Ask yourself this question: What would happen if even 1% of the more than one million U.S. dollars spent in Second Life each day was invested in real life better world projects?
That’s what the Ubuntu project is aiming to do. At its simplest, it will be a way for a small proportion of the money spent in SL to be used for real world projects that make a difference. It might be to help with a small microfinance project for women artisans in war-torn areas of Africa, or to send orphan girls in Uganda to school for the year, the care of child soldiers as they are taken off the streets, or perhaps to help place beds in a palliative care unit in your own town to help ease the pain of family members who have a loved one who is dying there.
The main project includes the development of “kiosks”, small portals that can be placed non-invasively into a shop, inviting patrons to learn more about some of the projects that shop keepers have helped choose to fund. Business and venue owners decide which projects they wish to help fund. They can choose a single project or group of projects to dedicate to the effort, or donate a percentage of their own overall sales.
You can see an example of a kiosk to the right – this one situated in the Ubuntu sim itself.
From the start, I’ve been determined that Prim Perfect as a SL magazine should be different from RL – and one of the ways that I want to achieve this is by building in a charity element to the magazine. My plan is that although the first issue will be free, there will be a small cover charge for subsequent issues ($10 Linden) – and that part of that charge ($2 Linden) should go to charity – and micro-projects, so that, with every issue, readers can know their Lindens will make a different. And the magazine will explain where the money is going, and what it has helped to do.
So I was delighted to discover Ubuntu operating in-world, and attracting the support of a small but growing number of influential businesses, and looking to fund exactly the sort of projects I had in mind. I found it, by the way, as I was exploring the Intemptesta Nox sim of Sue Stonebender; she and Baron Grayson of Relic are among the founder members of Ubuntu, and the island is located with their sims.
During the coming months you’ll find more and more kiosks springing up in shops and event venues throughout the Second Life community – and one of them will be in the Prim Perfect offices. The kiosks act as a point to inspire you to learn more about the sponsored projects, and, if you wish to donate yourself, helping you to decide where to invest. They include information cards that give you the opportunity to research each project in more detail, to ask questions, and to track the progress and success as they continue to grow.
I must admit that this combination of information and investment in micro-projects is a powerful draw of the Ubuntu project for me – and I hope it will be for Prim Perfect readers too!
Ubuntu is beginning with just a few projects to help get things started. These are efforts that have been validated as authentic giving opportunities with credible project managers. A handful of better world scouts that have actively overseen this process through the omidyar.net community during the past few years have been recruited to help ensure a solid start.
SL residents will also help choose. It’s planned that Ubuntu project participants will be able to recommend and sponsor favourite uplift opportunities.
One sample of a Ubuntu supported project is a School for Ha Makhata, a project to build a school for disabled and AIDS-affected children in Lesotho, Africa.
And the market that I visited where I found the candles? Well, Ubuntu isn’t just the project or the kiosks. It’s a SL place too – an island that has both a dedicated group of shops and project incubators. This is being used to help launch new projects, to run events to raise awareness and support through project fairs and other events, and to ultimately serve as a place where education can be developed and delivered to help cultivate effective advocacy and better world projects within Second Life.
The island has a distinct African feel, with a collection of simple huts forming the market place. It is, of course, a metonymic representation – to journey through the sim is to explore an Africa of the mind as much as of the body. That is where the information kiosks will come in.
You can learn more about the Ubuntu project and the people behind it by visiting the sim, or by taking information from one of the kiosks you’ll find in SL including shortly, I hope, the Prim Perfect Offices. In the meantime I have created a quiet corner of the offices where people can sit and reflect, using the candle and a lovely moving sculpture created by Riversong Garden (the owner of the Riversong Gallery).
So what does ‘Ubuntu’ mean?
My humanity is your humanity …
The term ‘ubuntu’ was used by the Xhosa people in Africa to describe the philosophies upon which they cultivated their communities before the advent of European colonisation. It was the inherent foundation of other indigenous groups in Africa too.
In the illustration from the Prim Perfect Offices on Venice Island:
Candle and sculpture by Riversong Garden, available from the Ubuntu Market
Meditation cushion, rug and Egyptian vase by Sofia Standish of Sofia’s Furniture