The Future of MW – It’s Up to YOU

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This February will mark the completion of three years of Model’s Workshop.  During that time, it has served as a valuable resource to SL models.  I’ve been told many times by various people how MW has provided them with opportunities to learn and gain experience they otherwise would not have had.  This is one of the reasons I keep going with this project.

MW has always been a voluntary endeavor.  No one has ever gotten paid for anything they have contributed to MW.  The buildings we have used have always been graciously donated by supporters.  In the three years, an enormous number of people has made contributions in one form or another.  I can’t list them all here since I would have to go on for pages.  Let me just focus on the major activities of the last year.

2011 was a very active year for MW.  Most weeks there were three events held: the Monday night Chat hosted by Sequoia Nightfire, the Styling Challenge organized by me and shared with a team, and the Thursday workshops mostly organized by Lulu Breuer.  Leena Bianco and Annie Zorric each directed a team of people to put on two fashion shows designed to help people gain experience in their roles.  Sequoia Nightfire managed the MW blog.

By the end of the year, things had slowed down.  Interest in the Monday chats and the Wednesday Styling Challenges seem to have waned.  The Thursday Workshops struggled along with the absence of Lulu due to RL reasons.  This was compounded by the announcement that the sim (NYC Manhattan)  that had hosted us for almost a year and a half was closed in early December.  The final events of 2011 were held on the temporary and sparsely equipped building on my property.

If MW is to continue into 2012, we will have to find a new home.  I have a strong offer to host us that I am very tempted to accept.  Accepting that offer will require me to rebuild the interior of a building yet again, a task that takes a considerable amount of time and effort.  To accept that offer, I would have to feel that it is worthwhile to do so.  I would not want to allow someone to host us only to have a largely unused building.  That would not be fair to our host.  Let me explain more.

Although I remain committed to the concept of MW and am willing to remain its CEO and provide significant leadership, I don’t want to be the one responsible for organizing and running events.   I’ve been there and done that.

Frankly, there are too many other things I want to do in both RL and SL to have MW consume a significant portion of my time.  Just doing the CEO work and supporting what others may want to do takes up plenty of time.

As I’m sure you understand, being responsible for hosting a weekly event is a big responsibility.  Most of the work of organizing weekly events in the last year fell on three people: Lulu, Sequioa, and me.  We were all pretty tired by the end of the year.

The weekly Thursday workshops were especially challenging.  Coming up with speakers for, or personally organizing,  a workshop every week is difficult and takes commitment.  Lulu and I both asked for volunteers to help with that on several occasions.  Help never seemed to materialize or work out.

Perhaps MW’s activities need to be re-evaluated.  Just as important, I think we need to look at how MW can get more people involved in actually DOING something.  I’ve said repeatedly that learning is an active process best accomplished by struggling to DO something that pushes your limits.

Future MW events will continue to be organized as they have been for the last year and a half.  Briefly, major projects are organized into committees of people working on those project.  The committees are headed by a Committee Chair who leads a staff who together work on the project.  The project could be ongoing or time limited.  The committee could consist of one or many people.  This structure, originally proposed by Viola Rookswood, has served us well and can accommodate a variety of activities.

Here are some possible projects:

1) Regular (perhaps weekly) workshops.
This has been the staple of MW since it’s first year. Most often, guest speakers have been recruited.  Less often, MW staff have led the workshops. In my mind this requires a committee of people who together are responsible for conducting this event on a regular basis.  Well connected staff can help recruit speakers.  Staff with different areas of expertise can share the burden of leading workshops.  But, having this fall on one or just a few people will burn them out.  The committee itself would have to be constantly replenished as its members come and go.  Although most people express their appreciation for these workshops and say they want them to continue and may even suggest topics, only a handful of people have ever stepped forward to actually make them work on a regular basis.

