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Monday, March 12, 2012

Dreams, More Than Just a Place to Build -- Lukes Lionheart Reporting

The Sojourner Memorial

What started as a story about a building contest turned into the story of "The Sojourner" and the Love of a Mouse.

I'm a builder here on SL and a couple of weeks back, I went to one of my haunts to watch a “Speed Building” contest. While there, I saw the notice for the monthly building contests. The theme for the month of March was “Green”. I thought, Wonderful! What a great theme, green, as in the environment. That would probably make a great story. So I sent an IM the owner of the “Dream Builders” group, a person by the name of “The Sojourner”, to ask for an interview. A little while later, I received an IM from Golda Stine, who said she was the sim caretaker. This struck me as a bit odd, but we set up a time to get together later that day. It turns out Golda is a pint-sized mouse with a giant heart of gold. After some initial chit chat, I got down to business and asked questions about the history of the sim, the how and why of the group and the March build contest. This is when I realized the story was not going to be about the contest; it is the story of The Sojourner.

Golda Stine

The Sojourner, (Dr. Karen Gans) was a speech and language professor in Ohio who authored textbooks. One day she had a stroke, and all that was over. She was also part of John Lesters' (A.K.A. Pathfinder Linden) Brain Talk website. John had started the “Brigadoon Explorers” group as an experiment to see how SL could be used to help people with Autism and Asperger's Syndrome. As Golda explains, “Soj came into SL as part of that, and found that building was a natural way of rehabilitation. Dreams was her dream, a place that was welcoming to those with neurological problems, but yet not separated from those who don't have such problems. Soj died in May of 2008 and her husband asked me to take over the reins. Her avatar is still active because I kept the sims in her name. She was quite a lady. In my heart they still belong to her, but in reality, they're mine.” In the North East corner of “Dreams East” is Soj's garden that she was working on at the time of her death, and the tree house that served as her SL home. Both have been left, largely, untouched, except for a memorial statue built in her honor.

There are several groups that call this place home. “Dream Travelers” is the main group; there is also the “Dream Builders”, a building group, as the name implies, three health-related groups, and “Dreams Core”, a fundraising group for those interested in keeping the “Dream” alive. There are weekly and monthly themed building contests, building related classes, a sandbox, a store, (from which I have bought some of my best textures), Sojs' memorial, and much more.

Oh. Speaking of building contests, this months' theme, “Green”, was actually in reference to St. Patricks' Day but everyone thought it meant environmentalism so that's what it turned into. “We stay out of politics and religion as far as the groups go,” Golda explained, “So no social cause, but it is something that everyone should have on their mind, at least a bit.” Building ends on March 11th at 1:00 p.m. (slt), and beginning at 5:00 p.m. the public is invited to come and vote for their favorite. Voting runs until 1:00 p.m. March 18th with the awards ceremony starting at 5:00 p.m. that evening.

After some more chit chat, Golda had to leave; the Aspergers' group meeting was about to start. I stood in front of Sojs' memorial, thinking, as I watched her fly off across the sim. This place is a living tribute to a remarkable woman, the love of a modest mouse, and, I'm sure, to many other people who contribute to “Dreams”. They don't teach people how to build just things here, but how to build their lives. For all you nay-sayers out there....Tell me again that Second Life is just a game...I dare you!
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  1. Lukes, this is a really great piece. Love how a cool story birthed itself through the original story idea. Great testimony to a good woman working in-world.

  2. I agree Shon! Great story Lukes. What I love about Second Life and the many people and places we see, is that some have a unique story to tell. Sometimes we get inspired unexpectedly.


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