Virtual Mine Launch

I went to the Virtual Mine launch event to explore an educational sim that teaches about coal mining through the use of an interactive game environment. The Virtual Mine was built in anticipation of a film called Deep Down, which will be screening in various places around the world, and will also be shown on PBS’ Independent Lens program. We met up with our guides, Girl Tenk and Tracks Elcano. Using voice chat, they instructed us to wear the hard hat and a HUD. When the sim warned me via the main chat that I am required to wear a helmet in the area, I knew that the experience was going to be marvelous.




We waited for a few more people to teleport in, donned our hard hats, wore our HUDs, and began our adventure.



First, the trees were cleared from the top of the mountain. It was very sad to watch.



Then, explosives were placed strategically on top of the cleared mountain.



The detonator was set off, and the rocks went flying up and then came crashing down…


A crane was brought in to collect the coal…



Rik was injured in the explosion and he could not move for a while because he did not move out of the way in time.


We then crossed a bridge to go visit the town near the mountain…


the town was a replica of a real town in Kentucky that was closely studied by the team that built the Virtual Mining sim.



Draxtor was on location, shooting machinima footage (which I look forward to seeing)



Then we went and put solar panels on top of the farm houses…



Someone found a line dancing floor and animated their avatar, soon everyone joined in as they were setting up for the panel…



Finally, there was a panel moderated by renouned machinimator Draxtor Despres featuring:

Girl Tenk, Film Maker

Tracks Elcano, Film Maker

Shayna Capalini from BAVC

Rik Riel, Global Kids

Frederica Lexenstar, Kentuckians for the Commonwealth




The panel discussed the inspiration behind the building of the sim, and the importance of having immersive educational experiences to showcase the environmental and social impact of coal. They also discussed the state of virtual worlds and their acceptance as a medium. The filmmakers acknowledged that it may not be for everyone, but said that projects like this are increasing the acceptance of virtual worlds as a medium. They also stated that it is up to everyone to be an evangelist for projects like this.

Tracks Elcano: “let’s get this out to the people and not just the choir, the choir already knows.”

Written by: Layal

2011 Land Pricing and the Nonprofit Commons

On Monday, October 4th, we were alerted to a blog post by Nelson Linden announcing that Linden Lab would be removing the discounts provided to the non-profit and education sims. There were a lot of comments flooding into the blog post, and Twitter was abuzz with Second Lifers with their speculations.

We immediately sent out the following response to the news:

“We are committed to remain a free space for nonprofits, and we hope we can help provide space to newly displaced nonprofit and social benefit orgs who will be forced to move because of the rent-hike.”

As of the writing of this post, there have been over 200 comments posted on Nelson Linden’s blog entry. It is a great sign to have this many concerned Second Life residents, and it will hopefully inspire them all to work together in finding solutions for these concerns.

John Lester, aka Pathfinder, a champion of the nonprofit and education causes in Second Life, wrote a great blog post discussing these changes. I think he summed it up best when he said:

“I’m happy the discount lasted as long as it did.  As for the reasoning behind this new decision by Linden Lab, I have no idea and I’m not interested in speculating.  What I’m interested in is the future of educators and non-profits in virtual worlds in general.”

We, at the Nonprofit Commons completely agree with his interest in looking to the future for educators and nonprofits.

We hope that you can join us at this Friday’s meeting, where we are having Terrance Linden speak about the migration of the teen grid members over to the main grid. It may be a good chance to ask your questions to a live Linden who has the inside scoop.

Also at the meeting we have social media for Nonprofits expert Amy Sample Ward , to discuss NetSquared and the FACT Social Justice Challenge

We welcome any members of the Second Life community to discuss the situation on our Google Group. Rik Panagibian , from Global Kids , started the discussion here . Feel free to join him and continue the conversation with us.

