My father, Hugo Schultz, was a machinist for the Canadian National Railway, and I grew up in the eastern Winnipeg neighbourhood of Transcona, home to the CNR Transcona Shops where he worked almost all his life. At the time of Transcona’s Centennial, CBC Manitoba reported:
Transcona was founded as the site of the repair shops for the Grand Trunk Pacific and National Transcontinental Railways. The name “Transcona” is an amalgam of Transcontinental and Strathcona, the latter from Donald Smith, Lord Strathcona, a former Manitoban who was instrumental in building Canada’s first railway. It was Lord Strathcona who drove the last spike into the CPR railway in 1885.
The CNR Transcona Shops opened in 1913, and during the First World War, the shops were used for the manufacture of munitions.
Transcona attained city status in 1961, and in 1972, it amalgamated with the City of Winnipeg, along with 11 other communities.
On the block where I grew up, there was a very strong sense of community. All the neighbours knew each other. Every summer the block got a permit from the City, and threw a weekend block party. Our house was in the middle of the block, so during the block party, people tended to bring over their lawn chairs and congregate there. We even had an annual North Side versus South Side volleyball game!
This all seemed so normal that it wasn’t until I grew up and moved away that I realized that this sense of community was not the norm. Many people nowadays feel isolated, even in the midst of bustling neighbourhoods.
The reason I am telling you all this is that today, for the first time in a long while, I had an opportunity to explore the 114 Harvest experience. Drax recently gave the houses lining Harvest Street to other Sansar residents to use, and people have lovingly decorated their virtual homes.
Here’s a glimpse inside Strawberry Singh’s tastefully decorated home:
(Note that in Sansar, just as in Second Life, it’s quite acceptable to explore other people’s houses when they are not there! In SL, sometimes people set up security orbs to turf trespassers, but most people don’t bother.)
And while I was exploring it struck me that, even though Sansar has been open to the public for less than a year, it already has an amazingly strong community. It may not be a very large community (yet), but it is robust, wildly creative and quite active.
A virtual world is not a success based on what features and tools it can offer; it is a success based on its sense of community, of belonging. This is what keeps people coming back again and again, to meet friends old and new and build something wonderful together. This is the secret to the success of Second Life, still going strong after 15 years.
Given its small but strong community, Sansar can already be seen as a success at this early stage in its development.