Michael Nolan has launched GrowWrite, an online publication for garden writers. There are nuggets of good information like the article that explains the lingo of setting up your own website. Nothing groundbreaking, but useful when your audience may be on the Luddite end of the spectrum. Until you get to the last page and read his “The Last Word” column in which he talks about being bullied as a child and launched a thinly-veiled attack on a garden communicator over a recent article and series of tweets. And likens this person to the schoolyard bullies who beat up kids and take their lunch money. I suggest you go to the online magazine and read the final page then come here.
Want to know who Michael is talking about? He’s referring to @C_Vanderlinden, a garden communicator and friend of mine, and a series of tweets that happened recently.
In October of 2011 after having my Twitter stream filled by @Cocoxochitl with tweets about the #OWS movement I made some joke about them. He replied that I should participate in the movement. I responded by saying that I was too busy planning #OccupyGardens That weekend I used the hashtag and parodied the #Occupy movement and posted a series of tweets and pictures as I cleaned up my garden for fall. In essence I was an #Occupy protester taking over the garden and cleaning it up, the way the #Occupy movement wants to clean up Wall Street. I was in part inspired by the book Radical Gardening.
Since then the meme has spread and there are now Facebook groups and websites all around the world carrying the name Occupy Gardens. So, how did the meme spread so far and wide? Was it solely because of my series of tweets, pictures, and graphics? No. Colleen picked it up and wrote about it on Tree Hugger and the meme of #OccupyGardens spread far and wide.
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Michael Nolan, in his column, finds it “ironic” that Colleen would want to be credited with spreading the meme because the idea of the #Occupy movement is not to draw attention to the self. Although, there’s no mention of the irony of taking an idea incubated by the movement, created and promulgated by others, and presenting it as something you thought of yourself, or that grew out of a vacuum.
You can read his column, the tweets, and decide for yourself if Colleen’s crime was as egregious as he makes it seem by comparing it to bullying. I don’t believe asking for attribution is a crime. Attribution is the currency of the Internet. There are websites devoted to cataloging and attributing where Internet memes are born. But apparently that’s too much to ask from professional writers. To expect or ask for attribution makes you a bully- your actions, tantamount to the actions of people who drive others to suicide.
I find it ironic that a column devoted to decrying bullying, negativity and communicators who “tear” others down does the very thing that it claims to hate, but in a roundabout way. Garden communicators on Twitter know who he’s referring to. Knowing how gossipy garden communicators are the article and subject are sure to be fodders for private conversations. I won’t point out the irony of including this column in a magazine where one of the people involved is rumored to have bullied a well-loved garden communicator off of the Internet. Nor will I make mention of the negative comments made to me about a friend of Michael’s. I wouldn’t want to be seen as negative or bullying anyone.
Welcome to the Internet, GrowWrite. You should ask Colleen to write an article about attribution and giving credit where credit is due. It seems a lot of garden communicators would benefit from it.
Update #1: A tipster Emails to say that all of this may have happened as a result of a book proposal. According to the tipster, PRGs is writing a book on "rebel" gardeners which sounds similar to Radical Gardening by George McKay. The tipster speculates that the reason for the article, and why it was written with attribution for the meme is because you need to set yourself up as an expert in the area when pitching or promoting the book.
Update #2: Colleen addresses the issue here.
Update #3: To answer the passive-aggressive talk about being "angry" for myself I'll say (paraphrasing Melissa McEwan) I'm not angry; I'm contemptuous. #DoYouSeedWhatIDidThere
Update #4: I'm co-host of @SeedChat on Twitter. This Wednesday evening Colleen is our guest host to talk about sprouts. Join in and learn about growing some of your own food from the controversial gardener of the hour. 8pm Central 9pm Eastern. You can get more info about SeedChat at www.SeedChat.com