For those of you that would like to connect with us to discuss this, we can be found on the web at the following places:

Nonprofit Commons blog


Twitter @npsl

Google Group




Weekly Networking Event: Wharf Ratz, Aloft every Tues., 8PM SLT

Monthly Networking Event: The first Thurs. of every month, at Common Ground , Plush, 5 -7PM SLT

Written by: Layal

Last Chance: Submit your ideas for collaborative technologies!

The FACT Social Justice Challenge will stop accepting submissions on October 4th. I think that this would be a great opportunity for our NPC community to showcase what we can accomplish.

Whether you are a technologist or a changemaker, an entrepreneur or innovator – from any country around the world – we’re looking for your ideas! Social justice covers all sorts of issues, like human rights, equality, and livability; and we see web and mobile-based collaborative technologies offering tremendous opportunity to support social justice work. This is the last week to submit a Project idea to the FACT Social Justice Challenge – winners receive cash and support to build their tools!

Submissions close Oct 4th – submit your ideas for collaborative technologies that aid social justice work today!

Written by: Layal

Faces of the TechSoup Community

TechSoup’s Youtube channel has now grown to several playlists, which features our members that we meet at the various conferences we attend. Here are TechSoup members HollabackDC talking about Flip video cameras that they bought from TechSoup Stock.

It also features stories of the real world impact of our Second Life community members who participate in the Nonprofit Commons. Here is an excellent video featuring the National Service Inclusion Project‘s Chad Gobert discussing the impact of their partnership with TechSoup.

We also have the fantastic collection of entries into our TechSoup Digital Storytelling Event. The 1st Place winner of a Flip Video Ultra U1120 Camera was a video called Kramden in 60 sec by the Kramden Institute

You can see more of the TechSoup Videos here:

Written by: Layal

TechSoup Technology Help Desk Office Hours

TechSoup’s Nonprofit Commons in Second Life have been great at bringing people together to network, share, and learn about technology and how it can enhance their nonprofit work.

TechSoup has answered the community’s technology questions via telephone, email, and on TechSoup’s forums. This has also begun to occur on TechSoup’s social media sites such as their Linked In and Facebook group.

In keeping with this tradition, we have decided to experiment with having TechSoup Technology Help Desk Office Hours inside Second Life.

Basically, this is Tech Support not just for Second Life related questions, but for any technology involving TechSoup members and the TechSoup community. This can include basic help with social media as well.

I have been holding these office hours regularly for a couple of weeks and it appears that between 4-6pm Pacific Time has been ideal so far. But, suggestions will be taken into consideration on when this should be happening.

So, feel free to stop by and ask questions about the technology that serves your organization’s needs today. I

f we don’t know the answer, we will make sure to get you to someone who does. You can help us get the word out to other organizations about the availability of this service.

Examples of questions you can ask us:

How do I find information about building a good Website for my organization?

Are there any good calendar solutions available for free out there?

How can I get in touch with someone that will help me figure out how to install MS Office that I bought from TechSoup?

To see a list of topics that you can discuss on TechSoup’s forums, click here.

TechSoup’s Office inside Second Life:

New to Second Life? Sign up instructions are here:

Nonprofit Commons Event Calendar where the office hours are posted:

Tweet: @TechSoup has a Technology Help Desk @npsl in Second Life, find out more:

Written by: Layal

Submit your Projects to the FACT Social Justice Challenge at NetSquared


The Nonprofit Commons is excited to let you know about the FACTChallenge for the FACT Social Justice Awards.

The French American Charitable Trust (FACT) and NetSquared are pleased to announce the second annual FACT Social Justice Awards. Submissions are now open for your innovative Projects that leverage web and/or mobile technologies to foster collaboration around social justice issues. Learn more about the Challenge and how to participate below.

About the FACTChallenge

FACT is committed to addressing the fundamental inequalities and injustices in our society by helping develop and sustain networks of community-based groups in the U.S. and France that educate, organize, and empower people to actively participate in developing public policies that directly affect their lives.

Our Challenge theme this year is “Collaborate for Social Justice.”

