Live blogging and tweeting from the Health Panel Expo event May 27th

Yesterday’s Nonprofit Commons Health Panel Expo innovative online event in Second Life brought together panelists from health-related organizations, including experts in the disability, HIV/AIDS, mental health and cancer communities. Panelists came together to showcase recent developments in health care research, and to connect efforts in fighting disease and creating a cooperative and supportive environment for patients and their providers. This event marked the grand opening of the Health Commons island in Second Life, the fourth Nonprofit Commons location, that focused on health-oriented organizations.

We had a terrific line-up of panelists for yesterday’s event and a number of volunteers who live-blogged the action by taking summarizing notes into the Second Life text chat, as well as tweeting the action, and blogging the experience.

You can follow the tweets from the event here.

Check out blog entries and pictures about the event and stay tuned for video coverage to follow!

You can also check out the archived panel presentations as we post them:

Health Panel Expo Panels
All times are in Second Life or Pacific Standard Time

9 am Virtual Support for Mental Health Issues Panel
10 am HIV/AIDS Awareness Panel
11am Faster Cures
11:15 am Mobile/Phone Health Information Panel Mixed Reality Event
12:15pm TechSoup Stock Donated HIPPA solutions
1 pm Physical Activity/Dietary Habits/Healthy Lifestyles Panel
2 pm Disability Panel
3pm Cancer panel

Written by: penguin kuhn

Come Celebrate the official launch of the EcoCommons in Second Life!

Join in the official launch of the EcoCommons in Second Life! Our grand opening celebration will be happening Earth Day, Wednesday, April 22nd, 11 AM PT/SLT, on the new EcoCommons island in Second Life.

EcoCommons is a virtual location (sim) designed for environmental organizations in the 3D virtual world of Second Life. Developed by TechSoup’s Nonprofit Commons team in partnership with and OneClimate Island in Second Life, EcoCommons provides a network for environmentally-focused nonprofits to promote awareness, community-building and environmental education efforts in the virtual world and beyond.

Through EcoCommons and the Nonprofit Commons as a whole, environmental organizations may join this alliance to increase impact. Members can host virtual meetings, lectures, and other events by tapping into a thriving, existing virtual community of early adopters and technologists. Individuals and organizations around the world can connect through EcoCommons, while also reducing their carbon footprint by eliminating the need to travel to a physical meeting place.

Launching on Earth Day, Wed. April 22nd, in the virtual world of Second Life, this interactive event will feature a keynote speech by Jacqueline Chenault, New Media Specialist, U.S. House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming, and will be broadcasted live from Second Life.

The launch event will include educational sessions and presentations, and is a part of the TechSoup Global GreenTech Initiative‘s month-long campaign: Telegreening Your Work, to educate social benefit organizations on how to save money and the environment by using technologies, such as Second Life, to work remotely and collaborate online.

Event details:

* The launch party event takes place Wed. April 22nd in Second Life, 11:00 am- 12PM PST (SLT), online in Second Life, and is hosted by TechSoup Global’s GreenTech Initiative, Nonprofit Commons , and OneWorld/
* Second Life activities will continue throughout the day and week as part of Earth Week Second Life:

Schedule of speakers:

11 AM: TechSoup Global GreenTech Initiative

11:15 AM: Jacqueline Chenault, New Media Specialist, U.S. House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming

11:40: OneWorld/

Noon-: Tours of the island and other The Nonprofit Commons islands and further Second Life activities throughout the week of Earth Day

About the Nonprofit Commons in Second Life

Nonprofit Commons consists of three virtual locations (sims), with a fourth underway. Housing over 80 social benefit organizations in virtual offices, and over 400 members who are not residnets, but still are community-volunteers, the Nonprofit Commons is managed by an entirely volunteer-run community of nonprofit employees, under the leadership of TechSoup Global.

