Stay in and Help Us Event This Weekend

Comments 6 by Rebecca Bollwitt

Instead of hitting the town this Saturday night one group is encouraging you to invite some friends over for a Boggle tournament or to pop some popcorn and melt into your couch for a night of movie watching.

“Social Media for Social Change (SM4SC) serves as an example of how social media can bring together people from all around the world together to change society in a big way. The premise of SM4SC is simple — to take all the connections made through social media, and put them together to host first-class fundraising events happen “in real life”. SM4SC’s fundraisers benefit local charities in cities around the United States.” [SM4SC]

This weekend’s SM4SC event, Stay in and Help Us, will allow everyone (regardless of geographical location) to have a lovely night at home while supporting a cause in the New York area called City Harvest.

With the downturn in the economy on both sides of the border charitable donations are low, however every person can do their part to make a big difference with even the slightest contribution. SM4SC Co-Organizer Meg Fowler explains, “Many of my friends that make this complaint also go out to lunch all the time, or for dinner several nights a week, or buy multiple $20 martinis on the weekends. I definitely don’t have a problem with people going out to have fun, whether they’re doing shots of Patron, or going for cheap wings — but I think they forget that even a small portion of those expenditures could do wonders for a charitable organization. One cosmopolitan bought at a trendy bar = a few days of meals for a family of 4.”

Meg’s small idea has snowballed into quite a big deal, and thank goodness. “… I had a little mini brainwave: what if I asked people to stay home one Saturday night, and contribute their entertainment money to our cause? Or go out — but match what they spent and give it to us? We kept brainstorming, and before we knew it, we had a URL.”

You can join Meg calls a “worldwide pajama party” on Saturday March 7th 2009 by following along on on Twitter, join the event on Facebook, or stay tuned to the site for updates and Ustream video.

“I think it’s a model pretty much any charity could replicate,” said Meg. “Since it doesn’t require anyone to do anything but skip a single night out — and give some money they weren’t planning on saving, anyway! In fact, I’m sure we’ll end up doing one of these nights for every event we do for Social Media for Social Change going forward.”

In Vancouver we’ve done a few events like this, that were as equally spontaneous and effective, from Twestival to the great TweetupHeatup. Now it’s time to look at other cities, their initiatives, take part, and also see how we can bring their interesting campaigns back home. It’s easy to participate, and to find a cause to support, and things like this end up connecting us all.

“Your small sacrifices — one less dinner out, one less movie, one less concert, one less drink — can make a huge difference to people in need.”

Rudyard Kipling in Vancouver

Comments 11 by Rebecca Bollwitt

Tonight I ended up purchasing the book Shoeless Joe for my husband and I since I’ve been looking forward to reading it for quite some time now, and especially since my post about its author. Following Kinsella in alphabetical order on the shelf there was a Rudyard Kipling book and I was reminded that he spent quite a bit of time in Vancouver before the days of Mowgli.

Vancouver 1898
Kipling’s Vancouver 1898
Blue: Georgia & Burrard, Green: Where BC Place would be today
Yellow: Main & Hastings, Orange: Where Granville Island would be today

Rudyard Kipling in Vancouver

In June of 1889 the budding young writer at age 23 visited Vancouver for the first time, the following is taken from a passage in From Sea to Sea:

“A great sleepiness lies on Vancouver as compared with an American town: men don’t fly up and down the street telling lies, and the spittoons in the delightfully comfortable hotel are unused; the baths are free and their doors are unlocked. You do not have to dig up the hotel clerk when you want to bathe, which shows the inferiority of Vancouver. An American bade me notice the absence of bustle, and was alarmed when in a loud and audible voice I thanked God for it …

“Except for certain currents which are not much mentioned, but which make the entrance rather unpleasant for sailing-boats, Vancouver possesses an almost perfect harbor. The town is built all round and about the harbor, and young as it is, its streets are better than those of western America. Moreover, the old flag waves over some of the buildings, and this is cheering to the soul. The place is full of Englishmen who speak the English tongue correctly and with clearness, avoiding more blasphemy than is necessary, and taking a respectable length of time to getting outside their drinks.

