Safe Waters Foundation and all its aquatics sponsor the Faire this year. GraceSWF Wrigglesworth, the founder of SWF, tells us about the Foundation, how it works to reach out to all the mer-folk of Second Life and to show the way to the ocean to those who might become curious about the life in the waves.
This is your first year sponsoring Fantasy Faire. What made you decide to become a sponsor?
We wanted to be a support to the RFL fundraising effort and also let people know that the fantasy of being mermaid/merman is available in Second Life. Almost every mermaid or merman has been impacted by cancer and joining the fight seemed a good use of the funds we’ve raised. Sponsorship at Fantasy Faire seemed like a wonderful way to show support – Merfolk for RFL!
How did you become a mer in Second Life? How did Safe Waters Foundation come to existence?
I’ll never forget the day I discovered my first SL mermaid. I’d seen a notecard that said I could be a mermaid in a roleplay, but could find no other information. One day (much to my surprise) I spotted a mermaid flying way up in the sky overhead (very rapidly). I rushed to follow her but it was hard still to move and she was fast! I almost lost her, but eventually she gave me some help. It was still a struggle to become a mermaid in this new virtual world but with some effort, I did it. The joy of swimming, exploring underwater worlds and dancing as a mermaid – oh gosh, it was joyful! I was hooked on mermaids and just kept discovering more and more as I went along.
Safe Waters Foundation (SWF) started out of my passionate desire to help new mermaids/mermen (I like to call them merms) in Second Life. I started with a little folder of notecards I’d update regularly and give out. Other people started joining the group, and we discovered the usefulness of group chat for finding other merms. We’ve got a mission, a charter, headquarters and a number of helpful programs now. It’s no longer “my group” – it really is “our group” – as so many have contributed their talents. So many people enjoy helping others become merm – and there are so many different ways to help. I think we do a good job of helping overall.
How does Safe Waters Foundation work? What can we expect of you during the Faire?
The goals of SWF are:
-To assist those considering a mer life.
-To increase awareness in the general public that there is a mer option.
-To make mer resources (events, projects, groups, retailers, sims, designers) visible and easily accessible.
-To assist, as possible, with the viability of mer resources so they may continue to be available to the community.
You can read more about at our website: http://www.goldmermaid.com/SWF/
There sometimes has been some confusion because of our name – our goal isn’t to make the waters safe for merms. We aren’t the United Nations for merms – seeking to intervene in conflicts and be the peacemakers. Quite the opposite – I’ve tried to steer us out of the “wars” that seem inevitably to come up – to let the parties involved solve it among themselves. I’ve lost friends over this distinction – but I just don’t have the desire or the energy to be the peacemaker of Second Life merms.
The other confusion is that some people think that SWF is a Real Life organization – doing environmental actions to make the waters safe and healthy. I wish I was able to raise it up to that, but until now – that is beyond the scope of our little organization.
A personal goal for SWF that I still maintain is a hope to make it more multi-national. Right now everything is in English. I’d like to translate the core support pieces and even have chapters that meet in times that make sense for different time zones. We have one support group meeting weekly that is well attended but very inconvenient if you are in Europe, Japan or Australia!
At Fantasy Faire this year I hope you will see more mermaids and mermen! And if you have any interest at all in trying out the mer option – I hope you will delight in the multiple resources that SWF makes readily available.
What calls you to fantasy? When was the first time you encountered the genre and realized you enjoyed it?
Second Life is all about fantasy. People can be whatever they want and do as they wish with very few limits. I like to say that SL allows people to explore their true self, to grow into themselves and lead a fantasy life the way a person would if God allowed us to set it all up. The fantasy options with SL are just where those fantasies look a lot different than the real life options. My inner self is a mermaid that loves the ocean and whales. My fantasy is very aquatic.
Do you have a favorite Faire memory? What are you looking forward to most this year?
I think my favorite memory is swimming in a mer grotto that Corkie Houston had built in one of the sims – I don’t remember the year. Her freebies included a ride-able manta ray! So many people were delighted to discover me when I relaxed in Corkie’s grotto. I felt like a mermaid ambassador. I also remember rescuing a few friends from jail – all in the name of raising funds for RFL! I’m looking forward to getting a bigger global picture of the Faire this year as part of it.
Thank you, Grace, for taking the time to chat with us and to share the delight of the aquatic life with us!