Jaynehowarth’s Weblog

Journalist and writer

Posts Tagged ‘Twitter

How my son’s fundraiser was boosted by Twitter

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The power of Twitter, eh?

Those of us who subscribe to the 140-character-a-time micro blogging site know how useful and how much fun the site can be.

And we know it doesn’t matter how much we might bang on about it, those who have no interest are not going to sign up.

But I am not going to apologise for this short blog post, which sings the praises of Twitter. Again.

I’ve already written about how Twitter got me involved with a fundraising project for the victims of the Haiti earthquake.

But kind-hearted tweeters also helped my son last week when his efforts to help a school fundraiser were – ahem – less than successful.

Youngsters at his school made bookmarks, crafted Scoobies and other arty items. My eight-year-old wanted to do his bit. He drew 23 pictures – stick men scoring goals; stick men reading and walking into bookcases; stick men telling jokes – and said he’d sell them for 5p or 10p.

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”false” link=”term=children+drawing&iid=3119792″ src=”6/e/5/f/Drawing_Children_8292.jpg?adImageId=10169355&imageId=3119792″ width=”234″ height=”230″ /]

He sold one. And one, older, pupil who should know better, told him his pictures were stupid. He was devastated.

I posted a message on Twitter, saying he’d sold a single, solitary picture. Why? Because I follow – and am followed by – quite a few “mummy bloggers”. I thought they’d understand.

There were reactions, naturally, but three tweeters: @DanSlee, @Dovefarm (who retweeted the message to her followers) and @MillfieldLammie were so touched by the mini tale that they PLEDGED MONEY FOR ONE OF HIS PICTURES.

Isn’t that just wonderful?

Of course, they sent the money, too. I won’t embarrass them by divulging how much they posted to us for the school’s Haiti fundraiser, but needless to say that my son would have needed to sell significantly more than the 23 he originally drew.

He thought they were kind and was pleased that grown-ups had recognised that children’s efforts – however small – were worthy of attention.

After a few hours of being down about his little pictures being rejected by his contemporaries, he was buoyant again.

For him, the power of Twitter was real.

Thank you for helping Haiti.


Written by CommonPeople

February 11, 2010 at 11:02 pm

How social media is helping Haiti

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When the earthquake devastated Haiti, I was shocked, appalled and overwhelmed.

Being almost 4,500 miles away from the tragedy, which struck this poverty-stricken nation on January 12, left me bereft.

I was helpless as the 7.0 magnitude quake destroyed towns and villages.

I sat and watched the news, realising there was nothing I could do that would help the families whose meagre possessions had been wiped away.

What could I do? I have no skills, no medical expertise, nothing that would benefit these wretched people.

But social networking focused my thoughts.

While I was racked with guilt over my inability to do anything of use, I saw a tweet about bloggers donating to Shelterbox. I made a small donation.

Then, another tweet caught my attention. One blogger wanted to hear from editors, sub-editors, journalists – anyone with editing skills – to help with a project for Haiti.

A week after the disaster, Greg McQueen posted a video on his blog saying: “Dear Twitterverse, I can’t keep watching this on the news or trending on Twitter without doing something. I woke up this morning with the idea that together we could make an e-book and donate all the profits to the Red Cross.”
(Greg’s video can be found at www.ireallyshouldbewriting.net/100-stories-for-haiti/)

I didn’t know Greg, I didn’t follow him on Twitter. But the beauty of the microblogging site meant that within hours of his original posting, hundreds of people were forwarding his message.

Many people who I follow retweeted Greg’s post. I saw it many times in a couple of hours.

The premise is deceptively simple: getting as many short story submissions as possible to raise money for the victims of the earthquake.

Out of the submissions, 100 pieces of fiction would be chosen to appear in an e-book, the proceeds of which will go to the Red Cross.

100 Stories for Haiti was born.

I offered my services and was accepted onto the project.

Dozens and dozens of short stories were submitted and I, along with 23 others, have been going through the pieces. I do what I can, when I can. I have no idea if I am doing more or less than anyone else (I suspect less), but this is an incredible project and I’m hugely proud to be involved with it.

The calibre of submissions (generally) from across the world has been astonishing; the skills of the volunteer editors awesome.

It is an amazing project – and one I hope you will support.

The book will be sold on www.smashwords.com, whose founder and CEO Mark Coker will be waiving the normal 15% commission.

100 Stories for Haiti will be published in mid-February, 2010.

Written by CommonPeople

January 28, 2010 at 11:03 pm

‘But I wanted to be Mary’: the politics of the school nativity

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"I wish mum hadn't complained about me not getting the main role"

It’s that time of year when parents run around like loons, finding last-minute costumes for the school nativity, Christmas production or festive service.

(I dread the letters that emerge out of the school bag a week after they were sent from a stressed teacher, asking for nigh-on impossible costumes. Especially when you realise you have two days’ notice to find a Major General uniform from 1844 or a Tudor-style dress, complete with ruff. And what have they got to do with Christmas, anyway?)

