Friday, April 3, 2009

Open Latte at Mill Pond: The Final Chapter

Micala Lumiere, Owner of Mill Pond
Today, I logged into Second Life and teleported myself to Open Latte in Mill Pond hoping some of my friends would be hanging there. Open Latte is a popular coffee house and a Second Life institution. Rezzing outside Open Latte, I found my self in the middle of a large agitated crowd. I looked around and saw my friend Lulubelle. I asked her about the cause for all the excitement. She said that Micala Lumiere, the owner and creator of Mill Pond, had just banned Random. Random Mefusula is a popular fixture at Open Latte; a resident, barkeep, craftsman, promoter/enthusiast of Mill Pond and an iconoclast.

Random Mafusala, Mill Pond Resident and Barkeep
Both Random and Micala had engaged in an unfortunate and ultimately destructive incident that resulted in the demise of a significant Second Life institution and the diaspora of a large, active community. But the conditions for this implosion were long in the making and neither of these individuals can be held solely responsible for the closing of Open Latte and Mill Pond. To begin, one must know Micala’s vision for Mill Pond which was to ‘provide a relaxing, beautiful space where people could enjoy live music and intelligent conversation’ and where they could form a community that ‘valued expression and creativity’ and ‘valued the serenity of the environment’. When I first discovered Mill Pond over a year ago, its community largely reflected Micala’s vision. But the last six months brought developments that would compromise that vision.

One development was the natural turnover of the community. Over time, people will leave the community having established interests outside of Mill Pond and people will leave Second Life for the exigencies of their real lives. Of the Mill Pond regulars that I have known in my first six months, a handful remained. A development more significant than the turnover of the community was the unprecedented increase in the crowd at Mill Pond. Mill Pond has long been ‘a place that was a great starting point for people new to Second Life’ and its convivial and active society attracted greater numbers of new people into the community as well as a larger number of visitors. Even with the larger crowd, Mill Pond remained the friendliest and most welcoming collection of individuals in Second Life. But a large crowd by the nature of its diversity and dynamics can be disruptive to the serenity of the environment that was an important part of Micala’s vision.

Architects and urban planners assert that the layout and design of space influences the dynamics of the community. Micala’s last two revisions of Mill Pond dramatically changed its social dynamics. Mill Pond was transformed from a quaint rural village to an urbanized town. Asphalt replaced the cobblestones. In the earlier Mill Pond, Open Latte was the central meeting place, and the majority of social interactions occurred inside the coffeehouse. Open Latte was comfortable, intimate and well suited for the small community that was then Mill Pond. The transformations of Mill Pond and the redesigns of Open Latte altered the social dynamics in a manner that resulted in far more socializing outside in front of the coffeehouse than inside. Socializing outside the confines of the coffeehouse broadened the possibilities for amusing activities and fostered a different set of behaviors. The change from rural to urban may have also fostered a different attitude toward Mill Pond’s environment. The nature of the community had definitely changed; but, this change was not necessarily negative. On the positive side, life in Mill Pond became much more vibrant and a lot more fun. This vibrancy and brought more and more people into Mill Pond including many endearing personalities.
But growth and change are difficult things, and, in time, their negative aspects became quite evident at Mill Pond. The increased scope for amusing activities also provided for annoying fooleries such as cars racing the around the streets, raving with particle emitters, gestures accompanied by loud noise or music, brandishing of weapons, and manipulations of the surroundings and the weather. None of it was mean spirited. Some of it was fun. But they were escalating in their frequency and, cumulatively, a detraction from Mill Pond’s peaceful environment. There were also more visitors coming to Mill Pond exhibiting rude behavior and spouting foul language. I found myself muting more individuals than I have ever done previously. Even more disturbing, Open Latte was attracting more than its share of griefers; some of them, thugs. Mill Pond could be a dangerous place as a consequence. Twice at Open Latte, I was targeted and viciously assaulted by griefers. The ferocity of the assaults was terrifying. The incidents left me as shaken as one can be in Second Life.


These problems were inevitably brought to Micala for solutions and resolution. It was obviously not pleasant for her as she once confided to us, “Believe me, there have been many MANY times lately where I've thought about selling it (Mill Pond). It's not been fun for me lately. Especially when I have to spend time breaking up fights about VOICE."