“These advantages and others that I have heard about, such as the construction of elaborate workshops and the like by the Canadian Pacific in the near future, moved me to invest in real estate.” 1

Kipling’s second visit to our fair city was in April of 1892 and he returned again in October of 1907, when he was the most famous writer in the world. He purchased real estate on Fraser Street (at the time known as Scott Street) and a chunk of acreage on the North Shore, which turned out to be a bum investment. “And I took it as easily as a man buys a piece of tobacco. Me voici, owner of some four hundred well-developed pines, a few thousand tons of granite scattered in blocks at the roots of the pines, and a sprinkling of earth. That’s a town lot in Vancouver.”2

Kipling also had an eye for Victoria, “Amongst all the beautiful places in the world, and I think I have seen the most beautiful of them, Victoria ranks the highest.”3 He mentions traveling to Vancouver Island alongside a whaler, who talks up the hunt and all of its profits, his reaction to the morbid chat is rather amusing and can be found in his Letters of Travel. “To realize Victoria you must take all that the eye admires in Bournemouth, the Isle of Wight and Happy Valley of Hong Kong, the Doon, Sorrento and Camps Bay, and add reminiscences on the Thousand Islands, and arrange the whole around the Bay of Naples, with some Himalayas for the background. Real estate agents recommend it as a little piece of England – the Island on which it stands is about the size of Great Britain – but no England is set in such seas or so fully charged with the mystery of the larger ocean beyond.” 4

He was here while our city was taking shape, he came up by steamer from Puget Sound and also traveled by train. “Time had changed Vancouver literally out of all knowledge. From the station to the suburbs, and back to the wharves, every step was strange, and where I remembered open spaces and still untouched timber, the tramcars were fleeting people out to a lacrosse game. Vancouver is an aged city, for only a few days previous to my arrival the Vancouver Baby — i.e. the first child born in Vancouver — had been married.”5

Although he didn’t have much success with his land ventures and had a certain view of imperialism, it is still interesting to read about the city from a great literary perspective during that era.

“[Kipling] is still an author who can inspire passionate disagreement and his place in literary and cultural history is far from settled. But as the age of the European empires recedes, he is recognized as an incomparable, if controversial, interpreter of how empire was experienced. That, and an increasing recognition of his extraordinary narrative gifts, make him a force to be reckoned with.”6

1 2 3Vancouver History
4Letters to the Family 1907
5Letters of Travel
6Douglas Kerr, Wiki

Jane’s Walk 2009 and Vancouver Stories

Comments 6 by Rebecca Bollwitt

There’s a reason why I have a history category on my site, I love sharing about where I live and how it’s changed, re-shaped and grown over the years.

I think I’ve turned into a decent resource for West End history (although I’m constantly exploring and learning) but with over 20 other neighbourhoods in the city, there’s so much more to explore — this is where Jane’s Walk comes in.

Last May, Think City, along with 600-plus Vancouverites celebrated the legacy of urban activist and writer Jane Jacobs with a series of free walking tours called Jane’s Walks. Over 30 Jane’s Walks were held in neighbourhoods all over the city – from Strathcona to the West End, Commercial Drive to Kitsilano, the Renfrew Ravine to False Creek and including famed Vancouver landmarks such as Nat Bailey Stadium and Wreck Beach.

Each walk was hosted by a citizen who donated their time to bring stories, history and awareness to their place in our city. These hosts included such Vancouver notables as John Atkin, Gordon Price, Wendy Pederson and Ned Jacobs. The result was overwhelming enthusiasm on the part of Vancouverites, with many people attending multiple walks over the two days, despite the rain. Jane’s Walk is held simultaneously in 11 cities across the country and this past year was a first for Vancouver

This year citizen volunteers will have the opportunity to lead a walk in their community, sharing their personal history tidbits or where you can find the best cup of coffee or even explaining the differences between Kerrisdale and Marpole, or the Downtown Eastside and the Downtown Lower Eastside. The walks will take place the first weekend in May, and you can find all the details here.

Leading up to the walks there will be a fundraiser called “Vancouver Stories” at Heritage Hall on Main Street March 19th at 7:00pm, tickets are $50 each and can be purchased through Think City.

It’s a cocktail party and silent auction hosted by Bill Richardson of the CBC and will also feature Andreas Schroeder, Shirley Chan and Vancouver history guru John Atkin.

