by Han Held
Sometimes I worry about this community of ours and it’s future. Scratch that -sometimes I worry about it’s future. I no longer worry all that much about the community. I couldn’t say that a year ago, September 2015. 2015 was a hell of a year and we took what is our gravest loss to date: the resignation of Justin Clark-Casey. Additionally, and maybe less well remembered we had Fleep Tuque’s silent withdrawal and Dahlia Tremble’s similar resignation, as well as OSGrid’s extended downtime. There was a metaphorical chill in the air and it was noticeable that OSCC had not been heard from.
I was scared for our virtual towns. As a Netizen since 1997 I’ve seen newsgroups, forums and other online communities fight, fragment and then drift apart. I felt that we needed to come together and rally around something – it didn’t matter much what. And with the vacancy left by the OSCC and it’s sponsors I saw an opportunity. I have felt and to this day still feel that OSCC is designed and intended for professionals; educators, corporate clients, hosting providers …and not for regular people. By ‘regular people’ I mean people who are not educators, nor grid providers. I mean people who rent, perhaps build (perhaps not) and live in this space running role play groups, or hopping from grid to grid performing or people who pay their money and do whatever… I mean the customers and the self-hosters. The folks who pay, not those getting paid.
With OSCC’s seemingly likely absence (it seemed at the time -fortunately they had an OSCC last year and a call for presenters just went out two days before I wrote this), I saw that there was an opening to have a celebration which focused on those who “live” out here, and what they do. Hopefully it would also demonstrate that even with the losses, there was vitality in the HyperGrid community.
So I posted a ranty blog and announced that I was going to have a festival – honestly, I thought it would be me and maybe 2 or three people on a standalone going “woo-hoo”. I was floored by the response. Every time I turned around I had someone offering the use of a server and region. I was blessed to have the help and skill of several people from the community -including web hosting and design help.
November rolled around and it was amazing to see it all come together. For three days (plus Truelie’s performance for the HyperGrid safari) we had a packed house. Each of those three days we had over fifty (sometimes sixty) people hanging out, dancing, talking and having fun. We had performers of all stripes …music, stories, poetry, plays… and people. It was an unqualified success.
This year I felt that it would be good to both have it earlier (outside of the holiday season) and with more time -so, in late May I started putting out feelers, and by Early June the ball was rolling: AvatarFEST 2016 was a go!
I was nervous -even more nervous than last year, perhaps. I had no idea what level of interest there would be and I was all to aware that AvatarFEST 2015’s success had almost nothing to do with me, but the hard work and talent of Eryn Galen, Isis Ophelia and Tom Frost…along with our volunteers, performers and exhibitors. If I had to do it all myself there would be nothing! If no one cared there would be no point at all!
I was lucky this year in that along with Eryn’s tireless efforts, I was able to get the assistance of 3rdrockgrid’s Zinnia Frenzy, who in turn recruited a lot of talent from her grid such as the UFS Starfleet Astraios group, DJ Jeremy, the Fabulous Wailers and Wosie Ogrady. On top of recruiting, Zinnia I asked the community for donations and within a few days we had more than we needed. Thank you Ferd Fredirix (Outworldz.com), Minethere Athanasios, Sunbeam Magic and Talla Adams.
That’s our community, folks. Even now, one year after JCC’s departure and the release of the last Opensim version we still have folks who are willing to give of their time, give of their expertise and give of their cash for the sake of doing something to make our little corner of cyber-space better. I have grave concerns about OpenSim, and the future of the HyperGrid, perhaps now more than ever… but I believe in the community and I believe in it’s future. I’ve had it’s strength and vitality demonstrated to me in the clearest of terms. This community will be going on strong for years after I’m gone and forgotten! Ours is a community that is contentious, dramatic and filled with conflict… but which is also filled with brilliance, creativity, and generosity of spirit. Ours is a community well worth celebrating and drawing strength and inspiration from.
I would like to invite you to come and celebrate it with us -at AvatarFEST. This year’s AvatarFEST, like last years’, features three days of performances (plus like last year, a post-festival HG Safari) and a month of exhibits to peruse at your leisure. It opens on September 30th and the region closes on October 30th.
We are proud to feature stunning exhibits from a variety of exhibitors and grids, from veteran creators to people new to exhibiting and all skills in-between.
Over the weekend we will have performances by:
DJ Phaandor (offsite @ Der Krater.
HG: http://phaandoria.de:8002:Der Krater )
DJ Strannik (bringing us another epic multi-hour set)
The Fabulous Wailers
Avatar Repertory Theatre
The Senchai Library
Dings Digital And Emil Jennings (Poetry)
HOP to HG: http://avatarfest.net:6000
From Friday Sept 30th, until Sunday, October 2nd.
We hope to see you there!