Those cool cats at Tech Soup have created a super-helpful directory of non-profit organizations who are active in Second Life. It’s been up for awhile, but I just now got a chance to check it out.
An interactive bulletin board at the Tech Soup HQ enables residents to flip through the directory, where they can see descriptions of the different groups, grab landmarks to their sims in SL, and surf over to their websites. But cooler still is the non-profit directory HUD (heads up display) you can attach to your avatar.
The HUD enables you to teleport around SL, visiting various non-profits along the way, kind of a like a virtual do-gooders tour. I visited the SL homes of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Global Kids, Support for Healing, and Friends of the Urban Forest.
I started at the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. The LLS live in a modest little shack, with basic info about the diseases, a donation box, and links to their website. Sort of the Second Life equivalent of a 1995-style non-profit website. Perhaps they are new to SL.
The Global Kids sim in the adult section of SL is dominated by a cluster of gigantic flowers sprouting photos taken by children involved in their program. A photo of each child is accompanied by a notecard with a brief bio on the kid and a description of his or her photos. Several copies of the book The Holy Meatballs of Divine Spongiform are lying around for those who want to learn how the Global Kids teen grid sim was constructed. It made me want to visit the teen grid, which unfortunately is off limits to old guys like me.
Support for Healing is "peer support organization offering a compassionate community for those suffering with depression, anxiety, mental illness or emotional trauma." Their SL center is a soothing space somewhat like a Japanese tea house, with nature prints and plants decorating the space. In the center of the room are several pillows you can squat on, perfect for their frequent support group meetings.
Finally, I zoomed over to virtual home of the Friends of the Urban Forest. Their mission is to help city dwellers to plant and care for trees in urban environments. Recently they had a fundraiser where you could purchase a tree in Second Life which would actually grow and funded the planting of a real tree in San Francisco! A very cool multi-verse initiative that has resulted in 60-some trees being planted.
All-in-all, I think the non-profit directory HUD is a great way to highlight all the cool benevolent and activist activities going on in Second Life. It’s analagous to the "web rings" from the early days of the web, which drove traffic to sites that normally wouldn’t get any attention.
As Second Life becomes more and more a place for non-profits to get work done, you can expect that we will need more sophisticated tools to link people to projects and charities that they care about. One can imagine a more refined HUD allowing you to search by issue area, kind of activity, and targetted community.
That’s for the future. For now, the non-profit directory is a tremendous contribution by the nice folks at Tech Soup. Contact Glitteratica Cookie in-world or firstname.lastname@example.org on the internet for more info on this initiative.