How many times has a news story broken that reveals a profound injustice? Too often I’d argue. If you’re not an Auburn fan (or you don’t know one) you may not have heard about the poisoning of the trees at Toomer’s Corner by someone claiming to be an Alabama Fan.
These trees were more than a century old and a cornerstone of not only the university, but also the community. It was a malicious and ultimately meaningless attack – primarily because a few enlightened souls decided to do something productive with their outrage. On February 17, Tide for Toomer’s Facebook page was launched. If you haven’t been there, go – and read the info page (reproduced below for your convenience) – it is a clear and articulate presentation of the position of Alabama alums in the face of this rogue fan’s actions. It is both inspiring and moving, and as good a manifesto statement as I’ve ever seen. Since the 17th – more than 55,000 people the world over have liked this page – and many have put their money where their mouth is, raising more than $36,000 to attempt to save, or replace the trees.
The use of Facebook and Twitter to spread this message allows social media to do what social media does best – spread messages about what we care about. And national/international as this cause has become, it started as a local issue. For a local university, a local wrong. But the act of writing a clear manifesto statement (and the fact that the act was malicious) this movement, Tide for Toomer’s, is gaining momentum and raising more money than the founders ever imagined.
Now, for a second, imagine what would happen if we could use the power of social media to come together, to discuss, and to raise awareness for issues closer to our homes and our hearts. In this age of budget cuts, schools are being eliminated, not surprisingly, a local rural school near where we live is also being proposed for closure. The concerned parents and citizens launched a Facebook page as a mechanism for keeping in touch, communicating about the issue, and they hope, keep the school open. Even if the school ultimately closes, the very fact that the page exists will bring the community closer together than it ever was before. Social media is having an effect on this issue and this community.
Social media is good at uniting communities around beliefs and causes, and it’s important to consider the power of social media for your brand. Are you using your brand for good? Are you providing support and publicity through your social media accounts for causes that matter to your brand? If not, consider aligning your brand publicly with causes on social media. You will make a difference, and the people who care about that cause will make a difference for your brand.
As former students of the University of Alabama, we understand the importance of tradition. It is what binds past generations with those yet to come. The rolling of the trees at Toomer’s Corner is a unique and long-held tradition at Auburn University, and one that we grudgingly respect. We may not understand your rituals, but we have our own cherished traditions. And because of that, we support yours. We appreciate the culture of college football and have decided to take a stand.
The Alabama-Auburn rivalry is the best in all of sports. It makes the fall more interesting and enjoyable. We like taunting you, you enjoy poking fun at us, and even when it gets heated, we wouldn’t have it any other way.
What we don’t like is when good-natured rivalry is taken too far. That’s exactly what happened when “Al from Dadeville” maliciously vandalized the 135-year-old oaks at Toomer’s Corner. Those oak trees have withstood hundreds of storms, numerous droughts and more than a few rolls of Charmin. You could say that they have been through and seen it all, and they are landmarks of our state. The trees were there long before “Al” was born, and presumably would have been there long after he is gone.
We want you to know that we do not accept what “Al” has done. There is simply no excuse for this type of abhorrent behavior. We strongly condemn his actions. And although he claims to support the University of Alabama, in no way does he represent us or our alma mater.
As a token of good faith, we have established Tide for Toomer’s, a means by which fans of the Crimson Tide can contribute money to Auburn University’s efforts to rehabilitate or replace the poisoned trees.
On behalf of Tide for Toomer’s and the Alabama Nation, we pledge to uphold and safeguard the traditions in this state by showing reverence for the greatest rivalry in sports. We ask that supporters of the University of Alabama join with us in contributing to Tide for Toomer’s. With this effort, we hope to prove that while our rivalry is strong, our mutual respect is even stronger.
Jennifer Hanson, Birmingham
Clay Loftin, Prattville
Taylor Nichols, Tuscaloosa
Gina Smith, Montgomery
Camaran Williams, Pell City