The 2020 SL Christmas Expo in support of the American Cancer Society, will take place between Friday, December 4th and Sunday, December 13th, 2020, inclusive. The theme for this year is that of Christmas Memories, with the organisers noting:
Christmas trees towering over your head while the Lionel train makes is journey around the base. Brightly wrapped gifts spread under the lowest boughs, as the aroma of sugar cookies and gingerbread drift in from the kitchen. Carols playing on the Victrola while the family gathers together to celebrate the holidays. Christmas Memories of all shapes and sizes spring to mind each year as the holidays approach.
– Nuala Maracas, RFL of SL Christmas Expo co-ordinator
This year, the organisers plan to have:
Breedables and one-of-a-kind auctions.
nearly non-stop musical performances / entertainment via the Holly jolly Café.
Gachas and hunts.
Christmas trees, ice skating, and a snowman building contest.
The 3rd annual Lights of Hope contest, featuring the best builders and teams of Lindens and Moles in a holiday home decorating competition.
The closing Live Auction with one of a kind items from Linden Lab and SL’s top creators and the annual Holidays of Hope Ball.
Making Strides Against Breast Cancer (MSABC) is a global signature event coordinated by the American Cancer Society aimed at raising awareness of the risks of breast cancer and in raising funds to support research into, and treatment of, the disease. Traditionally held in the latter half of the year, in 2019 MSABC raised over US $13,600 large through two main activities – Out to Shop and The Pink Power Fest / Making Strides Walk-a-Thon.
This year, MSABC is changing things up again, and in doing so, they are also hoping to show support for, and receive it from, another of Second Life’s active communities: the medieval / renaissance community.
The Second Life Renaissance Festival in support of Strides will open its doors on Friday, September 25th, 2020 and will run through until Sunday, October 4th, 2020 inclusive, and it will offer something for everyone interested in the medieval / renaissance period, or who wants to support the global work of ACS in respect of treating and curing breast cancer.
The festival will take place across four themed regions – or kingdoms, as they are being called. They will comprise:
Two Kingdom Shopping Regions, which will also include the Minstrel’s Corner (the entertainment stage), and will host the Best In Helm contest and the Tale Of Heroes activity, of which more below.
The tournaments region.
The Kings Court Academy region – focused on role-play – which will also feature the Traveller’s Camp, home to the event’s Gatcha and auctions (silent and one-of-a-kind).
We’d like our events to be all inclusive, so the Best In Helm contest is open to anyone wanting to take their photo in knight’s armour. Visitors to the festival will be able to vote for their favourite knight by making a donation through the Strides kiosk alongside their chosen knight.
The Tale Of Heroes is open to anyone in Second Life who wishes to tell their story of how Strides and / or Breast Cancer has affected them, or what it means to them.
– Nuala Maracas, Renaissance Festival co-coordinator
The tournaments region will offer a range of period tournaments – jousting, archery, mêlée, mounted archery – on a daily basis throughout the festival, and these are again open to anyone who like to try their hand at any of them.
The Kings Court Academy will feature a range of period role-play classes for those interested, and offer practice grounds for those wanting to try their hand at the various tournament activities, either on their own or via a scheduled class. It will also host the Conquer Trail, a path people can take on foot or horseback, running or walking, and use slingshots or rotten tomatoes to try to strike targets; hitting a target will provide information about Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and the services it provides.
Currently, the festival is taking registrations from: sponsors, merchants interested in participating – although slots for both are running out! – and period role-play communities / groups. Details can be found on the festival’s website as follows:
Those who wish to help in organising the event can also visit the volunteer’s sign-up page. Note that this does not include any sign-up for stage managers, greeters, entertainers, bloggers, etc., – a call for these positions will be made in due course.
Further information on the festival will be made available through the Renaissance Festival website as it becomes available, and I hope to provide updates through these pages as well.
My thanks to Nuala Maracas for spending time with me to discuss the event.
The 27th edition of Lab Gab live streamed on Friday, June 5th, and featured members of the Second Life Relay for Life team Stingray9798 Raymaker, Trager Alter, MamaP Beerbaum, and Nikki Mathieson, to mark the 2020 Relay weekend (which you can read about here). They were interviewed by co-hosts for the session, Strawberry Linden and Patch Linden.
