Monday, December 5, 2016
by Jadyn Firehawk
In Second Life, there are quiet people who make a huge difference behind the scenes. With the season of giving upon us, I would like to take the opportunity to thank one of these quiet heroes: Sandi Glas.
In 2009, I founded the Pixel To Pixel Foundation, which helps people in SL who are on disability. It occurred to me the other day that the current location of the Pixel To Pixel Foundation headquarters has now been our home for over four years. Our old location at a sim called Artropolis went offline one day in April 2012, without any advance notice or explanation.
When we suddenly found ourselves stranded, one of our donors quickly stepped in and offered us a new home at one of her sims, at no cost to us. Sandi Glas owns Clairehaven Estates, and Clairehaven sim has now been P2P Foundation's home for over four years. We have now been at Clairehaven for longer than we had been at Artropolis.
Sandi, on the other hand, is of a quiet nature, and yet, her support -- even just on the headquarters location alone -- is both more lasting and deep. She is also selfless. She doesn't publicity-seek, in the least. Her support goes far beyond just the headquarters location. Let us just say there there are certain quiet, generous people in SL who are huge contributors to non-profit organizations, who single-handedly provide up to one-fourth of the operating expenses that a charity depends on for their success.
Sandi certainly hasn't put me up to this, and I honestly don't even know how she'd feel. She doesn't act on any "quid pro quo" factor. She is simply a person with a big heart, who cares.
It makes me wonder, how many other quiet heroes are out there in SL?
Pixel To Pixel Foundation:
Clairehaven Visitor Center:
Editor's Note: Jadyn created and runs Virtual Yosemite, and was recently interviewed by Deaflegacy.
Friday, November 25, 2016
By Bixyl Shuftan
For conservatives, many were celebrating and/or breathing sighs of relief. But many liberals took the results with shock and dismay. While that Trump was a political rookie was occasionally a source of worry, more often many feared his over-the-top statements made during the campaign were a sign that he and his allies would make an effort to roll back their rights.
It was several days later that Evangeline Ling, the leader of the Hillary Clinton HQ in Bay City during the election, decided to do something about these fears. So she announced in the Clinton HQ group, "We are launching our post-election support group appropriately named SAFETY PIN. The purpose of this group will be to provide a safe space for people negatively impacted by the election to process it and to support each other." On Thursday November 17 came another notice, "We will be launching our 1st support group meeting on Tonight, November 17th at 7:00 PM SLT Please come join us. Then if you would like to take some time to process your fears, hopes, and experiences about this election. It's been a stressful week for many of us I know. If you know a friend who is struggling with this in SL please bring them with you."
Later on, Evangeline told me she had been doing security for the Clinton HQ, and had to deal with quite a large number of griefers. Of the Trump supporters, "it's too easy to just say they are all a bunch of malevolent racists. I see them in the categories." The majority she felt were "white working voters mostly concerned about the economy and changing the system. Hillary failed to really fully address their concerns so they went with Trump who was a big FU to the system. I actually have a great deal of empathy for them."
The second group she felt were mainly motivated by their hate and/or fear of Clinton, "they might not even actually like Trump. My Stepdad thought he was a total idiot, but voted for him anyways because he was not a Clinton." The third group was the "Alt-right," which she felt was a sanitized name for white supremacists and other outright extremist groups that were essentially fascist, "they will be the ones throwing out antisemitic memes, Pepe the frog memes, neo-nazi memes, etc. They are very social media driven."
"My biggest fear of this election is that Trump has made people in the Alt Right more comfortable in being OUT about their hate." She described an incident at a Chili's restaurant in Texas in which a black veteran had his meal taken away, "Chili's has since apologized to the vet and removed the manager. But why did this have to happen? ... Trump has, even if not directly or intentionally, emboldened those with those views."
