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Behind the Tweets: Corey Colwell-Lipson and Lynn Colwell (authors of Celebrate Green Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family)

Posted by on June 10, 2011 in Behind the Tweets, Follow Friday Profiles, Social Media |

My “Behind the Tweets” feature is back after a brief one week hiatus and do I have a great profile for my readers. This is another “dual” profile that this time features two amazing women: Corey Colwell-Lipson and her mom, Lynn Colwell. Lynn and Corey are mom and daughter, and authors of Celebrate Green! Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family, and founders of the nationwide non-profit initiative,  Green Halloween®. You can also check out their great blog, Celebrate Green. It’s both amazing and inspiring to me to see what they have built over the years – they are a great example of what’s possible if you follow your passion. I met Lynn and Corey nearly five years ago as I was building GreenforGood.com. At that time, they had successfully launched their Green Halloween initiative and were wrapping up their first book. I was so impressed with both of them – they were extremely knowledgable, personale and again, passionate about their cause. They were big supporters of our Green Edmonds Festival and provided a great presentation.

It’s been great to watch them continue to grow their brand and continue their success – and as is the case with most people I’ve profiled, social media is playing a big role in their businesses (and lives). Read on to learn more – and thanks again Corey and Lynn – this is great stuff!

Twitter Name(s): CelebrateGreen, GreenHalloween and CostumeSwapDay (brand new!)

Corey and Lynn are mom and daughter, and authors of Celebrate Green! Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family, and founders of the nationwide non-profit initiative, Green Halloween

Which social media networks do you use consistently? Twitter and Facebook

What was your “Aha” moment regarding social media (when/why did you decide to become engaged)? My business partner is my mom, Lynn (who is in the “boomer” generation). She’s the first person I know to own a personal computer, to hop on the Internet, to have a PDA. Of the two of us, she’s the social media maven and visionary. When blogs first came out, she said, “This is going to be huge – especially for moms” I said, “What mom has time to sit around on the computer and write about their day, let alone read about someone else’s?” I may be ahead of my time in some areas – but not technology!

But to your question, my “Aha” moment was when I witnessed the power of social media to engage the masses. Despite my skepticism, moms were reading blogs, and it was precisely this that launched Green Halloween from a local initiative to a national movement. Mom bloggers heard about what we were doing in Seattle and the idea spread like wildfire.

When did you first join Twitter? What was your original motivation for doing so?

I believe we joined Twitter about three years ago. It won’t surprise you to know that my mom was the one who brought it up in our monthly meeting, stating that we should create an account. Having learned my lesson re: blogs, I jumped right in. Of all the social media outlets, Twitter is actually my favorite. It’s straightforward, fast and fun. It’s also powerful. We’ve made some important connections on Twitter, and of course, it’s been an amazing tool for getting our message out.
Has the way you use Twitter (and other social media channels) changed? If so, how?

We’ve learned a lot over the years – and I’m sure we’ll continue to learn. In the beginning we were a little hesitant to get too personal with social media, and while it’s always important to have good boundaries, we’ve loosened up a bit and have begun to share tweets and posts that tell more about who we are as people. I think people expect this from businesses today. Transparency is important and social media channels can help to establish a culture of openness and honesty.

You run a very interesting business – can you tell the story of how it began and has since evolved?

In 2007 I was inspired to see if I could help create a cultural shift towards healthier and more sustainable holiday traditions (that keep all the fun). I knew that if change (away from the unhealthy, wasteful and in some instances, toxic aspects of holidays) was to come, we’d need to ignite this change in a massive way. Make it cool. Make it easy. Make it fun. So I, along with my mom, Lynn, started the initiative Green Halloween – now a national, non-profit initiative. Green Halloween was such an enormous success from the get-go that it snowballed into our book, a radio show, co-branding, spokesperson work, consulting and more. We’re heading into our fifth year now – with lots of exciting projects on the horizon.

You’re able to cram a lot into your Facebook bio – can you elaborate a bit on each point?

Holistic lifestyle expert and co-author of the book, “Celebrate Green! Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family.”

My mom, Lynn, and I own the company The Green Year, LLC, under which we do our speaking engagements, spokesperson/spokesmom work, writing, radio show, consulting, etc. We also have our book, of course! While we got our “start” with holidays and special occasions, we also address everyday greening. Our tips are easy, affordable and fun. We also love to inspire people to put the meaning in the greening.

