Remembering Kendra Bancroft/Maddie Joan Blaustein

It’s not surprising that Kendra was at the forefront of the Neualtenburg Projekt, the first (and still successful) experiment in self-governance in Second Life. She was the first to join Ulrika to submit the concept of self-rule in SL to a challenge made by Linden Lab’s Robin Linden; in those days, LL was usually keen to support “interesting projects” by forfeiting setup fees on mainland sims. While Ulrika will always claim the original idea was her own, it was through Kendra’s patient labour and stunning buildings and texture work that the idea became a virtual space. Leading a team of eager builders (and even admitting to having given Ulrika and others most of the textures, but keeping silent about it for many years), Kendra built almost everything — with a few exceptions — on the first self-governed sim in SL, the City of Neualtenburg (then located in the mainland sim of Anzere, where an infohub still stands).

Her work was, however, not limited to organise teams of builders. She was also the creator of all the amazing Bavarian-style props that she hoped, one day, to become the hallmark of Neualtenburg — a crossroads where talented designers would meet and create a “brand” that stood for high-quality content in Second Life. Things like the Chicken Hat (animated by Ulrika), her first dirndls, armour, 19th century Bavarian police uniforms, the many variants of “Neualtenburger Bier” (barrels, steins, and who knows what else), the Neuspa (an urban motorbike vaguely inspired on the Italian Vespa), the Giant Nutcrackers… all that Kendra built and maintained, works of love and joy, which gave the City its distinct style.

But at the same time, she was always bonding with other residents. While Ulrika logged in seldom, and focused on the forums, Kendra was in-world, hours and hours, experimenting with new things, greeting new residents, joking with them, thinking about the next idea or the next event — she was great at planning those — and ultimately also helping others to learn how to build in SL. For several years this was her most visible attitude: “you can count on Kendra”. She would always be there — as a shoulder to cry upon, as a source of witty comments, as the first to cheer up a group of newcomers to a party, but also as an overseer of work being done in SL. For long nights it seemed that she was the sculptor that cannot leave a project until it’s finished — but when she finally stopped working at something, she would immediately jump to the next one, encouraging a group to help out. That’s what she excelled at.

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