We chose this theme because beneath all the new platforms, widgets, tools, social media, and innovative products lies the potential for people to collaborate in new ways with one another.

The FACT Challenge seeks to surface innovative Projects that leverage web and/or mobile technologies that foster collaboration around social justice issues.

How to Participate

SHARE: Let your friends, colleagues, and networks know about this opportunity to profile ideas and find collaborators!

SUBMIT: Submissions are now open – submit your Project today!

SUPPORT: Even if you don’t have a Project to submit, your feedback and comments will help other Projects improve – get ready to share!

Learn More

Visit the FACT Challenge pages below for more information:

Written by: Layal

Feed a Smile Benefit Event For Live and Learn in Kenya Int

Feed a Smile Benefit Event For Live and Learn in Kenya Int

Brique Zeiner, CEO Brique Topaz in Second Life


The goal of the Feed a Smile benefit event is to raise funds to pay for the meals for the children on the Live and Learn in Kenya Intl. NPO program in Nakuru – Kenya. We have nearly 500 mouths to feed.

A huge array of live musicians, tribute groups (U2inSL – Michael Jackson – The Rolling Stones), artists, a modeling and fashion show agency, designers and builders have come together to turn this event into a successful one-week mega event – and to “”feed many, many smiles””.

Begins on July 10, 2010 at 8 am at Pepita (120,86,43) (this is where most of the events will be held unless otherwise noted)

Ends on July 18, 2010 at about 2 pm with a U2inSL concert at Dragon Moon (75, 120, 22)

A more serious discussion group will take place at Aloft Nonprofit Commons Live and Learn in Kenya Int (LLK) (185, 167, 39)

LLK Website:


Event calendar:


  • Georg Stonewall (G&N Quality Design) – Building
  • Nikki Heron G&N (Quality Design) – Fashion and Blogging
  • Chriscloud Loon (Crossing Culture) – – Music

Please help us get the word out by linking people to this blog using this link:

For Twitter, use this: Feed A Smile benefit for NPC org: Live and Learn in Kenya 07/08-07/18 #secondlife #sl #npsl

Written by: Layal

Jolie Mason Presentation on June 11th and Helen Keller Day June 19th

On June 11th, after our weekly Friday meeting here at the NPC, we were honored to have Jolie Mason / Jolie1 Magic with us. Jolie Mason is known as the first blind person to enter Second Life, and she gave an amazing presentation about virtual worlds, accessibility, and why Helen Keller is a dangerous hero to have.

Her presentation wowed the audience, and you can read a summary by downloading this PDF file and click here to read the chat transcript of Jolie’s presentation.

On a personal note, Helen Keller is a hero of mine as well. When I was a child, the story fascinated me. The fact that she overcame so much and stood up for her independence gave me strength, and made me love and adore humanity. I used to sometimes fantasize that Helen Keller and Marie Curie were the same person, and wondered if Helen Keller would have been able to see herself glow in the dark after her many scientific experiments.

Helen Keller was an ideal person to have as a role model also because she was a strong independent woman, and I wanted to be as eager as she was to learn. Helen Keller’s story also lead to my extreme admiration for teachers, whose patience knows no limits. So here I am, older, wiser, and Helen Keller’s story continues to fascinate me.

It is her struggle that lead to my fascination with Max, the Guide Dog, a screen reading dog scripted for Second Life users who are blind. Max allows those who are blind to interact with Second Life in ways that were never imagined by any of us. I am a huge fan of Max the Guide Dog, you can read more about him here and follow him on Twitter here @VirtualGuideDog

Basically, Jolie stated that Helen Keller is a dangerous hero because she challenges use.

After Jolie’s presentation, she was asked a couple of questions:

Louise Later asked Jolie:
How did you heard about SL?

Jolie Answered:
I love technology — computers and science, I am a regular listener of radio, and in particular Science Friday. A couple of years ago they talked about SEcond Life and I loved the idea of community. It was interesting to see how the second life community participated in the political debates. How about a snowman asking about global warming? I suggested my nephew create diversity training in second life.