I asked her where the idea of the safety pin as the group's symbol come from. Evangeline told me, "we decided to go ahead and use the safety pin since it became such a phenom in real-life. It actually was a symbol people used after Brexit in the UK." When I brought up that some conservatives were poking fun at it, she answered, "They were going to make fun of us no matter what we called ourselves."
a message for Trump supporters. "If you are celebrating today congratulations you have gotten something you wanted and as much as I disagree with your choice there is a part of me that is happy that somebody found some joy in this decision. But right now there are many things that you are doing that will cut off a person like me for a very long time, possibly permanently." Among her comments was one about illegal aliens, or "undocumented immigrants," which I asked her about that, saying conservatives were highly unlikely to change calling them the former, her answer was, "we will continue to call that an offense against human dignity to refer to a person as an illegal."
So what did she think lay ahead? "I think two years of disappointment for sure," she answered, "Then I'm putting hopes that we can take back the Senate, and maybe lighten up the House a bit." She was hoping Tim Ryan of Ohio would be the next Minority Leader of the House, "he has a plan to reclaim moderate blue collar voters ... who may have tilted Trump this year. ... But honestly, I will not breath easy until Trump is totally out of office altogether.
Asking about future meetings, Evangeline told me the next one would be on Friday November 25 (today), the day after Thanksgiving, at 7PM SL time, feeling some right-wing minded family members would be rubbing it in at the family gatherings, "We are gonna get out our post Thanksgiving detox that day after any potentially explosive dinner table convos. ... My thoughts are Uncle Archie needs to lay off Meathead this Thanksgiving and stick a turkey leg in it." After that, events would be on a floating schedule, with plans for two events in December, "after that we might go down to one meeting a month, will have to see."
Since the first support group meeting, the situation in politics continues to change. The protests in the streets in many cities seem to be quieting down, though the worry remains. The President-elect is still selecting members of his administration, some choices seen as sound, others raising eyebrows. Evangeline may have her support group meetings around for a while.
Hamlet Au has also written about the support group, his article here.
For those wanting to be at the support group meetings, contact Evangeline Ling for a landmark.
Monday, November 14, 2016
I have been reading about the Greek myth of Pygmalion and Galatea recently and I found myself thinking that we all tend to be just like Pygmalion. For those who are not familiar with this legend, here’s a quick note about it.
Pygmalion was a sculptor who lost interest in women as he started to notice all their various flaws. He started to fashion a sculpture of the perfect woman which he made out of ivory. He worked on the sculpture for a long time, polishing every single detail to create a woman devoid of flaws. Pygmalion fell in love with the statue and started to make offerings at Aphrodite’s temple (Aphrodite is the goddess of love in Greek Mythology). When he returned home, he realised that Aphrodite had given life to the statue whose name was Galatea. Pygmalion wed Galatea and they had a son… the typical happy ending.
I feel that we tend to be like Pygmalion in Second Life. For instance, take a look at our avatars; they are a reflection of what we want to be. Whether we opt to look like humans, furries, tinies or any other kind of avatar, the idea is to reproduce that perfect version we have in our mind already and try to reproduce it until we become satisfied. Just like Pygmalion, we will improve the details and make modifications to our avatars to our taste until we reach the ideal avatar. Hence, while some people look like dark creatures, others go for glamourous looking avatars and others can opt for legendary characters. That also means, getting the right shape, skin, clothes, hair and accessories. Each person has his own vision of the perfect avatar he wants to be.
Other residents can also suggest ways to improve someone’s avatar and hint out that they need a makeover to look better. A person can be satisfied with his own avatar’s appearance even though people around him don’t like certain aspects of his avatar. That’s again because we each have our own idea of the ideal character and it’s the Pygmalion within us that wants to emerge and change that avatar to our own liking. Let’s take a common example, you meet a newcomer inworld and you notice the default avatar. You decide that you want to help him improve his looks, get a better shape or skin, buy him a new mesh body or take him to your favourite freebie spots that has the nicest clothes, etc. Usually this new resident is just going along with your instructions as he’s trying to understand what he is doing. That’s the Pygmalion within you creating your version of a nice looking avatar. Your new friend may love it or he may tell you that he preferred his default avatar to this new updated look. You may feel a little annoyed at that reaction or completely offended and wondering if you just wasted all your time on an ungrateful person. Well, that’s not the case. This person may not feel comfortable in this new look because it does not represent him or what he wants to be.
