A Challenge to Flower Talk

Everyone has heard, at least once, that talking to your flowers or plants can help them grow. I believe this to be true. Once, I was asked if speaking to the flowers in Spanish versus English makes a difference. I don’t have any idea, so I try to speak to them in both, or a mixture. I have a love for languages and flowers. I often combine them, and am now challenging you to do the same. Before everyone heads outdoors to find a pretty flower, let’s lay down some ground rules (because I love those, too).

This challenge is my own idea, is meant to be fun with a bit of learning tossed in, and was inspired by several other blogs. The bloggers are as follows: Lwile the Leo, thank you for teaching me the word kismet. To Schezerade’s Labyrinth, thank you for commenting on Joking With Jalapeños, you gave me a chuckle. To The Real Reality Show Blog, thank you for your comments on Interview With a Potato. I learned a bit more about my yam’s personality. Thanks go to buddy71, who takes amazing pictures and from whom I am expecting to see a post that contains spiders (arañas) in the background. Also, thank you to all challenge makers: I am inspired by each one (especially MTV, yo).

I have some rules that fall into two categories. Rules need not be copied into your response post, but a link to this post would be helpful to readers or those that also want to participate. (If you link to this post no comments are necessary on this post and I will count my due credit as given).

The Content Rules

If you haven’t noticed from my own posts on speaking to plants, they are not consistent in style or formatting. However, each shares a combination of features. While writing your challenge response you MUST include the title feature, photo feature, and bilingual feature (see below). All other content features are optional or may be combined in different ways. Content features include:

  • An identification (or lack thereof) of the plant, flower, or leaf. If you aren’t sure, please make that clear (this should not be considered optional either). Don’t make things up. We all want to learn, but incorrect info can’t help us. Sometimes your identification will be “rose,” which is fine. Varieties of species are not necessary (but I’ll take it if you got it). Sometimes I will determine the identification for you, i.e. “Talk to a rose this week.” Your identification of your subject can go in the title, also.
  • A use of the narrative. Tell a quick story about how you and your flower came to meet, what has befallen the two of you since planting, or some other interesting tidbit. Advice or tips and tricks are also welcome in your narrative.
  • A title which denotes that you are speaking to a plant or flower. Examples: “Talking to…”, “Laughing with…”, “Questions for a….”, “Alexandra asked me to…”, etc. The title should be your own, but can use alliteration (see almost anything I write) or rhyming, and should give the impression that you spoke with someone or something.
  • An amateur photo. I apologize to all of the photographers who love a good flower competition but I say this to protect your work and to feel more confident in that people actually looked at a flower. Photographers can always enter an amateur photo, however. Also, I don’t want a bunch of screenshots of Kahlo or O’Keefe’s artwork, though I love them both (imagine what they could show us today, if they had blogs and cell-phones). You can set your amateur photo as the feature photo or present us with a gallery – that choice is yours. One photo is a requirement. If you don’t have a flower or plant to speak of: snap a pic of a neighbor’s (just don’t be weird about it). Also, trees count as well as fruits or vegetables from the store (they come from a flower somewhere).
  • A dialogue or vocabulary words that are from a different language. I am fluent in Spanish but Spanish is not a requirement. A translation of your dialogue or vocab words is required for each new word (or as a whole dialogue) but not for repeated words. For example, if the word kismet (something like fate) is used twice, define it once. You can give your translations in whatever form you wish (in a list or key, parentheses, etc. as long as we learn your new words). Two words from a language other than English is the minimum requirement and I hope you don’t use Hola and Adiós (though if you combine the other content features well enough it could work). I won’t check everything; I trust you to translate well, and without lying or cheating.

Now, for the nitty and gritty. I have some specific rules for the challenge posting and responding. I am very lenient on formatting and design but I do not use ping or trackbacks and will not tolerate a breach of copyright rules. To participate, follow these challenge rules (none are optional):

