Chennai Twestival supports Prajnya

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Working for a cause the micro way

Shalini Umachandran, TNN 9 September 2009, 05:23am IST

CHENNAI: Inane or profound, if you can express a thought in 140 characters, microblogging might just be something to sign up for but tweeting

(as posting on micro-blogging site twitter.com is called) is no longer just about spending hours online keeping the world updated about your every move. It’s also about creating awareness and raising funds for a cause.

Lavanya Ravishankar (@LavaniaR) and Adithya Shrikrishna (@gradwolf) are busy organising the Chennai edition of the Twestival Local. About 100 cities across the world are having events for the twestival’ (formed from the words twitter and festival) between September 10 and 13. The twestival is essentially about giving people who normally communicate through Twitter a chance to meet face-to-face in the real world and raise money for charity. London, for instance, is holding a number of music concerts and parties to raise money for ChildLine London; Abu Dhabi is keeping in mind that its Ramzan and organising a dinner meeting. In Chennai, Lavanya and Adithya have tied up with the Alliance Francaise of Madras to host two music events a western classical music concert by Julie-Ann Derome and Gabriel Prynn at 7 pm on September 10 and a concert by Chennai band Subject to Change on September 12.

“We’re raising money for The Prajnya Trust, which works on issues relating to peace, justice and security,” says Lavanya. Prajnya also runs a 16-day campaign against gender violence every year, and the money from the twestival will go towards funding this year’s campaign. “We’re hoping to take the message of gender-based violence to more people, especially the young,” says Swarna Rajagopalan, managing trustee of Prajnya, who is a regular Twitter user.

Apart from Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, New Delhi Mumbai and Pune are also hosting having events for the twestival. The idea of a twestival started when a group of Twitter users in London got together in September 2008 for a bit of fun and found that the raffle they held raised quite a bit of money for a local charity for homeless people. And so they decided to hold a series of events around the world, and in February 2009, 202 cities hosted events to benefit charity:water, the cause that was selected. They landed up raising over $250,000 through events and online donations and used it to dig 55 wells for more than 17,000 people in Uganda, Ethiopia and India. “While the global festival put the spotlight on a single cause, the local festivals are meant to raise awareness about what’s important to the local community,” says Lavanya. She says she had to go through a strict due diligence’ procedure, where coordinators from other cities cross-checked her profile and her credentials before she was allowed to organise the meetings. “London is expecting to have about 800 people at its twestival. I’ll be happy even if we get a handful this time but when we organise the next twestival in February 2010, I plan to make it an event as grand as London’s,” says Lavanya.

For details, log onto http://chennai.twestival.com/

shalini.umachandran1@timesgroup.com

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