2) Less formal gatherings of members who just want to share information and knowledge.
Some of my earliest workshops were organized around the theme of “Let’s all get together and share what we know about topic X”.  Topic X may have been hair one week, skins another, shapes yet a third, etc.  This kind of workshop just takes someone to announce “let’s get together at this specific time and place to talk about X”. It can be a one time event.  It just takes someone who can lead a discussion and get people to contribute.  I can’t tell you how many such workshops I’ve led where many people in the group knew far more than me about the topic being discussed.

3) Shows.
MW has put on 4 fashion shows in its three years.  Each drew an enthusiastic staff committed to that one time project.  Each was designed to give new models experience as models and to give more experienced models a chance to explore other roles.  Each one of these was phenomenally successful.  Each, by nature, was very focused and time limited.  All this takes is someone willing to take on the role of show director / producer and assemble a staff to work on the project.

4) Similar time-limited projects.
This could be almost anything.  One example is when top model Melanie Sautereau conducted a series of basic modeling skills workshops toward the end of 2010.  This project went on for a couple months.  Another example was the photography workshops led by Shae Sixpence for the better part of 2010.

5) Helping models find jobs.
For a while a couple years ago, another group (not MW) tried to get designers looking for models together with models.  They held castings for the designers.  Models found jobs.  We certainly could do a similar thing.  Think of the experience you could gain and connections you could make if you led such a project.

6) Developing a resource library.
Wouldn’t it be nice for new models to be able to access a library of resources on where to find hair, shoes, poses, jewelry, etc.

7) An expanded blog or flick group.
Sequoia has done an excellent job managing our blog.  We also have a Flickr group with a few members.  These could be expanded in lots of ways.

8) Contests
MW has sponsored various types of contests mostly around styling, some with real prizes donated by sponsors, others for just bragging rights.  Competitive events seem to have a special appeal.  The theme could be almost anything related to fashion or modeling.

9) Expanded workshop times.
Most of MW’s activities have been held at times more conducive to Americans.  From time to time, we have attempted to host activities at times that are more favorable to our European members.  This worked for limited times with small groups of people taking the lead.

These are just a few of the ideas I’ve had and some of the things we have done.  The possibilities are limitless and just require someone who will work to make them happen.  If you have other ideas of things to do, I’d love to hear them.

On Thursday, 1/5/12 at 5 PM I will host an open forum to discuss MW’s future.  I will repeat that forum on Friday, 1/6/12 at noon.  If you would like to contribute to the future of MW, please come to one of those two forums.  If you would like to contribute but can’t make one of those forums, please IM me or send me a note card if I am offline.

I am most interested in ideas for projects that YOU would like to contribute to or, better still, lead.  I am not particularly interested in ideas of things for other people to do unless you can rally others to do them or want to actively participate in doing them yourself.

You may not feel particularly competent at anything or feel you have nothing to offer, but I would challenge that.  You may not feel that you have leadership skills or may be shy in public, but ask yourself what you would like to DO that would foster your growth and that of others.  This could also be things you’ve already done for yourself and would be willing to graciously share with others, perhaps in writing if not in a public group.

The possibilities are limitless.  The future of MW is up to YOU.

Monica Balut


One thought on “The Future of MW – It’s Up to YOU

    monicabalut responded:
    January 5, 2012 at 10:58 pm

    For those of you who were not able to attend the Thur 1/5 forum or those of you who plan to attend the Fri noon forum, here is a brief summary of what was accomplished at the 1/5 forum.

    ElaraGloriana Scrabblebat and Laurelrose Anthony will co chair the committee in charge of organizing the workshops similar to what we have done on Thur at 5 PM for the last 3 years.

    Ji Nirvana will chair the committee to organize regular Styling Challenges.

    Sequoia Nightfire will continue to manage the blog and in addition organize some events around Flickr.

    Annie Zorric will lead an expanded project around the skills needed to produce a fashion show and she is planning to produce another show this winter.

    I was encouraged by the response at this forum and look forward to the Friday 1/6 forum.



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