But, for some parents, it isn’t the costume that fills them with dread: it’s looking at the cast list.

Over the past few weeks, you might well have heard the complaints: “I see Tabitha is Mary AGAIN. She was Mary in Reception and took the lead singing role in Oliver last year.” Or: “I see it is the Smith/Jones/Peters [insert appropriate family name here] show again. Why do teachers always pick the same children?”

I certainly have.

I have had conversations with parents whose children are at different primary schools complaining that it was usually the same girls and boys who took the starring roles.

They were not bemoaning the fact their own son or daughter hadn’t been given the main part, but cast doubt on whether the schools offered the same opportunities to all.

[picapp align=”right” wrap=”false” link=”term=nativity+play&iid=3013096″ src=”9/8/a/d/Pennywell_Farm_Hosts_4ed8.jpg?adImageId=7846866&imageId=3013096″ width=”500″ height=”303″ /]

It was an interesting point: so, armed with neither evidence to support assertions nor an agenda, I asked the question on Twitter: do you think your school always chooses the same children for the lead roles in plays/team captains etc?

I posted the same query on Mummy Bloggers. It was also picked up by Jim Hawkins on Radio Shropshire and he had parents contact him in droves.

The responses were interesting, to say the least.

One caller to Jim claimed that when she was an active member of the PTA, her children were given main roles; when she left, they were no longer considered for major parts. Coincidence? Who knows.

Others were insistent it didn’t happen. A few callers suspected it did.

Here are some responses I received:

Yep, the same girl at my sisters grammar got picked every year. It’s always the kids with the starry names too! At my school it was Antoinette. She got to play Eliza Dolittle-she’d actually left our secondary school, but they brought her back to play it! (Claire)

At our school it’s always the same kids who get the lead roles and while we all moan and groan about it, they are the kids who have charisma on stage and are capable of remembering all those lines! (muummmeee)

I don’t think this goes on at Amy’s school, but I do believe it goes on at another school I know of. It also seemed to be the same kids with the better roles – the ones that have all the best lines and all the best scenes etc. I remember mentioning it once and was hit with excuse after excuse about the fact that some kids are just shy and others really want to be in the limelight. But you could guarantee whatever the play, the “shy” kids were never given a chance. Shame. (Crystal Jigsaw)

I think at my daughter’s school they definitely choose the same children over and over for the big speaking parts. I think that’s because they are the loudest, but that does mean other kids don’t get a crack. Until you know that you can stand up in front of the lower school and say a handful of lines…you don’t know it. (Jennifer Howze)

[picapp align=”left” wrap=”true” link=”term=school+nativity&iid=4586952″ src=”d/7/d/a/Nativity_Play_9ce6.jpg?adImageId=7847112&imageId=4586952″ width=”380″ height=”290″ /]

There are some children who shine on stage. Should we turn it around and say they shouldn’t have the opportunity to do that so a child who doesn’t gets to have the main part? I’ve sat through countless school productions and I’ve noticed the ones who are good in shows are the ones who are most comfortable on stage. Not all children want to be in the spotlight.Our school is excellent at ensuring there are five or six decent parts for the oldest children. They also give solos to the ones who are good at singing. It’s lovely to see someone you perhaps thought of as quite shy singing like an angel. (Deb)

Other comments via Twitter included:

So far, they’ve been really fair at my kids’ school, with kids who don’t have parts in one play getting them in next one … Last year someone was really put out their daughter wasn’t Mary & told us all. Pathetic. (@VWallop)

If they think that is a big ‘problem’ then they need a reality check (@LindaSJones)

It’s a snapshot; it’s not scientific; for me, it is an interesting topic for discussion.

I hate unfairness and hate to think that a school teacher would favour one child over another, although I know/strongly suspect it goes on in SOME schools.

I know that there are a goodly number of children who aren’t interested in the starring role; some prefer to be the giraffe (I know, in a nativity, too. How does that work?) or the third tree on the left, but there are many who want to be given a chance, if only their teachers would offer them encouragement.

Let’s give those shy children – who deep down would love to be given  a chance to shine on stage as Mary, Joseph or the inn keeper – a chance. It might just give them the boost they need.

What do you think?

(two photos of nativity courtesy of PicApp)

Written by CommonPeople

November 26, 2009 at 4:33 am

Best banana cake EVER

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Best Banana Cake EVER


3 ripe bananas (about 400g)

150g softened butter

80g sultanas (optional)

300g plain flour

2tsp  baking powder

½tsp bicarbonate of soda

2 eggs, lightly beaten

80ml sunflower oil


Preheat oven to 180C (350F, gas mark 4).

Butter a 900g loaf tin.

Peel and mash the bananas.

Mix butter and sugar together until fluffy, then stir in the bananas and sultanas.

Sift the flour, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda and add it to the banana mix, along with the beaten eggs, beating well as you go along.

Add the oil and mix well.

