Remembering Kendra Bancroft/Maddie Joan Blaustein

Kendra Bancroft in SLThe year was 2004. Second Life® was a very small place, where half of the residents participated rather a lot on the forums — and then met in-world to be creative together. It was the time when we still had a “Second Life community” — a time for individuals with their own ideas to share them together in a collaborative environment. A time where SL really felt like a small town where everybody pretty much knew everybody else and got frequently in touch with each other, since we were few enough.

I found about Kendra Bancroft by reading what she wrote on the forums. She was cleverly witty (and only much later I understood that she made “clever witty writing” a job). She was also one of the most creative and talented builders, in the days where most people were creative, but few were talented. And she had strong opinions — very strong ones.

I’m sure that she’ll always be remembered for her strong will, her talent, and her creativity. But what might be forgotten was her unswerving loyalty to her friends. Her passion as an artist and hew work would only come second — her friends would come first. And so strong were those bonds with friends that nothing will ever break them, even if Kendra left both SL and RL on past December, 11.

By mid-2004, her friendship with Ulrika Zugzwang was the way she was defined. “Oh, Kendra? She’s Ulrika’s friend”. You’d have to have met both to understand how strong those bonds were. In fact, so strong, that Kendra was blinded by her worship of Ulrika — it wasn’t until 2007 or so that she finally realised how she had been used.

2004, however, was definitely a year of experimentation in SL. The platform was solid enough to allow for novel business models, to test out the limits of creativity, to create new communities inside the big SL community. Kendra will very likely always be reminded by SLers by her two beloved subjects: Bavarian-style architecture and props, and steampunk. Her first love, however, came from a different reason. In RL, Kendra aka Maddie Blaustein was a an activist for the transgendered community. Being transgendered herself — a fact she only revealed several years later — she had experience in establishing relationships with people with similar ideas, organise them, and make these groups long-lasting and self-supportive. Creating the feel of “belonging” to a group was something she was quite familiar with. And, of course, she was also used to fight for her rights and quickly became a political activist.

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