Category: SL

My Virtual Seminar

Last Saturday I gave my advocacy seminar I’ve given all over the country, in Second Life (SL).

You can view the PowerPoint and read the full transcript of the event here:
Grassroots Advocacy in Second Life: Namav Abramovic (Nick Dupree)

Also check out Aldon’s blog, where he juxtaposes my speech with a recent Obama speech. It is powerful stuff.


Helping People in the Virtual World

In Second Life, my “avatar” is Namav Abramovic.

I’m involved in several projects. Heron Sanctuary (and Namav) are already getting some ink in the Second Life blogosphere.

Medicaid reform activist Namav Abramovic read about people with disabilities using Second Life in the Washington Post, and logged in for the first time on October 20, 2007. Because he has muscular dystrophy, he uses a ventilator to breathe. Namav can’t use a keyboard, or lift his hands at all. As he told Gentle, “I type with my thumb on a trackball mouse and click out text by hitting letters on onscreen keyboard software. I had run a support group online in the past, and am interested in using virtual community to support people with disabilities. I joined The Heron Sanctuary in November, and now have founded Open Gates, a THS project to provide 24/7 peer support in Second Life.”

Read the full article:

The Story of The Heron Sanctuary

This is the notecard I hand out about my Open Gates project in Second Life:

Open Gates Peer Support community is a group for Second Life residents with disabilities -ANY disability– to turn for support.

Living with a disability can be difficult (understatement) and our goal is to be a desperately-needed 24/7 support channel. for people with disabilities in SL. The gates are always open.

People who need someone to talk to can simply IM the group and type in the Open Gates channel, and chat there, or use it to ask to IM or meet privately.
Your hosts are Namav Abramovic and Kat Klata; IM one of us to join the group or just for someone to lean on. Remember that once you join the group, you’ll see calls on the Open Gates channel 24/7.

Though only for peer support (and not intended as a substitute for professional advice) we hope we can help people.

Open Gates Peer Support is a project of The Heron Sanctuary, a support community for people with disabilities.
To learn more, please click

Where have I been?

Well, I’ve been alive, just distracted from blogging.

In October, my computer died, and I spent nearly three weeks on mom’s old PC unable to run applications heavier than Firefox. I made the best of the situation and did a lot of reading, especially about Second Life, a 3d virtual community. What especially caught my eye was this article in the Washington Post about people with disabilities using Second Life (SL):

Brown, Salvatierra and Dawley are just a few examples of an increasing number of sick, disabled and troubled people who say virtual worlds are helping them fight their diseases, live with their disabilities and sometimes even begin to recover. Researchers say they are only starting to appreciate the impact of this phenomenon.

“We’re at a major technical and social transition with this technology. It has very recently started to become a very big deal, and we haven’t by any means digested what the implications are,” said William Sims Bainbridge, a social scientist at the National Science Foundation.

In addition to helping individual patients, virtual worlds are being used for a host of other health-related purposes. Medical schools are using them to train doctors. Health departments are using them to test first responders. Researchers are using them to gain insights into how epidemics spread. Health groups are using them to educate the public and raise money.

These increasingly sophisticated online worlds enable people to create rich virtual lives through “avatars” — identities they can tailor to their desires: Old people become young. Infirm people become vibrant. Paralyzed people become agile.

Read the full article:
Real Hope in a Virtual World
: Online Identities Leave Limitations Behind

As soon as I got my computer back, I jumped into SL with both feet. It can be a great thing for people who, due to disability and associated barriers, are unable to do much in real life, and people lonely and seeking interaction. It can do a lot of good. It’s head and shoulders above past alternatives. And it’s free.

This is the next frontier for disability culture, as well as a way to support others, socialize, and even a source of income (one woman makes $250,000 annually selling dresses in SL).

So far I am doing several things in SL:

1) I work with The Heron Sanctuary, a group to help disabled users arrive in and integrate into SL. I founded the Open Gates Peer Support Community, so that anyone with disabilities in SL who needs to talk has someone to talk to in group chat, 24/7.

2) I’m one of the members of Second Life Synagogue. Read about us here in the Jerusalem Post. We do symbolic lightings prior to Shabbas, and we have an SL yeshiva as well, where we meet to study the Torah portion on Tuesdays and study Rambam on Wednesdays.

3) I like hanging out in historical settings (like 1001 Arabian Nights, or Deadwood). With SL you can step into the past anywhere in the world.

In the future I plan to give my PowerPoint presentation I gave as a keynote speech in Chicago, Minneapolis, DC, etc., in SL.

I’m making a real effort to shake my past failures in 2008 and accomplish new stuff, learn new things.
For ’08, I’m planning to get back to blogging, learn DJing in SL, and I have plans for a small business in SL selling camels.

Stay tuned!