Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Exciting News!! - Annenberg Competition Results

I am so pleased to announce that the proposal crafted by partners in the Health Support Coalition has been among the top finalists, and will be funded to do what we had so long dreamed. We'll be building a new sim - Ability Commons, and calling it home for around 40 small and start-up health support groups who would not otherwise be funded in Second Life.

I have had such a good feeling about this all along, ever since Gentle Heron told me about the competition. And now, I find I am imagining what it will be, thinking many thoughts about what needs to happen, wondering how this new space will look (vision: village. home. )

Thinking - what is that, to have a space in a virtual environment, when I've heard so many people say things like - well hey, you can always teleport! Here in SL, you don't need to be right by something! Give up those tired old connections, your slavish reliance upon earthbound constraints - explore the possibilities!

And yet, we do need that proximity. I talk with you, move closer. We find joy in even the approximation of beauty, the sometimes comic-bookish representation of things and places that are meaningful. We bring them with us, make our environment what we cannot. In response to a question the other day - "why would SL be superior to the opportunity to ask questions (via IM chat on a website, for example) of experts?" I said - because we give it a human face. Our avatars and spaces extend our reach.

On the web and in SL, I know that our tendency is to find community. It is too simplistic, by far, to say that our electronic connections are replacements for what we don't have in person, within our own spaces. There is sometimes a connotation of shame in this, sort of like that trite saying about 'those who cannot do, teach.' To this I respond: how can community be a wrong, when it provides the means to help one another through life? How can it possibly be shameful, when it gives voice and connections, allows us to brush aside many boundaries of our physical manifestations? How can it replace what never can be brushed aside, those limits of our physical selves? - this electronic self is us - taller, better dressed, with wild hair and incredible wardrobes; flying, dancing - ourselves, as we choose to be for a time. It is us, reaching out in new ways, learning what this new space can add to our own humanity.

Ability Commons. You will be hearing more.