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Vancouver Tweetup Heatup

December 21st, 2008 @ 4:09pm (PT) by Rebecca Bollwitt

Update: There is now an official TweetupHeatup site.

With the homeless population in Vancouver at a despicable level, watching the city get covered in inches of snow and ice has made everyone even more concerned about how they’ll cope with life on the streets.

The mayor of Vancouver and police are trying to find options for compelling homeless people to move off the streets in sub-zero temperatures following the burning death of a woman who had lit a fire in a makeshift shelter to keep warm.

Mayor Gregor Robertson said he had a discussion about the matter with Vancouver police Chief Jim Chu on Friday.

“There is an issue of civil rights there that we have to grapple with, and that is the challenge right now, particularly with people who choose to remain or are convinced that they belong outside,” Robertson said.

The 47-year-old woman’s body was found burning in a makeshift shelter built around a shopping cart at Davie and Hornby streets around 4:30 a.m. PT Friday, police said. [CBC]

So far this season I’ve seen, been aware of, and been a part of more fundraisers and opportunities to volunteer than any other year. If I can’t be out there helping, the very least I can do is write about these efforts.

Yesterday someone was inspired to put the call out on Twitter about having a meetup (or Tweetup) as we call them in Twitter land. The focus would be to raid your closet of anything warm that you could donate, then meetup on the streets of Vancouver to hand out the goods to those in need of clothing and warmth. It was dubbed the VancouverTweetupHeatup or the TweetupHeatup and it appears that many individuals took to the streets with to do what they could to help (such as Steve, Gillian, Tris, and more).

The point of social media is to connect, communicate, and build discussions. If events like this are the result of social media powers in Vancouver, I couldn’t be more excited to be a part of such a community (and more excited to celebrate it).

If you are unable to give things like blankets, jackets, gloves, etc. shelters around the city are also in need of basic personal care items and toiletries.

Daniel Reed, associate pastor of Cloverdale Christian Fellowship, said Monday about eight people came in each night over the weekend to his 10-bed makeshift shelter. Most declined an offer to stay the night. “A lot them are drug addicted, and they don’t like four walls, so they’ll come in, use the facilities, have some cocoa and something to eat, but then they leave,” Reed said. [Surrey Leader]

The date and time of the next TweetupHeatup are yet to be determined but you can keep on top of these flash-mobs-for-good by following the trending topic on Twitter.

Update: Gillian has some great coverage here for the Vancouver Sun and Steve’s got a post up on Ubertor’s blog.

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14 comments

  1. The more I hear about twitter, the more I think I should sign up… hmmm…

  2. raincoaster says:

    Union Gospel Mission reports that their donations this year are at the lowest point in two decades. During a record-making cold snap, this is simply going to cost lives. It’ll kill people.

    The TweetupHeatup is a powerful example of the immediate, profound good that people can do when they take action. If you get the spontaneous urge to help, you can just DO IT. Some people like to go through agencies, and there are plenty of agencies who can help you, and for some, the intermediate step would be alienating. They get more out of being like the converted Scrooge and taking to the streets doing good.

    I say more power to them; more power to everyone who wants to help, in any way they can. The response of Vancouverites to the emergency is simply astonishing (to a curmudgeon like me anyway).

    It’s just such a shame it took two deaths (not one; a young man also died) to raise awareness.

  3. Aidan says:

    The TweetupHeatup sounds great. I will keep my eye out for the next one and start sorting out all my old gear lying around the house.

  4. Dave says:

    It was so cold and wet but we managed to give out bags of warm clothing!

  5. Fantasy Art says:

    I really wonder how it is possible that there’s a shortage of free, warm clothing.
    Long ago, I worked briefly at (Vancouver-agency-that-will-remain-nameless). They collected clothing donations. There was a large room half full, FLOOR TO CEILING with bags and bags of clothing.
    We were sorting out “saleables” vs. “to-be-recycled”. Clothes supposedly came pre-washed by the donors. If there were even a small rip or stain, it went to “recycled” because there was just so much and the thrift store would be overwhelmed. For every full garbage bag of tightly packed clothing to be shipped off-site to some recycling facility somewhere, we kept maybe ONE item of clothing.

  6. [...] initiatives: Phones for Fearless and the TweetupHeatup Tweet This Digg it Add to del.icio.us Stumble it Add to [...]

  7. [...] a comment » Earlier this winter season, my friends in Vancouver held a TweetUp HeatUp to benefit the local homeless population.  After seeing the success they [...]

  8. [...] this winter season, my friends in Vancouver held a TweetUp HeatUp to benefit the local homeless population.  After seeing the success they [...]

  9. [...] friends in the Vancouver social media scene held a TweetUp HeatUp earlier this winter. After seeing their success and the [...]

  10. [...] In late 2008 it also helped mobilize users, who came together for a Tweetup Heatup. [...]

  11. [...] Space Network’s done, the Downtown East Side Windows Project (PDF of press release), and the Vancouver Tweetup Heatup. (But these are examples of civic things people do with their tools. What about the people [...]

  12. [...] a few events like this, that were as equally spontaneous and effective, from Twestival to the great TweetupHeatup. Now it’s time to look at other cities, their initiatives, take part, and also see how we can [...]

  13. [...] related effort unfolded on Twitter in the form of the TweetupHeatup campaign after a homeless woman’s body was found burning in a makeshift shelter built around [...]

  14. [...] no Vancouver Tweetup Heatup this year, so this is your best chance to make a difference in the depths of [...]

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