Second Life’s Home and Garden Expo moves to September – what do you think?

Home and Garden Expo 2014
Home and Garden Expo 2014

It’s been announced that the Home and Garden Expo will be moving to September this year – the announcement appeared yesterday on the website:

Due to some unforeseeable circumstances and misunderstandings, the staff of the 7th Annual Second Life Home and Garden Expo deems it prudent to reschedule the event.

It’s very clear from the announcement that this decision was undertaken only with the utmost reluctance by Kat Alderson, the very hard-working organiser of the event, and it’s brave of her to have made such a radical decision, which won’t come without costs.

We had decided to be a Platinum Sponsor for this event (as we have been for the past five years), and we have confirmed our sponsorship of the September event.

The view from the Prim Perfect taverna at the Home and Garden Expo
The view from the Prim Perfect taverna at the Home and Garden Expo in 2013

I would be interested to hear what readers of this blog feel about this change. Speaking personally, I can see advantages and disadvantages.

1) The “Event Season” is very overcrowded. Starting (well, from my perspective) with One Billion Rising in February, we move to the Start-Up for Relay for Life, Fashion for Life, the Home Show, the Fantasy Faire, the Home and Garden Expo, the Breedables Fair, Halfway There Fair, Paint SL Purple, Second Life Birthday, Relay for Life Weekend and the Hair Fair – and that takes us to the end of July. That’s six months and twelve major events, some lasting ten days to two weeks.

Add in smaller Fairs and Expos, regular but popular events like the Gatcha and Collaborate (I can never remember the damn spelling) to say nothing of all the team events by which the 200+ RFL teams raise their contributions, and that’s a pretty over0crowded six months not just for attendees but for creators. And for most of those creatives, they are juggling keeping businesses going and balancing real lives as well (summer exams anyone?).

So moving a major event (a mega-event) to outside this crowded season on one level makes a lot of sense.

Robin Wood's lovely mesh quilt and stand - sold for Relay for Life
Robin Sojourner’s lovely mesh quilt and stand – sold for Relay for Life at the Expo in 2013

2) This is going to be problematic for a lot of creators. I know some had long term plans for the Home and Garden Expo (in one case, 18 months of planning a very major new release!).  The Home and Garden Expo has become seen as the place to launch new products. It’s not just the attendees – it’s also a great opportunity for creatives to meet each other, to share ideas, to discuss plans. And to say a quiet but very smug, “Ta Da!” as they raise the curtian on their latest gorgeous project.

How will a delay affect them?  To put back a planned release by four months could stack up to a lot of lost revenue. Or it could be a bonus – some extra time for tweaking.

For creatives looking to release sooner than September, an alternative might be something like the commercial Home Show.  But this may be too limited for some of the grander launches that would fit better with the Expo – unless the Home Show itself expanded.

The new Maven Home at the Home and Garden Expo
Cain Maven’s gorgeous Casa Anantine, released at the 2012 Home and Garden Expo

For the Home and Garden Expo is perhaps unique among the mega-events in that Home and Garden creators will often be working on large-scale projects that can take several months to complete. These may not be their only releases during this time, but they will probably be the most important.

It would certainly be a shame if the Home and Garden Expo lost its reputation as the annual event at which to launch major new projects. At all events, this might be the case this year but – if September becomes a new month for the Expo, the ever-flexible creatives will doubtless adapt – just look at the way they have survived myriad changes from the Lab.  But I suspect that the thing that is going to decide this is certainty. If September does become the new month for the Expo, then designers can factor that into their planning. If it becomes a moveable feast … less so.

The Linden Home pavilion on the Prim Perfect area at the Home and Garden Expo: Photo by PJ Trenton
The Linden Home pavilion on the Prim Perfect area at the Home and Garden Expo 2011: Photo by PJ Trenton

3) I think there could be inherent problems with siting an RFL event outside the conventional RFL season.

In the past, the theory has been that there is a five month RFL season stretching from mid-February to mid-July. Outside that, people have a chance to rest, relax and rebuild energies. Over the last few years, there has also been the Christmas Expo. By and large, that has attracted enthusiastic support. It filled a void left by Linden Lab’s decision not to continue with Winterfair, and it was the occasion for events that have become increasingly popular in themselves – such as the Avi Choice Awards and the Race for the Bells.

Is setting a second mega event outside the Relay for Life Season going to prove detrimental to the cause that RFL is supporting?

Cancer is an issue that touches all of us. Finding not just “a cure for cancer” but cures – and prevention – for the full spectrum of diseases that are given the name of cancer is one of the core issues of our time. Alleviating the suffering that cancer causes – both to people diagnosed with one of the diseases and the people who support, care for and love them – is a vitally important task.

Prim Perfect at the Home and Garden Expo 2010010
Prim Perfect at the Home and Garden Expo 2010010

But RFL is raising money for one nationally-based cancer charity (the American Cancer Society). It is not news that people have expressed concerns about the dominant role it plays in fundraising on the grid – although on the flipside it is a very positive demonstration of what virtual worlds can achieve. Let’s just say that the whole issue is not without controversy.

