A vision

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Arria Perreault
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A vision

Post by Arria Perreault »

After being critized and attacked on the forums and in in-world meetings because of the project Monastery sim, I would like to explane my position. If I do it, it is mainly because some of the critics concerned supposed financial advantages in this project. These critics make my position of Curator of the Monastery very uncomfortable as Virtus and the Monastery live on donations. It is one of the several colateral dammages of crisis.

Virtus as non-profit organization

The NGO Virtus is nothing else than a non-profit organization. Virtus is not allowed to distribute any of its benefits, if it ever makes benefits. Incomes of Virtus are donation (donation box of the Monastery or direct donations), patronage (financing by persons without return), sales of small stuffs (like wood sets or scarfs). It is also thinkable that Virtus get subventions from CDS, but until now it was never the case (because it was not requested). To manage the finances of the Monastery, we have created an alt named Mona Schism (like Rudeen Edo for CDS). All donations and products of sales are immediately transferred to Mona Schism who pays every month the fees of the Monastery. The Monastery doesn't not have other expanses now, as the artists and designers who present their creations bring their own things and work for free. The artists and designers who work in the Monastery don't pay any rent and don't sell their creations. They are nevertherless allowed to offer a landmark to a place where they sell them. Virtus don't receive any percentage of such sales.
The building of the Monastery did not cost any L$. It was created by a team of benevolent builders. No textures, scripts or objects were bought. Even for the construction, we could use for free a land outside CDS owned by a CDS citizen. The list of the builders is published on a wall of the Monastery.
The position of the Curator is benevolent. The furnitures of the Monastery can be considered as gifts or "second hand". Finally Virtus get help in services, when some people offer to help to work in an exhibition.

Financial aspects of the project

Let's return to the Monastery sim project. The questions are:

- can Virtus win money in this project?
- if yes, what Virtus intends to do with this money

To answer to the first question, we have to see the financing of the project. The only fortune of Virtus is its plot in Alpine Meadow. The acquisition of this plot was possible, because Virtus got donations from several CDS citizen. Some have wished to stay anonymous, but the list of the others is published on a wall of the Monastery. This plot was bought for the amount of 69,375L$. This amount corresponds to the current price of a void sim. As Virtus is able to finance the fees of the plot, it is also able to finance the fees of a void sim, which would a little much higher as today we pay around 15500 L$ a month. Looking to this numbers, Virtus has imagined that it would be possible to move the Monastery on its new sim. By selling its plots, it has the money to "buy" the void (or to finance the acquisition of the void by CDS by buying all the plots defined on the new sim). The Curator of Virtus is responsible for fund raising and she has also considered that she would be able to finance the fees of the void sim until the time they are sold. The project was financially viable for Virtus.

This plan was also good for CDS. First: CDS did not have to invest money to buy the sim. The fees were insured for the first monthes until they are sold. The total of the amount of the fees would have given some more money than the LL prices: this allowed a plot to be empty sometimes. So the long-term risk was not very high.

Let's go further. If this project would have been achieved, Virtus would have slowly sold the plots of the Monastery sim. There is absolutely no list of candidates for these plots. The idea was to wait for people interested by the concept of the Monastery, by developping cultural or educational activities. In my mind (and ideally) the plots were "virtual", as they would only have a small cottage. The people would have worked in the Monastery. So the idea was quiet "monastic", not in the sense of isolation (monastery comes from a greek word which means alone), but in the sense of communautarian: it was the opportunity to build a small community of people active in cultural domain. In my mind also, the fact that the prims for a plot were either few or group (Virtus) shared went also in the direction of a "wow of poverty". The question is now: what would have done Virtus with the money of the sales of the plots. In the last version of the proposal, Virtus would have paid for a plot corresponding to the Library. In this case, the answer is quiet easy: Virtus would have use this money to pay this fee. But not only. Another possibility is to use this money to develop projects in the Monastery and to encourage artists, specialists of virtual exhibitions or of virtual library or who ever. Today Virtus has now few money for this kind of activities and uses the most part of its fundraising to pay its fees, which is not really logic for such an NGO. The fact that Virtus sells itself the plots would have given to it some room to encourage people by selling the plot for a lower price, what CDS would not do. We can summarize this project as a project to encourage cultural and educational activities in CDS, a policy that the CDS fails to develop and to implemente now. For CDS, there is no difference if the entity who pay the fees on current AM plot is an NGO or a private person (and this situation is questionable as a lot of work and animation is done through NGO). For Virtus, spending money by paying fees or by developping projects is very different. If we think about, it is not far from the concept of our programm of economical encouragement in which a NGO plays also a role.

The Monastery as public building

Let's go still further. One of the most important point of the project was to transform the Monastery in a public building. This is the reason why the PDA was not the right solution. The question is now; why the Monastery building should be public? The first reason is the preservation of the building. The building is now on a private plot and its existence depends on the fact that an entity pay a fee for it. If for any reason (and there are many), it is not possible to raise enough money to pay this fee, the building will just disappear and be replaced by a cottage. The Monastery was built by a great team of builders and shows how it is possible to develop things together. It hosts cultural activities. It is a place where people like to come to rest. It has to be preserved. There is in CDS a lot of public buildings. Some of them use land and prims, but are almost unused: the Schloss hosts one or two ballrooms each term. The Praetorium hosts RA meetings twice a month and maybe some other meetings. The maritime theater in LA has only a esthetical use. In these conditions, how to understand that a building with a lot of activities, especially cultural, with visitors, open to everyone is not public. The Monastery is one of the key images of our sims. We can see it from a long distance. I have even noticed that its image was used in the official information to promote CDS. Finally in the mind of many, it's "like" a public building.