.One of the more trying controversies concerned the use, abuse, and social consequences of voice chat at Mill Pond. Voice had become the rage among a group of Open Latte regulars; a minority of the community, but not an insignificant number. This development was having a profound impact on social interactions. Of course, it was delightful discovering that many of our acquaintances have attractive voices. Poetry readings and story telling expanded our cultural venue. But voice was leading to a decidedly less inclusive community. Micala observed, “what I found was happening was that new people would show up here, and everyone would be using voice and they'd ignore the new people. I didn't dig that.” A Mill Pond resident also observed that “voicing gets very cliquey.” Others found the interminable ‘giggling contests’ particularly annoying. More disturbing, the poetry readings and oral stories were trending blue. One Open Latte regular recalled, “…they were offensive for the sake of being offensive. And since they did it in earshot of the crowds, they made people uncomfortable.” Many were offended and brought complaints to Micala.

.Micala acted, and voice was disabled at Mill Pond. I believe that the majority of the community supported Micala’s decision. As one Open Latte regular commented, “there was abuse of it here... glad it is gone.” The voice enthusiasts were naturally disappointed, and perhaps some, resentful. A few days later, a new group called the Mill Pond Voice Group was formed by Random Mefusula to take advantage of the Group Voice Chat feature offered by Second Life. The group’s stated purpose was “To get around the voice ban at Mill Pond…” This was very telling. A group of Open Latte regulars would have it their own way in Macala’s sim and determined that her wishes and rules need not be respected. This marked the beginning of the last chapter to Mill Pond.

It must have been obvious to Micala that her vision for Mill Pond was giving way to a different reality. And the problems being brought for her attention were added to her already considerable real life work load. So again she acted. A sign announcing Mill Pond Rules and Guidelines was posted at the entrance to Open Latte. Micala, like other sim owners, always had rules governing the conduct of residents and guests. However, they were not well circulated among the community. At most sims, upon entering, a visitor is automatically greeted and given a notecard with information and rules. There was no such greeting at Mill Pond. One received a notecard with Micala’s rules when becoming a resident by renting property. But the larger part of the Mill Pond’s community were not residents but people for which Open Latte was a home base. The sign now put Micala’s rules upfront and very public. They were essentially the old rules rewritten with a few new items added. They were also similar to rules that could be found for almost any other sim open to the public. Moreover, some members of the community requested that the rules be made widely known so they might know what was and was not permitted. But for many at Mill Pond, this was their first exposure to their community’s rules. To have a complete record, I have placed Mill Pond’s rules and guidelines below.
The following are the rules, guidelines and expectations of behavior while at Mill Pond:.Rules:
1. At no time are any motorized or loud transportation devices allowed on the sim. This includes but is not limited to cars, busses, motorcycles, helicopters, motorboats, alien ships, and any other thing that creates noise or detracts from the peaceful environment. Other transportation devices such as bicycles, roller skates, hot air balloons are allowed, but must be used with consideration of other visitors and guests.
2. At no time is nudity, sexually suggestive behavior or solicitation of sexual services permitted in any public area of Mill Pond. If you are wearing an 'escort' tag, please remove it upon arriving at Mill Pond and conduct yourself appropriately.
3. At no time is harassment, stalking, or 'griefing' of any kind permitted at Mill Pond.
4. Being rude and disrespectful of others will not be tolerated.
5. Age play and child avatars are not permitted at Mill Pond.
6. The use/wearing/creation of any device used to manipulate the environment of Mill Pond (weather devices, rain, etc) are not permitted at any time.
7. The use/wearing/creation of any drug-related paraphernalia is not permitted at any time.
8. No 'deeded' objects including televisions, radios, media systems, cars, etc are permitted at Mill Pond.
9. No dance floors or "rave" attachments such as (but not limted to) particle emitters, fog machines, silhouette orbs, etc. are permitted at Mill Pond.
10. Gestures should be used sparingly and gestures with sound effects are strongly discouraged, once again, because it detracts from the overall atmosphere of the sim. Please keep in mind all other rules when using gestures.
11. No weapons are permitted at any time.
12. No advertising of other sims, shops, or venues outside of Mill Pond is permitted.
General Guidelines:

