Friday, April 22, 2016

Bernie Sanders' Second Life Headquarters

By Bixyl Shuftan

While the manor of a certain candidate for the nomination for the Republican party for the US Presidency was making the news in late March and early April, there was another political-themed location in Second Life for a presidential candidate. This one was for Democratic candidate Bernie Sanders, whom spend most of his political career as an independent until joining the party to run for President. The headquarters is located in the Caspoli sim.

The location itself was originally a fairly simple design, consisting of a platform off the ground with signs all around praising the candidate and criticizing his opposition, both the other Democrat Hillary Clinton and the Republicans, as well as the super-rich. In one corner was a large teddy bear with glasses and white wig (teddy Bern?) with a couple smaller ones on it that one could click and get copies of. There were a few other freebies one could get, such as a campaign t-shirt, as well as donation boxes for both the Sanders campaign and the upkeep of the platform. In one corner was a large board with a sign saying "Bernie 2016" on the side facing out, and on the side facing in an illustration describing how Sanders would pay for his various proposals.

The headquarters is owned by Macaria Wind (Macwind Berns). Macaria in her profile described herself as "An old hippie wanna-be/pseudo geek enthralled with virtual worlds," saying she enjoyed dancing, going on Madpea adventures, shopping, and enjoyed living in a "hobbit house."  I asked her how this place came to be. She answered, "This has been my home for the past year or so. Last July 4th weekend I went to a Bernie rally and started making monthly donations - $5, you know, what I could afford. I wanted to do more and thought 'I've got this place in Second Life, and there have got to be Berniacs in SL. So why not set up a portion of my home as a donation spot?' So I started a group, bought a donation thermometer, and voila - headquarters. Several group members have donated gifts  and I made some. So far we have received 65 individual donations to the thermometer - I just made our sixth donation online this morning. I send out a notice each time we donate online." While we were talking, someone dropped in just long enough to make a donation, then ported out. As of March 26, they had donated a total of $104 US dollars.

Asking how long it had been up, Macaria told me, "I will guess 2-3 months. It was slow at first until I made that first announcement in the group after our first online donation." Asking about events, she told me, "A few of the group members and I have talked about getting some live musicians to play and fundraise that way, but we haven't held anything yet. It would be great to find a few musicians willing to donate an hour or so."

When I asked if they had any problem with harassment, Macaria answered, "Ah, what would Second Life be without griefers? Last week I had to ban two avs. I came on one morning and there were massive Trump signs everywhere, floating around. I had to eject them from the group and ban them from the land - and delete their objects of course. I knew it was a possibility but I'd rather trust now, ban later if needed." She then laughed, "Of course now that I've said that ... but, we will think positively, yes?"

"I sometimes wonder what Bernie would think if he knew we are here in Second Life rooting for him," she mused, "I think he would chuckle and say 'That's YUUUUUGE!' ... Like he says, TOGETHER we can win! and begin to make positive change in our world - I think he is the perfect leader for that."

Asking her what her plans were, "Once we win the nomination? We'll continue to raise funds for the general election. Once he's elected I am hoping we can have regular meetings about his policies and to discuss how we can help him accomplish his plans. It won't be easy, but, together, we can do it. We NEED positive change."

She soon concluded, "The group is open for anyone to join and all receipts are posted in the corner over there whenever a donation is made. I just want to be sure readers understand this is a GROUP EFFORT - so many have donated gifts and lindens - even all the textures are from various group members - This is a wonderful GROUP effort - I just want to make sure everyone knows that."

Later on, a computer glitch resulted in the pictures I took vanishing. I returned to take more, but Macaria was not around. She told me over an IM not to worry about it, saying the group should be the focus, not her.

The headquarters was originally at Caspoli (127/33/34), but when I was writing about the headquarters some time had passed, so I dropped in to look to see if anything had changed. Indeed it had. The platform was mostly bare, with signs pointing out directions to the new headquarters. This one was more detailed, built like an open air Greco-Roman pavilion, with campaign and US flags. There was a table with more freebies, including rotating signs and cups with drink animations, as well as the bears. not far away was a theater with seats and a depiction of the Oval Office under a Sanders administration, with a picture of Martin Luther King Jr. looking over the Presidential desk, which had the plaque "A Future We Can Believe In."

Caspoli (45/37/46)

Bixyl Shuftan

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