Friday, November 19, 2010

Real Talent in a Virtual World

Press Release:


The extraordinary talent of homeless people profiled at an international event in the Garden for Change, Second Life.

Earlier this year Homeless Link, the national network of English charities, launched a virtual Garden for Change, with support from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. The real life Places of Change Garden was created by around 500 volunteers from more than 40 homeless agencies from across England. It won silver medal at the Royal Horticultural Society's Prestigious Chelsea Flower Show in May.

Now, on Monday 22 November, one of the people who had the biggest overview of the Places of Change Garden, as its official real life photographer, will be taking part in a 2 hour event at the virtual garden.
Robert Davidson, the official photographer for the Places of Change Garden and former photographer for the Moody Blues and The Move, became homeless at the age of 65. He found his local council most unhelpful, but was subsequently supported by a variety of homelessness services in London who helped him to rediscover his love of photography. Robert's photographs are exhibited at the Garden for Change. Robert's avatar will be interviewed by Jenny Valerian, the avatar of Jenny Edwards, Chief Executive of Homeless Link, in front of an international audience. 

The interview will start at 10.15am SLT (16.15 GMT). It will be conducted in voice so please make sure you have headphones or speakers and enable voice in preferences.

Following the interview and questions there will be a tour of the Garden led by Jenny Valerian. Siri Vita, the creator of the in-world garden for Homeless Link will also be present to talk about the process of creation and inspiration she found from the real world garden's design and the stories behind it. Junivers Stockholm will be streaming music, including some he has composed for the garden and some tracks from Streetwise Opera's CD "There's a Place for Us".

Jenny Edwards, Chief Executive of Homeless Link, said, "The idea behind the Garden for Change was to build on the positive impact of the real garden. We want to break down the stereotypes of homeless people by demonstrating to the general public and business internationally that homeless people have talents and potential and should not be written off by society. We want to promote the project to homelessness organisations internationally in order to share the learning and good practice. Second Life offers an alternative way to host debates and discussions with people from across the world. 

The event on November 22 is part of a series of talks, events, performances and workshops that will be held at the Garden for Change where people from different countries can meet and share solutions to homelessness. Each event will involve homeless people who were involved in the creation of the original garden or other digital media projects.


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:

3. Visiting the Garden for Change:
To visit the Garden for Change in Second Life, you need an account (available for free at 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 To keep in touch with events sign up to the Garden for Change subscribomatic list.

7. For more information:
Gill Perkins, Head of Communications, Homeless Link
Gill Seerose in SL
on 020 7840 4425 or 07881 921476

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