A Spoonful of Sugar in Second Life

Spoonful of Sugar: hub region with gacha and silence auction
Spoonful of Sugar: hub region with gacha and silent auction

Currently open through until September 25th, is the 2016 Spoonful of Sugar event, aimed at raising money for Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). Also known as Doctors Without Borders, MSF is an international, independent, medical humanitarian organisation delivering emergency aid to people affected by armed conflict, epidemics, natural disasters and exclusion from healthcare, providing assistance to people based on need, irrespective of race, religion, gender or political affiliation.

Established by Ever Courtois and Angelique Wickentower, Spoonful of Sugar (SOS) aims to raise money for MSF as a part of the organisation’s Vital Pact Campaign. In 2015, MSF carried out 450 projects in 69 countries, as well as conducting a range of search and rescue operations. These activities included (and continue to include, in many cases), bringing medical assistance to the civilian citizens of war-torn cities like Aleppo, Syria; providing on-the-ground medical support for outbreaks of diseases such as cholera, measles and meningitis, kala azar, sleeping sickness, Chagas disease and ebola; and providing a full range of relief activities for natural disasters such as the Apirl 2015 earthquake in Nepal. 

Spoonful of Sugar: the breedables fair region
Spoonful of Sugar: the breedables fair region

The SOS event is spread across five regions in Second Life, comprising a central hub, two regions supporting fashion, together with regions respectively devoted to home and garden region, and to a breedable’s fair. Given the French angle with MSF, several of the regions have a decidedly cosmopolitan look and feel, with tall buildings and broad boulevards – which makes the Home and Garden region intriguing, with some of the buildings landscaped from within.

Donation kiosks are also available within the regions, for those wishing to donate directly to SOS
Donation kiosks are also available within the regions, for those wishing to donate directly to SOS

A full shopper’s guide is available on the Spoonful of Sugar website. Participating creators have items on sale via special SOS vendors, with between 50% and 100% of proceeds of sales being donated to SOS.

In addition, details of music entertainment can also be found on the SOS website,  and the central hub region features a silent auction and special gacha area. Also to be found there is the SOS raffle, featuring a fully furnished home which will go to one lucky winner.

The house is a large converted barn designed by Barnesworth Anubis (visible on the right side of the banner image at the top of this article). It has been furnished throughout by many of the creators supporting and sponsoring the event. Tickets are priced at L$100 each.

Supporting a very worthy cause and open through until Sunday, September 25th, Spoonful of Sugar makes for a very worthwhile visit.

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UWA to scale back in Second Life

UWA: Winthrop Clocktower and the Reflection Pond, with the SLeducate area on the right, which you can read about here
UWA: Winthrop Clocktower and the Reflection Pond, with the SLeducate area on the right, which you can read about here

Update, October 10th: JayJay Zifanwe has announced that the four core UWA regions will remain open through until July 2017. You can read more here.

I received a nudge about the University of Western Australia, which has enjoyed a long presence here in Second Life, operating multiple regions and becoming a stalwart supporter of virtual arts through its grand challenges and other competitions and opportunities offered to artists to present their work, as well a through support of machinima in physical world film challenges, such as those run by Screen My Shorts.

The news was actually broken over the weekend by Jayjay Zifanwe, who has spearheaded the UWA’s presence in Second Life since it started, and who has worked exceptionally hard with FreeWee Ling to promote and support artistic creativity within the broad cross-section of second life users and talent. In the post, Jayay states:

It is with a heavy heart, that I must inform you all, that 4 of the 5 UWA sims, will vanish into the binary night on the 9th of October 2016. The SIM that will remain for at least another year is the Uni of WA sim, which is our flagship sim housing Winthrop Clocktower and the Reflection Pond, The Sunken Gardens and The Somerville Theatre.

Everything on all [the] sims will remain as is for the next 2 weeks… do come back for a visit as many of the artworks going back 7 years are still at various locations. Once those 2 weeks are up, our curator, Freewee Ling will start to rationalise what is on the UWA sims, so that some items from all sims are brought onto the one remaining sim.

