At 86-years-old, Vancouver Island resident Bob McMinn knows more about the power of social media than most people 40 years his junior.
And why would a man of his age spend so much time exploring the micro-blogging and status-updating phenomena that are so popular these days? McMinn is trying raise enough money to save a treasured parcel of land in his tiny community of Highlands, BC.
McMinn has lived in the District of Highlands for 53-years and also heads the Mary Lake Conservancy – an organization formed by a small group of residents who’ve set their sights on raising $4.5 million to save the 107-acre Mary Lake Property.
“Mary Lake was mostly invisible to the public for many of the 57 years I have lived in the District of Highlands,” McMinn said. “Over the years, I managed to visit a few times and was always astounded by its natural beauty, but as it was privately held land, I rarely had an opportunity to go there.
“However, when the owners passed away a few years ago, I noticed that the land had been put up for sale. I visited Mary Lake again and was instantly hit with the ‘Wow factor’ as I now call it. Ever since, I have delighted in wowing people whenever I show them this land.”
Why Mary Lake?
The Mary Lake property is a stunning example of an imperilled dry Coastal Douglas fir ecosystem, so little of which remains intact. The property also serves as an important wildlife corridor and contiguous natural link between Thetis Lake and Gowlland Tod Parks and is a rare habitat for several endangered species.
On October 24th, the Conservancy launched an unprecedented fundraising campaign aimed at engaging people around the world via the social media platforms Twitter and Facebook. McMinn’s Idea? To get friends and followers to buy their own virtual piece of the property for $10 per square metre of the lake.
Since the launch of the campaign supporters from across North America have purchased more than 12,067 virtual square meters – leaving their mark on the website for the world to see.
The function of social media in the success of the campaign so far has been amazing for the organizers to see. “If we had tried to do this campaign the way I would have a few years ago with door-to-door marketing and traditional advertising, it would have been dead in the water by now,” McMinn said.
“Instead, the campaign is gaining ground as people from around the world are purchasing squares- from as far away as Japan. Reaching an international audience for a small group like us would never have been possible without social media.”
You Can Help!
To have a chance at preserving the property, the Mary Lake Conservancy must raise at least $1 million of their total goal by January 2011. “We have 400 supporters and we need 400,000,” says McMinn. “It’s ambitious, but I know it’s not impossible.”
If just 3 percent of the 14,675,811 members of the Care2.com network each purchase one $10 square metre of Mary Lake, it would be saved!
“Mary Lake provides a habitat to rare species and removes CO2 from the atmosphere as a natural carbon sink,” McMinn said. “It is truly uniting people across the world who believe that conserving land like this from development is crucial for a healthy planet.
“We’re asking people to appreciate the land around them now, before they are in a conundrum like ours, and to help us out because Mary Lake is so valuable,” McMinn said.
Image Credit: Ernest Von Rosen