Thursday, January 29, 2015

Interview With Pyrie Catoria (Catalina Staheli)

By Bixyl Shuftan

The Relay for Life's fundraising season is still over a month away, but already some are getting ready for it. Among them is Pyrie Catoria (account name Catalina Staheli). Pyrie has been doing a photogrpahy project, taking pictures of each Relayer with their reason for taking part in a picture frame they're holding, and putting each on a Flickr page for the project. Recently the Newser had a chance to interview her about herself and her project, so I met her at her studio.

Bixyl Shuftan: "So how did you find out about Second Life?"

Pyrie Catoria (catalina.staheli): "Oh! I actually got involved in Second Life through my university. I was working as a technology consultant as I finished up my bachelors and they put SL into use at the university for online classes. They told us to familiarize ourself with the program to help if any troubleshooting was needed. And I came in, set things up, looked around and said 'What's the point of this, again?.' Coming from a gamer's background, I was expecting levels, goals, quests, etc. *laughs* And instead it was just a bunch of people standing around. I was like 'hmm.....alrightie then.' And then explored a bit more on my own time and, well, eight years later I'm still here."

Bixyl Shuftan: "What did you find once you explored?"

Pyrie Catoria (catalina.staheli): "Hmm....well, as an educator, I loved the online representations of the different cities. I still remember visiting an online Prague, Venice, Paris. And then I found out you could have a job in SL and well, I was a broke college student, so signed up. Worked for a bit, did well. And then started finding some of the role play sims and got hooked on that." *smiles*

Bixyl Shuftan: "What roleplay sims were you in?"

Pyrie Catoria (catalina.staheli): "Oh, I started off with the vampire sims, working as a handmaiden to a lord and his family. They actually paid their staff in lindens to be around, so it's how I sort of made that shift from jobs to role play. After that I explored the Gorean sims, beginning as a role player. I did that for a few years, branching out into Game of Thrones, where I was a part of the original King's Landing sim. I've explored Venexia, Kingdom of Sand, Goatswood. A few years ago, I realized a bit more about myself through my time spent in Second Life and began to pursue a new path that touched both on my SL and real-life journey.

"So some role play turned into real life. And some have continued to just be enjoyable role play." *chuckles*

Bixyl Shuftan chuckles, "How did you find out about the Relay in Second Life"

Pyrie Catoria (catalina.staheli): "I did Relay for Life when I was in high school, the walkathons, the fundraising, all of it. And I loved it. There are very few places that throw a party like New Orleans and so our RFL walk-a-thons were filled with crawfish boils, live cajun music, pet alligators you could hold, and teams that were laughing and dancing and showing such a camaraderie, it's something truly special. A few years ago, I saw some notices for RFL things, but really didn't pay that much attention to it. And then three years ago....I don't remember what prompted it, but I had this small kernal of an idea. I tend to be quite the dreamer and come up with fun projects to explore. So I had this idea of doing a photography project. I did a few samples before approaching Kaiila Mahoney, the captain of the Goreans For Life team, and from there, I fell head first into doing RFL every year since."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Have you done much photogrpahy in Second Life before your project for the Relay?"

Pyrie Catoria (catalina.staheli): "Indeed! I began doing photography about a year beforehand. Everything was a learning experience in terms of technique and composition and I really enjoyed the process. I worked as a photographer at A Touch of Glamour until they closed and then opened up my own photography studio after that."

Bixyl Shuftan: "How has your own studio done?"

Pyrie Catoria (catalina.staheli): "It did pretty well. I had a lot of fun and was doing 200-300 dollars a month in revenue. It was truly a second business for me. There's no studio or gallery as of now, but I still do freelance photography for any who want it." *smiles*

Bixyl Shuftan: "So how did your RFL photo project do at first? What were some of the initial reactions?"

Pyrie Catoria (catalina.staheli): "Oh it took off like a shot! I didn't start doing anything until the end of May or beginning of June. Between then and the RLF walk-a-thon, I raised about 50,000L that first year."

Bixyl Shuftan: "50,000 Lindens, that's pretty impressive."

Pyrie Catoria (catalina.staheli): "I was pretty happy! I think it was about 53,000L in the end. 50K had been my goal."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Sounds pretty great. What team did you say you were a part of?"

Pyrie Catoria (catalina.staheli): "The last two years I was with the Goreans for Life team. This year I am helping with the committee and reaching out to all teams."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Any specific plans for this year?"

Pyrie Catoria (catalina.staheli): "Yes! I'll be doing the 'Why Do You Relay" series for the third year and then I'll also be doing a special exhibition later this season featuring those currently fighting cancer and survivors of cancer."

There had been a man nearby in her studio, so I decided to ask about him.

Bixyl Shuftan: "I guess we need to mention him sometime. Is Corel Ewing here with your photo studio?"

Pyrie Catoria (catalina.staheli) smiles. "Corel's a friend who stopped by. We were chatting when you arrived."

Bixyl Shuftan: "Oh, I see."

"Was there anything else you wanted to mention about the Relay or the photoshoot?"

Pyrie Catoria (catalina.staheli): "The photoshoot takes about fifteen minutes from start to finish. And all are welcome. It doesn't matter what community you're from or what team you're on, everyone is welcome. The portraits are free and each participant will receive a full perm version they can do anything they'd like with.

"My goal this year is to raise 250,000L in donations, and 100% of any donation someone on a team gives can go to that team. So they help their team and they get the portrait. I'm just keeping a running tally of the donations for my own goal. It all goes to the same place and I just really want everyone to work together so that we can have an amazing year."

Pyrie invited me to pose for one of her snapshots, so that was quickly done. With both that and the inverview finished, we went our separate ways.

Pyrie posts her "Why Do You Relay" pictures on her Flickr page at: . She's also made an SL video about them.

(Click here if the image fails to load)

Bixyl Shuftat

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