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Lewis Ginter's Tweet Poet Wins National Award



At least one international awards ceremony isn't bogged down with unending acceptance speeches. The Shorty Awards, which honor innovative Twitter users, limit winners' speeches to 140 characters, the same limit Twitter imposes on user tweets.

Therefore, Style Weekly can reprint in its entirety the speech that Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden's Jonah Holland gave March 3 at the second annual version of the awards in New York City: “This Shorty has roots in many places and branches far beyond. Thank you, Richmond, Va. Thank you, public gardens. Thank you, followers. The garden blooms in your light.”

Holland, the garden's public relations and marketing coordinator, won the Cultural Institution Shorty for her use of the social-media platform to write about garden happenings (@lewisginter), tying with the renowned Reduced Shakespeare Company and beating national competitors such as New York's Museum of Modern Art.

“My favorite thing to do is tell the story of the garden,” Holland says of her tweets, which cover such myriad subjects as blooming schedules, the pruning of lamb's ear and the installation of the garden's upcoming exhibit by artist Hans Godo Frabel.

Remarkably, five other Richmonders were Shorties finalists: Dave Saunders from Madison & Main (@MadMain), Richmond International Airport spokesman Troy Bell (@Flack4RIC), Nancy Heltman for Virginia State Parks (@VAStateParks), and teen DJ Austin Prime (@AustinPrime).

The impressive, eclectic panel of judges that selected Holland from among finalists included actress Alyssa Milano, rapper MC Hammer, “Studio 360” radio host Kurt Andersen, Craigslist founder Craig Newmark and Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales. The Shorty Awards are sponsored by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

Celebrities such as TV star Nathan Fillion also won Shorties. Though most accepted via video, a few national figures, such as MC Hammer and Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker, appeared in the flesh. They didn't faze Holland, who was more excited to meet New York Times technology columnist David Pogue. A self-described child of the '70s, she does, however, acknowledge being wowed by meeting one star: Sesame Street's Grover, who got a little mixed up when asked to give his 140-character acceptance speech: “No. 1: Hamlet. No. 2: Tarzan. No. 3: Superman. …”

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