Founder of the national, non-profit initiative Green Halloween.

Green Halloween® (www.GreenHalloween.org) is a non-profit, nation-wide initiative (revolution!) to create healthier and more sustainable holidays, starting with Halloween. It began in Seattle in 2007 and in 2008 expanded to cities across the country. In 2011, we will have more than 60 event partners in all major markets in the U.S. and will replace 1 million units of conventional candy with better-for-kids-and-planet options. 2011 will also mark year two of National Costume Swap Day (www.CostumeSwapDay.com) – an initiative that also exploded, thanks to partners Swap.com and Kiwi magazine. Our first time out of the gate, we even made it onto Good Morning America! This year we will also announce a co-branding partnership on the first-ever bright and bold line of truly non-toxic, mineral based face paints. Last year, the initiative became an official program of EcoMom Alliance, a 501 (c) 3. In my role, I oversee strategy and partnerships as well as manage the day-to-day requirements. (Volunteers and interns wanted!)

Licensed marital and family therapist specializing in the transition to parenthood.

In addition to my work in the “green” world, I’m also a psychotherapist (and board-certified clinical art therapist). I have a small private practice outside of Seattle, WA. My passion is working with women and couples in the transition to parenthood: pre-conception through the post-partum stages. Although the work may sometimes feel quite separate, it’s all towards one goal: healthy people (mind and body) in a healthy planet. You can’t separate the two.

Does Social Media play a big role in your different roles? Do you have any interesting success stories you can share?

At this time, I do not use social media for my therapy practice. I have not yet figured out how to best manage issues surrounding confidentiality. However, for our green work – social media plays a big role. These days it has to. In fact, we are just bringing on a new Social Media intern to help bring our campaign to the next level. I don’t have any particularly moving, funny or enlightening stories about using social media, but I can say that a lot of amazing partnerships have come from, or been fueled by, our interactions on Twitter or Facebook.

How has social media changed your life in general? Personally and professionally?

Social media allows people to connect with one another in a way that feels more personal. (Whether it truly is more personal is a matter of debate). For us, the change (and gift) has been getting to know our fans, followers, and collaborators on a level never before possible. Personally, social media allows me the same intimate exposure to the people, brands, organizations and initiatives that I’m a fan of.

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Why did you decide to launch multiple Twitter accounts? Is it difficult building/maintaining each one?

I don’t know that this was a well thought out plan! It just felt like the right thing to do. For one, the people that are interested in swapping costumes to save money, may not be the same people that care about giving away fair-trade chocolate to trick or treaters. Our various initiatives all have a common theme and thread, but our audiences may be slightly or in some cases, vastly different. At this point, I’m not sure whether or not the decision was wise or not. And yes, it is much more time consuming to manage three!

How do you manage followers, content and relationships on social media? Do you use any tools such as Hootsuite?

Lynn likes HootSuite. I’ve used TweetDeck. My best tools, however, are my social media interns. J

As a licensed therapist and family/marriage counselor, I’m sure you must have strong opinions about the potential power of social media for good AND bad. We often hear of the bad (marriages broken up by Facebook and now cyber-bullying). Do you see any positives that tend to get overlooked?

Few things, in and of themselves, are good or bad. It’s how we, as people, use them. You’ve mentioned a few ways in which social media can be bad (the recent Anthony Weiner scandal is another example), but the flip side is the ability for people to connect – quickly and easily – with the people/companies/initiatives that are meaningful to them. Of course, we’ve also seen how Twitter and Facebook have been incredible tools in helping to raise money after natural disasters, promote worthy non-profit-causes or connect long-lost friends and relatives. So, in my mind, it’s all a balance.

How do you use Twitter? How about Facebook? Do they serve similar or different roles for you?

We like Twitter, because it’s short, sweet and to-the-point. But we also love Facebook, because we can share a little more of our story (and sometimes we just have a lot to say!). The immediate feedback available on Facebook is invaluable. When I want a quick overview of someone’s brand or company, I often peek at Twitter first. For more detailed info and to get the real scoop, I’ll follow up with Facebook.

Do you use Quora, Linkedin or any other social media platforms?

I am on LinkedIn. I don’t utilize the site as often as I could, but I think that it’s a worthwhile platform.

