Over the summer of 2012, Vermont become the first state in the union to hand over it's official tourism feed to the masses, or in this case, to selected Vermonters who agree to tweet on behalf of the state. There is a form that any intrepid Vermonter can fill out for themselves or to nominate another and the fun part about following this feed is to see and feel Vermont through a different perspective for a week.
My tap on the shoulder arrived disguised as an email from Steve Cook, Deputy Commissioner of the Vermont Department of Tourism with an offer I couldn't refuse: "Congrats you have been selected for @THISISVT. We have accepted your nomination; we see your personality, insight and good humor absolutely representative of Vermont." I was given one week's notice, which was just enough time to start having #hashtag dreams as well as for my other responsibilities and obligations to start piling up. When my time came on Monday morning, February 11, I was ready. Or so I thought. Talk about a wild ride. Well, perhaps a more bucolic and sedate ride (this is Vermont, after all), but to suddenly have thousands of followers and a mission to represent not only Vermont, but my little corner of it, was a thrill. As only the second public educator to have the wheel, I was also the first elementary school teacher, the first librarian, and the first resident from The Mad River Valley. Phew. Talk about representing!
I appreciated the early shout-outs, especially from fellow teacher Amanda Paquette at Hartford School, who shared ways that this feed could generate excitement with students. The boost to my own humble @meg_allison feed was noticeable, but that's not why I did this. To be a part of a grand experiment, why, is there any better thing? Twitter has been transformational for me as an educator, why not so as a Vermonter? Cognizant of the mega-phone that is this feed, I made sure to highlight my favorite local businesses and venues, gave shout-outs to Vermont public school teachers and librarians, and made sure to follow movers and shakers in the educational and library fields.One of the highlights of the gig was having the opportunity to live tweet a jazz fusion show at the Flynn Theater in Burlington. Only the second time the vaulted venue has opened up their balcony, select tweeters gave their two cents, or rather, our #FlynnTweets of the amazing show from The Bad Plus. Dinner beforehand in Burlington with the other tweeters was even better, perhaps. It was so enjoyable to talk Twitter with others who clearly embrace this form of communication. For once, folks weren't rolling their eyes at me. I was with my people.
Reflecting on the past week, I can honestly say that I embraced the @ThisIsVT gig, I engaged, and I had fun pretending to be a tourist in my own life. Life was indeed lived a little larger. I played a little harder, got out a little more, and ate a little better.
Time to go back to reality, little me, myself, and @meg_allison.