Leadership Program

[tsl/leadership] Fireside Workshop: Confronting Homophobia 

I've always been incredibly impressed at how progressive the teens in the teen grid are in regards to their views on sexuality and identity, and have wanted to do some kind of program or project about sexual rights for a while now. In one of our first projects, Camp Global Kids, the issue for the final action project was very close to being Homophobia, but Child Exploitation beat it out by a hair.

So, I was excited to try my hand at developing and facilitating a Fireside on the topic that leveraged the kind of engagement that you can have in Second Life. One of the first places we started in the workshop was a brainstorm about discrimination, and specifically whether people thought that Homophobia was a form of discrimination. The view was pretty unanimous that it was, except for one dissenting voice, a teen that held the view that to be afraid something does not necessarily mean that you're treating it differently or worse, though it might lead to you doing so. I was floored. They'd brought up the rather nuanced point of the difference between prejudice and discrimination, about how one is a noun and one is a verb, something that many people fail to realize. This set the tone for looking at the whole issue in a more critical way.

[tsl/leadership] Power of Citizenry in Second Life comes to its years end 

Lucky's DTSL Event - Watching the crowd form

We've reached the end of the year here at GK's Power of Citizenry in Second Life program, and an incredible year it's been. I've actually had a number of opportunities to reflect about the program recently in both qualitative and quantitative ways. On the qualitative side, I wrote up a best practice about the project for GK's RezEd virtual worlds and learning hub, and on the quantitative side, for our own internal numbers section of GK's year end board report.

[tsl/leadership] Fireside Workshop: A Closer Look At Your Eco-Footprint 

For this Fireside Workshop, we decided to go green and look at our impact on the environment by measuring our eco-footprints. To begin examining our impact, the teens determined everything they threw away the previous day. The lists were long and included everything from leftover food to wrappers to clothing and electronics. To create our own virtual garbage pit, each teen then created one piece of garbage that was on their list. Our virtual garbage dump contained a lemon, leggings, and paper just to name a few of the creations. I was impressed at the creativity the teens expressed to build and re-use items from their own Second Life inventory to create their "piece of trash" in just a few minutes. To wrap up our trash analysis, we calculated the approximate weight of our household contribution to waste based on the statistic that the average resident of the US creates approximately 4.6 lbs of garbage each day. Many of the teens create more trash than the expected. The teens discussed how they could reduce the amount of trash they create by recycling more and agreed that the behaviors of those around them whether at home or at school have made recycling a habit for some and completely out of mind for others.

[tsl/leadership] Fireside Workshop: Smoke & Mirrors 

"Smoke & Mirrors" Brainstorm & Ad Deconstruction
Brainstorming about and then deconstructing the ways alcohol and tobacco advertisements work in our society

Last night we had our first Fireside Workshop for May, titled Smoke & Mirrors: A Look at Alcohol and Tobacco Marketing. The workshop was made up of very classic media literacy exercises. We spent time thinking specifically about the reasons that alcohol and tobacco use happen, what the negatives effects of use and abuse are, and the role that marketing plays in shaping a culture where these activities are accepted to large degrees, especially within youth culture. After some discussion about what demographics are and why they're important to advertising, we took a look at a number of tobacco and cigarette ads to do a little deconstruction of the messages being sent, who the ads were targeting and what stories about the products being sold weren't being told.

[sl/intern/teen] The Hogwarts Dance Party of Good and Evil 

Catchy name eh? Well, I didn't think it up. The name was thought up by Rafi and Henry Jenkins, an MIT professor, on whom the event was focused. In this event, we talked about how popular culture relates to real life. Henry Jenkins told us about how a group of people took a lesson from the Harry Potter series and made a difference. Henry Jenkins is the Director of the MIT Comparative Media Studies Program where he analyzes popular culture.

In my opinion, this event went smoothly. Barry and Henry talked over the music stream about the topic, sorta like a talk show, and in between that we had a massive dance party with 'Wizard Rock' music. We had very little problems and the event went smoothly, so I have to say it was a success.

