A Fantasy Fair Teaser Post – Mourningvale Thicket

Fantasy Fair is just about here. It opens on the first of May to benefit RFL (Relay for Life and the American Cancer Society).

Each year for the past two I wrote up a little blurb to post on the blog about the fair after it was over. It is like a yearly peek inside what makes Sear tick, a cleansing, and some of what I am behind the screen along with a fair amount of theatrics as I describe the experience or inspiration involved.  I don’t know if I will end up writing another snippet at the end of the fair this year… it seems to be something of a tradition since this time of year is very emotional for me. However I feel like I need to write already…. This year I want to share and reflect before the gates even open. As the fair goes on I’m sure there will be shifts and thoughts that come about but I want to share the inspiration and the dedication of the sim before we all get going in a whirlwind trying to experience every moment, trying to catch up and finish before it opens. With all of the stress, all of the anxiety, all of the expectations, and work I want to take a moment and I’m bringing you along with me. I know now is not the best time as we try to finalize everything but you never really know when that time might come again so I have learned to take life in the moment.

Mourningvale Thicket isn’t meant to be epic.  It isn’t meant to be impressive. It isn’t meant to use the latest mesh or the latest greatest thing that SL has to offer in the way of shinies. It isn’t meant to push envelopes, it isn’t meant to make you catch your breath in awe or in wonder staring up at a magnificent build.

It is meant to make you feel.

It is chaotic in places. It is dark and raw. It is ruined, dead and has a sense of foreboding.

It also has life. Music, love, laughter and celebration.

From one extreme to the other Mourningvale Thicket is meant to take you on a journey. It is not just a shopping sim, I know this is a fair and I know this is meant to be a place to shop and spend your lindens but it is not just that, at least…. Not if I have my way.

In some ways it is understated and on purpose.

It is meant to on some level make you uncomfortable in spots. It is the sort of place that in some areas the darkness has overcome, the curse has taken hold… death and decay with ruins dotting the landscape of blackened earth and jagged rock are the things you will encounter.

There is hope.

Places where life has begun to spring back fighting back against the curse that has most of the land in its grasp.

There is regrowth.

There is celebration.

Depending on how you travel the sim there is a remarkable difference in what you will encounter first.

If you come from an adjoining sim you will be met with darkness.

If you travel in from a portal or landmark you will be met with life.

The extremes can be traveled as you walk along the paths.

Imagine walking from the sim next door met with dead trees, jagged rock, overgrown grass and ruins. Gnarled roots, black trees reaching up leafless to the sky… the sort of place that as a child you avoided your parents admonishing you that the creatures within might spirit you away into the darkness never to be seen again. Subdued one almost wants to whisper as you walk past the ruined buildings. Someone lived here once or it seems like they must have but their story has long been forgotten the cursed earth keeping its secrets locked in the darkness. There are times when you might be tempted to run back the way you came not wanting to travel further but if you keep going with a little bit of faith you will be met with hope. You begin to see renewed signs of life. Roses begin to grow amongst some of the ruins and craggy rock. The thorns are less dangerous looking. A people have decided to try to combat the darkness building their homes amongst the brambles and dead branches. Colorful and full of life they begin to beat back the darkness taking shelter on the outer edges of the cursed woods welcoming you to continue down the path.

If you keep moving forward through the darkness, through the ruins, through the thorns a clearing opens. Small flags sway gently in the breeze; trees have begun to regain their leaves even if still dark and grass is growing beneath your feet as you take in your surroundings. Laughter, celebration… Life. Firelight and campfires keep the shadows at bay, the night safe – the Thicket a place of warmth once more in this small pocket.

Mourningvale Thicket might mean different things to different people and it might mean nothing at all but when I decided to take on this design I wanted to create a world where even in the darkest corners there is hope and light, life amongst struggle, a balance… a journey.

I have been touched many times by cancer, loved ones struggling for life, some surviving… some succumbing to the harshness of it. I have watched a loved one slowly wither away from bone cancer crying out in pain, and I’ve seen a family member struggle for breath when his lungs were invaded by it hunched over powerless to help. I have also embraced and celebrated those who have survived and are still with us.

My sim this year is dedicated to those people.

The survivors, and to those we have lost. It is dedicated in loving memory to an uncle, to a grandfather, and to an aunt who has survived. It is dedicated to the journey that we go upon through our daily lives with the struggles, the darkness… the pain and the harshness… the light, the laughter and the music. To the lives we lead and the moments along the way that define us carrying us towards our journey’s end.