If you would like to attend this party please leave a comment below including a small note about your own neighbourhood or perhaps if you lead a walk, where you would go. I’ll select a winner who will get a ticket to the cocktail party and I’ll also try and expand on their note in a dedicated blog post about their neighbourhood.

Update March 12, 2009 – the winner of the ticket to Vancouver Stories is Jen B

Vancouver Opera: Blogger Night at Rigoletto

Comments 2 by Rebecca Bollwitt

The season started with Eugine Onegin and since my review, and the first-ever Blogger Night when we experienced Carmen, the momentum in the opera realm has been growing.

The Vancouver Opera has embraced several forms of new media, from producing a manga site to managing their own blog, and it will be great to once again take part in their Blogger Night at Rigoletto this Saturday alongside Tris, Tanya, Kimli, and Monique.

Upcoming Blogger night at Rigoletto

Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi is based on Victor Hugo‘s play, Le roi s’amuse and will be sung in Italian with surtitles above the stage. I’ve been told there will be suggestive scenes, nudity, and a cage scene… whoever said the opera is boring?

Opening night at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre is Saturday March 7th 2009 (@7:30pm), with subsequent performances Tuesday March 10th, Thursday March 12th, Saturday March 14th and Tuesday March 17th. Tickets can only be purchased through the Vancouver Opera and they start at about $23 (and there’s great value in group tickets and subscriptions).

There is a piece about Blogger Night in the Georgia Straight and one of the performers, the lovely Sheila Christie, has a blog post up about her experience working on the opera.

Cover Girl

Update: March 6, 2009: I was interviewed for an article in the Vancouver Courier (even though was quoted using the word “dude” it’s a great promo for the event and the Opera).

WIFF New Media Forum 2009

Comments 7 by Rebecca Bollwitt

The Women in Film Festival kicks off today in Vancouver and I’ll be covering the New Media Forum today as well as other elements throughout the week.

WIFF New Media Forum

As with any other conference, the wifi is spotty so my updates today will not be in total real-time. However I will cover the day in a single blog post, highlighting the best talks, discussions, and media elements such as video and photos produced throughout the forum. You can also follow everyone’s comments on Twitter using the tag #wiff09.

A lively discussion from a diverse group of new media professionals about where to step in and how to play. From education to experience to flying by the seat of their pants, hear about what have others tried (and learned) to bridge the traditional and new forms. [Bridging Media]

The first panel today is Getting Your Feet Wired including: Bridget O’Neill, Dennis Chenard, Catherine Warren, Daniella Sorrentino, with moderator Danika Dinsmore

The focus is on new media forms and crossing them over from traditional film and production but also on the role of women – you can be an expert, you don’t need to be “techy”, you simply need to apply your skills and resources, using the best mediums possible for your audiences.

As the panelists are introducing themselves and their various journeys and projects, the big screen behind them is calling up their sites and videos – it’s a nice interactive display thus far.

Bridget produces videos online while Danika features ImprovEverywhere, organized flash-mob style gatherings of people organized online. “The bottom line is it’s all about stories, whether it’s on the internet, televisions or cell phones,” notes Danika. She mentions there are three ways to just get into this realm: take a class, a job, make partnerships with folks who know the business well, or just going for it. Each of the panelists shares their own route they have taken to get where they are, from education to the “power of collaboration”.

WIFF New Media Forum

Straying a bit from the panel discussion about the paths they have taken, we watched a few demos of video sharing tools online, which is helpful. All of the panelists share their stories of working with and creating “digital entertainment strategies”.

Daniella is handed the mic so that she can introduce the New Forms Festival as well as Midforms, which is starting tomorrow at the Great Northern Way Campus and she also through in a plug for Fearless City‘s initiatives. “When you’re creating content on the web, you’re creating content for one viewer – it’s an intimate setting. But when you share that with a group the message shifts.”

One point that all panelists drive home (and that is totally on the mark) is that audience interaction and having a conversation is key. The organic marketing power of things like “Free Hug Day” videos on YouTube are very powerful – Bridget says she’s challenged when it comes to marketing herself, and I think she’s trying to say there are so many distractions that may make efforts seem less transparent. A comment from the audience says that it’s a very female issue and we tend to shy from our successes, which should be celebrated.

