By Wesley Regenbogen
This summer, Wesley wrote about New Citizens Incorporated. Recently, he had a chance to interview it's founder, Brace Coral.
Wesley Regenbogen: Hi Brace. You are a NCI Helper. What does a Helper do in NCI?
Brace Coral: A Helper at the New Citizens Inc/NCI is usually a staff person. They greet Newbies who come by our main campus. They answer questions and help New Folks with things like avatar appearance, UI basics and so on.
Wesley Regenbogen: oh, you are the Founder. So change of the question: When did you create NCI?
Brace Coral: Well I had some pretty basic ideas when I started NCI. There was a void in the "official" helper situation set up by Linden Lab, and I wanted to make sure that Newbies didn't fall through the crack because of it.
The official start date is somewhere in 2005, but the real skinny is I started in 2004, within my first year of being in Second Life.
Wesley Regenbogen: So you basic task is to help newbies. That's a noble cause. How do you help them?
Brace Coral: That's a big question! There are so many ways you can help a new person. The most important thing is to LISTEN. Most new folks will tell you what they want and need. What they want to do, why they've come into Second Life.
You help them attain their goals, and at the very least, you've given them a detailed crash course in the basics of SL.
Wesley Regenbogen: NCI also has different locations. Does each area have a owner or manager. Or is there only one person that manages all the areas of NCI?
Brace Coral: We have three campuses, each has a Coordinator who oversees things in each area. Makes sure the everything is up to spec, and all the information presented is up to date for example. They also help with making sure the Instructors have what they need at each location, and are there to help out in general.
Wesley Regenbogen: So, you give the newbie all the information he needs to adapt to the Second Life environment?
Brace Coral: Yes! For example. Someone might come in wanting to be a vampire. But they don't know how to make their avatar look like a vampire, or know where the vampires hang out, and all the different kinds from hardcore roleplay to more casual types. And we help them with that. From learning how to walk, sit, fly, manipulate their avatar appearance and clothing. Everything they need to help them achieve their goals.
Wesley Regenbogen: how many NCI Helpers are there?
Brace Coral: a lot :) I'd say 25-50 active helpers, but I don't have exact numbers. Instructors/Event Hosts/Helpers - there is a lot of overlap in the staff personnel. Many people have multiple roles. And they are all volunteers. We all are.
Wesley Regenbogen: So, all volunteers are doing it free without getting virtual payment. How is NCI getting virtual money to stay alive then?
Brace Coral: The NCI, and indeed most Helper organizations and groups, survive on resident donations. There are sponsorships via people buying ads at our campuses, donating lindens, donating land tier, buying items at our newly set up NCI Store and so on. I hold a weekly fundraiser event every Saturday evening 5pm SLT. Its a fun time for people to come meet, mix and mingle and donate & dance! Every little bit helps.
The honest truth is that many have had to also rely on their own real life money to keep things going. We had more support in the past from Linden Lab, but times have changed. So we rely on each other and donations from residents to keep on truckin(smile).
Wesley Regenbogen: Is the NCI places created by residents or is there someone that created all this?
Brace Coral: The NCI used to be just me, my SL family and some friends. We would help out at the main landing area for New Folks, that used to be Ahern. Then I created a group and got more people involved. The core of the NCI is the main New Citizens Inc group. I then rented a small plot of land, that grew into the huge NCI Main Plaza at Kuula sim. With multiple sandboxes and a bigger area for freebies. It was during Carl Metropolitan's tenure running the NCI that it really took off and became something more firmly established. Those who have been at the helm since and now have also contributed to make it what you see today. Amazing!
Those are residents who stepped up and used their skills to make the NCI something beyond my wildest dreams. I just wanted to help folks, but never thought it would become something so huge and varied as it is now.
Wesley Regenbogen: Is following classes with NCI really free and do you need to be part of a group before joining a class?
Brace Coral: All classes and events at NCI are free. You don't need to be in the group to participate. Just come as you are, have fun learning and be sure to ask lots of questions (smile).
Wesley Regenbogen: I'll surely will do. Thank you for this little interview. And I wish you all the luck with future of NCI in general!