices are profiled and a range of feminist issues are discussed.  The Project runs from March to May.

10) Digital Sisterhood@DC She Writers Meet Up is a community building initiative that sponsors SheWrites.com quarterly meet ups for Washington, DC area women writers at Teaism (Penn Quarter location), a woman-owned cafe. SheWrites.com is an online community for women writers with more than 35 She Writers Meet Up communities in the USA and beyond.

ND: So tell us about thethe Blogger in Residence program. Why did you start this?

AL: Since March, Kamaria Richmond has used her Cinchcast audio blog, Twitter account, and Facebook page to share her lifestyleblogging adventures.

I was inspired by Kamaria Richmond’s desire to learn about social media and the many conversations we had about her health challenges.  I developed the program to serve Kamaria.

Kamaria has also hosted her Stroke Diva Fabulous show on Digital Sisterhood Radio each month.  Her next show airs on May 1 from 7:30 pm ET to 8:15 pm ET. These social media tools are helping her explore whatever is on her mind. She was a former buyer at Nordstrom and in 2004 she had a stroke. She had to learn how to read, write, walk and talk.  Click on the link to learn more about Kamaria: http://digitalsisterhood.wordpress.com/blogger-in-residence-program

Her web sites are below.

http://www.cinchcast.com/kamaria

http://twitter.com/kamaria

http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001452717957

Talkshoe radio show: http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/42015

ND: Social justice is also a very important part of your mission. What organizations do you support and how do you support them?

AL: As the Heart of Haiti blogger ambassador, I traveled with a team of bloggers to Port-au-Prince, Haiti in February.  During that trip, we visited KOFAVIV, an organization that supports women and girls who have been victims of violence.  I am currently exploring ways to support KOFAVIV later this year. Click on the link to read about my visit to KOFAVIV:

Prior to my Haiti trip, I made a financial commitment to support FONKOZE, the largest microfinance organization that helps women in Haiti.  So far they have served more than 45,000 borrowers. I set up a Crowdrise fundraising page. Later this year I will actively seek funding for this organization.

ND: And you do yoga to help support this?

AL: When I do the online yoga, I am asking them to donate to FONKOZE. I don’t charge anything for the live streaming show so I am asking them to support my Crowdrise page.

The other organization I decided to support is The WOMEN’s COLLECTIVE, staffed by women living with HIV/AIDS. I have been connected with them since 2002. I also set up a Crowdrise page for the agency and will actively seek funding for this organization later this year.

ND: You also focus on Feminism. Tell us about it.

In March, I launched a project called The Feminism Online Projectwhich celebrates the rainbow chorus of feminist voices in the digital world through the Digital Sisterhood Network web site, Talkshoe.com radio show, Twitter page, and Tweetchats.  These efforts will take place through May.  Through these efforts, a diverse group of feminist voices are profiled and a range of feminist issues are discussed.  They will be included as research for my book Digital Sisterhood, a memoir (December 2011).

ND: Two years ago, when I first joined twitter and other digital platforms, I noticed that you were everywhere! How do you decide when you want to tackle a new digital platform?

AL: I LOVE the Internet. I loved it when I logged on for the first time in 1995. I am fascinated by the tools that have come out I try them out. I try to find things that are easy for me. The audio and video are easy for me.

ND: How do you manage all of it?

I try to find things that are easy to use. So with the Kickstarter fundraiser, I decided to try it. That was something I saw other people using. They are big risk takers. You just try it once. If it doesn’t work, then you keep moving.

ND: Were you ever afraid of any the tools you are using now?

AL: I was afraid of the smart phone. I just got a smart phone in 2009. I was afraid of the touch screen with the iPhone because I like to type and feel things. But I got an iPad for Christmas. I am really starting to enjoy that touch piece of it. I don’t tweet out in public because I am afraid I am going to miss what is happening. I am a live blogger if I can do an audio blog. I want to focus. I still don’t know how to use to get the photos from my phone on to the web. I’m still kind of old school because I don’t use all of my phone the way that I should.

ND: If there a person who was afraid of trying new things like video blogging or audio blogging, what one piece of advice you would give them?

AL: Pick one tool and use it. If they have a great voice, try audio blogging. A lot of people do NOT read. Most journalists that I have met have great voices. Many of them are great on video. Again, people don’t read. They could also host an Ustream TV show. They can have a conversation online. If you take photos, it’s just a live version of you. When they do that, they can add a link to their article. People want to know who you are. That makes a big difference.

ND: The NABJ Community would love to support you. What can we do?

AL: 1)  They can tweet #DigitalSisterhood every Wednesday. Every Wednesday, we tweet our favorite digital sister and/or organizations that correspond to campaigns, causes, and national events. That follows the FOLLOW Friday format. #digitalsisterhood

2)   They can participate in the upcoming tweetchats by checking the event schedule for May, June or later this summer:http://digitalsisterhood.wordpress.com/dc-focus-groups

3)   They can listen to the digital sisterhood radio show. Click on the link: http://www.talkshoe.com/tc/42015

4)   If they have digital sisterhood stories, click on the link to share them: http://digitalsisterhood.wordpress.com/digital-sisterhood-sharing-page/

Thanks!

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Home of the National Association of Black Journalists's (NABJ's) Digital Journalism Task Force

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