The official video of the segment is available via You Tube, and is embedded at the end of this article. The following is a summary of the key topics discussed and responses to questions asked.
About the RFL Team
Trager Alter has been directly involved in Relay for Life of SL since 2017 after being introduce to Stingray by MammaP. He’s been directly involved in Relay Refresh – telling the stories of people who have faced and survived cancer.
MammaP became involved with Relay for Life of Second Life at a time when her father was suffering from cancer. It gave her the opportunity to do something practical to help raise money for cancer research whilst simultaneously caring doe her father in the physical world.
Nikki Mathieson joined SL alongside of MamaP, and became enamoured with the platform, the opportunities it offers, and realised that it offered huge potential for Relay for Life, and became involved in RFL of RL for that reason.
Stingray came to SL through the American Cancer Society, having been the manager for RFL’s on-line content. He was asked to look into RFL activities in SL as a result of RFL of SL volunteers working with ACS’s Innovations Team, and everything had reached a point where the Innovation Team were ready to hand it over to the ACS Relay Team, and he was asked to take the lead, so becoming the official liaison between RFL of SL and ACS.
What is the Relay Weekend?
Every year, Relay for Life raises money for the work of the American Cancer Society via a season of events. Many of these are run by individual Relay Teams formed by Second Life residents, and some are “mega events” (such as the Home and Garden Expo, Fantasy Faire, the Sci-Fi Convention, Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and Xmas Expo).
The Relay Weekend is the culmination of those events held during the core Relay season (February to June), where all the teams, large and small come together alongside the RFL track, each team with its own parcel to promote the work in providing care, support and treatment for sufferers of cancer in all its forms and their families and carers.
The event carries the ideal of Relay events in the physical world by having members of each team take turns to walk around an in-world track for the full 24 hours of the event. This is to symbolise two things:
When someone is dealing with cancer, they are no doing it alone, there are others who can support them and be with them.
The 24-hour aspect is recognition that cancer never sleeps, and the quest for cures to it cannot rest either.
The camp sites and themed regions all offer opportunities to socialise, to make friends and to learn more about cancer and how it can affect lives, be treated, etc., and the role of the ACS in all of this.
How does the Weekend Differ from Physical World RFL Events?
Abbreviated history of Relay:
In May 1985, Dr. Gordon Klatt, a colorectal surgeon from Tacoma, Washington, raised money for ACS by walking around the track at Baker Stadium at the University of Puget Sound for 24 hours, covering approximately 83 miles around the track.
Throughout the night, friends paid $25 to run or walk 30 minutes with him.
After this event, Klatt thought about how other people could participate in a similar event in their own community. He recruited a small team of people to host the City of Destiny Classic 24-Hour Run Against Cancer, and from this Relay for Life grew.
Relay for Life events now take place in some 30 countries around the world.
Events generally comprise:
A Survivor Lap, which starts the Relay event.
An Opening Lap, in which all the participants take a lap around the track
A Luminaria Ceremony, usually with a candlelight vigil
A “Fight Back” Ceremony, in which participants pledge to take specific actions against cancer.
The SL Relay Weekend comprises the same format and key activities. But differs in execution:
It does not require so much central logistical organisation and management.
It does however, require far more infrastructure coordination.
It is effectively a bigger event, both in terms of virtual vs. physical size (the 2020 track, for example, equates to some 6 miles), and in terms of the numbers of people participating.
Teams are able to do more than “just” camp and walk the track: they can directly support fund-raising by organising and running their own mini-events and activities.
It is a fully international event.
What is the Luminaria Ceremony?
It is the hour of the event (started at 21:00 on the Saturday of the Relay Weekend, roughly half-way through the weekend.
At that time, the track is darkened, and everyone in the Relay Regions are asked not to engage in open text or voice chat but to walk the track in silence or stand to one side.
During the hour, the names of those to be remembered, as submitted by the Luminaria Dedication Form that has been available for some time before each Relay Weekend, are read out over the event audio channel (which can be best listened through via the T1 Radio pop-up media player).
It is a time for people to reflect on how cancer has touched them personally, to recall those they’ve lost to the disease, or someone who is facing it as a part of their life, or someone who has seen it enter remission.
Also honoured throughout the weekend are the names hovering above the Luminaria lanterns that line either side of the track, and through which residents can make a donation to RFL of SL (minimum L$50) and add a name / dedication.
