Dallas Twestival Delivers a Short, Direct Message in the Fight for Clean Water

Categories: Events
Patrick Michels
Twestival volunteer Heather Buzzell could be tracking the charity money she just collected. Or she could be tweeting about it to her friends.
About 200 cities around the world hosted Twestivals Thursday night -- part Twitter meet-up, part charity fundraiser -- and Dallas got in on the action with a party at Mockingbird Station. For three hours last night, local social networking all-stars paid a $15 entry to drink at Trinity Hall with like-minded microbloggers, catch a free Frost/Nixon show at the Angelika and stand around by the fountains outside filming one another.

Leaning over a laptop on a folding table across from the movie theater, volunteer Heather Buzzell took cash for tickets and raffle entries, chatting up folks who'd been lured to the event by its regular mention on Twitter over the last few weeks. When she could, Buzzell posted her latest news from the raffle table onto Twitter. Across the small courtyard, maybe 30 feet away, others tweeted direct messages right back from their cell phones.
The fundraising goal for the night was $4,000 -- enough for the night's beneficiary, charity: water, to cover the cost of drilling a well in central Africa -- and midway through the night, Dallas Twestival organizer Lauren Vargas said she figured they'd meet it.

Patrick Michels
Dallas Twestival organizer Lauren Vargas captures a moment for posterity, and probably TwitPic.
The Twestival concept was born a year ago in London, to see how well Twitter could organize people for a real-life cause. The concept quickly spread worldwide on Twitter, as news often does, and Twestival grew into a coordinated effort -- like Live Aid, but with Twitter's cool factor, not music, as the hook. That meant a significantly reduced budget -- Vargas says hers was zero -- so volunteers in each city called in favors and appealed to sponsors to help outfit parties with film, music, food and booze.

In Dallas anyway, that made the Twestival a motley, potluck kind of party. Bands played upstairs by the movie theater while a lonely DJ spun down by the parking garage entrance. Raffle items included chocolates and locally decorated hula hoops. Folks from Pure Dental handed out fliers beside a photo booth they were operating.

Around the courtyard and in the bar, there was plenty of real-life socializing going on. Still, it was also hard to miss the awkward moments passing among camera-toting Twitterati who came ready to document every passing minute of the night for later posting online, only to hang back on the edges, filming each other and waiting for someone to pick up a hula hoop.

You can follow everything that went down at Dallas Twestival here.

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