There is another reason to make it public. The Monastery is not only a nice place to rest and to enjoy. It develops important activities in the cultural domain. Maybe some people consider that culture is a kind of hobby and can be privately managed. This is a point a view that I don't agree with. In a state, culture is a need. The CDS is an experience whose goal is to see how a governance based on democracy can be developed in a virtual world. CDS is a kind of state. CDS is a state. A state has some tasks to do. It is clear that some of the usual tasks of a state in the real world cannot be done in a virtual world. Others can be. Culture is one of them. Culture is a need. Culture, art question us. They make us thinking about our lives, our world. How can we go further without these questions? By painting Guernica, Picasso has asked a question. By writing books, authors ask questions. Culture is probably one of the most interesting tasks of a state to "simulate" in a virtual world, with commerce. Why? Because an important part of our culture is being numerized: books are numerized, paintings are numerized, etc ... The question now is: how to deal with numeric cultural material? Second Life can help us to answer. A real CDS cultural policy could help us to answer. The Monastery could help us to answer. The idea to use a monastery as building was never considered as religious. It was based on the fact that monasteries has played a big role in the transmission of knowledge from Antiquity through Middle Age. This would be a wonderful challenge for CDS. Since long term time, I think that we need a cultural policy and even a cultural minister, as the culture is (with education) one of the more challenging domain in SL.

An other reason to make is public is to share it. Now Virtus and Monastery are totally linked, despite the fact that Virtus was thought as an NGO animating several places in CDS (Kirche in NFS and the temples in CN). If the Monastery was public, other NGO, CDS and even citizen could use it, and Virtus could be develop projects in other places.

I don't see as contradictory the fact that we start to manage it privately and that we will make it now public. The Monastery has made the proof that it is used, well-known and that it can play a role in CDS. It has won its place on public land.

A vision

I cannot let reduce this proposal to personal interest or any tricky project. Behind this proposal, there is an authentic VISION. I think that some people have understand the whole project and had never doubts about it. I am glad about that.

I am totally aware that I wear different hats on my head, but I never mix them. Arria Perreault has her own way as person. The Curator of the Monastery manages the Monastery with the help of Mona Schism. The Guild member and the Chair of the Faculty is interested on developing skill in our community and to encourage our expansion in quality. The RA member has a vision of the CDS which fits with CSDF program (as many of my ideas was in the last version). I don't mix these different hats. I know exactly where I am at any time. I have given in this forum the example of the Aristides, this man who help an other to write his own name to vote his bannishment. I am totally sure that in case of real contradictory interest, I am able to recuse me. And I did: I renounced to chair the workgroup for the Monastery sim.


Now this project is practically dead. The new LL pricing policy makes it no more viable. Virtus will have to think about the future of the Monastery. CDS will have to review its expansion policy with the technical help of the Guild. And Arria will have to take time to forget how it was hard to bring to life a sincere project, a VISION. I just hope that the full description of this project will inspire other people and make them aware that we need creativity, we need culture in CDS and not only to be a political roleplay.

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Jamie Palisades
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Visions, in a shared democratic community

Post by Jamie Palisades »

Of course, in a democratic sim, there will be *multiple* visions, and people often disagree. When the disagreements are polite and civil, let's not make that a personal matter -- and let's not permit it to stop us from making progress.

Since Arria first brought the Monastery proposal, I've tried to find ways for us to do it. She's withdrawn it now, on financial grounds, which is unfortunate, but of course is her choice to make. Still: we do have some remaining open questions to consider.

One question is whether we should continue to make some use of openspace for scenic and community asset purposes.
I suspect we should. We were planning to do so before Arria's proposal. I suspect we should go forward. It would be nice if Arria can be involved. She seemed to share the same general priorities. (See our chat at http://forums.slcds.info/viewtopic.php? ... 117#p12095 .)

Another question that's been raised is whether Arria is being attacked, personally, if her idea is not supported, or is questioned, or is given independent review.
I hope it is completely clear to everyone that polite questions and disagreements are not attacks. I have not heard a single person in CDS say a bad word about Arria's motives or contributions. That would be silly: she has been a creative and enthusiastic contributor since she arrived. So let's discard that concern as resolved.

Finally, we have a serious third question: whether we can keep up our CDS occupancy rate, to remain safely cash flow positive.
With Locus Amoenus, still one-third unrented after two months, I am concerned about that. The original decision by the RA in April was to make the fourth sim Roman, and flat, and lots of little parcels. It does not seem to have sold as well or as fast as Alpine Meadows did.
We are lucky to have strong cash reserves: so the PURCHASE price of sims should not really concern us too much. But it SHOULD be a concern that we only create new land for which we can reliably get high permanent tenant occupancy.
What kind of land do we all think that should be?

Regards JP

== My Second Life home is CDS. Retired after three terms
== as chancellor of the oldest self-governing sims in SL.
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