Sometimes, we agree to look as others deem ideal such as when looking for a job inworld. In certain jobs, having an updated look is a must. In the second life modelling industry, generally you need to be very updated on your overall look in order to get selected for a job. The same goes for other sectors. For instance, if you want to work in an adult club, you need to look the part as well. At some clubs or other businesses, you must abide to a specific type of avatar. The boss or the industry becomes your Pygmalion as you adapt yourself to the criteria demanded to work there. In any case, if you want to work somewhere where looks do matter, you should expect to be told to make certain changes to your avatar when you go to work.
There’s nothing wrong with being a Pygmalion. We each have our own idea of the ideal avatar and our views will definitely differ from each other. Thus, we all have a Pygmalion within us, even in this virtual world.
Image Credit: Razor Cure
Friday, October 7, 2016
A year ago, Ari (arisia.vita) started playing piano on Second Life. He is still very much performing. On the average, Ari plays piano twice a day.
When he was asked what his best experience would be when playing piano, he said, "To have a stranger wander over and say they like my music." Ari always think it is remarkable to have a new listener friend him. He consider himself to be lucky to have so many friends.
Surprisingly, Ari does not know how to play the piano in real life. But he would certainly like to know how. His most favorite composer would be Beethoven, but he counts others as favorites. "I don't need them as I play to bring joy to others." said Ari when he was asked why he wouldn't accept tips.
When asked what his inspiration would be when it comes to playing piano, Ari said, "The words of the great pianist Van Cliburn: "Love music more than anything in the world. Feel that it is part of your life, and without it your life is incomplete. Want to play for people, because if you are a performer you are performing for all people, all over the world; not just musicians, but for everyone."
"My inspiration comes from my friends and audience." said Ari. He is honored to be an inspiration. Besides his piano playing, another hobby of his might be considered helping out others and offering advice. For which piano piece Ari would recommend that his audience listen to while he's not on Second Life, he suggested that they hear the one that they most want to hear. When people in his audience asked for a valuable piece of advice, Ari told them to listen to their conscience.
Ari's favorite color varies with his mood. Like color, Ari's favorite piano piece varies with his mood. One other interesting thing about Ari, this being International Space Week, one of the first sims Ari visited was the International Spaceflight Museum. Ari still visits it regularly.
Monday, September 26, 2016
Jadyn Firehawk discovered Second Life in 2009. She found it because she had a Flickr site for her real-life photography. Noticing quite a few groups there that had names with Second Life in the name, it made her curious. Jadyn googled about Second Life, and that's how she found it.
Jadyn created an account, and at that time there were "community gateways" for entering Second Life from the main website. She saw Virtual Ability as one of the gateways. At the time, she had been very active in a bipolar disorder support group chatroom online. It interested her that there was a disabilities support group on Second Life. She Joined the Virtual Ability group, and began exploring Second Life from there.
Jadyn has bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). She has chosen to be open with people about that as a part of her personal activism for mental illness, hoping that it will help it become less stigmatized by society. When asked about some of her accomplishments in Second Life, Jadyn spoke of her background. Jadyn is a former university professor, but had to go on disability due to the bipolar disorder and PTSD beginning in 2001. It improved a little in 2005 and she was able to go back to work part time. When Jadyn came into Second Life in 2009, she was still working part time.
Jadyn had a friend from the bipolar disorder chatroom, who decided to try out Second Life, too. He was young, in his early 20s. He was in school and on disability, and had very low income as a result. Her friend didn't have a single dime to spare to spend in Second Life and Jadyn understood exactly what that was like from her own experience having been on disability, so she gave him some Lindens every week so he could have a bit of fun. She enjoyed helping him and it gave Jadyn the idea of starting something up in Second Life where others could maybe do it too. That's when Jadyn created the Pixel To Pixel Foundation and it's been going in Second Life ever since.
