candles What does it mean, Ubuntu? And what’s the connection between this word and rather lovely candles illustrating this post?

Well, the candle is just one of a range available at the Ubuntu Market, in the Ubuntu sim. But Ubuntu itself means rather more than another market, another mall.

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.

ubuntu 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.

ubuntu2 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.

meditate 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.


Visit Ubuntu and Ubuntu Market

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


  1. hi! 🙂

    i think that with a 10 L$ price you’re going to lose a lot of readers. many new residents don’t have 10 L$, or definitively they don’t want to spent them.

    also note that if you have -let’s say- 200 paying readers, you will earn 2000 L$…and so what? i don’t think it won’t pay the time you spent making the magazine.

    i think you can raise a similar amount of money with a tip jar, because those residents that can buy money won’t mind about giving you 100 L$ – or much more – if they like your magazine, or if they want to share your support towards charity projects.

    and even if you won’t earn much money, your magazine will spread faster and will raise much more readers. if this happen, you can
    1) earn more money via advertising, or
    2) give free advertising/coverage to projects of your choice. this may be more valuable to them that the 20% of magazine sales incomes.


  2. Hi Signore!

    This is a difficult question … and I have thought a lot about whether or not to change for the magazine.

    I believe that a low cover price will achieve several things:

    1) It will enable me to give a certain amount of funding to Ubuntu – a fixed, definite sum based on my sales. Rather than people just leaving money in a tip jar, which is a little vague, they know that by buying the magazine they will be part of a larger project giving money to Ubuntu.

    2) This magazine is probably not aimed at the absolute newbies. It’s aimed at a variety of audiences, but the starting point is people who are ready to buy/furnish their own home. This is a couple of steps on from the people who don’t have any money.

    And it’s a pretty negligible cost. You could earn it with less than an hour in a camping chair. In real world terms, it’s 4 American cents, 2p in British money and less than 3 European cents. This is not a vast sum of money – nor a vast investment for people who are going on to spend a sum perhaps several hundred times or even a thousand time greater on their new home.

    3) I could give free advertising or coverage of projects of my choice – but then it would move away from being an interior design magazine. Its focus would be elsewhere. There may well be a need and even possibly a market for such a publication in SL. But Prim Perfect isn’t it.

    I should say in passing, perhaps, that there will be a regular section in the magazine where readers can learn about Ubuntu and the projects we’ll be supporting. But this will be a small part of the magazine.

    4) I do need to generate a variety of revenue streams for Prim Perfect. Although I do love it, I am spending serious amounts of working time on it, and so are other people who are coming together as a team. They are making a financial investment in it, for our time really is worth money. In addition, relying on advertising is all very well, but it does lay you open to the charge that you are supporting your advertisers at the expense of talented designers out there who can’t afford to buy advertising. And that’s the case even if you do support the work of new and unusual designers. Charging a cover price, even a low one, demonstrates a measure of independence.

    5) If people are really, really determined to get their Prim Perfect fix without buying the magazine, they can always keep reading the blog! That is supplied entirely for free.

  3. Wow!!! This is all so fantastic and amazing. Thank you so much for your support of Ubuntu and it’s projects.

    I just returned home from HaMakhata in Lesotho, Africa. I was there delivering a 40ft container with RiverSong’s RL husband. We loaded the container here in Canada in January and were both there to unload it. It was one of the most amazing experiences and adventures of my life. The school house being built at the HaMakhata project will be one of the beneficiaries of Ubuntu in SL. While we were there they were building the roof trusses for the 1st small four room building. There is a second four room building planned (just the concrete footings are in place) for the 308 students that attend the school. The funds you have raised will help us to put up the walls and a roof. Currently the students are taking their classes outside, but winter is coming and they need to get inside where they will be warm and dry.

    These are wonderful, beautiful people, well deserving of your support. THANK YOU!!!


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