Thursday, 10 July 2014

040: Walking around ... 3Bears Resort

The idea that I can just go somewhere in Second Life and walk around and take pictures and think about what I'm seeing is not revolutionary. It's not even very organized, frankly. I envy my fellow SL bloggers with more experience; somehow they seem to be more organized than I am. The "walking around" method is what I'm stuck with, so I thought I'd see if I could learn how to do it better by -- doing it. I think it's a good way to find things in SL landscapes, or to experience it in a way that it was probably designed for, rather than being told what to think in advance. So to inaugurate my "Walking around ..." series, I thought I'd start close to home.

My home is on a group of sims called 3Bears Resort (Terra Ursa Major), run by a group of hunky gay men. The 3Bears themselves are Galileo Michalski, Duir Mayne, and Stefan Box, and although I don't know all the details, I know my friend and neighbour Joseph Nussbaum arranges things to do with art exhibitions. 3Bears is focused on being a place for gay bears: there's places to live, shop, relax, a nice beach, a couple of nice residential neighbourhoods. It was recommended to me maybe 18 months ago as being a nice place to live; I came and looked around and, by golly, it was. I found a nice lot with a little waterfront and I've been there ever since. (I'm not sure I should have to mention this, but what the heck -- they're not paying me to say any of this. No one ever has, and I don't expect anyone ever will; if they do, I'll say so.)

The thing that really appealed to me about 3Bears was that the guys really have a big commitment to the arts, especially performance and visual arts. They have a very cool sculpture garden; as of what I could find this afternoon, they have two separate gallery spaces that are showing the work of three artists. Tomais Ashdene and Boris Twist are showing portraits of men, and Nikolai Warden is showing landscapes. There might even be more galleries, it's a big area.

The centrepiece of the public space is what's called the Lotus Dome, to the left. The scale is hard to judge, but I remember seeing at least a couple of large gatherings and parties in that space, it will definitely hold that sim-crashing 50 people. You could certainly do a large-scale concert there, or a big party, or a ceremony. Right now it has two smaller structures under the Dome, each displaying one of the portraitists I mentioned above.

The plaza with the circular design, in front of the Lotus Dome, leads to a nice gathering area and then a little grid of buildings; the ones that face the plaza on the other side include the other gallery space, currently showing Nikolai Warden's landscapes, and an interesting kind of gallery crossed with a meeting room, where you could attend a lecture and then have a look at the art on the walls more closely. To me this is not a commonplace kind of space in SL; people are fairly ready to offer you things to look at, to listen to, or to interact with, but they are strangely reluctant to offer you space where you can do what you want to do. I think offering this amenity shows a level of thought about what the SL community might want that is well above the others; part of the reason I like this place.

I have to warn you in advance, I didn't even manage to walk around 10% of what's there. There is so much more -- I've been to quite a bit of it already. I've seen the nude beach and the gym, and I've shopped in the stores (there's some useful stores if you happen to be a gay bear!). There have been some fun parties on the sim; I blogged about one a while back. There are various sizes of apartments available in the shopping district but, when I wandered a little further, I learned two things.

One is that there is a frickin' water-based monorail that I'd never experienced (it doesn't travel to my residential neighbourhood) -- it scared the hell out of me when it pulled up! The other is that within easy walking distance of the plaza, there are a couple of very attractive houses for rent dirt cheap. L$360 a week for 180 prims in a small house that you don't have to supply yourself is a really attractive solution for someone who doesn't want a big establishment, just a bachelor pad, a place to call Control-Shift-H. You know, a pose stand, some erotic art, a freebie sofa, and a bed that cost as much as it would to rent a sim for three months. (I'm kidding.) Actually I had a look at the empty one. It looked like an intelligently divided space that would let you have fun decorating the three interior rooms with your prim allowance, and the basic Cape Cod on pilings design will give you a design push if you're not decoratively inclined.

Overall, I think it's the way that I want to live in SL -- to be part of a community that has a space for public interaction where you would actually want to interact. I know of many, many residential sims that are lovely but fairly empty -- people TP in and out of their homes, and nobody walks around. 3Bears tries really hard to simultaneously support the artistic community, and give its residents a reason to leave their houses and go over to the "downtown" plaza and see what the gallery or the stores have that's new.

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