The P2P Foundation receives donations from very kind and generous people throughout Second Life. Then it turns around and distributes weekly stipends to people who are on disability so that they can do such things like rent a home, buy some clothes or furniture, upload textures, or get some building supplies.
The P2P Foundation has just celebrated its 7th Year Anniversary in the Summer of 2016. Jadyn said, "The P2P Foundation's Director avatar account, named Pixel Falconer, has a rez date of June 29, 2009. That's what we consider to be the founding date. That avatar is the one that receives the donations, holds the funds, and disburses the stipends."
The P2P Foundation currently supports 22 people who are on disability with weekly stipends of L$500, so the total amount that it fundraises and disburses is L$11,000 a week. "It's a challenge for a small organization to keep up that kind of fundraising!" said Jadyn. "We'd like to help a lot more people, so we're always looking for new donors. There are over 20 people currently on the waiting list."
In order to sign up for P2P Foundation, there are two things - recipients must be "on" disability, and not just "have" a disability and they must be willing to provide a copy a document showing that is the case. "With health-privacy information protected, of course," she added, "This is so that they have been pre-screened already by an agency for having medical proof of disability." said Jadyn. She went on to explain that some donors express concern about possible abuses of our system.
Jadyn added that although she had to disability-retire from her career in 2010, she has been able to make an income in Second Life from teaching tips at Builders Brewery and from her shop, Maganda Arts, and draws no funds from the foundation. The Building Tricks series that she teaches at Builders Brewery now includes 15 different classes. At Maganda Arts, she sells a wide range of things including historical homes, furniture, kinetic sculpture, and real-life photography.
When asked about other accomplishments besides the P2P Foundation, Jadyn spoke about the Yosemite sim. She explained that the other reason she wanted to tell me about her former career as a university professor is, when she became disabled in 2001, she had been working on a book about Yosemite National Park. Jadyn's research specialty was national parks and protected areas. When she was unable to work, in a sense, she also "lost Yosemite". "And it was a great loss to me. Yosemite is my favorite place in the whole wide world. I've been there so many times, I've lost count."
She has just recently created a virtual Yosemite National Park in Second Life, and it opened in July 2016. According to Jadyn, its peak visitation so far, according to Linden Lab's traffic measurements, has been 8434. ("Traffic" is defined by LL as "the cumulative minutes spent on the parcel by all visitors to the parcel within the previous day") For a few weeks, the main park, Yosemite Valley (Forever Wild) was in the Editor's Picks in the Second Life website's Destination Guide. It is now in the Nature & Parks section, along with her Shinzen Japanese Garden, also located at the Yosemite sim.
"I see it as, I lost Yosemite in 2001 when when I became disabled. But now, 15 years later, I have it back again!" said Jadyn.
Jadyn also mentioned the Ethnographia Project, which expresses her story of experience with disability and Second Life. "It's not quite complete yet though, a work in progress," said Jadyn. She added that it is open to the public. However, to the writing part, Jadyn is still working on it.
Jadyn went on to describe Yosemite Valley (Forever Wild). "Yosemite Valley (Forever Wild) is one full sim in size and there's horseback riding available here for free." said Jadyn. "And it's a nice place to relax and enjoy the scenery, and meditate or visit with friend."
The landmarks are:
For the Ethnographia Project: http://maps.secondlife.com/
For the P2P Foundation Office: http://maps.secondlife.com/
For the Yosemite Valley (Forever Wild) : http://maps.secondlife.com/
For Maganda Arts: http://maps.secondlife.com/
For Shinzen Japanese Garden: http://maps.secondlife.com/
Jadyn also mentioned the Building Tricks class series at Builders Brewery. I have been to some of these classes and they were fantastic.