Nonprofit Commons was designed to lower the barriers of access to Second Life, to create a community of practice for nonprofits to explore and learn about the virtual world, and to investigate the many ways in which nonprofits might utilize this unique environment. Through this community, we provide free office space to qualifying groups, meet and network, create a cooperative learning environment and foster outreach, education, fund-raising, all in a virtual space. Our focus is on providing an accessible entry-point to Second Life and on creating a community of nonprofit organizations (NPOs) for effective collaboration and support. We believe that Second Life is a wonderful place not just to entertain, but also to educate, inspire, and work together to assist our fellow avatars (and the humans behind them). You do not have to be a resident of the Nonprofit Commons to get involved with our community. We welcome all who wish to join us as partners, collaborators or supporters.

Nonprofit Commons’ first sim was donated by Anshe Chung Studios and the Nonprofit Commons 2nd sim was donated by TakingIT Global. The third Nonprofit Commons location, EcoCommons, was developed in partnership with Island specifically for environmentally-oriented organizations. The Nonprofit Commons’ fourth sim will be focused on health-related nonprofits, and will launch in conjunction with the NetSquared Confernece on May 27th, 2009.

Members of Nonprofit Commons meet each Friday at 8:30 PST/SLT at Plush Nonprofit Commons Ampitheater. Visitors are always welcome to join us in making a difference one pixel at a time.

For more information, please email Megan Keane ( or Susan Tenby ( or IM Penguin Kuhn or Glitteractica Cookie in-world.

Visit us online:

Nonprofit Commons Blog: and wiki:
TechSoup Global GreenTech Initiative:
Telegreening Your Work Campaign:

Written by: penguin kuhn

Last week to help, humiliate, AND fundraise

Originally posted on TechSoup Blog

With the economic slump, a lot of nonprofits are feeling the crunch, especially when it comes to travel and conference budgets. That’s why our friends over at NTEN are reaching out to the community to pitch in for the scholarship fund to help up to 57 nonprofit folks attend the annual NTEN conference.

NTEN has until Sat. Feb. 28th to make their goal of $10,000 and they have just a little over $2,500 to go. But should you need more incentive to pitch in, NTEN’s executive director, Holly Ross, has upped the ante. Holly has pledged to do one of three humiliating tasks if NTEN is able to reach their scholarship goal. Convio is sweetening the deal still further by matching scholarship funds making your dollar go twice as far.

So if Holly is prepared to publicly sing, play an instrument, and/or eat quite the bacon recipe, isn’t that worth taking a few minutes of your time to help a nonprofit colleague? Donate now and in the meantime, Holly will keep working on those dance moves.

Written by: penguin kuhn

Panel speaks about alliance building in Second Life

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 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/ 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

Relay for Life Second Life

For the fourth consecutive year running, the American Cancer Society held their annual Relay for Life Second Life. 2008 was the most successful year yet for this virtual relay to raise funds to fight cancer.

Some stats: 2230 avatars, 85 Teams, walked 3441 virtual laps and raised over $L 55,230,056. The relay funds raised translated into over $210,000 USD to support the American Cancer Society in its mission to defeat cancer. This greatly exceeded last year’s Second Life Relay for Life that raised around $100,000 USD and is the single largest amount raised to date by a single nonprofit campaign in Second Life.

Congratulations to all the builders, promoters, fundraisers, all of the participating avatars and their supporters for making this such a great success! The success of Relay for Life Second Life not only provides benefit in the battle against cancer, but also serves as a role model for other nonprofits seeking to use Second Life to enhance and further their real-life social change work.

Written by: penguin kuhn

Why Second Life?

Today I attended the Avatar on Duty session at the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership office on Aloft Nonprofit Commons. 2020Vision (Ashima Saigal) moderated the session and she was joined by several other Johnson Center staff, along with a sizeable crowd of interested avatars. We were all there to discuss a key question for those involved with working with nonprofits in Second Life: How can nonprofits find long-term sustainability in Second Life and better translate into real-world action towards achieving their missions?

