Category Archives: Inauguration

Mango Diplomacy: A People to People Market

While I sit and wait for my curry at one of my favorite local restaurants, I am reminded of the story of the mango and how it connects to my journey towards journalism. First, let me offer some background.

The mango is a fruit native to India and tied to a 4,000 year history. Up until three years ago, Indian mangoes we kept from the U.S., restricted by a trade embargo that paved the way for Mexico and parts of South America to cash in on a estimated $156 million a year market. Apparently, Americans really love their mangoes.

I know all this nerdy fruit history because I went to the mango celebration in 2007, signaling the lift of the trade freeze. Hosted by the U.S. India Business Council, the room was packed with policy deal makers, reporters, diplomats, executives and yes, Indian mangoes. Served with ice cream.

I met a man named Raghubir Goyal at the event and went on to write about the lift of the freeze for his newspaper, India Globe. He returned the favor in an unusual way – by introducing me to Helen Thomas, who took me under her wing and taught me about the standards and ethics of journalism – the ones she met  each and every day, for 57 years, at UPI.

But back to the mangoes. As it turned out, last week, I got something in the mail. A box of Indian mangoes.

The mangoes came complements of Dr. Savani, a dentist living in America. I called him a few months ago, on a whim, to see how the mango imports were going. Apparently, not so well.

“We have no business model for selling the mangoes,” he told me on the phone. “…and the market is still dominated by South American mangoes.”

He went on to tell me how he works with Fed Ex and once a year, brings in a shipment of mangoes and send to the types of people at the celebration in 2007. To remind them of the farmers desire to sell their product in the U.S.

I ended my India Globe article in 2007 with this quote from USIBC President, Ron Somers – which I find fitting to leave here now.

“As India’s prosperity rises and U.S.-India commercial and trade relations deepen, jobs and opportunities will result on both sides. Will mango imports affect U.S.-India trade? Let’s just say mango diplomacy will strengthen the people to people connection crucial to any true partnership.”

**Erica Anderson has been to India three times, where her Uncle served as Chief Executive Officer of General Electric India for fourteen years.**

Posted via email from EricaAmerica’s posterous

Big Stars are a No Show to Walter Reed Ball

Last night I was at the Warner Theater for the unofficial Military Ball. A majority of attendees were patients at Walter Reed Hospital, a first-class rehab facility for wounded men and women. One guy pointed to his stomach when I asked what he was being treated for. “I lost 40 percent of my stomach during a roadside explosion.”

No one I talked to was bitter for the last minute collapse in the run of show – which was set to include Jamie Foxx, Nas, Josh Groban and Tiki Barber. Senior-level organizers told me there were last minute contract demands that the modest organizer, United Service Organization, a nonprofit organization could not meet. USO’s mission is to support the troops by providing morale, welfare and recreational services.

All drama aside – which was minimal to say the least, the show went on. And it was a great show. The spirit of the historic nature of the day and the camaraderie of the military was evident.

Check out the story I wrote filed from the fifth row of the show. I don’t know what I would do without the iPhone.

Live Blogging from the Swearing-In Ceremony

I can’t even believe this all just happened. The swearing-in of 44th President Barack Hussein Obama brought hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people to the National Mall. It was complete mall madness.

I went back and forth between the WWII Memorial and the Washington Monument for better views – and admittedly, in search of better cell service. I was  live blogging and streaming photos to MTV’s NYC headquarters.

Renovating a School for MLK Service Day

And the Inauguration continues. I have to admit, I’m slightly exhausted. This morning I woke up at 6AM and met up with the MTV News crew to head out to Simon Elementary School in Ward 8. I wrote two pieces throughout the afternoon, which you guys can see below.

Other highlights not discussed in the posts? Exchanging words with Usher, interviewing the new Superman (Brandon Rough) and watching Kim Stolz in action. Can you blame me?

A little bit of down time now…then off to get ready for the Huffington Post pre-Inaugural gala at the Newseum. What. A. Weekend.

Live Coverage of the Lincoln Memorial Concert

Check it out. With just my iPhone, I fed the MTV News headquarters in NYC a stream of blog posts and updates. During the concert, I was under orders to submit constant updates. My little fingers typed as fast as they could to get them immediate reactions from the people around me. It was awesome.

The Citizen Journalist’s Legal Guide to the Inauguration

There is no doubt the four-days of events for this Presidential Inauguration will be a shit sandwich. Well, let me rephrase. Pack light and don’t drink liquids. With 2 million people (plus locals) – do you really expect a place to pee?

