Friday, March 23, 2018

Celebrating Ten Women Who Made a Difference in Second Life

By Bixyl Shuftan

Since it's beginning, various women have had an impact on Second Life. Many businesses inworld have been run by them, such as Dana Vanmoer who was the editor of the Second Life Newspaper. Communities have been run by them. They have also made up many of our artists. And of course a number of the Lindens have been women. On Sunday March 18, there was a ceremony to "celebrating ten Second Life women who have, through their work" made a difference for the virtual world.

The women being honored were:

Bryn Oh, a prominent artist noted for her storytelling through 3-D art exhibitions.
Nuala Marcus, a noted member of the Relay for Life who has raised funds to fight cancer for years.
Strawberry Singh, a noted blogger whom has won many awards.
Caryl Meredith, the director of the Spirit Light Dance Company.
Kikuyu/Kikutsuru, two women who run a geisha school and house.
Marianne McCann, the lead resident of Bay City and a volunteer in events such as Burn2.
Rosie Gray, the Chancellor of the Confederation of Democratic Simulators.
Sudane Erato, an estate owner at both the CDS and SL New England Islands Estate, and a noted member of Second Life Mers.
Robin Sojourner Wood, who made the Texture Tutorial at the Ivory Tower, and has taught residents at the Builders Brewery.
Treacle Darlandes, an artist who does sculpture and fractal art, and has been mentoring newcomers.

Before the event, I talked to one of it's organizers, Kyoko (Samara Barzane). She told me she was one of the Public Information team of the Confederation of Democratic Simulators, "... one thing I do is help organize events. (The) CDS usually has an event at least once a month. This is the March event. We wanted to do something celebrating SL women who have helped make SL a better place." With Brooke Brandenburg as the other person involved in the planning, they chose the Art Cafe in the Locus Amoenus sim, which Kyoko owns, "The Art Cafe is a space that belongs to me in CDS. We do exhibits, performances etc. So we decided this would be a good space for this event."

Kyoko told me the idea of the event came to her on International Woman's Day, "We wanted to do something a bit more than just a celebration so we came up with the idea of honoring ten Second Life women. And that's what we are doing. We just ran a little late (smile). In the US this is also Women's History Month." She told me it took about a week to go through the names of those nominated, "Brooke and I came up with a basic list, looking for some balance across SL. We also asked the citizens of CDS for nominations and included some of those also. So it's a CDS event, but we tried for a breadth of honorees."

Besides their accomplishments, nominees were selected based on if they were still active in Second Life. So women whom were deceased or simply not coming on any more were not chosen, "most of the ones who were not included were just for those reasons. ... The criteria emerged as we explored each candidate. The space we had dictated to some extent the number we could honor and the criteria emerged as we went over each one."

I dropped by as the event started at 10AM, and Kyoko and Brooke were there to greet me and the others arriving, "Welcome to Celebrating SL Women 2018!" The place was decorated, with ten posters of the honored women and a little information about them. "There some amazing stories connected with our honorees," Kyoko told the crowd. There was also a lady playing a transparent piano, Brook saying, "Our music is by the amazing Sandia Beaumont. Classically trained, she ranges to jazz and improv without missing a beat! ... In addition to the piano, she is playing other instruments LIVE on a second keyboard."

The event had a number of people over, "Hard to see all the nametags." Some of the women being honored were there, such as Treacle Darlandes, Marianne McCann, Nuala Marcas, Caryl Meredith, and Rose Gray. "It's an illustrious crowd!" Rosie remarked. "This shows how varied our community is," Nuala's partner Trader Whiplash spoke, "how borderless and inclusive as well."

Later, Kikutsuru (Miehina Resident) showed up, "Thank you for the invite (smile)." She brought with her a few from her school and house. They were all in traditional geisha dress, with white makeup, kimonos, and wooden shoes.

At one point, I noticed a flash of light and smoke. It was coming from Sandia's piano. "Sandia wants me to thank you all for the generous tips!" Alem (Alem Theas) spoke, "At the rate at which she destroys pianos, she is barely breaking even (grin)." She then texted the lyrics of the next song she was playing the piano to:

If there were no dreams
And there were no dreamers
And how could I dream you up
You're still a mystery to me
The way that we love
The life that we're leading
I don't want to give you up
Whatever I'll have to do, I'll do
Put a mountain there and I'll tear it down
If it's much too high then I'll go around
I won't stop for anyone or anything
And I'd love you even if there were no dreams
If there were no dreams
How could we be lovers
And how could I need you so
The reason's clear to even me

The event went well with those attending, " I want to congratulate all the amazing women who so much deserve this honoring .  ... WONDERFUL JOB all of you!!  BIG CONGRATULATIONS!!" Teracle spoke of the others honored, "I want to congratulate all ladies in SL who do whatever they do to make it a companionship and nicer online living experience for others. There are many ladies who do that I'm sure." "Yes, congratulations to all the women! I feel lucky to call many of them friends." Kikutsuru spoke before heading out, "Kyyoko san thank you for the invite, an dputting this together, and to everyone here, congratulation I will be bringing my sisters back home now for the evening, I hope everyone will have a wonderful day and evening (big smile)."

