Cuba Nostalgia Update (Updated)

You’ll notice that I have added a link on the sidebar to the Cuba Nostalgia Convention. I met with the organizers yesterday to iron out some of the details of my exhibition space and toss around some ideas and I decided that it’s probably time to start giving updates as to the whole process.

I was pretty much given carte blanche as to the actual size and layout of the space. I can have up to a 30’x30″ area – 900 sq. feet! – to use as I see fit. I’m presently working on designing the layout, both the form and function aspects. I dont want too large a space nor do I want folks visiting the booth to feel cramped. Even though I work architecture for a living, this design is not an easy task. Too many factors. Portablility, ease of movement, practicality, well themed, aesthetic and adaptability to computer and tech needs. Basically, I need a great, cool looking, techonolgically advanced set design. No es facil.

What worries me the most is the computers and the internet connections. What good would blogging from a big booth at a huge convention be if I cant get people to participate? Ideally I would like to have at least 10 computers – laptops – set up. One for myself to live blog the event, one or two set up specifically to have folks stop by and email fidel castro their thoughts and the rest for participatory blogging. I really want to show to the attendees how they can access news and information on Cuba – or anything – instantly through blogs.

I’ve contacted several computer manufacturers with the hope of getting them to sponsor the computer aspects of the exhibit. I cant possibly purchase 10 laptops and I dont know how feasible it would be to ask for a sponsor other than a tech company to provide the funds for these. I’ve yet to get a response from any of the pc makers I contacted. Ill probably wait another week or so and then look into other means of obtaining the laptops.

Im thinking of setting up a separate blog specifically for Cuba Nostalgia where I can have people write their own entries and posts telling stories about what Cuba means to them and how they lived before exiling to the states. There’s nothing like the look on an old Cuban when he or she is telling a story of the old days. They are simply vibrant in their expressions. Their eyes are always so full of life when they recall their island days. Of course, this is generally true of most older folks when the recall their youth, but it seems a bit different when it comes to Cuba. As if not only the youth is gone but something else. The culture maybe, the way of life. Something was stolen from them taht they’ll never get back.No se.

It’s you guys reading this that have made all of this possible. Without you Babal? would be just another webpage with a bunch of unread stories and rantings. I’m eager to hear any suggestions you may have about our Cuba Nostalgia Convention blogging. How do I get more folks interested? How to get people to actually come into the exhibit space? How do I set up the space? How do I procure laptops? What’s the best internet connection for a bunch of pc’s? What should the booth look like? Should I sell a few tshirts and if so which ones? What on Earth do I wear?

Come on people, help me out here! Im losing it.

Update: Reader Tati suggest a web cam set up so that those that arent in Miami can experience the convention. Sounds like a great idea!!! Ill get the Babal? tech support team working on that right away. Gracias tati!

Plus, Sheila of Piquant has graciously offered web design expertise and hosting for the Cuba Nostalgia blog!!! Thanks sooooo much Sheila!!!

Update II: Also, the organizers suggested that along with the banner with the Babal? eyes I come up with some catchy slogans to attract patrons to the exhibit. I know you guys out there are perfectly capable and more than willing to come up with some doozies, so let me have’em.

Re-Update: Rhianna of A Texan Abroad suggests the following:

I keep getting this idea of ‘hands on’ as well as ‘hands on blogging’. I’m not sure it would be easy for you, but sometimes getting ‘stuck in’ as they say in the UK is the method that keeps the impression best.

Might I also suggest one of the laptops set up with links to the other blogs you read about Cuba, and the news sites you quote? Some flyers with all their addresses, for the visitors to take home, would also help to get the word out.

Excatly, Rhianna. What I plan on doing is not only showing people at the convention what blogs are and how to manuever them, but I will be pestering every single blogger on my blogroll and others to write something specifically about Cuba at least once per day for those three days.

And you all thought it was going to be easy, huh?

26 thoughts on “Cuba Nostalgia Update (<i>Updated</i>)”

  1. Whew! You’re high tech! Here I thought you were gonna have a caja china serving tasty samples, and you’re talking about laptops.

  2. I wonder if you were to find those free advertising for non-profit announcements that are available in the news media. Why should it be just computer companies? There are many companies that donate or provide equipment for such non-profit engagement.

  3. Val…I don’t know how I came accross your site…i think someone just sent it to me, they knew I am cuban…so, Have you asked Miami TV stations to sponsor your project? I think the media is a good place to start….
    I also think you should sell T Shirts with a Big Picture of Che Guevara and Fidel Castro WITH title that says ASESINOS!! in BIG BOLD LETTERS!
    Please send me information, and keep me posted on your progress…maybe I can help you somehow..I don’t live in Miami.
    Buena Suerte

  4. Val,

    It’s a shame that you can’t have a truckload of “cagastro” toilet paper printed for the convention. Even if it cost buyers $10 a roll I’d be willing to bet you’d sell each and every roll!