How Has the SARS-C0V-2 Pandemic Affected ACS?
Like most non-profit organisations world-wide, ACS relays on large-scale, multi-people fund-raising events, with Relay For Life being the largest annual event for ACS, with the primary RFL fund-raising period world-wide being April-May.
SARS-CoV-2 has therefore significantly impacted RFL both as the ACS’ main means of raising funds, and the amount of funds overall that are flowing into the organisation on a daily basis.
RFL of SL and Second Life users – and their families and friends – are therefore critical to the mission of ACS, by:
Engaging in events such as the Relay Weekend and donating money.
And / or by visiting RFL of SL page at the RFL website and making a donation.
ACS and Relay teams around the world have recognised that RFL of SL is now the spear of fund-raising efforts.
Second Life users have rallied to this call, at the time of writing, RFL of SL has raised around US $275,000.
Overall, RFL of SL has raised some US $4 million (around L$1 billion) during the years it has been operating.
RFL of SL Events
RFL of SL comprises a range of events, most of which take place during the core in-world fund-raising season between February and June each year.
This period includes the majority of the mega events (Home and Garden, Fantasy Faire, Sci-Fi Convention and the Relay Weekend.
There are also all the team events held across SL.
There is also the Xmas Expo and Making Strides Against Breast Cancer in October, which is to be expanded to have its own Renaissance mega event.
In terms of fund raising, Fantasy Faire remains the biggest mega event for in Second Life, with Making Strides also a focused and effective fund-raiser.
Outside of these, mega and large events tend to evolve and change. There used to be a major RFL of SL clothing / fashion event, for example, and when breedables became very popular in SL, there was a dedicated Breedables Fair.
The days of relay has also proved popular among communities wishing to support RFL / ACS. This started as the 5 days of relay in 2019 and had to be expanded to the 10 days of relay in 2020 to accommodate everything.
Where Do All the Donations Go?
Kiosks for RFL of SL are set up to allow events and teams see how much they have raised and contributed.
When a donation is made, it briefly goes to the kiosk holder account, but then is immediately paid out of that account and into the ACS fund account.
RFL of SL merchant vendors work on the same principle of payment in, then immediate transfer of the amount to the ACS fund raising account.
Funds are cashed out from the ACS L$ account in s similar manner: they are converted to US dollars and then process credited to ACS, not to any intermediary account.
When the funds are received by ACS, there is a certain amount that has to cover expenses (e.g. the running costs associated with having a presence in SL), but all other funds beyond this go directly to supporting ACS in its various missions.
Some of the money raised may be directed at a specific programme, as is the case with Making Strides, Fantasy Faire and the Xmas Expo:
Money raised by Making Strides goes directly to the ACS breast cancer mission.
In 2018 / 2019 funds raised be Fantasy Faire went directly into the Kenyatta National Hospital Hope Hostel in Kenya (see here for an initial report on this project from 2018).
This year, the US $75,000 raised by Fantasy Faire is reserved for use in the ACS global mission.
Similarly, the funds raised by the Christmas Expo are earmarked for the ACS child cancer programme.
Funds not earmarked for specific missions / programmes is referred to as “purple money” and goes towards the ACS cancer research mission in the United States. ACS is believed to be the largest funder of cancer research in the world outside of the US government.
Within SL, the funds pay for ACS island and all the resources, facilities and support than can be offered through the island directly to cancer sufferers and cancer care workers in-world, the Cancer Survivors support group, etc.
How Can SL Communities Get Involved and Help?
Individuals can attend RFL of SL events and donate through kiosks, make purchases (where available), etc.
Update: Trader Whiplash-Ballinger dropped me a note to point out that those wishing to hear the music stream for the event, provided by T1 Radio, should visit the T1 Radio website and use the pop-out Relay Radio media player rather than using the in-world stream. The player will give lag / interruption-free listening enjoyment as visitors travel the Relay regions.
Friday June 5th through Sunday June 7th 2020 marks the Relay for Life of Second Life Relay weekend – and this year it’s a biggie! The Relay track this year covers some 40-ish regions, which are supported by additional event and activity regions so that the entire weekend comprises some 57 regions in all, with the American Cancer Society (ACS) region forming the 58th and anchor-point region.
In a year when the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has done so much to prevent people coming together around the world to raise money for ACS and global cancer organisations, Relay for Life of Second Life takes on added importance. It is, in effect, THE major grass-roots fund-raising series of events raising money for ACS and its projects in 2020. Already, Relayers across Second Life have accept the challenge by raising some US $260,000+, and this year’s Relay Weekend offers the opportunity for all of us to significantly advance that total.
The theme for this year is Game On Cancer, and in reflection of this, relay teams have come together to present a whole host of parcels along the route of the track the take games as their theme – many of them interactive in nature (you can engage in a giant game of Mahjong, for example, or enter an avatar-sized setting based on Clue – or to use its original name (I won’t say “proper”! 🙂 ) Cluedo; while several of SL’s popular communities – science fiction, the road / driving community, role-play groups, sailing / surfing / water communities, and so on – provide region-wide installation focused on their activities framed within the overall theme.
This means there is a huge amount to see and do within the regions as a pert of the overall aim of raising funds for the American Cancer Society’s world-wide efforts to bring treatment, care, support and (eventually) cures to cancer sufferers world-wide.
With the regions, there’s also room for social commentary with subtle reminders that those from poor backgrounds are often more prone to the effects of cancer, simply because they do not have the ease of access to care and support. In this the “Las Vegas” region is quite effective in showing two sides of the coin. May of the teams participating also appear to be running their own events throughout the weekend, with numerous stages and event areas to be found along the track, all of which further helps encourage engagement and participation.
Also to be found through the region are informational displays about cancer and its treatment, parks in which to rest and reflect on life, and places to share in the stories of Second Life residents who have survived cancer, offered as a means to provide hop to those caught within its shadow.
The weekend officially kicks-off at 10:00 SLT on Saturday June 6th with a formal Opening Ceremony. However, as noted above, you can catch up with some of the people behind Relay for Life of Second Life by tuning into Lab Gab on Friday, June 5th, and 12:00 noon SLT.
For 2020, laps around the track are themed as follows, all times SLT.
Saturday, June 6th
Sunday, June 7th
11:00 Survivor/Caregiver Lap
sponsored by the Relay Rockers
Toga Party / Food Fight
cream pies at the ready!
12:30 Teams Lap
sponsored by Grid Play
C&V’s House of Rock
Roller Skating Hour
don your skates and roll around the track!
PAC Man Hour
gobble, gobble, gobble!
Walk with a Friend
two’s always company!
Somewhere Over the Rainbow
sponsored by Attention to Cancer
get yourself ship-shape!
Your Favourite Sports Teams
show your colours!
sponsored by Heroes Helping Heroes
Nerds and Geeks Unite!
grok you geek!
Fight Back Hour
sponsored by Gavin Dionysus
Your favourite video games
sponsored by Friends for a Cure
Wear Your Coffee and Drink Your Curlers
sponsored by Relay Rockers
sponsored by Camping for a Cure
21:00 Luminaria Ceremony
Purple Power Hour
sponsored by Team shadow
sponsored by SHB Gems
10:00 Closing Ceremony
Las Vegas Hour
dancing with your sparklers!
Luminaria Ceremony and Lanterns
At 21:00 SLT on Saturday, June 6th, the track will be in darkness and silence, with all those in the Relay Regions are asked not to engage in open text or voice chat but to walk the track in silence or stand to one side, as the names of those to be remembered are read.
It is a time for each of us to reflect on how this disease has touched us personally. And it is a time for us to look inside ourselves with quiet reflection and find hope. Because no matter what our experience has been with cancer, we all share the hope that we will one day live in a world where our children, and their children, will never have to hear the words “you have cancer”.
Along the sides of the relay track are the Luminaria lanterns that can be used to commemorate and / or honour someone you know who has succumbed to or survived cancer. Lanterns can be lit for a minimum donation of L$50 (all proceeds to Relay for Life of Second Life). Donations can can be made by clicking a lantern and then either selecting a set amount or typing in an amount of your choice. You can also optionally enter whether you are lighting the lantern in memory or in honour of someone, and also add their name and / or a message.
Lanterns will be available for donations from the opening of the weekend through until the weekend ends. They will display different colours, depending on the amount donated: Yellow: L$50-499; Green: L$500-999; Blue: L$1000-2499; Orange: L$2500-4999; Pink: L$5000-9999; Purple: L$10,000 and above.
The Spirit of Relay Award
The Spirit of Relay are annual awards presented to the individual and the team that embodies what the community calls, the ‘spirit’ of Relay, from Kick Off to Relay Day. It is not representative of just the amount raised, but takes into consideration the spirit of the individual or team: how they embraced Relay For Life and the American Cancer Society’s mission, their enthusiasm and their participation in Relay activities as a whole, not only in their own but other team’s events as well.
Nomination can be made via the 2020 Spirit of Relay Award form, which will remain open until Sunday June 8th, and the recipients will be announced at the 2020 RFL of SL Wrap Up Party on Wednesday, June 10th.
It’s a weekend of Peace Love and Hope and great music as the 7th annual RelayStock takes place between Friday, May 15th and Sunday, May 17th inclusive.
Paying homage to Woodstock and hosted by the Relay Rockers, the event features live and DJ entertainment, dancing, vendors and the opportunity to help raise money for RFL of SL.
Activities are focused on RFL team camp sites set out around a 60s style festival stage. The camp sites, mixed between iconic VW camper wagons and tents, are occupied by RFL Relay teams who present kiosks and fund-raising vendors, while the event stage plays hosts to the performers and the ever-popular Celebrate Remember Fight Back (CRFB) Top DJ Competition.
The event is open to all residents of Second Life to enjoy and In addition, when visiting you’ll also be able to Bid a Linden Bald, which this year see four teams for Linden Lab participating – see 2020 Bid a Linden Bald for RFL of SL for more.
The event’s activities line up as follows (all times SLT – check the official event page for any late updates):
Friday May 15th:
13:30 – 15:00: DJ Stephanie – Bellisseria For Relay For Life.
15:00 – 16:30 DJ DollEyes Barbosa – Too Tough To Die.
16:30 – 18:00: DJ Evee – Spirit Of The Dragon.
18:00 – 19:30: DJ Dredd Rocktatansky – The River Rock Club.
19:30 – 21:00: DJ Melina Firehawk – Heroes Helping Heroes.
Saturday May 16th:
12:00 – 13:30: DJ Angel Blossom – Seekers Of Hope.
13:30 – 15:00: DJ Gem Sunkiller – Team Shadow.
15:00 – 16:00: Max Kleene – Live Singer – Relay Rockers.
17:00 – 19:30: DJ Trader Whiplash – The Time Machine Show – Relay Rockers.
19:30 – 21:00: DJ Kayla – Roos With A Dream.
So, let the age of Aquarius enter your life this weekend, don your kaftan (and galoshes!), put flowers in your hair and head on over to RelayStock for get music, great dancing, great fun – and all in a good cause!
On Friday, May 15th, the 2020 Second Life Science Fiction Convention, raising money for Relay for Life of Second Life and the American Cancer Society, opens its doors to sci-fi enthusiasts from across virtual worlds.
Running through until Sunday, May 24th, 2020, the convention is spread across eight regions packed with all things science fiction, and offers insight into sci-fi goods and services, role-play, communities, and more, whilst also including a range of entertainment, talks, readings, hunts and activities to keep people engaged throughout the event.
Information on the event has been sketchy in places during the run-up when compared to other major RFL events (how to attend the blogger’s day was only published on the day, for example, which left some wondering that – while the date was known in advance – would it require registration beforehand, and if so how they might register in the run-up to the day).
Of course, now the event is rolling along, the core details are there, including a complete calendar of events (although information on hunts, etc., is best obtained from the information boards within the convention regions), and information on the region themes, the latter being:
When exploring the regions, you’ll find the usual interesting mix of merchants and role-play groups, all with something to offer. All of the major franchises from media sci-fi are represented – Star Trek in its various forms, Docotor Who, Stargate, Battlestar Galactica, etc., together with the likes of Gundam, Babylon 5 while there are some nice references to Buck Rogers, Space 1999, etc., awaiting discovery, with even what might be a nod towards the short-lived Terra Nova, with much more besides. In touring, I admit to particularly liking Waxen Works’ The Life and Work of Gerry Anderson.
So, whatever your interest in science fiction, be sure to set your phaser on fun and head back to the future with a visit to the SL SciFi convention. So say we all!