I invite you to join me this fair season in supporting a cause close and dear to my heart. To relay, and to make a difference in someone’s life.

Thank you, for sharing these moments with me and I hope you truly have a wondrous fair experience this year.

Mourningvale Thicket Teaser Poster


Faire’s End

I’m writing because I had a few thoughts that I thought I would express about fantasy fair, bear with me because I have a tendency to become wordy.

I wanted to convey that this year I believe you all outdid yourselves in the planning, execution, presentation of and spirit that I associate with Relay for Life.  For the past 6 years I have been involved in RFL within my real life, helping where I can, supporting and doing what I can.  Every year I walk… usually all night long until the morning hours when they do the ceremonies to close the event.  Relay for me has become synonymous with community, support, love, and watching people work together towards a purpose.  I have lost people to cancer, had a few scares, and seen people recover from it.  When I found out years ago that RFL was within Second Life it was too late to join that year but the next I jumped at the opportunity.  I involved myself and did a fair or two only to be disheartened after the event turned into a bunch of back biting undermining attempts at one group to discredit, sabotage or take away their authority rather than working together.  I tried to make myself feel better with the thought that in the end RFL benefited and maybe the next year it would be better.  The next few attempts for me to be involved needless to say were rather unpleasant.  Shoddy workmanship, shoddy looking or half assed looking event venues, last minute thrown together events, lack of coordination, egos getting in the way and some of the worst parts being merchants/vendors becoming so obsessed with their placement, lack of sales, not giving items for donation… sometimes seeing the very worst of what I associate with online and how people treat each other coming to fruition all in the name of a cause I held dear to me.  Each year becoming more disenchanted and withdrawing.

I had heard about Fantasy Fair, I had not been.  I did not think I ‘fit’ in so I avoided it somewhat as a merchant.  Last year I decided to try to get into it nearly at the cutoff point barely making it in probably never really knowing when sign ups started figuring I’d give it a try.  At this point I didn’t expect much, generally expecting what I saw elsewhere… set up my spot, and watched.  Listened.  It is my nature to do so.  I was rather impressed with the spirit I saw.  I decided to do a jail and bail.  Didn’t expect to do much, didn’t know if anyone really knew me or not… knowing really that being ‘known’ for that sort of thing generally helps bring in money.  Didn’t do too bad, listened to Zander on the radio stream once or twice I think… watched some more.  I didn’t wander that much but I felt pretty good at the close of the fair.  I had seen a lot more positives, and was hopefully optimistic.

This year I decided I wanted to take a bigger part.  Got a spot, donated something for the auction… ran a little behind and scurried to try to come up with some things that I felt were decent.  I wandered more and became involved more, though I didn’t dare do something like a jail and bail.  I spent time drumming, flying around as my petite self, watched a rather interesting wedding, and saw a fallen god face first in a kiddie pool, giants, dragons, genies, tinies, petites, you name it… I went to some events, listened to the radio stream, felt welcomed and stood entranced.

The first time I went from one sim to the other I held my breath as each unfolded.  The scenery… the care taken… creating immersive and astounding environments where we could house our wares for a very temporary weeklong event.  I can be a very meticulous builder and I’ll be honest it is difficult to impress me sometimes.  I can pick apart a build easily, I can do a lot and I was very honestly blown away.  Seeing them excited me to be a part of it… As the fair continues to unfold there were moments that I will always treasure.  The exhibit with the paper boats that Khyle Sion did, reading the artists statement, being involved and sharing a paper boat… had me in tears.  I was able to share that with someone very dear to me who had lost a family member due to cancer less than two years ago and know that it meant a lot to them as well.  The outpouring from various people in the community, the camaraderie, the goofy parts, the fun parts, the awe inspiring and mundane… All of them combining to create a magical atmosphere.

You guys really pulled it off.  I am honored that I was able to be able to be a part of this year’s fair and to be able to contribute in any way…. I sincerely look forward to next year finding myself very much moved as well as quite sad that it was only a week long.  That the beauty created feels so fleeting not wanting to retreat back into work or the mundane and the ‘real world’ nasty parts of SL that always seem to weigh a person down.

Thank you for allowing me to be a part of Fantasy Fair… I hope that next year I can be even more involved, get to know folks a bit better and help spread a little bit of magic of my own.