    A step further on Carmens’ suggestion, you could sell t-shirts of che and/or castro surrounded by a gunsight or one of “cagastro” falling down with the caption “Che est? muerto y yo no me siento tan bueno.”

  5. Val:

    I’m not making much money right now (working for a non-profit in D.C.), but I’ve got $10 that you can use toward a computer (or at least a computer rental, if that’s possible). Just e-mail me your address or let me know how I can get the money to you.

  6. Val,

    Having set up and staffed booths at other conventions in the past, I think I can give you a couple of “low-tech” pointers (I’m not a PC/laptop expert) on the booth layout.

    – First and most importantly…you need an eye-catching visual to attract people to the booth. A big poster of the “eyes” from the top of your blog page with the words “Babalu” or “Babalu Blog” on it would be a perfect eye-catcher.

    – A large screen with a projector hooked up to a PC where people at the booth or approaching the booth can see what you and/or others are blogging.

    – You have a large space so you should be able to get visitors easily inside the booth. Of course, you don’t want too many people coming in, so you can create small entrance and exit ways on either end of the booth so the traffic can flow smoothly.

    – T-shirts, caps, mugs, basically any type of merchandise is a great idea. The t-shirts and prints that have been displayed here in the past are excellent options.

    – As far as what to wear…be yourself. From being at previous Cuba Nostalgias, something Cuban like a guayabera or cubavera would be cool, but it’s not a big deal.

    Feel free to e-mail me if you’d like some other suggestions. Best of luck, I’m sure your booth will be a success!


  7. I think some of your Cubanisms would make good slogans. Like the one about pulling up a chair and staying awhile.

  8. This is going to be great Val. For computers, I’m thinking there has to be a Cuban owned tech company in Miami area that should be willing to help you with the laptops.

  9. Val,

    I would use some of your Cubanisms as slogans. Something to do with your grapes story and how those 3 days of convention are like your 12 grapes of health, happiness and wealth. Just me though.

    Also, you could do something about La Caja China and how Cuban food in general is intregal to the Cuban experience and nostagia. Those pirates coins could figure into that, along with all your stories of Cuba and family.

    I keep getting this idea of ‘hands on’ as well as ‘hands on blogging’. I’m not sure it would be easy for you, but sometimes getting ‘stuck in’ as they say in the UK is the method that keeps the impression best.

    Might I also suggest one of the laptops set up with links to the other blogs you read about Cuba, and the news sites you quote? Some flyers with all their addresses, for the visitors to take home, would also help to get the word out.

    I’m sure you’ll do great! We just come and visit Babalu, while you’re it’s heart and soul man. If you weren’t out here blogging, there’d be nothing for us to visit. 🙂

  10. Invite folks to come in and tell one or two anecdotes about their lives in Cuba and or as expatriates. …immortalizing their story and sharing it with millions.

    They should think of blogging on a Cuba Nostalgia blog as participating in the creation of a historic document that can be handed down through the ages. Not everyone’s story can be published the old way, through print journalism and books. Now…everyone’s story can be told. …and preserved. Unfiltered. Raw. True.

  11. BIG NEWS

    Babalu Blog will have it’s very own, very LARGE space at Cuba Nostalgia, a wonderful event held here in Miami. Folks, this is big. I’m in awe as to how my uncle’s little blog has gotten so much exposure. This…

  12. I think this is such a great idea, Val. I especially like the idea of allowing everyone who drops by to blog their stories. I can’t wait to read that!

    I think maybe a different way to make the booth more inviting would be to mock-up a facade like an old Cuban house or cafe, something like what people remember from the days before castro, or maybe an old farmhouse look that reminds people of the old days. If people see something that has a powerful connection for them, they’ll be drawn to it. And how cool would it be to have the uncensored internet in a Cuban house (even if it’s just a fake front in a convention hall in Miami)

  13. How specific were you when you wrote the PC companies? If you tell them all you need them for is three days and it’s just for emails, heck, old refurbed 486’s could handle that. Not like you have to worry about a lot of multi-tasking. Just ask for a few more than you need because there may be a few DOA’s. They may donate them to the convention, they may ask for them back, no idea but specifying what they’ll be used for I think could help.