Before heading out, I checked out the other room in the Art Cafe. There were a number of artworks there. Among them, a painting by Artistic Fimicloud, the noted artist and Relayer whose struggle in the face of cancer inspired many, including her neighbors the Sunweavers whom would join the Passionate Redheads Relay team, and carry on when it folded as the Sunbeamer RFL team. While the event this day was for the living, one woman no longer with us was also being honored.

The Art Cafe is located at Locus Amoenus (122/187/26)

Bixyl Shuftan

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Five Years in Second Life

By Kimiko Kanagowa (FoxytheJamie Resident)

I started my Second Life over five years ago. In that time, I have seen many sims come and go, and I have tried many things as well. From roleplay to clubs, I have seen a lot here.

    My Second Life started on March 13, 2013. The very first place I ever went to will always hold a special place in my heart, a club named Tiki Paradise. It was there that I first became a host. From there I frequented many clubs, including Wylies, Rock N’ Rustic, Toxxic Haven, Whiskey Barrel, and Castle Dark Haven, among others. After a while, I had a want for more from my second life, so I started looking at places to earn lindens from. Thus my short hosting career started. Eventually I found gambling sims, and spent a lot of time at these. It was also during this time, that I was introduced to the SL Newser.

    Starting in my second year of Second Life, I went from clubs and games, to roleplay sims. I originally started roleplaying at medieval sims, and viking sims. From there I briefly joined a Star Trek roleplay, but shortly after graduating from the academy, that went into my back pocket. I stayed with medieval sims for nearly a year and a half, going from dragons, to furries, to humans, back to furries, to kemonos. I soon traded my stone walls and horses, for brick walls and cars, as I went to city roleplays. I started at Fair Haven, as a fire fighter. I stuck with Fair Haven until it became Cedar Creek, and I left shortly after, looking for new roleplays.

    I soon ended up at a beautiful, sim, named The Tellus Sector. It was a science fiction sim, based on a distant planet. I started a small faction there, The Hunters, but only one person joined. That person then invited me to his military sim, ADI. I went there, fell in love, and soon, I was in the SLMC, flying planes, and shooting guns, for the Atlas Defense Industries. Pretty soon, I traded up and joined T’Koi, became their acting second, for their aerospace division. After a while, SLMC became a bit tiring, so I joined a group named Megiddo, from there I got back into it, and joined Coercion. Soon after, I helped found and stabilize All Hallows. At this point in time, I am on an indefinite hiatus from the SLMC.

    Shortly after joining ADI, I joined a city roleplay named Pine Leaf. This sim will forever be in my memory, because it started my four years of roleplay as a police officer, for the same sim. The sim’s name changed over the years, but the people, and roleplay did not. That sim soon became Leominster Valley. In my honest opinion, Leominster Valley has, and always will be, my very favorite city sim. Alongside Pine Leaf’s change to Leominster, I joined another roleplay as well. The Starfleet Galactic sim. Starfleet Galactic has become a sort of fourth home I would say, considering I went from a cadet, to Captain of two vessels of my own.

    I have found other sims between then and now, some good, some bad. You never really know what a sim is like until you try it out. However, one thing that is for sure at this point in time. I am always looking for my next adventure, and I hope it’s a good one.


Friday, March 9, 2018

SLife and Times: Instant Judgement Misconceptions

By Bixyl Shuftan

You've probably seen these kinds of people in real life, people who make instant judgments about an entire group of people just because they saw one bad thing one single individual of the group, and assumed this was how they all acted. Sometimes, it's as a joke, such as people talking about "all New Yorkers." And then there's when someone makes a blanket statement about "all Second Life users" or a certain part of it's fanbase. While some of the comments I've heard were made in jest, such as those saying men dating here really need a trip to a real-life strip bar, others are more bitter. The latter are often for highly exaggerated or outright false reasons.

Some months ago, someone sent me an angry message on Facebook. He was furious at me for promoting "a sick and twisted" form of entertainment. I responded that I had no idea he was talking about. He then sent me a link for something on Marketplace. The image was something so obscene, I can't even place a picture of it here with black bars. "Why aren't you writing about this?"

I gave a two-part response. One: I had never heard of this particular kind of product, or anything like it in Marketplace before. Two: It was my experience that very few, if any, of the hundreds of thousands of active residents would have any interest in this kind of depravity. Second Life did have it's adult side, I admitted, but I had never seen this level of obscenity there. I went on to say that while Second Life did have it's adult side, so does real life. And I had no desire to report on strip clubs and brothels any more than my local newspaper and the nightly news.

