While most Twitter users are documenting their sandwich preferences and purging innermost anxieties, Gina Stark is creating a stream of positive energy, a beacon from her computer to yours. Tweeting under the handle @SUUPERG, Gina's face lights up the stream with inspirational quotes, daily well wishes, and general thoughts of happiness. And in her quest for world happiness, she will take that positive energy, and hit the road. In just a few short months Gina will join a group of other intrepid tweeters to scale Mera Peak, a 21,000 ft monster in the Everest range.
Travel is nothing new for Stark. From New Zealand to Bangkok, this lady gets around. And much like her favorite activity on the Internet, Gina uses travel to make a connection with the many people she comes across. "I have a "Spanish Madre" in Sevilla!" she exclaims. "A woman I stayed with; a woman who cooked and smiled her way into my heart before I even had my first Spanish immersion class and we could only exchange laughs and nods."
Her favorite location? Of course, it's right there with her "Madre" in Spain. "It has captured so many of my senses. It won my heart by sheer exuberance of living... at a pace that certainly sets the pulse racing. They love wine as well as their neighbors to the east, but in their playful, relaxed spirit, have brought us sangria. And then the dancing! The offerings of Spain are plentiful indeed."
But of all her excursions, this climb for charity is near and dear to her heart. Even with what she admits is "zilch" official mountain climbing training, Gina feels it's an important step to walk the walk she talks everyday. She's found that this climb has ignited a passion, not just in bringing the sentiments of her online world to "real life," but for climbing, and is putting herself out there in hopes that it'll be an inspiration to others in the Twitterverse. However, to lend a helping hand across the world, you don't have to climb Mera Peak, like Gina Stark. You can start small, and you can begin right on Twitter, even just accessing it from your phone.
'Philanthropic phoning,' as Stark likes to call it, can be the bridge between even the laziest technophile and a donation. "Be it help for Haiti, charity for Chile, or funds for flood victims in Pakistan, it has become inexcusably easy to donate even the smallest amount to people in need by texting a code to the phone number of your preferred nonprofit organization." She also adds, "You can now direct your phone company to tack the charges on to your bill, all before your morning coffee -- and for as little as the cost of that coffee."
How exactly does Twitter fit in with this mobile revolution? "There are thousands of people broadcasting numbers and codes you can use to access charities and make a convenient donation; all within 140 characters." Because of the fast-paced networking aspect of the social service, users of Twitter can find real time giving information from their peers, people they trust. The importance of this crowd sourcing is not lost on Stark who says, "This synergy is nothing to sneeze at."
Want to get involved?
"I am relatively new to the Twitter experience. I am also, believe it or not, not a big "texter". But I have discovered that these two simple technological offerings combine to have a powerful impact on communicating, and fulfilling, urgent need worldwide," she says. The first step to witnessing this digital revolution is to be there, and be part of it.
Look To Your Peers.
While television, radio and news broadcasts will inform you of special social services, the best responses come when a friend or family member passes on the information. Gina notes, "You feel like a goon if you decline (the invitation) to give the equivalent of the cost of a matinee movie ticket, and two minutes of your time!" Never underestimate the effects of peer-pressure put to good use.
Give and Forget.
Giving by text is almost a no-brainer, a simple way to help out and then move on with your own life. "By removing the hassles of hand written checks, rummaging for postage and deciding if we can part with enough money to be worth exerting the effort, philanthropic phoning is changing the way we give. I believe more of us send out the tiny ripples of charity that combine to create a wave of compassion and action."
Follow Annemarie Dooling on Twitter: www.twitter.com/travelinganna