Thursday, February 12, 2009


Today is Twestival, a day when more than 200 cities worldwide, for 24 hours, will be holding volunteer events to bring together people who know each other through the micro-blogging service Twitter. The goal: to raise money for charity:water—a Manhattan-based nonprofit that builds wells and rainwater capturing systems in Africa. The event, which also will be collecting donations online, will offer live feeds from cities including New York, Washington, D.C., Athens, Greece, and Auckland, N.Z. Twitter has been used before by groups to organize offline events. But Twestival will be the first big test of how well Twitter communities can mobilize Internet activity internationally into real-world action for a cause.

Twestival organizers hope to raise at least $1 million; they also hope the San-Francisco-based Twitter service will be able to handle the surge in traffic around it. [Twitter has been known for occasional downtime, chiefly in its early days but also as recently as yesterday.]

Twestival grew out of a face-to-face gathering of Twitter users in London last September, organized to benefit a local soup kitchen. Amanda Rose, the architect behind today's festivities, expanded the concept and last month started organizing teams of volunteers to help coordinate Twestival events in London and 100 other cities. [See a interview with Amanda here.] "You have a bit more of an audience when you Twitter something," she told The New York Times. "It doesn't go unnoticed."

Twestival has since gone mega-viral with the help of uber-promoter Scott Harrison, the former Manhattan club promoter who founded charity:water in 2006 after traveling to Liberia aboard the Mercy Ship Anastasis as a photographer helping doctors on the floating hospital document their work. Harrison witnessed, first-hand, the illness and disease caused by a lack of access to clean water. "The disconnect between the West and what radical poverty looks like is immense," Harrison told Contribute Media's Jesse Ellison in an October 2007 interview. Here's Harrison's pitch for Twestival, below:

charity: water for Twestival from charity: water on Vimeo.

In addition to collecting contributions online, Twestival participants can buy t-shirts, get involved in special eBay auctions for the cause, buy music online and other activities.

CauseGlobal will be following parts of the event through the day: follow us on Twitter [@Causeglobal] for updates.

(Photograph, Faces on the Wall, of the Berlin Wall, courtesy of

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