The Challenge Rules

  • I don’t use pingbacks or trackbacks, after reading about some cons of the two methods. Instead, we will have to use a tag to notify each other of challenge entries. Adding a tag to your WordPress Reader is simple: find the Tags line on the Reader menu to the left of the Reader page and add #flowertalk. This tag will hopefully work like the pingbacks do, but without clogging up comment sections. (Check out that tag, I own it lol). Without the tag, I won’t be sure if you are referring to this challenge. You may add other tags of your own choosing, but this tag is required in your response post. I suggest adding the tag #bilingual to your post. (Bi-/multilingual speakers get a lot of flack, so go show ’em some love). #inventmyplace is another tag you might add to the Reader, in order to keep up with the winners, who will have a spot on My Community.
  • You must link to my blog, Invent a Place, or to this specific post. Without the link, your post will not be considered as a challenge entry and, depending on your breach of copyright, will result in a DMCA filing. Plagiarism is a big no-no ’round these parts.
  • Challenges will be broken up into sub-sets. For example: the month of October will have two sub-sets: Talk to a Pumpkin and Talk to a Leaf that has shed its green. Within the sub-sets will be specific challenge posts with my own example and the specific guidelines for that week’s challenge (for example: “…talk to a Jack-o-lantern this week – your pumpkin has to have a face.” And later in the month of October: “Ask your leaf its favorite color”). Each month will have two sub-sets, with two to three challenges (depending on the calendar). There should be plenty of opportunities to find a challenge that speaks to you. Challenge weeks begin on Monday and end on Saturday, with Sunday as a day for counting results.
  • A comment on the week’s challenge post is necessary for voting. I can only guarantee that votes will be counted if there are votes to count in one place. Your comment must be original, without negative feedback, and should not show bias. A good example would be: “Alexandra, I love your picture of the watermelon. Your dialogue is funny. ;)” A bad example would be: “Alexandra, you suck. I hate your dialogue and your plants look like shit. My stuff is better.” The comment section on each week’s challenge post will be an important area and will be checked often to cross-reference posts’ tags and comments. If your post has the #flowertalk tag, but no comment, you will not be considered as entered. If you comment, but post nothing with the tag, you will not be considered as entered. Remember that if you do not link to me (either by site or rules post [this post]), but have everything else, you will not be considered as entered. In the end, numbers win the vote (all popular, no electoral).
  • Readers are essential, so vote away, dear viewer. If you don’t want to talk to flowers you don’t have to make a post. However, we encourage you to vote for your favorites.

I’m sure you’re thinking, “Okay, Alex, but what do I win?” Well first of all, I don’t go by Alex (yet. It’s growin’ on me) but you can go crazy in what you call me in your post: Ali (I spell it Aleey if you want to get technical), Alex, Al, Andy, Alejandra, the Inventor (I’d love that), some weird person that likes flowers too much. As long as it’s not Alexandria (because that’s not my name) nor something hateful.

Well, would-be accept-er of this challenge, I’ll tell ya what ya win, or could win, but first I’ve gotta mention how ya win.

How to Win: Everyone’s Main Goal in Life

  • First and foremost, follow all of the above rules to the best of your ability. If you make a mistake, updates can be made until the closing day of the week’s challenge: a Saturday. You don’t need to give notice of your update.
  • Write something interesting, about a plant you love, with some words you like in a different language. Have fun while doing this and we will see it.
  • Be unique. I love diversity in life, the garden, and stories. Use the elements I’ve given you, but add your own style. Pro tip: you can use any genre you want. Write me some flash fiction, (keep it below 800 words, please) a poem, a rant, a horror story, a how-to. Just use my tag, follow the rules, don’t plagiarize, and push yourself.
  • Create something amazing and the votes will go your way.
  • Get enough votes, it’s yours.

What “It” Is

  • What you win is some time with the outdoors, a pretty-smelling flower, or a healthy zucchini. You win the admiration and love of your peers. (Who knows who you could meet from my blog? Maybe you will find a new business venture, a best friend, the love of your life. I hope that you find a small flicker of pure inspiration.)
  • A somewhat more tangible prize (mostly valuable to us little bloggers) is a re-blog that includes a quick profile of your blog. Who knows, maybe you’ll get a few followers, too.
  • Free content is also (hopefully) a bonus. If you participate correctly you can lean on my content and I will lean on yours. My goal is to run the challenge weekly, so you might have some guaranteed content once or twice a month (depending on whether or not you want to participate. There’s no obligation ;)).
  • What you could win is a different story, one that we will write together. Have ideas for tangible prizes or giveaways? I will share the credit. Contact me. I must also add here that I am fine with waiting, with growing. I don’t expect a large number of responses right away, and that’s okay. If less than 6 entries are made by the third challenge, I will discontinue it.
  • The idea has already been thought and organized, all you have to do is plug in your personality. Hopefully, my rules are easy enough to understand that they guide you, but leave you open to possibilities. The post that you create will be yours, and totally beautiful. Not into flowers? I hope you change your mind soon, before they’re all gone, because yes, climate change is real. Not into bilingualism? ¡Hasta la vista! Este blog no es para tí.

P.S. If you are a professional photographer or artist who likes taking pictures of or musing on flowers and would like to be involved, contact me to discuss another idea I have about sharing your work.

P.P.S. I am not a code expert (not even close) but I’m a quick learner. Might using tags and such create a more complex system of citations that might be more difficult to scrape? Correct me in the comments if I’m wrong!

P.P.P.S. A Newsletter is to come. If you have experience with Mail-Chimp and want your name on my e-mails, give me a holler.

P.P.P.P.S. (Last one, promise) If this reminds you of a syllabus, a lesson plan, a high school project, guess what: I have been to three universities, went to a Montessori primary school, love to study on my own, and trained to be an educator. I failed to follow through (and life had her own ideas) so I don’t have that piece of paper, and wouldn’t want the job now, anyway. I am very creative, play well with others, and have found a great outlet in blogging. I am inspired all the time: by my children, by the flowers, by language, and most certainly by you. Thank you for reading this suuuper long post and good luck in all of your conversations.

P.P.P.P.P.S. (Okay, I lied. Sue me). My own #flowertalk posts will never be eligible for voting and are to be used for reference or might be included in my challenge posts – which will begin sometime next week, if I even have an audience for this. You will have to let me know with likes on this one 😉