Glitteractica Cookie asked Jolie:
I would like to know how many other users with disabilities that you know of are using virtual worlds?

Louise commented:
Actually, about 1 out of 5 people in Second LifeÆ have a disability
Jolie answered:
I am very interested seeing more blind people in second life there are 6 that I know of.

Louise also shared a very memorable quote:

“Many people have a wrong idea of what constitutes true happiness. It is not attained though self- gratification, but through fidelity to a worthy purpose.” Helen Keller (1880-1968)

Rik Xaris, a member of the audience, stated:

“I would just like to say that i think this is amazing and hope that more blind people will hear about the virtual world and join us thank you for enlightening me about the branch of sl that i knew nothing about.”

You can hear Jolie on her radio program called Access Unlimited by going to . According to Jolie, her program often features accessibility issues and technology for persons with disabilities. You can also email Jolie at jolie1magic[at]gmail[dot]com.

The event was a beautiful preview to today’s Helen Keller Day Events in Second Life, where our very own Brena Benoir will be presenting. You can find more information on the Second Life Helen Keller Day wiki page.

Many thanks to Saxet Uralia, Louise Later, and LoriVonne Lustre for making the presentation possible.

A great big thank you to Jolie for visiting us and doing this fantastic presentation!

11:00AM-12:00PM Co-Occurring Disorders in Adolescents Brenda Bryan aka Brena Benoir with Preferred Family Healthcare
Description: We will be examining the prevalence of substance abuse issues and mental health issues among the adolescent populations. We will look at symptoms of mental health issues among the adolescent population. We will examine the concept of self medication and how this relates directly to substance abuse. We will also be focusing on how to increase long-term stability for both substance abuse and mental health issues.

Image: Louise, Max, Jolie, and LoriVonne

Written by: Layal

Nonprofit Games Brainstorm Bash Revisited

On Sunday, 05.23.2010 the Nonprofit Commons held a brainstorming session in New York City that was streamed into Second Life. This mixed reality event brought interested people from all types of disciplines together to share their ideas and imagine what an NPCGame would look like. Here is my breakdown of the chat transcript, organized for clarity for your viewing pleasure. If I left anything off, feel free to discuss this in the NPCGames Google Group

Our Goals

To launch a community and create a collaborative game for nonprofits focusing on a specific mission/campaign/issue
To discuss platform ideas, On the question about connecting gamers and nonprofits
To develop a game together
We’re talking about methods and practice steps, Create a collaborative game, perhaps coalition of nonprofits working together to create a social issue game that’s fun, engaging and benefits many groups.
We’re thinking about helping communities, locally and globally.
Because we have a lot to learn from one another here
To find a direction to move toward for NPCGames
To bridge the gap between gaming people and virtual world avatars
TechSoup teaches these tools, offers webinars and shares how to do these sorts of development projects,
We aim to create a gateway for all of you to do more with serious and social games
TechSoup provides community resources for nonprofits, 500K users per month

Brainstorming Ideas from the Second Life Chat

Specific Ideas for the point of the game

Teaching about Universal Human Rights
Teaching about Millenium Development Goals
MMOG was where people would pick one or more disabilities instead of superpowers

General Ideas for the point of the game

Reward system for altruism and goodness
Think of this as coalition-based cooperative gaming that can benefit many causes at once
engages non-gamers
MMOG – Massive Multiplayer Online Game


Most people were for immersive gaming
Some mentioned text-based as a need for countries where mobile phones are available, and the Internet is really not.
Mobile Apps
Augmented Reality
Alternate Reality
Xbox Live
Google Wave API

Possible Obstacles

learning curve
digital divide
cost of development
participation levels

measurable world change, outcomes,
“yes….The eight MDGs break down into 21 quantifiable targets that are measured by 60 indicators.” –> if anyone can explain this last one, I’d love to know what this means. —-Update: MDG is short for Millennium Development Goals—-


Hour Destiny
QUESTION: Do we want it to be graphic or text-based? CoffeeMUD is a great Java-based MUD server, but is text-only.
A: Cross-platform

In Kenzo
QUESTION: METRICS, OUTCOMES? How do you fund this? This is the question from Dan Carli
A: BASELINES, METRICS — > Linked to mission, vision

Jackie Rexen
QUESTION: How can this group include folks from developing countries like Africa?
A: Text-based gaming.

