Posts Tagged ‘flash mob’

Photo: PA/Owen Humphries
Murmuration of starlings over Gretna, Scotland

Starlings swarm in flash mobs over Scotland every November and February, and they don’t even need social media to remind them it’s time.

According to an article at the BBC, “Tens of thousands of the birds are regularly seen around this time of year near the Dumfries and Galloway town. It is one of the most famous locations for the natural spectacle, the reason for which is not definitively known.

“A survey of the birds across the UK is currently under way with members of the public urged to record sightings. The poll, conducted by the University of Gloucestershire and the Society of Biology, is the first of its kind and has already received more than 600 reports from Cornwall to John O’Groats.

“Dr Anne Goodenough, reader in applied ecology at Gloucestershire University, said: ‘One of the theories behind the murmurations is that it means they are safer from predators such as hawks and falcons.

” ‘Another theory could be they are signalling a large roost and it could be a way of attracting other birds to that area to build up a big flock as it would be warmer. It’s much warmer to roost as a big group rather than a smaller one and the murmurations can be as big as 100,000 birds.’ ”

More here. Don’t miss the other amazing photos at the BBC site.

YouTube video: DylanWinter@virgin.net

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This story at WBUR radio was fun.

Reporter Andrea Shea says, “It starts off kind-of guerilla with its hand-held camera shots of people in the Museum of Fine Arts’ Shapiro Family Courtyard. But soon the now-trending video captures the swift bloom of a holiday-spirited ‘flash mob.’ At least that’s what the MFA is calling it. It’s actually more of a ‘pop-up’ performance by 50 or so students from Berklee College of Music.

“Music stands appear, followed by a posse of string players and a choir. Their rendition of ‘O Holy Night’ peaks with soloist Mark Joseph. This surprise concert came together on last Saturday. The video was posted Wednesday.”

As of this posting had nearly 182,550 views.

Shea continues, “What’s being dubbed the ‘XMAS flash mob’ was 25-year-old Berklee grad Evan Chapman’s idea. He’s in charge of an organization called the Loft Sessions that showcases up-and-coming artists. …

” ‘It’s a little surreal to be honest,’ he said, ‘I mean, in the back of my head I think I was hoping it would do this well — but I never thought that it would.’ ” More.

A commenter on YouTube says of the video, “OK, so maybe this is a sort of poser version of a flash mob in that it was so incredibly well organized with microphones and folks bringing their instruments and music and such…but it ROCKS nonetheless! Why didn’t I go to Berklee when I had the chance?!?!”

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The West Concord 5 & 10 is a crammed-to-the-gills, family-run institution, the place you go for what used to be called notions and sundries — and for anything you have tried and failed to find anywhere else.

But the 5 & 10 may be on its last legs as a result of long-term changes in shopping patterns and the collapse of a supplier that gave credit.

A cash mob was organized for today, and the faithful turned up in droves, promising to spend at least $20. Whether the show of loyalty can save the business for the family remains to be seen, but it must have warmed the cockles of their hearts.

Nancy Shohet West’s article Thursday in the Globe West helped to get the word out:

“According to [store manager Chris] Curtis, his main supplier, Arrow Wholesale Inc. in Worcester, which had provided quirky inventory to small, dime-store-type businesses all over the country for generations, went out of business. That loss, coupled with the decrease in business facing small neighborhood shops everywhere, as more consumers flock to malls, super­stores or online, was draining the lifeblood out of the West Concord 5 & 10.”

Organizer Polly “Stadt said she and her 13-year-old daughter, Emma Hill, agreed that this was awful news. Browsing the shelves for inexpensive, amusing, or useful items was a tradition not only among adults in the community but among children Emma’s age as well. They decided something had to be done, and then Stadt remembered a tactic to save a local business that a friend in Texas had told her about: a cash mob.

“In a cash mob, according to the website www.cashmob.com, committed supporters ‘come together to shop in a locally owned establishment to support their favorite local business and support the area economy. Each ‘mobber’ spends an agreed-upon amount, usually $20.

“Stadt and her daughter said they decided a cash mob was just what the West Concord 5 & 10 needed, providing an influx of money and, more importantly, bringing attention to its plight. They talked to Curtis, chose a date — the first Saturday in March — and started putting out the word: Emma on Facebook, and her mother by e-mail and word of mouth.”

Now I’m just hoping we didn’t strip the shelves so customers in the weeks to come find nothing to buy.

More about a wonderful store and about how social media may help save it.

saving the 5&10

West Concord 5&10

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The New York Times recently printed a lovely collection of pop-up music sightings by various reporters. Each unexpected free performance affected New Yorkers like a flash mob.

At the High Line, surprised “participants were given small sets of speakers that could be attached to their coats or backpacks, or held by hand. As you began the walk at the southern end of the High Line, near Gansevoort Street, your every footstep or hand twist kicked the app into action, and you heard various sounds — clinking, chimes, splashing water, car horns, chords on electric guitar and, in a novel touch, occasional rounds of applause.”

Another report notes, “The High Line elevated park does not normally allow group walks or amplified sounds, but it made an exception for ‘The Gaits,’ one of a dozen participatory performances that constituted Make Music Winter.

“The event was an offshoot of Make Music New York, a festival of hundreds of concerts that occurs in June on the first day of summer, in public spaces around the city. Modeled after Fête de la Musique, an annual affair in Paris started in 1982, the New York version is in its sixth year.

“The founder of Make Music New York is Aaron Friedman, a composer and political activist who decided it was time to add a winter solstice edition.”

Several delightful Winter Solstice music events are described here.

Photograph: Todd Heisler/The New York Times
Meredith Krinke, 6, holds Bach sheet music for her father, Brian, December 21 on the G train in New York.

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In a sign of moving with the times, the 54-year-old Littleton, Mass., Country Gardeners now call themselves a flash mob when they descend on public spaces to pull weeds and trim bushes.

Writes Grant Welker of the Sun, “The club of 34 active members — ranging in age from 30s to 90s, and all women — might not turn as many heads as a flash mob that quickly forms in a public setting, and there’s surely no dancing or singing involved. But it does serve more of a purpose.

“This group plans its mobs, shows up at the arranged time, works its gardening magic, and then disappears again, leaving a beautified space in its wake. …

“On a recent Saturday at 1 p.m., a group of five assembled at the Littleton Cemetery at the intersection of King Street and New Estate Road, fixed up a butterfly garden and, within about an hour, was gone, with some of the same members on to the next project. There were three mob-gardening sessions that day: at the cemetery, and then at Littleton Cafe at 3 p.m., and Common Convenience on Littleton Common at 5 that afternoon.” More.

Now, without calling these cheerful efforts at all staid, I can’t help thinking that a little singing and dancing wouldn’t hurt. I wonder if anyone has ever thought of pulling a flash mob on a flash mob?

You could find out when the gardening flash mob was scheduled, then show up with a brass band and baton twirlers to encourage the workers in the town common.

Or what about something around Halloween, with the surprise mob descending on the cemetery clean-up wearing costumes and handing out candied apples while “Monster Mash” plays on someone’s iPod?

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