The class tutorials landmark is: http://maps.secondlife.com/
The Builders Brewery is: http://maps.secondlife.com/
Gemma Cleansalte wrote on Virtual Yosemite in July 2016.
Friday, September 16, 2016
"Wherever You Go, There You Are"
Why did my friend suddenly unfriend me? Why does my neighbor continue to bait the lag monster, when I already asked them politely to limit their script usage? Why are there so many griefers in the summer? Why am I being betrayed, what did I do to deserve this? What in heaven's name is going on in the Second Life universe?! ...These might be some of the questions I'm sure we have all posed to ourselves at one point or another, in our journeys through the virtual realm of SL. In the place where one can be anything and do anything they want, what is with all this star-crossed perfection? People are brilliantly fascinating, and sometimes vicious creatures. Ego, cliques, greed, drama, investments at stake... How does one maintain their cool in their escape from real life, when their sanctuary suddenly turns on them?
These might be hard to put into practice at first, but you need to be patient with yourself. About the hardest thing for me to accept is that no matter how I try to prevent it, conflict is always inevitable. It is just the nature of humanity (no matter how much I proclaim myself an Unseelie Succubus Fae. But now that I have some tools for dealing with it, it's not so bad, and I am glad I can share them with you. I do find distractions to be very helpful in the matters of separating myself from intense situations, my mind seems to contemplate easier on resolutions while multitasking by a playing a game in SL, building, or writing. One thing I may have a problem with is trying not to lose my self control. I find it very hard not to be heard, sometimes the emotions can become very overwhelming for me and they just need to jump right out from inside of me and be acknowledged. However, because I realize this flaw in myself, I can always take time to ask for guidance from a few trusted friends. I've also always been a fan of using Dr. Phil's "I" language when explaining my side of things, that seems to help people understand that I own up to my feelings and self growth.
I wish you peace in your endeavors, even if it is just self actualization with this whole concept - Let there be peace on Earth, and if that is not possible, at least let there be peace within yourself.
I would like to thank Bugs Larnia who teaches a Merry Meeter class at Faerie Crossing called "Conflict Resolution" which is open to the public and worth going to ...maybe even a few times! A lot of this article was based on that wonderful class, and was too awesome to try and cram all into this piece.
Monday, September 5, 2016
That was about a year ago. I have not had a regret when it comes to signing up for Second Life.
My name is DeafLegacy and I am deaf in real life. In a way, Second Life is a blessing because on it, I do not have to worry about talking. I have a speech disorder in association with my deafness. On Second Life, I am able to join some groups like Virtual Ability. I even signed up to write for the SL Newser. I'm not just a reporter. I'm a photographer as well.
To summarize it up, I'm a writer no longer trapped in her own world. Second Life had provided me with many different worlds where my deafness is not as important as it is in real life. Why did I say that?
Well, in real life, if I want to have a conversation with a hearing person, I'd need to be really good at reading lips as well as having some paper and pen. There's interpreters as well for medical appointments. It's not as easy as one might put it.
But on Second Life, I can have a conversation with anyone via the text mode without worrying about any misunderstanding that would rise from real-life conversation.
At least, whenever I go on Second Life, I almost always go to my apartment on Cape Heron. It's a beautiful apartment. In real life, I don't have an apartment. I live in a house with five other people. To put it this way, I'm the only deaf person in the house. Being deaf does not make it any easy. It tends to make it complicated. But on Second Life, I don't have to worry about that. The only thing I have to do is just be myself. Second Life had given me that chance and for that, I'm very happy.
I hope to continue using Second Life, even if it grows into something else. They are talking about it. I look forward to the day that happens. Until then, I'll keep on using Second Life. I can't say the same about the other people with disabilities, but Second Life is the best thing that happened to me.
Why? It's simple. Writing was my lifetime goal. Second Life just happened to make it come true. Now, I'm a writer both on Second Life and in real life. I'd say that's a chance I have to take and I did take it.
That's the best thing I ever did in my life.