My attempt at reason didn't seem to have any affect on this man, whom angrily accused me of covering up the "truth." He would post on his Facebook page about this obscene virtual good as a typical example about how Second Life was a place where people went to exercise the most deprived of sexual fantasies. While tempted to respond, I felt the best thing to do was to ignore the angry rant and just let it die.

I thought back to when Second Life was mentioned much more in mainstream and tech media. At first, it was praised as the latest thing. But later on, what would be mentioned were the tales of cyber affairs while the stories about people creating art, the disabled finding ways to express themselves, and people getting together to raise charity were practically ignored. One friend of mine in those days called it an unfortunate fact of human nature, "It is so much easier to sell a story when it is controversial than when it is constructive." So it seems some people find it easier to believe the worst about the new and the different.

I was reminded about this more recently when at a club with a few friends. It had a mixed furred and normal human crowd. In the "after-party," following the official event, I was among those who hung around with a few friends, chatting about goings on. Then we saw someone come in. He was a newcomer, which was not very unusual in itself was the club occasionally gets them, and another had appeared earlier in the evening. But he began making remarks, asking if the human patrons were in danger of being eaten by the furry ones. At first, everyone thought he was joking, and went along with it, chuckling. But he wasn't laughing.

I messaged the guy, asking what was going on. He stated he was on "furry patrol," going to various places in Second Life with them. I asked what was the purpose, and he told me that the first furry place he went to, a wolf had roleplayed trying to eat him. Freaked out, he fired his weapon at him, and left the sim. So he was going from place to place that catered to furs to try to "protect" anyone in human avatars there.  Apparently he had come across the "vore" sim which caters to strange fantasy roleplay about creatures swallowing other creatures alive. This sort of thing isn't confined to Second Life. One girl I knew in real life wrote a story about a naga character, a snakelike creature in myth, that would once in a great while attack and devour alive someone who tried to harm her friends. This sort of thing is regarded as weird by most furs and normal humans in Second Life alike, one joking he found the concept "hard to swallow." But he seemed to have gotten the impression all of those who took on a nonhuman look were into that sort of thing.

So I told the newcomer that, saying most in furred avatars considered what he encountered just as strange as he did. I don't recall him giving me much of an answer, so I thought that might have convinced him nonhuman avatars weren't always out to get him. Later on, I did consider the possibility this might have been a troll alt whom was looking for people to offend, and seeing cooler heads decided to move on. But the trolls I've run into are usually more persistent.

Fortunately most people I've run into when it comes to Second Life are fairly open-minded. But it seems there's always a few whom jump to a wrong conclusion over a single incident, and act on it. Sometimes they'll reconsider when given new information. But some seem to be too close-minded to change their opinion.

Bixyl Shuftan

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Tranquility Health Care

By Kimiko Kanagowa (FoxytheJamie Resident)

In my travels, trying to find more about Second Life and Mental Health, I stumbled onto a place called Tranquility Health Care in the Sorens sim. The facility is owned by a Steffi Sugabum (QueenBSwag Resident). I had the opportunity of speaking with her, and this is what she had to say.

Kimiko: How long has this establishment been running?

Steffi: Since the start of January really. We're still quite a new business.

Kimiko: What was the original purpose for the creation of the establishment?

Steffi: Originally it was a roleplay before we set up on this land. It had therapy service still as well, but we also had a roleplay aspect to it as well. So it didn't have to be real-life relations. However, without breaking confidence of course, I found more coming to me wanting help with Therapy services due to their experiences. I had a meeting with staff and spoke about my ideas of helping more towards mental health awareness/general mental health - the therapists have real-life experience. So we just went for it and created a safe place for people to come to learn and seek help with mental health. (smile)

Kimiko: How many people have sought help here?

Steffi: It could range from 10 or something so far. I'll have to check properly later.

Kimiko: Can you describe the process of how people are helped?

Steffi: During their session? It can really vary, we offer talking therapy, in aid of support just being there for the client, seeing what they need from us, any advice we can give in aid towards them feeling better. We also may specialize in certain areas, such as one of our Therapists has a lot of experience towards helping with relationships. We offer a basic CBT as well. They also have experience with this too. This wont include homework or any diagnosis though. Just finding out what someone enjoys, helping them get back into what they enjoy in aid of helping with levels of depression or anxiety.

We do hold a test for Depression and Anxiety as well per client, just to make sure if they need real-life help more and provide advice towards that - say if someones in danger or risk of harm to themselves/anyone else. We'll still continue to support them though as well if they wish. Another thing - sorry if this ends up really long (laughter), we have set up a learning area as well, for free discussions/events in aid of awareness for mental health, self help advice and support. (smile)

Kimiko: What sort of conditions have you seen here?

Steffi: Mainly trauma and anxiety

Kimiko: Anything to add?

Steffi: Nothing really. Thanks, and I hope the best with your news letter too its a really great topic you're talking about. (smile)

This is the just the next chapter in the story about the constant struggle of mental health, everywhere, not just on Second Life. There is more to come, soon.

Sorens (87/120/21)

Kimiko Kanagowa