Do it in a dress – a campaign for education

DIIAD

I don’t usually blog on fashion in SL, but this is something special, and I extend my thanks to Strawberry Singh for bringing it to my attention.

66 million girls around the world are not in school simply because of their gender. Do it in a Dress is an Australian-led campaign run by One Girl which is helping to change this by raising money to help educate young girls in Sierra Leone, a country where only one in six girls aged 11 or over receives an education.

The blue design from Juno Mertel in  the Do It In A Dress range
The blue design and blouse from Juno Mantel in the Do It In A Dress range

Designer Juno Mantel has now brought the campaign to Second Life.

Under the Do it in a Dress banner, Juno is offering a vintage school dress, available in 5 individual colours, for L$250 (or whatever over that you’d like to pay) – with 100% of the purchase prices going directly to the campaign.

The dress is mesh, and includes and alpha layer. A demo is available for those who wish to try before they buy. Both the dress and the demo can be obtained from the special display in Juno’s store,  and for those who don’t wish to buy the dress, they can contribute directly through Juno’s campaign page, where the total raised to date can be tracked.

Men, women and children have been joining the Do it in a Dress campaign, which is held annually in the physical world every October. Since it started in 2001, it has raised over AU$326,800, helping to educate 1089 young girls in Sierra Leone, where the average cost of a girl’s education amounts to AU$300.

Now’s the chance for avatars to join in the effort as well, with Juno’s campaign running from through to December 7th. When you’ve purchased your dress, why not show-off photos of you wearing it around SL on the Do it in a Dress Flickr group? and remember, guys, this is one for you as well!

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Radegast: “Road’s End”

On November 5th, Latif Khalifa posted a notice to the Radegast blog that he is ending development of the Radegast viewer, and ceasing work on other virtual worlds open-source projects in which he has been engaged. Citing health reasons, Latif stated:

It saddens me to have to inform you that I won’t be able to continue work on Radegast or my other opensource projects. My health has been deteriorating over the past few years to this point where my use of computers is down to just a few minutes daily. Not being able to work for several years bring its own set of problems.

This isn’t necessarily the complete end for Radegast – as Latif notes, the code is open-source, and as such will remain available should anyone wish to continue with its development.

Radegast is a lightweight virtual worlds client that offers considerable flexibility of use for users, including the ability to render in-world scenes in 3D, thus enabling avatar movement and interactions. Almost all of the core capabilities found in a the full viewer are available within  Radegast, including inventory management, the ability to change outfits, chat, IM, teleport, undertake group management activities, manipulate objects and their contents, script, use voice (local chat) listening to music streams, use avatar gestures, and more.

Radegest gives you almost all the capabilities of a full viewer in a lightweight package (image courtesy of Radegast)
Radegest gives you almost all the capabilities of a full viewer in a lightweight package (image courtesy of Radegast)

Radegast has particularly seen considerable use with visually impaired users, offering speech recognition for controlling UI and entering text in chat and text-to-speech for reading out loud incoming messages, and a special accessibility guide has been written in support of this.

As Latif has kept the client up-to-date with all major SL and OpenSim changes to date (including mesh rendering, server-side appearance for SL, etc.), there is no danger of it suddenly ceasing to work in the immediate future for those who do use it on a regular basis; so there is no need to immediately abandon it, even if the option to continue developing it isn’t taken up by another developer.

Radegast takes mesh and sculpt rendering in its stride in the 3D scene view
Radegast offers a full 3D rendering view. While it might now have ALM, windlights and all the intensive bells and whistles, it takes avatar movement and rendering mesh and sculpts in its stride (click for full size)

Latif himself has been a towering force within the open-source community, working on a number of viewer projects, including Singularity and, most recently, Replex, and he has been heavily committed to the support of the OpenSim community as well as working to improve the user experience in Second Life. He is the founder of the Advanced Worlds SL group in support of  the creation, design and development of technologies for virtual worlds, and the promotion of open standards and open-source software.

While there has been no similar notice on the Replex blog, that Latif has indicated a withdrawal from his open-source projects suggests that work on this viewer may also be suspended unless someone else is steeping into the breach. However, I am still awaiting confirmation on this.

