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Pinterest forms basis for crafty YMCA event, latest Internet addiction

Janet Smith goes through page after page on the website Pinterest recently at her home. Smith has joined the large number of Internet users getting hooked on the social website designed to share ideas through pictures and links. (H-W Photo)
Posted: Feb. 24, 2012 6:00 pm Updated: Mar. 10, 2012 1:15 am

By MARY POLETTI
Herald-Whig Staff Writer

Janet Smith doesn't see the big deal about her specific brand of Internet addiction.

"There are 1,001 things in this world I could be addicted to that are worse than this," the Quincy woman said she once told her husband.

Her husband retorted: "But now you think you've got to be Martha Stewart around the house!"

Smith has joined an exploding number of Internet users in getting hooked on Pinterest, a social website designed to share ideas through pictures and links.

The website, which launched last year and is commonly used for home and cooking ideas, has grown so quickly and gained such an avid following seemingly overnight that the Quincy Family YMCA will host its first monthly Pinterest party Tuesday night.

Sara Reuschel, member services director at the Y, said she and another staff person came up with the idea after noticing that many members and employees were standing around, chatting about Pinterest.

Attendees will spend an hour working on three home projects -- this month, they're centered on all-natural, homemade cleaning products -- to be selected from the most popular choices members and non-members make when they register for the event.

Reuschel said each month will have a different theme, with the homemade cleaning projects forming a spring cleaning theme. Another future possibility is a health and beauty theme.

She said the mushrooming interest in Pinterest seemed like a good opportunity to create a community event at the Y, one centered on cutting through the excuses many people make not to try crafts, recipes or home projects they see "pinned," or posted, to the site.

"Really, a lot of what we have heard in talking to members about it ... I will go and sit and look at Pinterest for two hours and then feel like I don't have time to sit down and do a project," Reuschel said.

In that respect, Pinterest is rather like Facebook, another social website with a widespread reputation as a time-killer. Its millions of users, the vast majority of them women, are known to spend hours looking at the site's many "pins."

In fact, Smith said she has had to banish her laptop computer to her bedroom, where it won't tempt the Madison School behavioral disabilities teacher into the hours-long Pinterest sessions that have taken up many evenings since she joined the site last summer.

"My family jokes that I need a Pintervention," Smith said.

However, she acknowledged that she's found many helpful pins related to her classroom, to baking and to craft projects she can do with her 11-year-old daughter.

Likewise, Julie Miller of Quincy, a home day care provider, said Pinterest has yielded many ideas for home decor, particularly do-it-yourself projects like re-upholstering her dining room chairs. She also took a lot of inspiration from Pinterest for her son's birthday party.

"I think it just kind of depends on what you're looking for," Miller said. "A lot of (the projects) I see are pretty attainable."

McKenzie Disselhorst, executive director of the Hannibal (Mo.) Area Chamber of Commerce and an avid social media user, sees business value in Pinterest far beyond the recipes and fashion inspiration she draws from it in a personal capacity.

"I think for retail businesses it could have a huge impact, especially if you're doing any kind of e-commerce," she said.

For example, Disselhorst said she can see businesses like Danni Nicole clothing store in downtown Hannibal or Domestics Etc. in Quincy pinning its own merchandise or tracking trends via Pinterest.

It's becoming an increasingly important, creative way to find out what women are talking about, Pinterest's fans agree. Reuschel hopes that it will form the basis for a fun, popular community event.

"We hope that it goes over well and people really like it," she said.

 

-- mpoletti@whig.com/221-3385