All kidding aside, this post is for you, for us: citizen journalists. Come hell or high water we are determined to bring gear and capture the moments. Watching Obama on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial – pinched between hundreds of thousands of people en masse before him. We will witness a political awakening in our neighborhood, on our steps, in our country. And the world will be watching.

Thanks to the Citizen Media Law Project and the ruthless research of the one Harvard Law Student, we have the Guide to Documenting the 2009 Presidential Inauguration. This legal primer has been put together with information from (1) the Secret Service, (2) DC Metro Police, (3) U.S. Capitol Police and (4) National Parks Service.

Here are some highlights from the report:

You should have no problem if you bring small, handheld equipment and carry it in a small bag (but not a backpack). 

Tripods, backpacks and large bags (exceeding 8″x6″x4″), including camera bags, are not permitted.  A non-exhaustive list of additional prohibited items is available at the website of the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies and the Secret Service Presidential Inaugural webpage.

Now, where does it say anything about a flask? Get the full report here!

Happy documenting!





The Inaugural Party List

There will be hundred of parties in DC over the pre-Inaugural weekend with the most taking place on Tuesday, January 20th. So where will you be…and who has the hottest tickets in town? Here’s a comprehensive list of parties, but for my top picks see below.

Impact Film Fund at Fur nightclub. (1/20) 

Heard of the Impact Film Festival (IFF)? At each Convention, IFF conducted four-day events, showing a few socially-mixed, politically relevant films with panel discussion of filmmakers, civic leaders, lawmakers and more. Now they are bringing the good times to DC – where the three creators are based – to host one of the most celebrity-rich parties in town. Kanye West, Will Smith and Denzel Washington to name a few.

Be the Change Inaugural Ball at Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center. (1/20)

Sponsoring this ball is Service Nation and MTV. It has been rumored that this will be the “official” youth vote ball…meaning President-elect Obama will make an appearance. No word yet if it is true…but one thing is for sure, any place Sway Calloway makes an appearance at is fine by me. That hip-hop, political VJ is a strong represenation that MTV cares about the youth vote. No invites were extended to the Street Team — though I will only be hurt if I hear LC of the Hills, the furthest thing from political service, receives the red carpet. Ouch.

Creative Coalition’s Gala Inaugural Ball at the Harman Center for the Arts (1/20)

Creative Coalition, a non-profit social and political advocacy oganization, has a party lots of elites are trying to get into. (Try a $25,000 donation to get in.) This is chump change for the list of celebrities expected to show-up, including Elvis Costello who is set to perform!

Neighborhood Ball at the Washington Convention Center (1/20)

Last but not least is the Neighborhood Ball, which President-elect Obama and wife Michelle will start the evening. This will be held at the Convention Center and is going to provide “affordable tickets” for some of DC’s other representatives…ahem…a population living under the poverty line with the most to gain from a change in Washington.

As reported in the New York Times,

In a symbol of the importance of the Web, both to Mr. Obama’s election and presumably to how he will run the government, this ball will be interactive, with webcasting and text messaging, “to link neighborhoods across the country with the new president and this premier event.”

NPR To Inaugural Bloggers: Max Out the Towers!

Yesterday one of my friends sent me a link from Google Reader. The story: “Help NPR Plan Our Social Media Activities for the Inauguration.” Read on to find out how you can help – or just be part of a colosso, Y2-Obama-K, power failure that will trash DC’s cell phone towers on Inauguration weekend.

Now, NPR – and Andy Carvin, Senior Product Manager in the Digital Media department, are on to something different. To add on to what they did for the Election (VoteReport), they have two techies building iPhone Applications for the Inauguration — so that people can post audio, text (and maybe even video?) online. I will definitley take part and text updates from @ericaamerica to NPR. If you are a DC Local, use the tag #inaug09. If you are coming from somewhere else, use the tag #dctrip09.

With all the early reports of cell phone towers being stretched with an estimated 2 million out-of-town visitors, it is safe to assume this project, though smart and ambitious, will have problems. But how do you cover such an event through social media — when technology and towers will be so seriously challenged?

If the towers fail us all – which would be tragic considered how connected we are – watch out for me on my little red rider, biking back and forth to my media station in Dupont to upload, tag and blog. Then, I’ll be back again on the streets. It’ll be like a little post-Street Team reporting marathon. 🙂

**If you are an iPhone App guru, or have any other ideas for NPR’s social media coverage, contact Andy via Twitter. (@acarvin)