Jackie Rexen
QUESTION: What is the mission and visions of this group? How will this game be different then other good ones out there – like Saving Darfur – Urgent Evoke. What can this group produce that is unique, engaging, user-friendly. How can we get gamers and nonprofits with similar interests to get together?

Moundsa Mayo
Question: Should the group consider development of a table-based game creation tool? This would allow creation of many types of games with much less programming effort per each new game.

Moundsa Mayo
Question: Do we consider poverty a disability? Life in a repressive regime? Or in a badly degraded environment? Or an overpopulated one?

Previously listed as:
Question: Or in a badly degraded environment? Or an overpopulated one? Do we consider poverty a disability? Life in a repressive regime?

(thx to Moundsa for contact me to get this corrected)

Moundsa Mayo
Question: Why not make sustainability as the KEYSTONE of the entire framework?
A: Moundsa — your question on sustainability was also asked here….mentioned as a framework for all we want to do

Zinnia Zauber
Question: Will orgs with like missions work together?
A: On Zinnia’s question about orgs with like missions working together == YES!

As you can see, some of the questions were answered, whereas others were not. To help us answer these questions, please join the NPCGames Google Group

Attendee List and Shared Links
To view the list of links that were shared during the chat, and a list of attendees both in New York City, and in Second Life, visit the NPCGames wiki page and click on the NPCGames Brainstorm Session Attendee and Link List link.

G4C NPSL Photos

Written by: Layal

Nonprofits, Gaming & Virtual Worlds Brainstorm Bash

Nonprofits, Gaming & Virtual Worlds Brainstorm Bash

A brainstorm session for nonprofits, gamers and virtual world enthusiasts

A project of TechSoup’s Nonprofit Commons in Second Life

Ever combined the Web, World of Warcraft, Real Life, Second Life, Google Earth, Nintendo, Facebook, Moore’s Law and the unfolding human experience into a single thought (which, perhaps, you then Twittered over your iPhone)? Do you dream of saving the world in 8-bit superhero style?

Our goal is to bridge the divide between nonprofit organizations, virtual worlds and game developers and enthusiasts. There are superheroes in each realm, and we plan on bringing them together for a world-class brainstorm bash. Building on the awesome community that Games for Change has created, we’ll be kicking off a long-term community and development project, shaped by the participants of this meetup. We hope to organize a collaborative working group that mashes up serious and social gaming with nonprofits and virtual world producers, and we’re exploring a collaborative game design challenge that would be great to have your input on before the Games for Change Festival in NYC.

Topics we intend to cover:

* Creating frameworks for collaborative game design
* Leveraging the platforms of nonprofits, gaming and virtual worlds to create collaborative community development projects
* Identifying resources, collaboration methods and tools
* Creating content across platforms
* Nonprofit applications of games and integration with virtual worlds

This event is free but tickets are limited so please RSVP soon.
This event will also be available in Second Life at for those who cannot join in person.

Come with your game-changing thoughts and ideas!

RSVP and share the Facebook page with your colleagues!

Join the NPCGames Google group and post your introductions – we want to know who you are!

Click here to join us virtually this Sunday from 12:00pm SLT (Pacific Time) / 3:00pm EST: Nonprofit Commons in Second Life Plush Amphitheater

Tweet: I’m attending Nonprofit Games Brainstorm on nonprofits, gaming & v-worlds 5/23 #npsl #g4c

See you there, superheroes 🙂

Written by: Layal