    For the tshirts, how about something along the ideas of “Cuba Nostalgia 2005” showing something nostalgic you’d expect from current day Cuba, and also showing “Cuba Nostalgia 2025” (bastard has to be dead by then) showing what life was like in Cuba in 2005. Either two images on the front, or a front and back. Of course “nostalgia” normally implies happy memories so the second image might have to show things from the regime’s point of view.

  14. I know I’m not a “regular”, but if you need Cuba material from an extremely anti-communist/Castro gringa blogger, or any other assistance that I may provide, you have only to ask. Who knows – you may start a Cuban Revolution, bringing the idea of web-publishing to free Cubans in Miami, and thereby giving thousands a voice. Buena suerte!

  15. Naked Ladies Jumping Out Of Cuban Cakes and Stuff. Good ‘ol family Fun.

    Contract a local cuban hip hop dude. Like say, Pitbull, or Don Dinero, or something like that. That should draw a crowd.

  16. Okey – in one of my previous buss incarnations I was VP of marketing for a hi-tech company, the thing here is to have a FEMALE (Male’s success ratio on this is quite dismal) call a place like DELL or IBM ask for their public Relations Dept. and talk them into lending 10 refurb PCs for the project. Marketing depts of these companies LOOOVE this stuff.
    Also as we talk about this, what is the plan for the May 20th Habana conference? I wrote to the email you posted giving them some ideas as to how the event could be turned into a WEB CAST, but no-one got back to me.
    I am willing to fund the domain or or whatever you guys think is appropiate.
    If someone has volunteered for creative work all we need is a landing page with a frame for the media feed.
    As far as technology Val , ask away either here or privately this *IS* how I make my living!

  17. Val,
    Have you contacted Apple? Their stuff is really futuristic looking, easy to set up and use and usually they support special projects, schools, universities and high visibility functions, productions. Can’t hurt!.

  18. A type of company you may want to contact regarding the computers would be some of your local technology training companies. Many of them either have sets of PC’s that they pack and ship to training locations, or they contract with those who do and could give you names. Perhaps one of them would be willing to sponsor the setup for some good community publicity.

    Having those who come by and have something to say write a blog entry is a great idea.

    If you are looking to increase the number of people walking in, something as simple as a big bowl of free candy strategically placed can do wonders.

  19. Val…

    I go to CubaNostalgia every year – and as a patron I can tell you that what most draws people to a booth is *free stuff*.

    I think that a sorely needed freebie at Cuba Nostalgia, as well as being effective (and cheap to produce) would be “jabitas” – either plastic bags with the eyes logo, or even handled paper bags with logo stickers – indicating the URL and other pertinent info.

    The bag will guarantee they take it home, because they will have put all the other freebies in it!

    I think you should also ask regulars to help you staff the booth, so you can get out and walk around, maybe distribute flyers, get a drink, etc.

    As to what to wear – DUH! A guayabera – of course.

    In the past I haven’t seen a lot of hard-core political stuff for either side, so…alla tu. They keep it pretty apolitical.

    Buena suerte…I’ll definitely stop by the booth, but I don’t know if I’ll identify myself…;)

  20. Cojones… I never heard about this when I lived in Miami, and now that I know, I won’t be back until June. That sucks.


    About Computers: Apple is the way to go… they got all this new technology that they’re dying to show off. And if they’re hesitant, you can probably work out a deal to also hook up anyone who brings their Ipod to the online Itunes store for a discount on Cuban Music. That way it’s a win-win situation.

    Clothes: You gotta sell some anti-castro/che shirts. As a freebee/promotion tool make and give away t-shirts and plastic cups. And you might want to wear any one of your t-shirts maybe with an open guayabera. (Gotta have a Guayabera man).

    How should it look: You know how they have Internet Cafe’s? Bueno, make it look like that Cuban style. You know how at la Carreta, Las Palmas, Versailles, Latina America and any Cantina, have a walk up corner to get a colada. Well, try to make it look like one of those. You can have a fake menu with funny food on it(like Cheburger), one of those signs that say “Guarapo” and whatever else you can think of. And the open window, instead of having the lady who gives you Cafe, it will have computers for them to blog on. Above it have the banner Bablublog: an island on the net without a bearded dictator. And have some tables with Dominos and Cubilete for people to play as they wait for blogging. (you can work it out with places like “Sentir Cubano” to have them sell one of their tables there. And Sedanos to have Dominos and Cubilete to play/sell.)

    How to get people to come: If the dominos and cubilete don’t work, you gotta find something that no else can give them. And make it HUGE.

    Good luck man,

  21. BIG NEWS

    Babalu Blog will have it’s very own, very LARGE space at Cuba Nostalgia, a wonderful event held here in Miami. Folks, this is big. I’m in awe as to how my uncle’s little blog has gotten so much exposure. This…

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