The session gave us opportunity to brainstorm and discuss this topic in an open forum. One of the first issues we discussed was what nonprofits hoped to gain by having a presence in Second Life. Many avatars saw Second Life as a way to engage a wider audience and bring awareness of their organization’s work. Others mentioned the benefit of having a common meeting space and a way to network and collaborate with other nonprofits doing similar work, as well as connecting with organizations they might never have had the opportunity to meet. Jarhead Euler of Uptown Shelter gave the example of how his organization only heard about Community Voicemail through Second Life and now is meeting with several other organizations to discuss implementing this tool for their real-life work.

However, we wondered what’s advantageous about using Second Life versus other Web 2.0 tools (i.e. Facebook, instant messaging, web conferencing, etc.)? Some said they treated Second Life just like any other online community, but one that served a different purposes, reaching a different audience that though smaller creates greater affinity among its members. Others felt the 3D, immersive experience of a virtual world creates a more powerful and personal interaction. There’s definitely an added layer of fun that potentially makes it an appealing medium for users to engage. Another point raised was that Second Life reaches an early adopter audience, and can propagate experiential learning in a way that other web-based applications cannot. Virtual worlds are seen by many as being the future of the Web, which puts organizations already in Second Life ahead of the curve for future expansion into virtual worlds as they become more prevalent.

This raised the question of what audience nonprofits are trying to reach in Second Life? Although there are many newcomers interested in learning more about the platform, it’s important to keep in mind that nonprofits are not necessarily trying to bring people into Second Life, but rather, seeking to tap into an already established audience in Second Life, who is looking to find ways to use the tool for social benefit. The audience is likely to vary depending on the organization, but determining the demographics is important when it comes to thinking about approach and gaining support for funding Second Life work.

Greater interaction and connection kept commonly coming up as an argument for the value of Second Life. Yet these two aspects are challenging, if not impossible to measure, especially in comparison to the benefit of other tools. When thinking about sustainability, it’s important for nonprofits to think about pinpointing unique benefits that a virtual platform offers. Several people pointed out that Second Life can often save time and money, but so can other less technology-intensive tools. Others pointed out the ability for Second Life to be used for mixed reality events provides a unique experiential way of interaction with multiple simultaneous communication channels (text, voice, chat, video, etc.). There have been some case studies how this is beneficial to some groups, such as people with disabilities or different learning styles. What’s needed, we all seemed to agree, is more such studies and ways to document impact of Second Life work in furthering the missions of organizations.

We discussed other challenges of the virtual world, including the high learning curve. Second Life is not accessible for many with its technical requirements. Nonprofits will need to justify that in spite of such obstacles, the potential gains of Second Life are worth the time and resource investment.

Today’s discussion sparked more questions, but also got me thinking creatively about tangible ways nonprofits can articulate the “experience” of virtual worlds and the myriad of ways it can be used towards social change. While that challenge can be daunting it is exciting to think about nonprofits pioneering the virtual world for the benefit of the real one.

Written by: penguin kuhn

How Can Nonprofits Create Sustainability in Second Life

Wondering about how your nonprofit’s work in the virtual world can make real-world impact? Then be sure to check out the regular Avatar on Duty Sessions at the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership office on Aloft Nonprofit Commons.

The next session, Mon. July 28th, at 10 AM PDT/SLT will focus in particular on how nonprofits can find long-term sustainability in Second Life and how to better translate this into real-world action towards achieving their missions. Join in the conversation with philanthropic advisers and community builders in Second Life.

Please send a message (IM) to 2020Vision Obviate (Real Name – Ashima Saigal) or email her at if you have any questions. Come ask your questions and they will do their best to help you to grow your organization’s mission.

You can teleport directly to come join the session.

About the Avatar on Duty Sessions

In keeping with their mission of improving communities by the application of knowledge, which unleashes the power of nonprofits, foundation, and individuals, the Dorothy A. Johnson Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership at Grand Valley State Universityp is offering Avatar on Duty service (AvOD) to the Philanthropic community in Second Life. Various Avatars will be available to answer specific questions related to effective philanthropy and nonprofit leadership.

The AvOD will be available to answer questions in regards to effective practices and research on specific topics related to philanthropy and nonprofit leadership.