Mill Pond is designed to be a peaceful, relaxing place where people can enjoy intelligent conversation and a community atmosphere. I expect that all visitors and residents will respect the vision of Mill Pond as it was designed and will be respectful and tolerant of others. Behave as you would behave at a coffee shop or creative community in real-life. Respect each other and the environment and be aware of your surroundings and the others that are also trying to enjoy the space. I expect that people will refrain from excessive use of foul language and rude behavior. Remember that you are a guest at Mill Pond and are, at all times, expected to comply with these rules and guidelines.
.Mill Pond is not voice-enabled because of prior issues with the use of voice on this sim.


There is nothing draconian here or highly unusual; nothing that would greatly inhibit one from enjoying Mill Pond. Some found the rule regarding gestures as out of the ordinary and ambiguous. But no gestures are prohibited, even those with sound effects. All Micala required was being sensible in their use. Indeed, the essence of these rules and guidelines is that Micala would have us behave as adults and respect others at Mill Pond.
Naturally there was a reaction within the Mill Pond community. Most acknowledged that, as owner of Mill Pond, Micala had every right to insist on her rules and guidelines. For many, their posting was a welcomed development. But a vociferous uproar came from those who resented their imposition. Some people will naturally resent any open display of authority. Perhaps, others were resentful because they perceived that the rules were directed at them in particular. Indeed, the posting of the rules were a response to the behavior of some at Mill Pond (and I admit that I am not entirely innocent). Still others did not take the rules seriously and were amused by their public posting. The rules were openly ridiculed by some of the resentful and the bemused and critical comments brought to Micala. Some of those ridiculing the rules were the same people who requested that they be made widely known. Perhaps feeling under siege, Micala confided to one Mill Pond resident that the past two weeks were ‘living torture’. And as a portent to the drama that was to transpire, Random had taken to sitting on top of the posted sign.


I have laid out the background leading to the closing of Mill Pond. I attempted to be accurate. I hope that I have been fair. What follows is the complete Local Chat record of the incident involving Micala and Random with unrelated conversations removed. It is divided into three segments. I have provided a prologue to each segment with my commentary.
A large crowd has gathered in front of Open Latte. Just prior to Micala’s appearance into Mill Pond, her rules and guidelines were the ongoing target of jokes and ridicule by some in the crowd, mostly good natured. But this set the scene for the coming drama. Micala enters.
[14:57] Micala Lumiere: Hi everyone!
[14:57] Syene Cela: MICALA LUMIERE!
[14:57] Syene Cela: why HELLO to you!
[14:57] Micala Lumiere: SYENE CELA! :)
[14:57] Micala Lumiere: Hello! :)
[14:58] Kirra Sirnah: ...Helloooo
[14:58] Micala Lumiere: Hello Kirra :)
[14:58] Random Mefusula: hi Micala... welcome to Mill Pond
[14:58] Micala Lumiere: Um, gosh thanks Random.
[14:58] Random Mefusula: lol
[14:59] Micala Lumiere: Nothing like being welcomed to your own sim.
[14:59] Reginald Golding: we should hire random, he's a fantastic greeter
[14:59] Random Mefusula: well... I try
[14:59] Kirra Sirnah: lol random
[14:59] Caudia Balbozar: Hi micala feeling better?
[14:59] Micala Lumiere: I'm fine thanks
In the next segment, Micala is deliberately provoked. The humorous jesting targeting Micala’s rules and guidelines that preceded her appearance is resumed. But Micala herself is made the fall-person of the joke. A joke it may be, but, it is an in-your-face moment and a challenge to her prerogatives as owner of Mill Pond.

