Fittingly, it was Lois herself – or rather, her Twitter alter-ego @CorpzFlowrLois, that said it best: the most amazing part about Lois-mania was that she “connected a community of newfound botany enthusiasts.”
Along with all of the other staff from across the entire museum that came together to keep the place open 24 hours a day for almost 2 solid weeks – I was totally blown away by and extremely grateful for the outpouring of love from the Houston community for our not-so-little Lois. During the height of Lois’ bloom, more than 5000 people were watching her on our webcam (generously hosted through Rice University) and tweeting about her every move (or lack thereof). As of Sunday, July 25, more than 68,000 people had come to the museum to visit Lois in person – and that number continues to grow, even as she returns to a dormant state.
|Thank you for sharing your enthusiasm with us!|
Amazingly, Lois spawned a few minor internet celebrities. There was Zac, dubbed our “hot-iculturist” by the Houston Chronicle, who joined twitter (@hortzac) by popular demand, and who now has a fan-generated Facebook page “Horticulturalist Zac Stayton Needs A Show on TV.” And, of course, there was #redshirtguy – Chronicle Reporter Julio Cortez – so dubbed because he wore a red shirt the first day that he blocked the view of Lois on the Museum’s webcam while setting up his own time-lapse camera – spawning outraged Twitter-shouting to get him to move as well as many calls to the Museum alerting us to this fact – and then a daily vote to determine what color shirt he would wear for each day’s visit. And of course, @CorpzFlowrLois, the brainchild of CultureMap assistant editor Steven Thompson, who garnered more than 2000 Twitter followers in just over a week. There’s even a fan-generated group on Facebook for those suffering from Lois withdrawal now that she has finished blooming.
She inspired two songs (“Hey Lois” by Danny Osterwisch and “Ode to Lois” by HMNS Moran Ecoteen Kelsey Williams), a twitter-generated, crowd-sourced Lois playlist organized by @jvconcep, 50+ corpse flower haiku, as well as some incredibly creative costumes. She even almost crashed a wedding.
This is all just *so* beyond the realm of what we science geeks are used to, that we’re still walking around feeling giddily lucky that Lois decided to bloom this summer, and also rather dazed by it all.
And the blog posts! It was fascinating to read about what Lois meant to the people who came to see her – everyone seemed to walk away with a different interpretation. These are just a few of our favorites:
For Karen (@chookooloonks) – an incredibly talented photographer who features flowers on her blog quite frequently – “Take a photograph of an Amorphophallus titanum in full bloom” was on of her life list – and she followed Lois’ entire blooming process closely, culminating in her post “photograph a corpse flower in bloom? CHECK.” Perhaps most moving, though, was her “Love Thursday” post, in which she ruminated on the corpse flower community – and why it’s sudden appearance is one of the things that makes Houston such a special place to live. (WARNING: if you follow the Love Thursday link, you *will* see a giant picture of my face. I’m not gonna lie – I quite like it and was honored that Karen included me in her 1000 Faces project (Zac, too!) – but I”m pointing you there solely for the wonderful writing and the sentiment expressed.)
I also love Ed’s final comment on the post, that “Lois was responsible for the ‘creation’ of 3 new local celebrities: @HortZac, #RedShirtGuy, and @CorpzFlowrLois. Three celebrities, not because they can play a sport, or make a film, or due to being part of a human train wreck, but because of a flower. And, because they were good at what they did. A horticulturalist, a photojournalist, and an online media editor. What role models for our kids to follow!” [Emphasis mine]
@divamover was “Obsessed with @CorpzFlowrLois” and I loved her description of the allure: “What is so interesting about a big, stinky plant? Lois is captivating. Disturbing. Every “Attack of the Pod People” and “Aliens” fantasy or joke you can think of, all rolled into one. “
In “Lois and Me,” @pjholliday shares how through Lois, she “finally found a use for that silly new craze of sharing with the world your every move and thought,” on Twitter. It’s a beautiful post that culminates with the fact that she was “awe-struck by the beauty and unpredictable nature of Mother Earth, and re-awakened to the necessity of protecting our precious, finite resources.” Seconded!
In “Life After Lois,” @megsalice – who saw Lois 5 times in 2 weeks – pointed out one of the unexpected benefits of keeping the Butterfly Center open around the clock – the opportunity to wander the rain forest at night! Check out this post for some lovely night shots of the butterfly center.
There were many, many more people who posted about Lois – if you were one of them, please share a link with us in the comments!
|Totally blown away by the crowds that showed up to meet @hortzac and @corpzflowrlois –
at midnight! More tweetup photos from etee
In the end, the most amazing thing about Lois wasn’t the rarity of her bloom, the extended waiting game, or even the smell – though these were all amazing – it was all of you: the people who blogged, tweeted, facebooked and just generally shouted and shared your excitement, questions and knowledge with us, who came here in person to experience this time of “silly joy” (to borrow a phrase from the ever-fabulous Karen of Chookooloonks) and support science education in your community. I feel honored and humbled to have been a part of this incredible experience and I hope you’ll continue sharing your love of science and the community with us as we wait for Lois to bloom again.
Though generally exhausted, I know we are all absolutely thrilled to see such an outpouring of enthusiasm for something so solidly science-based and continue to hope that many of the very enthusiastic kids who came to see Lois will have a spark of scientific inquiry ignited in their minds. Thank you to everyone who supported the museum in any capacity: following along online, spreading the word, coming here, seeing Lois, becoming members, geeking out with us, buying buttons and wearing t-shirts – it would have been extremely heartening in any time. But please know that because this crazy-wonderful thing happened now – a very tough time for the museum industry as a whole – you’ve done immense good both in helping us to continue our efforts for science education in the Houston community and also in simply inspiring us all to keep moving.
To everyone who followed along with Lois and helped generate a level of enthusiasm that made all this possible: