Nonprofits are finding that one of the major benefits of Second Life work is alliance building. I had the pleasure of attending Monday’s panel on virtual world partnerships and collaborations. Moderated by Glitteractica Cookie of the Nonprofit Commons, the panelists included Gentle Heron and Eme Capalini of Virtual Ability, Buffy Beale and Ozma Malibu of the Transitions Project and Peterpan Slade of OneWorld island and soon to be EcoCommons.The panel was part of “Real World Impacts from the Virtual World”, an afternoon of events giving a sneak preview of MacArthur Foundation’s new island in Second Life and was sponsored by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the USC Network Culture Project and Global Kids.
Buffy Beale and Ozma Malibu discussed how their partnership of five core groups (Bridges for Women, Floaters, Amoration, the Vesuvius Group, and Community Voicemail) came together to begin working on the Transitions project. These five groups had been attending the Nonprofit Commons Friday meetings for some time, and had grown to know each other, Ozma explained. “We met one day to discuss issues of technology access for homeless and other displaced people. The first time the five of us met as a small group, our ideas flowed like water and we saw that we each had a piece of a larger puzzle.” It was at this first meeting that the Transitions Project was born.
The Transitions project is using a number of social networking tools in addition to Second Life, including Twitter, Facebook, Google applications, and are looking into online worlds such as Lively and Sakai that could have specific uses within the full Transitions program. They are starting to layer these tools with the goal of having all of these tech tools eventually available in Second Life to help further their mission of extending access to opportunities and technology to those in transition. Second Life has allowed them to connect with other like-minded groups and sharing information and resources that translate to real life impact.
Next, Gentle Heron of the Heron Sanctuary and Virtual Ability groups in Second Life spoke about collaborative efforts in the disability resource community. Gentle started off entering the online world with some friend specifically to set up a support community for people with disabilities after not finding many real world support options. She found that there were numerous disability support groups in Second Life already, but none of them focused on helping individuals venture in-world. Virtual Ability seeks to fill this niche by assisting newcomers to Second Life and providing them with additional assistive resources in Second Life.
While Virtual Ability started off as Second Life group, it has spurred all kinds of connections with other disability communities and groups interested in improving the accessibility of Second Life for people with disabilities. The community has grown organically and as membership continues to increase, they’ve found themselves involved with additional related projects in Second Life.
Second Life was a natural fit for OneWorld, PeterSan Slade explained, as their interest lies in tackling climate change – and what better way to meet with folks across the world then “traveling by laptop” without the carbon cost of flying. OneWorld’s in-world presence is closely linked with their online social network oneclimate.net where people can easily find one another by geographic location to see events happening around them. So far the majority of their partnershipa have come from their web presence, but they are quickly creating in-world partnerships, including one with the Nonprofit Commons! The Eco Commons will be a partnership between OneClimate island/OneWorld.net and the Nonprofit Commons specifically geared towards groups involved with environmental issues. This third Nonprofit Commons location is due to launch in mid-December.
PeterSan also let folks know about OneWorld’s December event with live conferencing in Second Life across four islands of the UN Summit in Poland. This event offers multiple options for participation and interaction, as there will be participants at the real life conference, web streaming, and live conferencing in-world with both voice and text chat. While there are still technical challenges of real-time communication between the two worlds, OneWorld is expanding the ways that people and avatars can take get involved.
More and more in-world alliances are popping up in-world so it was interesting and informative to hear from these trailblazing groups paving the way for future alliances and positive real and virtual world impact.
You can check out the complete text chat from the panel here.
Written by: penguin kuhn