Blogathon Vancouver – 24 Hours, Many Heroes

Yesterday, at the ungodly hour of 6am, several of my Vancouver friends plunged into 24 straight hours of blogging for charity.  Blogathon Vancouver has helped support the efforts of some 20 local charities – from the BC Cancer Foundation and the BC Children’s Hospital to the Vancouver Food Bank and the Federation of BC Writers.  And it’s also introduced the world to some of the most talented and caring people I know.

I was fortunate to guest-blog during the event.

Check out my post for @hummingbird604 on Making the Most of  Twitter in Real Life here.

And I took a slightly lighthearted look at how social media, especially Twitter, can level the playing field for disabled people. Take a look on @ganga_narayanan’s blog here.

For more comprehensive info on Blogathon, visit both @hummingbird604’s and @Miss604’s blogs for starters.  You’ll see references to the many people who participated and the charities they helped.

Next year, I hope to be part of this marvellous group in person.  Great job, everyone!

You are heroes.

Not Your Typical Fish Story…

Vancouver (and social media) have been very good to me.  In less than four months I’ve met wonderful people, and attended amazing Tweetups, meetups, conferences and fundraising events that have enriched my experience here.

Last night, I was privileged to attend the 2nd Annual Red Carpet Soiree in support of the Canadian Red Cross, which celebrates its centennial this year.

I owe this to Twitter.  And a special fish recipe.

A few weeks ago, someone tweeted that Canadian Living Magazine’s Foodie-File blog was giving away two free tickets to the contributor who submitted their favorite fish recipe.  So I sent them my friend Barbara’s halibut and potato stew, which she has made for many a Friday night Shabbat dinner when I lived in California.

And I won!!  I was stunned and thrilled.  You can find the recipe online here.

It was a grand event, held at the incredible Blue Water Cafe and featured limitless seafood, sushi and canapes, and fine wines donated by Mission Hill Family Estate.  My good friend Bonnie and I had a lovely time.

But I want to remind people why we were all there – to demonstrate our support for a revered organization that has done so much for Canadians and citizens of the world for 100 years.  And as usual, Vancouver responded with its customary generosity.  This is an amazing community.  I love it and I’m honored to be part of it.

The party may be over, but the need remains.  Check out the Canadian Red Cross website and help them continue their magnificant work into their next century of service.

I’m Back…and Working for a Good Cause

Hi everyone,

Sorry it’s been awhile.  Many things have been happening – lots of them good.  And I’ll be catching you up over the next several days or so. I’m sorry that the busy-ness has taken me away from this blog far longer than I ever wanted, and I’m determined not to let this happen again.

I love talking to you too much

One thing I have been doing is volunteering for a few worthy endeavors.  I’ll be telling you more about them all.  But tomorrow, I’ll be devoting my time to a very important cause  – the Vancouver MentalHealthCamp – that’s outlined below in the press release I wrote.  I’ll also blog as much as I can.

My PR career began in non-profits.  I’ve never forgotten how difficult it is for these organizations to gain mindshare.  I hope my time and efforts can influence others in my field to do the same.  It’s worth every minute.

So read on, and track the day’s events on Twitter under #mhc09.  You’ll see me  – and many others in this giving, caring Vancouver blogging community there.  And feel free to add your voice here, or on the MentalHealthCamp site at  Many people will thank you.

It’s so good to be back:-)

Vancouver’s First MentalHealthCamp Scheduled for April 25

Day-Long ‘Unconference’ to Examine Positive Affects of Social Media in
Mental Health Education, Treatment

VANCOUVER, April 22 /CNW/ – According to the Canadian Mental Health
Association, mental illness indirectly affects all Canadians at some time
through a family member, friend or colleague. In fact, 20% of all Canadians
will personally experience some form of mental illness in their lifetime. This
can range from a decrease in mental wellbeing (e.g. acute stress, anxiety and interpersonal problems) to chronic mental illnesses including clinical
depression, heroin addiction, schizophrenia, or bi-polar disorders.

Mental illness is widely feared and misunderstood, resulting in lack of
treatment, discrimination and isolation. In an effort to help combat the
stigmas surrounding mental illness, Vancouver’s rapidly-growing social media and blogging community has organized the first-ever Vancouver MentalHealthCamp on Saturday, April 25. The day-long ‘unconference’ will be held at Workspace 400 – 21 Water Street, from 9am – 5pm.

MentalHealthCamp is being coordinated by two prominent Vancouver
bloggers, Raul Pacheco-Vega PhD, a recognized authority on environmental
policy and Isabella Mori, a Vancouver psychotherapist and writer.

“We came up with the idea for MentalHealthCamp as a result of very
positive feedback we received from a panel discussion about social media and the stigma of mental illness at the 2009 Northern Voice blogging conference,” said Dr. Pacheco-Vega. “We believe that social media tools like blogs, Twitter and Facebook can be used to openly discuss issues, share information, and enable people who are struggling with mental health issues to find a voice and make it heard.”

“Social media can be therapeutic,” Mori said. “Sometimes an individual’s
need for support feels overwhelming. Individuals get a feeling of relief when
they can read someone else describe a struggle that they are privately
experiencing. This validation is priceless, and is one piece of professional
therapy that patients find so helpful.”

Among the issues to be discussed during the sessions are:

How can blogging help decrease the stigma of mental health?
How does someone with a mental illness navigate the waters of
anonymity in the transparent world of social media?
How is the journaling that happens in blogging similar to or
different from journaling for healing?
How can social media participants with mental health issues help each

Registration to MentalHealthCamp is limited to 75 attendees interested in
mental health issues and/or social media. Admission is by donation, and no-one will be turned away for lack of funds. “Every effort will be made to help all attendees keep as much anonymity and confidentiality as possible in such a venue, and we are planning to have counselors available to attendees,” Dr. Pacheco-Vega added.

“We’re all extremely grateful for the generous support and sponsorship by
WorkSpace and the British Columbia Mental Health Foundation, and the help of numerous volunteers,” Ms. Mori said.

For more information, or to volunteer for the event, email or visit the MentalHealthCamp blog at Also visit the Vancouver MentalHealthCamp on Twitter @MentalHealthC.

Dr. Pacheco-Vega:
Ms. Mori:

Angels in the Twitterverse

One of the things I love about social media, and Twitter in particular, is its capacity for good.  I’ve seen it in the continued support I get from people I don’t know, and the countless retweets spreading the word about a missing child or the urgent need for bone marrow or blood donors.

Just last Saturday, the incredible @megfowler, a coordinator with Social Media for Social Change,  organized the #stayinandhelp ‘pajama party’ urging the Twitterverse to stay home and donate what they would have spent out on the town to City Harvest, a charity dedicated to feeding the hungry in NYC. (@Miss604, one of Vancouver’s top bloggers, wrote a terrific piece on SM4SC, Meg and her amazing efforts here.)

I’m happy to report that more than $1,400 has been donated to date – but it’s not too late to contribute.  Visit and give generously.

There are dozens, probably hundreds of stories of good works being done through social media – and I want to showcase as many as I can.  Send me your favorite stories here, and I’ll write about them and feature the wonderful people behind these acts of kindness.  Or, tweet me @CathyBrowne and use the phrase #TwitterAngels, and I’ll get back to you.