How do you decide who you’re going to follow or become friends with on Facebook?

I try to “like” or “follow” as many people in the healthy/sustainable/family/marketing to moms/DIY/crafty/frugal realms. This is to keep abreast of what else is going on in my areas of passion, but also as a way to support other people and organizations doing great work. And assuming people following us are not spammers, I like to follow back. BUT, this method has caused a road block with Green Halloween on Twitter! We’ve been blocked from following anyone else and I can’t seem to find an answer on this other than that we need a bunch of new followers without following anyone else. SO, if you are reading this and can help us get out of Twitter jail by following, please follow us at www.Twitter.com/greenhalloween! We promise to follow back as soon as we’re allowed to J.

How long have you been involved in the Green/Sustainable movement?

I came from a family that was interested in health and social and global issues. We had solar panels on my childhood home’s roof in the 80’s (although this was more of a financial decision than a sustainable one). My mom was always frugal and family focused (rather than “thing” focused). As she says, “They used to call me ‘cheap’ – now they call me ‘green’.”

But it wasn’t until I became pregnant with my first child, 11 years ago, that I really began to seek solutions for a healthy home, non-toxic products and a sustainable future. I think a lot of people come to “greening” through parenthood because for many of us, it’s the first time we are really struck by the concept that the well being of the next generation is truly in our hands.

What are some of your favorite ways to try to live a Green lifestyle?

·          Taking shoes off at the door (helps keep dirt and pesticides out of the home)

·          Wrapping gifts in reusable fabric or hiding them (and not wrapping at all)

·          Getting plastics out of the kitchen (and, when that’s been accomplished, the rest of the home)

·          Buying organic, and never wasting food. (Americans toss up to 40% of the food they buy – thus throwing 40% of their grocery money away. I may spend more on food buying organic, but it’s healthier and more sustainable, and by actually eating what we do buy, I buy less overall.)

·          Taking care of the items I own so that they won’t need to be replaced or tossed.

·          Swapping, borrowing, buying used and donating to Gooodwill regularly.

·          Supporting sustainable businesses and initiatives in any way I can.
What is your most memorable social media experience?

My first Twitter party. I’m a fast-paced person, a quick thinker, and (unless I have not yet had my coffee) on my toes… But my first Twitter party was a disaster. It was so overwhelming, I thought I needed to keep up with every single tweet; I was typing so fast I made many typos, forgot to include hashtags, etc. Now that I have a few parties under my belt, I actually enjoy them – the time flies and there’s always great new people to meet and awesome “conversation.” We’ll be hosting a Twitter party @GreenHalloween and @CostumeSwapDay in the fall. So stay tuned!

Who are better Tweeters – Men or Women?

I’ve never thought about this, and I could be wrong, but I tend to see more women using Twitter than men. I’m not going to make a judgment as to who is better.

Are a fan of any sport? If so, who are your favorite teams?

My husband would laugh if he knew you asked me this. No – I am not a sports fan. I actually have fairly strong feelings about {some} organized sports and {certain} sports for children. But perhaps I should just leave it at that J.

Have you met any fun/famous celebs?

Yes! I’ve actually met a bundle. Having lived in LA for almost 15 years and working in the film industry (this was my educational and career path before going to grad school), I had the chance to meet some interesting famous folk. Drew Barymore and Perry Farrell were two of my most memorable.

Place you most want to visit (and will Tweet from)?

Aside from the moon, the Garden of Eden and Oprah’s couch? Hmmm… I have a hankering to take my kids all around the U.S. and to explore our very own “back yard.” So maybe Jackson Hole, Nashville, or Cape Cod. Stay tuned!

Funniest Social Media moment?

When I Tweeted “I look forward to shatting with you” – instead of “chatting” with you.

Biggest Social Media pet peeve?

Mean Tweets. If you are angry, step away from the phone/computer/tablet….

Any parting shots?

We are also on YouTube at www.YouTube.com/CelebrateGreen and www.YouTube.com/GreenHalloween! Come check out our videos and let us know what you think.
We also invite your readers to purchase our book (printed on 100% recycled paper, of course!) at 40% off the cover price. Go to: www. CelebrateGreen.net/LUV and use code: LUV2CELEBRATE. Enjoy!

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