I’ve been living and working on Clematis Street for the last six years. As many of you will no doubt remember, in 2005 Clematis was a very different street than Clematis today. The 400 block was empty, the library was still on the waterfront, now popular restaurants such as Rocco’s Tacos, Roxy’s, Don Ramons and Grease had yet to open. Instead of Roxy’s Rooftop, Off the Hookah and Dr. Feelgoods, the popular clubs were Bonds, Flow, Underground and Ray’s Downtown Blues. Clematis Street had a very different feel.
It isn’t only Clematis Street that has changed. The waterfront was still undeveloped, there were no docks, a storm-damaged condo still loomed above 1515 S. Flagler Drive, and Southern Boulevard was in the middle of a complete overhaul. One City Plaza had just been completed, and work had just started on Two City Plaza. The condos City Palm, The Whitney and Cityplace Towers were in the middle of construction.
Living in downtown West Palm Beach, I felt the unique “personality” that the city had and, as a long-time blogger and amateur photographer, I decided to start taking pictures to chronicle the changes in West Palm Beach. I created a blog to post these pictures, and slowly this turned into aGuyonClematis.
Using Twitter to communicate with others in West Palm Beach
Being interested in new technologies, I decided to try twitter which was at the time just gaining popularity. Twitter is a website which allows you to publish short messages “tweets” from your cellphone or computer.
I found several people using Twitter in West Palm Beach and started posting links to my pictures along with short updates on what was happening on Clematis Street.
As Twitter grew in popularity, so did the number of local people with whom I communicated. As of today I have over 1900 local Twitter followers and am ranked by WeFollow.com as the most influential twitter user in West Palm Beach (http://wefollow.com/city/west_palm_beach_fl).
Tweetups and the downtown Community
As I continued posting pictures and using twitter to communicate about downtown events and happenings, I found that people wanted to have a chance to meet up face-to-face. Businesses I spoke with were also interested in sponsoring local events and use the community to bring attention to their small local business.
With this need in mind we started our “Clematis Tweetup” series of events. Our tweetups are held on the 3rd Wednesday of each month in one of our fantastic local venues. The locations for our Tweetups go from Relish in Northwood Village through Clematis Street and Cityplace, all the way to Darbsters in the South End of West Palm Beach.
Usually anywhere from 25 to 50 people attend each tweetup and we have collaborated with the Palm Beach Opera, Palm Beach Post, Sunfest, the West Palm Beach CRA as well as many local businesses to put together these events.
This month we will celebrate our 18th consecutive monthly tweetup.
Winning Sun Sentinel’s award for Most Popular South Florida Blog
In the beginning of 2011 I was honored by winning a contest hosted by Sun Sentinel for the best blog in South Florida. This was a huge surprise to me, as the contestants included many very popular blogs from Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. While I’m very proud of this award for my blog, I believe it also speaks to the value and popularity of our downtown areas and the community that exists here in West Palm Beach.
This year, Ceci Dadisman launched aGalatCityplace.com which is a “sister-blog” and uses the same style of photo-blogging that I use to focus on businesses and events in Cityplace. I am currently working on getting a similar blog set up for the Dixie corridor, and am interested in working with other passionate individuals who want to use this model in other local areas.
The future of aGuyonClematis
One of the things that I have learned from my experience as aGuyonClematis, is that when you have the right tools, a little bit of effort can go a long way. I have spoken with many small local businesses and they have repeatedly told me that their biggest problem is getting the word out about their business and events.
While I will continue to use aGuyonClematis to bring attention to our downtown areas, I would also like to use what I have learned to teach small business how they can grow their business using some of the same tools that I have used. I have joined up with several like-minded individuals to start “Digital Palm Beach” a group which will be supporting the local digital community through providing events and training sessions for both individuals and businesses. Information at http://digitalpalmbeach.org
I truely believe that each person makes a difference. The more people we have talking about our beautiful city, the more people will be attracted to it, and as the old adage goes, a rising tide lifts all boats.
If you have any questions please feel free to contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter at @aguyonclematis.
Aaron “aGuyonClematis” Wormus