Pour into loaf tin and cook for 45 minutes (mine sometimes takes up to one hour).

Recipe: Cooking For Kids (The Guardian)

Written by CommonPeople

October 6, 2009 at 6:47 am

Posted in cake

Tagged with , , ,

How sweet it is …

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Sometimes the simplest ideas are the sweetest.

I tweet a lot, as the poor 790 or so poor souls who follow me know.

As a freelance writer, Twitter helps me feel as if I am part of a large, open-plan office with a myriad trades and professions, all working harmoniously (and sometimes, not so harmoniously).

Remote workers are only too aware that home-working can feel isolating – and it’s always your turn to get the coffee.

But online sites such as Twitter have helped to break the monotony of a long day in front of the home computer. It is possible to have 140 character conversations, have a laugh, answer questions and read interesting snippets.

It has also given birth to some marvellous “eureka!” moments – the Twitpanto last Christmas engendered a feeling of camaraderie, while Twitter Titters, a book of comic writing, raised money for Comic Relief.

But it has been a few Twit chats over the past few weeks that have resulted in a rather sweet idea.

It turns out many of us a rather partial to a bit of cake. It doesn’t matter if it is apple, toffee or banana (although chocolate does seem to be a favourite), we love to talk about it.

So much so, that a throwaway comment of “we should have Twit reviews of cake shops and cafes” has led to a new blogsite – a 140 character comment about tea and cakes.

Set up by @mmmmmmcake, I think this is the kind of simple idea that will take off. It is something that people enjoy, because it is fun, it is slightly distracting from the mundane goings-on at work and it is cake.

It is hard to explain to non-Twitter users what tweeting is all about: some look blankly as you make valiant efforts to describe the goings-on; others are keen to try.

A year ago today, I thought I’d give it a try. It took a few weeks, months even, to begin to understand what it was all about.

So, you know what that means, don’t you? It’s a birthday. And what do birthdays mean? Cake. Once I find some, you might find a review.

In the meantime, have a look at the cake blogs at http://bit.ly/Cwk2Z

Written by CommonPeople

September 26, 2009 at 1:24 pm

Posted in cake, Jayne's posts, News/opinion

Tagged with , ,

Have a titter with Twitter for Comic Relief

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This isn’t a post from me, but I think this is such a great idea, I wanted to share it with you.

If you think you can contribute or help, please do contact the people who are listed below.

A new collection of comedy writing hopes to raise cash for Comic Relief – thanks to the micro-blogging site Twitter. Journalists Linda Jones and Louise Bolotin are working on collecting and editing submissions for the TwitterTitters book by tweeting about it regularly.

Just one day after first mentioning the initiative on Twitter, they have found an illustrator and first submissions have been received.

The deadline is Friday, February 20 at 4pm.

The resulting book will be published by self publishers Lulu.com, with all proceeds going to Comic Relief.

Short stories, scripts, poems and prose will all be accepted for the anthology and the word limit is 1,400 words. Copyright for the work is retained by the writer.

Staffordshire agency director Linda said: “I’m a fan of having a laugh. I’m a fan of short stories and I’m a fan of Twitter. This project brings the three together.

“Inspired by the Twitchhiker project where the Guardian writer Paul Smith plans to travel as far as he can on a sponsored ‘twitch hike’ I wanted to do something good through Twitter.

“The blogger Troubled Diva published Shaggy Blog Stories through Lulu a couple of years back for Comic Relief and I thought it would be fun to update it. “The actual writing for this book will not be published on Twitter as it only allows 140 characters per tweet. But we’ll tweet calls for submissions, link to a dedicated blog on Twitter and ask people to help via Twitter.

“We’ll also publicise the anthology through the many writers on Twitter and hope to choose the stories to be included with the help of people kind enough to offer their expertise and/or time, again through Twitter.”

Manchester journalist, blogger and author Louise Bolotin will edit the writing before publication. Artist Ash Lamont from Glasgow is designing a cover.

There are various ways the organisers hope the Twitter community can help. These are: Contributing a piece of writing/ask others to contribute. Publicising the call for submissions (via Twitter, their blog or included in media coverage of Comic Relief or Twitter) Taking part in the selection process.

They hope to put together an ‘expert panel’ Because of the influx of high-profile comedians, writers and TV personalities to Twitter, it’s also hoped that the collection can gain an element of celebrity endorsement.

Louise said: “With so many celebrities now frequenting Twitter and broadcasting their activities to a huge number of fans, we hope that some will consider helping put something back and support our Red Nose effort.

“We hope that they can at the very least help promote the book and it would be wonderful if they could consider contributing or writing a foreword.”

For more information, please contact Linda or Louise. Linda: Linda@passionatemedia.co.uk http://www.twitter.com/joner http://www.passionatemedia.co.uk Louise: louisebolotin@googlemail.com http://www.twitter.com/louisebolotin http://louisebolotin.com

Written by CommonPeople

February 11, 2009 at 6:12 pm