UWA: UWA Winthrop and the gallery displaying some of the smaller art pieces on display within the UWA regions
UWA: UWA Winthrop and the gallery displaying some of the smaller art pieces on display within the UWA regions

FreeWee adds to the blog post with a note to those artists who have works on display in the UWA regions. So if you are one of those artists, do please make sure you read the post in full. Of the four regions which the UWA is closing, three will be shutting down completely, and one will be changing hands.

The reasons for the region closures appear to be internal to the UWA, and not anything specifically directed towards virtual worlds and Second Life. At the end of 2015, the UWA did cut back on its direct support of artistic endeavours in SL through its patronage of the Grand 2D and 3D art challenges, again spearheaded by Jayjay and FreeWee. Since that time, arts have continued to be supported at the UWA through smaller, but no less attractive activities, such as a the current Immaterial contest, which I’ve been covering in this pages, and the entries for which can be seen at the UWA gallery.

Nish Mip's Last Ocean, a poignant opening to Jayjay's blog post
UWA: Nish Mip’s Last Ocean, a poignant opening to Jayjay’s blog post

If you have not visited the UWA regions, I urge you to do so before the four scheduled to be removed vanish. There is a stunning amount of art to see, much of it standing as a historic look back over artistic expression in Second Life, including the Grand Final winners from the various challenges, including Nish Mip’s Last Ocean, which forms a poignant opening to Jayjay’s post, As well as the art, there are campus facilities to explore.


Tutsy Navarathna’s “The Residents“, overall winner in the machinima category of the 2013 Project Sci-Fi challenge, sponsored by the UWA

For my part, I’d like to thank Jayjay and FreeWee for all of their hard work over the years in building the UWA environment in-world, and to those at the UWA itself, for their support of virtual spaces and digital arts.

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Revisiting Roche in Second Life

Roche
Roche

I first visited Roche in 2012 (see here). Then held by ddsm2 Mathy, the region offered a rural setting which was instantly attractive, making it a popular destination for SL travellers. In 2015, it was announced Roche would by closing. However,  Ricco Saenz pointed out to me, it later re-opened as Up to U, a collaborative effort between Fio and ありえす (ArieS Magic), offering a new look and beauty, which I wrote about here.

Over the course of the next year, I lost track of the region, so I was intrigued to catch word from Annie Brightstar that Roche would once again be closing at the end of September, as announced by the region’s current holder, Uta (xoYUUTAox). Intrigued, Caitlyn and I went to have a look.

Roche
Roche

Mostly given over to water, the region sits beneath a dark sky, lit to one side by a bright white star caught forever just above the horizon, giving the region a magical, otherworldly feel. Tall trees are scattered across the shallow waters, their willow-like branches glowing dimly and strung with lights as much as leaves. Blue and red lilies carpet the water under some of the trees,  whilst a grove of bamboo stands guard around two oriental style bridges, which rise from the water to span the water, sharing the space with tables of alien-looking blue plants caught in the light of that distant star.

Ruins can be found among the carpets of lilies, and to one side of the region a single rocky outcrop pushes its way clear of the dark water, a giant piglet asleep on its grassy head.  The remaining occupants of the region can be found flapping above a dual line of old electrical poles, or fussing around the litter of chairs and seats scattered in the lee of the poles.

Roche
Roche

With light falling like raindrops from a cloudless, starry sky and lanterns floating on the water, Roche is a strange, but enchanting place. There is no ambient sound scape; instead the gentle sound of piano solos is offered via the audio stream. For those seeking somewhere to sit, places can be found among the jumble of chairs and seats, at the top of a curving flight of steps, among the ruins, or against the giant piglet on his island.

Roche has always offered unique environments, and Uta’s design is no exception. Whether or not the next incarnation of the region maintains that tradition remains to be seen; as does whatever comes next from Uta’s imagination; I gather she is already thinking about something new elsewhere. In the meantime, if you’ve not paid her vision for Roche a visit, you might want to do so before the region changes hands once again.

Roche
Roche

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  • Roche (Rated: Moderate)