February 9, 2009, Updated September 13, 2012

Twitter is a micro-blogging phenomenon that has taken over the world, causing our ever-shrinking time away from high-tech gadgets to shrink even more. Short updates sent to Twitter are changing the way people are transmitting news, job hunt, networking with high-tech gurus, and now in Jerusalem — even the way people advocate environmental causes and raise money for charity.

Based on a global event called Twestival started last year in London — where thousands of virtual Twitter users from around the world work on supporting a common cause through events, Israeli Twitterers have also joined in to work on a common cause this year.

They join more than 160 cities participating, and even other Middle East ones such as Beirut and Doha, to raise money for a charity that intends to supply clean water to Ethiopia and other African countries.

Water awareness at a higher level

In Israel, however, event organizers are planning for the February 12 party to include music and a bar, and to take the initiative to another level: instead of just raising money for water, they decided Israeli-style to turn the party into a networking opportunity for clean technology companies and to help raise awareness of Israel’s role in dealing with the global phenomenon of water insecurity.

“We didn’t just want to have a party,” says an organizer, Charlie Kalech, who runs J-Town, a web design and Internet marketing firm: “There will be live music and a bar, but we’ll use the forum to promote what Israel is going to do to help the problem in the macro. Israel has done so much in the area of cleantech,” he tells ISRAEL21c.

One possibility for the event, says Kalech, who is still working out the final details, is that the Israeli cleantech companies participating will be featured in a micro-expo. “We also want to show companies how Twitter can be used for business,” he explains, noting how during the terror attacks on the Chabad Center in Mumbai, India, Kalech had a site running on Twitter feeds within hours, giving real-time updates on the deadly shootout that targeted Israelis and other Western nationals.

The power of the people, real-time

Twitter was able to inform the world, well before the mainstream media could send in reporters. Within a matter of hours, thousands of people were responding to Kalech’s resource. “It’s an excellent way to be in direct contact with people,” says Kalech who Twitters under the handle @CharlieKalech. “That kind of real-time news, it was really powerful.”

The Twestival in Jerusalem is also a forum for Israelis to create buzz about their cleantech products, an industry that Israel is rapidly becoming a leader in. Israel not only offers developed and developing nations promise and real solutions in water, but in solar and renewable energy as well. Plus a record drought in Israel this year means that Israelis fully understand what?s at stake.

Twitter-style, event organizers plan to hold their Jerusalem event in a fast micro forum, where they’ll showcase Israeli cleantech companies and entrepreneurs working in the area. In exchange for sponsorship to cover basic costs, the organizers will give cleantech entrepreneurs a tool bag of skills for working with social media tools like Twitter, which some people refer to as Web 2.0.

The idea started when Kalech was contacted by his friend Debra Askanase, a new immigrant to Israel who runs Community Organizer 2.0, a social media strategy and consulting firm. She’d heard about Twestivals before and wanted to know if the two could put something together in Israel. “She has experience with non-profits, and likes social media,” says Kalech. He then contacted Twestival founder Amanda Rose in London, who coordinates all the global events. Rose gave the thumbs up.

The two joined up with Lisa Damast, who posts a blog called Israel Innovation 2 and is part of the Jerusalem Business Networking Forum, as well as PresenTense, a social educational forum. The team was complete. A few tweets here and there, and the event was planned.

Watch out for water tweets and updates, as the event unfolds: http://jerusalem.twestival.com/

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Jason Harris

Jason Harris

Executive Director