Until next time,
Nicholas Kit / Wealthy Bourgeois / Awesome

[tsl/leadership] Fireside Workshop: What's The Matter With Chocolate? 

The second Fireside Workshop during the month of April, explored the connection between everyone’s favorite sweet tooth satisfier, chocolate, and human slavery today. Throughout the workshop we learned about how chocolate and slavery are connected in ways many of us were not aware of prior to this workshop. To start off with, we brainstormed about chocolate. Based off of which log around the fire we were sitting on, we were responsible for coming up with chocolate ingredients, chocolate brands, emotions that chocolate can evoke, and occasions where we eat chocolate. One thing was clear, we have a lot of chocolate experts (and oompa loompa fans!) in the TSL community!

[sl/intern/teen]- Heritage and Culture within TSL 

Heritage and culture - they define our identity. No matter where we turn, we are unconsciously exposed to snippets of other cultures, whether it is the taco restaurant around the corner or the fashionable kimonos at the mall. In today's global society, cultures are fusing - we have acquired numerous cultural characteristics that are not native to us. As members of a global MMORPG such as TSL, we need to question ourselves: do we parallel the real world by exhibiting and recognizing other cultures within our grid or do we assimilate?

On March 15, 2008, the Heritage and Culture within TSL intern event was held. The purpose of this event was to discuss if and how does culture play a role in TSL. We started off by defining what one would consider culture and heritage. We came to a consensus that heritage and culture are characteristics that are displayed by one's family origins that are shared by a regional or ethnic group. From there, we routed to the interactive map activity!

[tsl/leadership] Fireside Workshop: Race in America 

Yesterday, for our first Fireside Workshop of April, we focused on the topic of Race in America. Race isn't often a topic that comes up in Teen Second Life, but as became clear in the workshop, is certainly one that affects the real lives of TSL residents. Over the course of the workshop we did some brainstorming on relevant terms, like power, ethnicity, discrimination and education, and over the course of our time were able to establish linkages between many of these terms. We watched a portion of the recent speech by Barack Obama called "A More Perfect Union", in which he speaks directly to how issues of race manifest in this country, and then played a classic activity we do off-line here at Global Kids, called "One Step Forward", where the facilitator says a statement asks participants to take steps forward or back depending on whether it applies to them. (eg - Take one step forward if you were born in the United States, take one step back if you're from a minority group and have sought healthcare). The activity helps to highlight the opportunities that different people have as a result of their race, gender, sexuality, age, income and other factors.

[tsl/intern] Giving a helping hand.... for justice! 


After taking a bit of a break from my event I hosted as a Global kids intern, I was asked to help out with a new project for GK. After being given a bit information on the Visions of Global Art Contest, it seemed interesting, and something I could participate in helping with . Right from the start, I began to compile a list of things essential to promoting and getting the contest started. Of the first tasks were posting in the forms/event list, and creating a poster that would reach out to teen residents to participate. After doing a little bit of thinking for the idea of the poster, I was soon finished it, and it was ready to be put up and displayed around Global Kids Island. Once the posters were placed, events listing of the Global justice workshops and the announcing of the winners went up.

[tsl/intern/teen] Why!? 

Why!? Why did nobody come to my interns event? Not enough advertising? No. I advertised everywhere that you possibly can in Teen Second Life. Not an interesting enough topic? No. The topic that this event was based off of came from the most popular topic ever on the Teen Second Life Journal (http://tsljournal.com). What could it have possibly been? I do not know.

On Sunday, March 16, 2008, I attempted to host an event entitled "No Justice in Second Life? - The Discussion." It was supposed to be based off of the article on the TSL Journal "No Justice in Second Life?", which was the most popular article we have ever had on there. I am unsure of what it was that drove people away, but I do have one theory.

People just weren't interested in it. My previous event, violence in video games was a huge hit because it appealed to everyone who plays Second Life. Maybe the people who were on at the time of the event had more interesting things to do.

I don't know.

Hopefully I will choose a better topic next time.