Vancouver Twitter community unites for one night IRL to raise money for women from the Downtown Eastside needing a little beauty—and dignity—in their lives
One of the more versatile social media, Twitter, is used for everything from spreading information about important local and global events to announcing the simple pleasure of a particularly frothy latte.
But on March 24 such polar applications converge for the 2011 Vancouver Twestival, an event that celebrates the power of the tweet to raise awareness—and money—for social change.
Vancouver Twestival 2011
Thursday, March 24, 2011
Lookout at Harbour Centre, 555 W Hastings St, Vancouver
$25 SOLD OUT, proceeds benefit Beauty Night Society
"A few years ago, a group decided to have a tweet up for a cause and they just got bigger and more global about it," says Rebecca Bollwitt, a.k.a. Miss 604, a.k.a. arguably Vancouver’s most beloved blogger and the organizer behind the last three Vancouver Twestivals, since 2009.
"They thought 'what if every major city in the world could have a Tweet Up on the same day, for the same cause, and we could just raise a bunch of money just by coming together through Twitter, through promoting through Twitter, through inviting your Twitter friends?'," she says.
"And that's basically how it started growing."
2011 YVR Twestival zeroes in on local charity Beauty Night
Twestival 2011 has evolved from that model: this time, each city chooses its own local charity, and for Vancouver that’s Beauty Night, a personal development program for marginalized women and youth in the city's Downtown Eastside focusing on wellness, skill development and the therapeutic potential of beauty makeovers.
Beauty Night’s founder and organizer Caroline MacGillivray hopes the Twestival fundraising goal of $8,000 will go toward operating 50 more Life Makeover programs in the city, extending a safe, nurturing space for women to relax, socialize and indulge in treatments like haircuts and massage.
Many of the more than the 11,000 women the charity has served in its 10 years access the Life Makeover program on a regular basis, returning again and again, says MacGillivray.
"They stop being invisible, if that makes sense, because we treat them with dignity and respect," she says.
"We don't believe that anybody should ever feel invisible, that they should always be treated with dignity and respect, no matter what their socioeconomic [status] is."
A night of face-to-face community building with Vancouver's Twitteratti
In addition to raising money and awareness for Beauty Night, Twestival attendees can look forward to refreshments from Vancouver mobile restaurant (think street cart) Roaming Dragon and Fair Trade coffee roasters Ethical Bean—two local companies who "get" social media—as well as an appearance by our own tweeting mayor, Gregor Robertson, raffle prizes, a silent auction and finally meeting some old friends face to face.
"I have actually seen people tweet that it's the first time that they've met some of their Twitter friends in person and now they're really good friends with this person, in person—and not just on Twitter—because they went to Twestival," says Bollwitt.
And, of course, people will be tweeting all about it.
"We'll put (Twitter) up on the big screen and the program will just have a live stream of all the live Tweets that are coming through that are using #yvrtwestival," says Bollwitt.
"And actually people do gather in front of the screen to see their tweet come up."