Shava Nerad, Development Director of the TOR Project, is my new hero.
Shava posted a couple of cogent and eloquent email responses in the midst of a debate on the SL non-profits listserv. Listserv members were arguing about whether or not activist groups were being co-opted by investing time and energy in a world dominated by "money, land and private property." Shava noted that in the years that she has been in SL, she has seen an increased orientation toward consumerism and money over artistry and creativity, but that the "creatives" are still easily found.
Then she stated her activist goals in Second Life as: "to educate, evangelize, and occasionally blow someone’s mind in a very friendly way. Or maybe even do a little comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable." I am so printing that out and posting it on my fridge.
The rest of her email follows…
The rest of Shava’s email (posted with permission):
My purpose in SL is to educate, evangelize, and occasionally blow someone’s mind in a very friendly way. Or maybe even do a little comforting the afflicted and afflicting the comfortable.
For my own part, I don’t see us as needing to have a home base, or
create installations of educational material. I am present in SL to
do lectures when folks ask, and to be *me* even when people don’t
expect me to.
Most of the time, for me, SL is something I do for other purposes than
my nonprofit work, which may make me unusual here — but I might be
helping folks on Better World Island, or making sure a worthy event gets reported in the Metaverse Messenger or on Life4U, as a civilian, so to speak.
Still, "appropriate technology" has been a theme of most of my adult
life. If you are looking to use SL for nonprofit purposes, perhaps
educational or outreach purposes are going to be more successful than
delivery of services or direct fundraising (it really does make me
cringe when someone tells me proudly they donated L$20 to Relay for
Life, but that’s probably an unworthy feeling on my part).
You should think about how those purposes can best be served. Perhaps
you do need to create a museum or school on its own island. Or you
might want to look through the search facility for groups that are
interested in your area, and ask them if they’d like to help organize a
lecture. That costs you nothing but time.
And for myself, if anyone ever wants to donate to us, I send them
straight to the real world donation web page — every dollar is over
L$250, and the psychology is just different when faced with a RL US$
No, we aren’t buying poor kids lunch here. But we are reaching an
often insulated group of the cream of the topside of the digital
divide, and maybe getting an unusual opportunity to reach them at play
— and change their minds about things they may never have question or
given consideration to.
That’s also world changing, and it adds up and spreads itself, ideally.
Really nicely put.