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Posts Tagged ‘New York City Marathon’

Social Media Guides Post-Sandy Volunteer Efforts

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s decision to cancel Sunday’s marathon after a few days of contentious debate left thousands of individuals with race plans and very low-body fat wondering what to do with themselves this weekend. What did these frustrated runners do? Many staged their own unofficial marathons–and quite a few simultaneously began organizing via social media to help the storm’s victims.

Twitter hash tags like #nycvolunteerathon and Facebook pages like “New York Runners in Support of Staten Island” earned thousands of followers in mere hours, providing information to help those interested in volunteering figure out where their efforts would be most effective. Other sites like the “Marathon of Relief” page also directed users to locations on the Internet and around the New York area where they could donate time, funds or goods to the recovery effort.

A revived Occupy also emerged after the storm with a new role: members of the movement created a spin-off group called Occupy Sandy that used its existing infrastructure to help raise funds and arrange volunteer shifts in areas of New York City that had been particularly hard hit by the storm.

In summary, the past week offered quite a few examples of people making the most of two less-than-ideal events: A huge storm and the cancellation of a major cultural event. The fact that they did it almost exclusively via social media–and that related feedback was overwhelmingly positive despite the countless headaches caused by the storm–is reason to feel a little better about the human race today.

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Should NYC Postpone the Marathon? (UPDATED)

Today a battle wages on Twitter over what most would probably not consider a pressing issue: whether New York should proceed as planned with the ING New York City Marathon, currently scheduled for Sunday morning. The debate has turned bitter and divisive as pro and con camps make their cases.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and others who think the race should happen argue that a postponement or cancellation would be devastating to the NYC-based businesses that bring in hundreds of millions of dollars each year thanks to the Marathon (this year’s race will include approximately 50,000 runners). Bloomberg pointed to the city’s quick rebound after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001 as an example of crisis recovery, saying, “The city is a city where we have to go on.”

Anti-marathoners essentially argue that the race, which is a massive undertaking, will divert crucial resources from the city’s Hurricane Sandy clean-up efforts–and that travel disruptions will depress participation rates anyway. Quite a few suggested that runners should boycott the race and volunteer to help Sandy survivors instead–and they’ve even set up a Facebook page.

The latest spat concerns the generators required for the race–and the power they could potentially provide to homes devastated by wind and flooding. Some have predictably turned the issue into a partisan bludgeon to use against Bloomberg, who broke character yesterday to formally endorse President Obama for re-election. Drudge Report deemed the headline “Bloomberg Diverts Critical Supplies from Sandy Aid to NYC Marathon” worthy of a siren, while the New York Post ran with “Abuse of Power”. Coincidence?

Another complication: The race starts in Staten Island, one of the areas hit hardest by the storm (at least 19 dead, many homes destroyed, thousands without power). Postponement advocates argue that starting the race there belittles SI residents, many of whom already feel ignored by city and federal authorities. Yet Bloomberg insisted that the race will go on, and today he doubled down on that promise.

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