Hello, Kamloops. I am in you.
Or rather, back for another round of action.
Some of you may recognize my face or my name. I spent six years as your friendly neighbourhood sports writer at Kamloops This Week, then jumped ship for some time at the Daily News.
And that’s where I hang my hat now.
It feels like a lifetime since I left. I got beaten up pretty bad by the mean streets of Calgary, laid off from three jobs over the course of six years (twice in five months!), but such is the life of a writer. I even had my heart broken twice.
But everything is coming up roses now. I’m back for another stint at the Daily and my mended heart belongs to two men, a 10-year-old Maremma sheepdog and an American fellow, who loves me and the aforementioned dog.
Anyway, enough about me … one of the things I miss about Calgary is the unified spirit surrounding social media. The crowd in Cowtown is a community in and of itself.
And I’d like to see that happen here.
When I think of how the Calgary social media community was built, I think of two key events as its foundation. The first was a small holiday gathering, organized by one of my forever besties, Camilla di Giuseppe, night anchor for CTV Calgary. She sent out a Tweet, hashtagged with #yyc, and brought about a hundred people together at a pub for a Christmas get-to-know-you gathering. As a group, we raised a few hundred bucks in cash for the food bank in Calgary.
The next event happened only a few short weeks later. A devastating 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti and Camilla sent out a single Tweet that read something like ‘what can we do?’ I said I’d help. So did the beautiful Alex Ruiz, who then worked with the Calgary Flames and also quickly became one of my forever besties.
Together, we were a force. We assembled an awesome team of volunteers, worked our fingers to the bone for two weeks and gathered 1,500 people at Flames Central for a night of fun, hockey and fundraising. #YYC4HAITI had more than $30,000 in prizes donated by businesses and individuals — not just from Calgary, but from around the world — and raised $35,000. With the federal government match, that became $70,000 for the Canadian Red Cross.
And we spread the word solely through online media — a website, a Twitter account and a Facebook page, all now defunct, sadly.
Fundraising activities through social media have taken on a life of their own in Calgary, such that Camilla, Alex and I were able to step back and have others take charge. But it’s amazing to see what the social media community in Calgary has become — a huge, connected family, a terrific group of people on whom many can rely for support, assistance and love when you need a little Twitter ego stroke.
I want to see that happen in Kamloops, to have a social media family that knows the community better than anyone and enriches the lives of others in it.
I’ve teamed up with Beth from Exploring Kamloops and we’re hosting a Tweetup (is it a Kamloops first?!?!? #squee) at Central Station Pub on Sunday, December 16, starting at 3 p.m. and lasting until … well … whenever. It’s just like that holiday Tweetup in 2009 — an informal gathering of folks, having a few beers or glasses of wine, getting to know each other and talking about Kamloops …. and probably Twitter.
I’ve talked to Judy at Central Station and she has set aside a spot for our very merry Twitmas party, assuring there are drink and food specials for the afternoon. Beth and I will also set up a Facebook event page so we can have a loose idea of how many people will be joining us.
Stay tuned to the #Loops4XMas hashtag as we try to generate some interest. And raid your pantry because we’re asking for everyone to bring at least one item of non-perishable food as a donation for the Kamloops Food Bank.
Come out and meet that person you talk to on Twitter … and let’s get something started.