And, of course, there are other people fundraising too who might feel – well, a little squashed by the RFL juggernaut. There are, after all, other people fundraising for different causes -a huge number of causes. There are also other people fundraising for different cancer charities, such as the Boobiethon held every October. To take a personal example, Dousa Dragonash and I both organised events in support of the British cancer charity Macmillan Cancer Support last September – with our own virtual versions of the Macmillan Coffee Morning.

So will this further expansion of the RFL season be seen positively or negatively by the grid inhabitants? Or are they less interested in the cause than the event itself? Could you (for example) tell me without googling which charities are supported by the Hair Fair, Shoetopia and the Boobiethon? Does it, in the end, make little difference as long as some good cause is supported – or even if it’s a completely commercial event but with really good content and entertainment?

Prim Perfect Pavilion at the Expo
Prim Perfect Pavilion at the Expo 2008 – – our first appearance!

As for the Home and Garden Expo, Prim Perfect will certainly be there, and as a Platinum Sponsor. On the one hand, we will be grateful for a little more leeway in our support season as we move from OBR to Fantasy Faire to SL11B to Relay Weekend. On the other, we’ll be deep in production for The Blackened Mirror and staging our second Cake for Cancer event for Macmillan Cancer Support. We hope to stage our regular Talks with Designers at the Expo this year and to film the Expo for Designing Worlds too, as we usually do. And – fingers crossed – we’ll also be doing our daily lantern release at 4pm (which has come to be very special to many people). That’s a time to set aside all the commercial considerations and fuss, and spend a little time in peaceful thought and sharing, and we’d hate to give that up.

Watching the lanterns rise
Watching the lanterns rise on the Prim Perfect Stage at the 2012 Expo

So – how will the change affect you? Are you pleased, annoyed, or feel it really doesn’t matter? We’re interested in hearing in comments below!

7 comments

  1. I would suggest the creation of a council composed of one representative of every major event and expo in SL to meet (once a year, twice a year or quarterly) to work out the scheduling for the year. I think this would help to space things out a bit more, making it easier on the event staff, the media who provide special coverage of the events, and the participating creators who need time to work on their projects.

  2. I get tired of RFL already (and I’ve given every year, usually directly through a team or individual page on the web; volunteered for a couple of years; and have led a team). I tend to tune it out after a while, and I totally don’t pay attention to RFL events outside the “season.” As for these mega-events, I find them too big. I can’t really take them in unless I drop everything else and spend all my SL time for a week going around the lagfest. And then I’m often disappointed at the items in the RFL vendors. I want to see something really special in the RFL vendor, the *best* the creator has to offer, not some tacky purple thing. Too many creators basically set up their regular shop with a token RFL vendor. It does not reflect well on them.

  3. I think that the second point (inconvenience to creators) is a one time problem , so long as a fixed “september from now on” view is taken and that point 1 for me was the one that came to mind first.

    September is a nice lull and it could be that with the xmas expo in december, rfl main event in july and fantasy faire in April that covering the autumn would be a well received move by many. Fashion for Life still launches the “season” then you have a major expo on more or less each of the quarters

    some will see it as a move to all year RFL and I know many feel it is already too over whelming. As many people who are engaged in this event are also engaged in a myriad other RFL and SL projects that run in parallel there will undoubtedly be a group that give a sigh of relief, perhaps with a slight concern that their autumnal rest period, the catch up time, is being eroded.

    What I do know is that a vast amount of work goes into this event and othhers like it and no such decisions are made lightly,

    each year one or more of the events we see is confronted by some calamity or other and the band of dedicated volunteers who make these things happen, dig deep into their reserves of energy, patience, creativity and pull things through often without the rest of us knowing. With this in mind I wish Home and Garden every success with its revised schedule and hope it has a smooth ride from here on.

  4. Well I will respond to Angie’s suggestion that creating a council of representatives of the Major events only will serve those that have defined themselves as Major events further solidifying power and homogenizing the SL experience which has never served well the independents that are not subsidized with staff, sims, free entertainment,armies of allied bloggers and close connections to the Lindens.

  5. I am a huge supporter in RL of RFL but I have to be honest the stretch of RFL from a few months to now covering the entire year is just overkill and yes I think will hurt them in the long run. People will get tired as I have of seeing every weekend some RFL related event as either a major RFL event or some side event. I will continue to support RFL in RL but as far as the grids I think they have gone too far overboard having events all year long. Give people a break. I think they would donate more in the long run if you just had some really nice events over a 2-3 month period. They are eventually going to lose creators too as some just cannot create all year long for RFL , some of us have to make a living too and if we try to fill every request for RFL all year that leaves little time for our own businesses. I hate to sound like the party pooper. I am all for fundraising but this is NOT the way to do it on these small grids.

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