There is little doubt that his presence, if he is forced completely away from virtual worlds, will be very much missed – as the comments following the announcement on the Radegast blog demonstrate. In the meantime, my personal message to Latif – someone I’ve been privileged to call a friend for a good while now, and who has always been a huge amount of fun, even when we’ve bumped heads on occasion(!) – is simply this: look after yourself, and am hoping things  improve in the future.

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la maison d’Aneli

La Maison d'Aneli - FrancheskaCarter
la Maison d’Aneli – FrancheskaCarter – click any image for full-size

I received an invitation from Aneli Abeyante to attend a special vernissage of the first exhibition to be held at her new gallery, la Maison d’Aneli, which opens on Tuesday, November 11th, 2014. Unfortunately, I cannot attend the preview itself, so I hope she won’t mind me writing about it in advance.

The inaugural exhibition features work by Littleone Aries, Tani Thor, FrancheskaCarter, Nino Vichan and Cayenne Avon, with the opening featuring a special concert featuring Pol Jarvinen’s work and the music of Yummy and Coffee Jaworower.

La Maison d'Aneli - Tani Thor
la maison d’Aneli – Tani Thor

la maison d’Aneli is a brick-built gallery within Impress allen’s region of Virtual Holland. The ground floor feature gallery spaces for Littleone Ares, Tani Thor, FrancheskaCater and a display / telpeort area for Pol Jarvinen and the concert area. Upstairs, the exhibition space is devoted to a joint piece by Nino and Cay, entitled Companions, and of which more anon. Lines on the floor invite visitors to tour the gallery in a specific order of artists, commencing with Littleone Ares, then progressing through the Companions exhibit, then Tani, Francheska and finally to Pol, and the teleporter up to the concert space.

Littleone, Tani and Francheska offer strongly contrasting styles in their work, which makes this a varied and striking opening exhibition. I’ve not been overly familiar with any of their work prior to my visit, but found all three appealing in very different ways; there is a powerful sense of abstract in Littleone’s pieces, which at the same time have a hint of intricate glass art. Tani’s work is more surreal in approach, the images presented quite striking in both their power and statement.

Littleone Ares
la maison d’Aneli – Littleone Ares

FrancheskaCarter’s work, which forms the largest part of the exhibition, draws on a number of themes, styles and influences, presenting a dynamic display of art that is – to me, at least – quite magnetic; and I say that without any intent to slight either Tani or Littleone. There is so much to captivate here, the interweaving of styles, forms and contrasts is entrancing.

Just look at Murbian, with its New York-like street of today and Urbaniste above it, featuring a street scene from over a century before; these pieces both complement and contrast with one another not only in the scenes they depict, but also in the manner in which they are presented. The New York picture possesses bold, modern strokes, the picture showing us a horse-drawn past offer far softer lines and colour, immersing us further in the bygone age it represents. Similarly, Chati offers an immensely powerful statement, while Amoureux magnificently captures the power and sensuality of the Argentine tango.

La Maison d'Aneli - Companions
la maison d’Aneli – Companions

Upstairs, Cay and Nino offer a very different piece. “Welcome to the attic,” the introductory note card reads “Filled with memories of the companions who shared our lives.” following this is a short poem recalling the love and affection offered to us by favourite pets. This is, in short, a little trip down memory lane which is at once very personal, and almost somethings any of us who have shared our lives with a pet will instantly emphasise with.

Here, amidst the clutter one can all too often find in a roomy attic – old copies of newspapers, toys long forgotten, packing crates and travel trunks, furniture past its prime and more  -, lie a series of paintings and drawings of pets and their owners from times past. Each picture tells a story of its own, and each draws us into it in an almost intimate way, at the same time conjuring memories of those pets we have ourselves loved, and who offered us unconditional love in return. This is a wonderfully personal display in many ways, both through the pictures offered and the setting itself.

As an inaugural exhibition, this is, as noted above, quite a stunning array of art (all of which is offered for sale, and would grace any home), and one not to be missed. Congratulations to  Aneli on both the opening of the gallery and this excellent exhibition.

La Maison d'Aneli - FrancheskaCarter
la maison d’Aneli – FrancheskaCarter

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