Written by: penguin kuhn

Relay for Life returns to Second Life

Avatars representing survivors, caregivers, their families and the millions of passionate supporters engaged in fighting cancer worldwide will take center stage virtually, July 19-20, when the American Cancer Society conducts its fourth annual Relay For Life® event in the Second Life virtual world. The 2008 Relay in Second Life will celebrate the “heroes” who epitomize the Society’s global mission and who represent this summer’s virtual world event theme.

This year’s virtual Relay For Life is expected to attract in excess of 2,000 participants as more than 80 teams will unite toward reaching a fundraising goal of $125,000. In 2007, the Second Life event raised $118,000 – more than double its total for the previous two years combined – and attracted more than 1,700 participants.

The funds raised through the virtual Relay For Life will benefit the American Cancer Society’s global efforts to fight cancer through research, education, advocacy and patient service programs.

For more information on the Second Life Relay For Life event and the Society virtual headquarters office, please visit and Information about Relay For Life is available 24 hours a day by visiting

[Cross-posted on NetSquared blog]

Written by: penguin kuhn

Second Life Down for Emergency Maintenance–RESOLVED

UPDATE: SL is back up. I was able to get in about 9:10. If you missed the NPC meeting, never fear, you can catch transcript to be posted here

As I’m sure some of you have encountered already today, Second Life is currently down for emergency maintenance. It’s currently not allowing anyone to log in. Per their grid status page:

“We have to close logins for a while to enable the database to process the overflow from earlier. The landstore is not accessible for the moment as well.”

You can check the current status here and I will keep folks posted!

Written by: penguin kuhn

San Francisco Meets the Metaverse 3

Join in the Celebration of the Launch of the Second Nonprofit Commons Sim! Nonprofits and their supporters will be hosting a mixed reality grand opening celebration in San Jose as part of the NetSquared conference and in the metaverse on Wednesday, May 28, 2008, starting at 10:00 A.M. PST/SLT (Second Life Time), in the new second Nonprofit Commons location.


  • Grand opening May 28 of the Nonprofit Commons 2/ALOFT, our second sim housing a large community of nonprofit organizations Mixed-reality event, to include a live presentation, a demonstration of the new Second Life Nonprofit Commons island to attendees at the NetSquared Conference in San Jose, and events within Second life
  • Live peformances all day within Second Life, with over 8 hours of music from musicians around the world
  • Media is invited to attend in-world event as well as to San Jose, and phone interviews are available upon request

This second of two Nonprofit Commons nonprofit sims was generously donated by TakingITGlobal. Like the first Nonprofit Commons sim on Plush, a virtual space for nonprofits, managed by TechSoup, Nonprofit Commons 2 creates and houses a community of social benefit organizations in the online virtual world of Second Life. This community of practice is entirely volunteer-run and hosts organizations from across the globe. To date, they have created a community blog, Twitter account, and a resource-rich wiki, and have held mixed-reality events, workshops, and regular weekly town hall meetings. This international community is a hub for charities to share best practices, work together on innovative ways to benefit their causes, and network with organizations from across the globe.

The Gala event will be a mixed-reality launch party, complete with networking, a panel of speakers, and tours of the Nonprofit Commons. This live event will take place in the real-world of San Jose, California as part of the NetSquared Conference, and within the virtual world of Second Life. These events will occur simultaneously and will also feature interactivity between the two worlds. Following the mixed-reality event, we will have an afternoon and evening full of live entertainment in Second Life. Audience members in the Second Life portion of the event will include Nonprofit Commons residents, their invited guests, and media representatives.

Don't miss this interactive collaboration, connecting the virtual world with real-world issues.

Event details:

Event activities:

10am- 11:30am PST/SLT (Second Life Time): Nonprofit Panel and Q & A session
11:30- noon: Tours of the Nonprofit Commons offices in Second Life
Noon–>: Activities continue in Second Life throughout the afternoon and night with major concerts, poetry readings, tours, dancing, and games.

Please RSVP via email to Megan Keane ( for in-world attendance to this event or IM Penguin Kuhn in Second Life. Join the TechSoup group, in-world to receive announcements about this event and future nonprofit events in Second Life.

Written by: penguin kuhn