Another comment from the audience speaks to music rights and how videos on YouTube ignore copyrights when it comes to music in online video. The conversation shifted from making content free and gaining an audience and then transitioning that to business platforms. From the audience, “the goal of a blogger is to get a book deal and the goal of a video blogger is to get in movies,” noting “to sustain the endeavour,” you need to break from new media to mainstream but does this show the failure of blogs or video blogs then — if they’re treated as a stepping stone.

WIFF New Media Forum

The Social Media panel now consists of Monica Hamburg, Carol Sill, Gillian Shaw and is moderated by Erica Hargreave.

Gillian is first up – being in traditional media she speaks to how the industry has changed for the better using these new tools, “It plays a part in how we deliver the news and how we tell our stories.” Carol Sill, “the internet is not something that stops and starts, you just jump in and go with the current — learn to swim.” I’m posting most of my updates for this panel on Twitter, using the conference tag #wiff09. Carol says, “Get active! Lose that old site!” Amen, Carol. “ is great but if you plan on doing anything commercial or anything you want to make money from, don’t use it.” Again, Carol hit the nail right on the head. You *cannot* put ads on sites or have business content on there or you may violate their terms of use. Use WordPress but get a full custom installation – that way it’s all yours in every way. “Make sure you blog doesn’t get stuck in a proprietary system.”

“Videos can contain a call to action,” says Monica who is always a lively and enjoyable speaker. “YouTube is the most popular site, it’s not the ONLY site out there.” Awesome, thanks to Monica for mentioning that (I was getting a little frustrated with all of the YouTube talk… as I am a Viddler girl myself). Monica also says that tagging is important for searchability and also search engine rank.

There are so many websites and social media tools out there but you don’t have to be on them all, however you should place your content where there is an audience. Erica mentions that she’s not a huge Facebook fan but she keeps profiles alive and updated because there are people on there who will flow through that profile and end up where you want them: on your website.

Monica mentions that you don’t need to be paranoid about sharing information online, “we’re not perfect and that’s the beauty of [sharing].” Carol brings up the characters of the series Mad Men who are on Twitter and how creating online profiles for characters in film, TV, theatre etc. can really be beneficial when interacting with your audience beyond the screen or stage. “It’s really important to work ethically within that space,” notes Erica because there does need to be transparency and there should be engagement. “You can actually start your shows up online to build an audience before they even launch.”

Alison Reid, Director of The Baby Formula

We took a quick lunch break and ran into two interesting women on our way back. One was from the Whistler Film Festival and the other was Alison Reid, the Director of tonight’s opening night film presentation: The Baby Formula. Both were curious about how they can find the time, people, and resources to start social media campaigns for their films and projects. Having covered several film festivals and done a handful of movie promotions on my site I could offer some tips but I think campaigns and strategies need to go far beyond blogger relations (and I’d be happy to help with those as well).

Coming up this afternoon:
Emerging Trends and Technology
Panelists: Thecla Schiphorst, Jean Hebert, James Eberhardt, Shannon McKarney
Moderator: Jennifer Ouano

Monetizing Your Content
Panelists: Bradley Shende, Maura Rodgers, Amielle Lake, Rochelle Grayson
Moderator: Tracey Friesen

There will also be an “Applications” demo zone with: Strutta, tagga, HootSuite,, QuickMobile, memelabs, work[at]play.

As well as some exhibitions:

  • “Egg Cinema” – Angela Smailes
  • “Tongue Tales” – Tassia Poynter & Sharon Lee
  • “I Know a Place” – Maia Iotzova
  • “Fluxus” & “Mordant” – Karin Schmidlin
  • “Murmur Video” – Maayan Cohen
  • “Lost Cause” – Kirsten Johnson
  • “Graffiti Wall” – Alex Beim
  • “Don’t Stop” – Julie Gendron
  • “Grafik Dynamo” – Kate Armstrong & Michael Tippett
  • I won’t be writing about the panels this afternoon as I have to do my weekly segment with Talk1410 followed by a quick interview for the Vancouver Opera’s blogging series, however I will be back to cover the reception this evening that is filled with interactive exhibits (and beer, thanks to Molson).