Christie Crowder, the @Chatterboxcgc, Has a Heart for Haiti

my worldmoms making a difference

How is it that a mother in America can make a difference for a father in Haiti, that country to the south of us still struggling to overcome the devastating effects of the January 2010 earthquake? The quake was huge and almost totally flattened an already-weak infrastructure and economy. Though many countries sent rescue workers and millions of dollars to Haiti's aid, its citizens have had a difficult time getting back on their feet due to lack of resources. But Christie Crowder, a mommy blogger in Atlanta, Georgia, has made a difference for Haitians like father and artist Onel Bagdais, by telling other bloggers about the Heart of Haiti.

The story begins when Willa Shallit, the head of Fairwinds Trading, got the idea to connect Haitian artisans with American retailer Macy's to build a sustainable economic relationship. These artists provide beautiful artistic vases, quilts, ceramics, wood carvings, paintings, and jewelry in participating Macy's stores and on its website. They earn a sustainable income, which helps them repair their homes, feed and clothe their families, pay school fees, and get their children healthcare. Macy's helps out a fellow country in need, while also driving traffic to its stores and site.

Such a great idea—you'd think word would get out like wildfire and buyers would come flocking. Such was not the case, Christie reports, even after the project was advertised in many traditional popular venues like O Magazine. That's where Christie Crowder came in, as a blogger mom and social media guru with her finger to the pulse of the social media crowd of Atlanta, Georgia and surrounding areas. Needing to tap into the immediate and viral effect of social media, the people at Fairwinds and their affiliates called Christie, who runs a successful social media marketing company, BlogRollersMedia, and her own blog, ChristieCrowder.com, in addition to publishing a book.

Social media is a "whole new world," says Christie. "Helping to get the word out about Macy's and Heart of Haiti has been a great way for me to reach out to other moms who also have that entrepreneurial spirit. Haiti's situation is still dire," she says. Action is still needed, though the earthquake happened a year ago. She is excited to be involved in this "call to arms" of "people in the trenches" because it is a way of rebuilding Haiti's economy "from the inside out."

Christie's own involvement in the social media space began with her own blog over four years ago, in conjunction with the publication of her book, then ramped up when she began tweeting in 2008. The women who is known as @ChatterboxCGC on Twitter is open about her own life, her fears and imperfections, she says, so that other women can learn from them. She uses the power of social media not only to get the word out about powerful things like Heart of Haiti, but also to empower women, to let them know that they are not alone.

This is not to say that Christie is not acquainted with the downside of the immediacy of social media, the ability of  things to grow so quickly that they spread like gossip, with burgeoning inaccuracies and rampant maliciousness. But, she says, "it is in your power to 'change the channel.'" Ultimately, Christie's mission, the goal that infuses her Heart of Haiti awareness campaign, her business, her blog, and everything she does, is that every mom can tune into their inner power source. They can be forces for good. You don't have to be perfect; to her, that is a "four-letter word." But you can discover your true passion.

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