8 June 2010

Homeless Link Plants Virtual ‘Garden for Change’ in Second Life

Image of the Virtual 'Garden for Change' in Second Life
Homeless Link Plants Virtual 'Garden for Change' in Second Life

Homeless Link, the national organisation for frontline agencies working to end homelessness, has launched a virtual representation of the silver award winning Places of Change garden at this year’s RHS Chelsea Flower Show to celebrate the talent of homeless people. Supported by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation

The real garden, created by around 500 volunteers from more than 40 homeless agencies from across England, was an ambitious collaboration between Homeless Link, the national regeneration agency the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA), Communities and Local Government (CLG), the Eden Project, and the London Employer Accord. A journey through the Places of Change garden reveals exclusion, choices, opportunity, hope, achievement, enterprise and change. These powerful and challenging themes proved a winner in real life with the judges and with visitors including the Queen, Dame Helen Mirren, Lesley Garrett, David Bellamy, Raymond Blanc and Rolf Harris.

The representation of the garden, the Garden for Change in Second Life, was created by Siri Vita. Siri said, “I hope the virtual garden will give people across the world a glimpse into the hopes, lives and journeys of the people who created the real garden.”

The Garden for Change uses 450 virtual plant species, most native to the UK, reflecting the biodiversity theme of the project. Eco features include a plastic bottle greenhouse and a planter wall made from recycled white goods. Velazquez Bonetto has made a pole lathe for the Bodgers Camp, which represents an old way of living in the forest in harmony with nature. Plants were created and donated by Herb Abraham, Luna Bliss, Marmottina Taurog and Zola Zsun.

Jenny Edwards, Chief Executive of Homeless Link, explained, “We bring a Garden for Change into Second Life thanks to the support of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. We want to break down the stereotypes of homeless people by demonstrating to the general public and commerce internationally that homeless people have talents and potential and should not be written off by society. The beauty and diversity of the natural world is an inspiration and a healing environment for people who have overcome intense challenges and then move on to uncover new confidence, skills and passion. We want to promote the project to homelessness organisations internationally in order to share the learning and good practice through hosting debates and discussions in other countries in Second Life.”

Andrew Barnett, Director of the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation UK Branch said: “We are delighted to support the development of Garden for Change in Second Life. One of the Foundation’s current objectives is to promote understanding of the value of biodiversity for all our lives. It is also committed to supporting the most disadvantaged in our society. The Garden for Change in Second Life brings all the innovation and imagination of the original to new audiences, providing an interactive engagement with the garden, its themes and the stories of those who have created it. People from all over the world can now meet in the garden, participate in debates and be inspired by the potential and variety of the natural world and the people who live in it.”

There will be a series of talks, events, performances and workshops held at the Garden for Change. Jenny hopes that it will become a meeting place where people from different countries can meet and share solutions to homelessness. She plans to invite some of the people who have played a part in creating the real life garden to come in world to share their stories and experience.

Notes

1. About Homeless Link
Homeless Link is the national membership organisation for 500 frontline homelessness charities in England. Its mission is to be a catalyst that will help to bring an end to homelessness. Its vision is to see an end to street homelessness by 2012. It is working with the UK national government and civic leaders to this aim.

2. About Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
The Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation’s purpose in the UK and Ireland is to help enrich and connect the experiences of individuals and secure lasting and beneficial change. It has a special interest in supporting those who are most disadvantaged. One of its core aims is to support imaginative interventions that contribute to an increased public understanding of the importance of habitat conservation for the protection of the environment. The Foundation was established in Lisbon in 1956. The UK Branch, based in London, has for more than 50 years initiated and supported pioneering cultural, social and educational developments. For further information see: www.gulbenkian.org.uk

3. Visiting the Garden for Change
To visit the Garden for Change in Second Life, you need an account (available for free at www.secondlife.com. Once you have an account and an avatar, you can search for the Garden for Change on the map and then teleport to the site or use this link directly once you are logged in http://bit.ly/gardenforchange. The Garden for Change group provides updates on talks, events and performances on the themes of the Garden for Change

5. For more information
Gill Perkins, Head of Communications, Homeless Link on 020 7840 4425 or 07881 921476
Felicity Luard, Head of Communications, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, UK Branch
Tel/voicemail: +44 (0)20 7012 1410

www.homeless.org.uk

http://www.homeless.org.uk/garden-for-change-SL

www.gulbenkian.org.uk

www.youtube.com/user/HomelessLink

www.placesofchangegarden.org.uk

www.facebook.com/pages/Places-of-Change-garden/344990417245