2.12.2009

Inaugural Twestival

Twitter users join global Twestival

Nick Lewis, Calgary Herald

Published: Thursday, February 12, 2009

Twestival takes place tonight at the Auburn Saloon.
Calgary will be one of more than 180 cities across the world today that hosts the inaugural Twestival, a global gathering of users on the social networking site Twitter who wish to meet their digital friends in person. A number of Calgary Twitter users will be meeting at the Auburn Saloon at 7 p.m., and will assist a global charity aimed at helping the developing world.

Twitter is the third-most popular social networking site on the Internet, after Facebook and MySpace, and boasts nearly six-million users. The inaugural Twestival was organized a mere three weeks ago online, and is being done through the help of thousands of volunteers around the world.

"We're already blown away by the global reception and how keen people are to invest their time and energy for free," said Amanda Rose, one of Twestival's London-based organizers. "Social tweet ups like this are a great way to meet those faces behind the avatars while raising a lot of money for a fantastic cause."

Today's event isn't just about meeting up off-line, it's also a means to raise funds and awareness for Charity:Water, a not-for-profit organization that aims to bring clean, safe drinking water to communities in the developing world. Currently, one in six people on the planet don't have access to clean drinking water, and this lack of basic sanitation causes 80 per cent of all the world's sickness and disease, annually killing more people than all forms of violence, including war. Drilling a freshwater well can cost between $4,000 and $12,000, and even with their money combined, people living on less than $1 a day cannot afford one. Charity:Water, is trying to raise near $1 million with today's global event to begin construction of freshwater wells in the developing world.

The Calgary portion of Twestival features a social media panel with a number of guest speakers, as well as live music from local acts. There will also be a silent auction of items as well as a live raffle.

The idea of collaborating on an international level via a string of local communities could have a spectacular impact, organizers believe.

"Our goal, between the event in Edmonton and Calgary, is to raise close to $4,000, so we can combine our efforts and build a well in a developing country," said Roger Kondrat, the organizer of Calgary's Twestival. "And so while we expect a lot of Twitter users to come down, we'd like to invite others to visit us on Calgary. Twestival.com tomake a small donation."

nlewis@theherald.canwest.com---------

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