.[15:00] Mony Markova raises hand !!!
[15:00] Mony Markova raises hand !!!
[15:00] Reginald Golding: yes mony, question?
[15:00] Mony Markova: for Micala Regin... but thanks
[15:00] Micala Lumiere: What question?
[15:01] Mony Markova: Is it true that rules and guidelines were an April fools joke???
[15:01] Micala Lumiere: No Mony, it isn't.
[15:01] Loelia Zabaleta: grins
[15:01] Mony Markova: ok thanks :)
[15:01] Nash Lannock: .•*::: VIOLATION ::: *•.
In the next segment, Micala is clearly upset and seriously provoked. She announces she is at her breaking point and issues a clear warning. Random ignores the warning and adds his contribution to the humorous assault. Rather then directing his wit at the rules and guidelines, Random makes it personal. He practically calls Micala a Nazi. I don’t believe he realized how personal or vicious his remark was. He was being flippant, but it was bad timing as evidenced by Micala’s comment in answer to Loelia’s question, composed while Random was sending his own humorous response. Micala breaks. Random is banned.
[15:02] Micala Lumiere: Those are the rules/guidelines and you know, I'm getting tired of the attitude and comments :) If people don't like the rules, there are lots of other places to visit
[15:02] Micala Lumiere: I think I'll start getting rid of people that are just annoying too because I'm tired of hearing it.
[15:03] Loelia Zabaleta: getting rid of ppl?
[15:03] Random Mefusula: yes... like Gort in The Day The Earth Stood Still
[15:03] Random Mefusula: your choice is simple
[15:03] Random Mefusula: join us and live in peace
[15:04] Random Mefusula: or pursue your present course and face obliteration
[15:04] Micala Lumiere: Yes. People that have nothing better to do than sit here and make comments about why I'd make rules, why it's stupid, is it a joke, 'i wonder if this is REALLY Micala's vision"
[15:04] Kirra Sirnah giggles
[15:04] Micala Lumiere: ok that's it. it starts now.
[15:04] Micala Lumiere: Who's next.
[15:04] Micala Lumiere: I’m done :)
[15:04] Micala Lumiere: this is MY island, I'd love to have people here, but not if you're going to criticize every thing I do.
[15:05] Micala Lumiere has reached her limit.
[15:06] Reginald Golding: sometimes you can try 110% to make someone happy, and they just never will be. so, someone has to be in charge, make tough choices.
[15:06] Caudia Balbozar: hey where did Random go?
[15:06] Micala Lumiere: Just FYI, I'm not a mean person. I just can't understand why people are acting this way. If you don't like the rules, you don't have to be here! I cannot IMAGINE going to someone else's space and bitching and complaining about how they run their OWN space.
[15:06] Loelia Zabaleta: he got thrown off
[15:06] Nash Lannock: He probably went back to the bar
[15:07] Micala Lumiere: So I am done with that here.
[15:07] Micala Lumiere: He got banned.

It took just 10 minutes. And in those 10 minutes, the fate of Mill Pond was sealed. The crowd was stunned by what had just transpired. Some long time friends of Micala came to her defense – ‘She is a really kind and good person generous and selfless’…‘I KNOW Micala.... for many years... she is NOT a mean person’. But this line of defense implicitly acknowledged that the sudden banning of Random was shocking and cruel. Random was a rent-paying resident and retailer at Mill Pond and arguably deserved more consideration than Micala had given him. That is was Random who was banned made it all the more shocking and made it a seminal act. Random was a very popular member of the community and well known for his enthusiasm for Mill Pond.
But was this banning really spontaneous and precipitous? It appears that Random was not banned solely because of this one incident. He spent the previous week pushing and goading Micala, breaking rules and arguing with her about them. He insisted that he was the true leader of Mill Pond and that he even understood her vision better than she did. One Mill Pond resident observed, “That one incident was only the last straw. It's important to understand that he wasn't banned suddenly or without having been given many chances. It's speaks well of Micala that he lasted as long as he did.”
Micala left and apparently fled. The sentiment of the crowd waxed heavily for Random. All were saddened and many were angry at his treatment. People began leaving Mill Pond, and the crowd was dispersed. After a space of time, Micala returned to Mill Pond and wandered around her creation. She sent her final message to the Mill Pond community:

.Mill Pond Closure
Sat Apr 04 02:49:47 2009
Due to recent events, Mill Pond will be closing. Please understand that I know how much Mill Pond means to some of you, and believe me - I understand.
I have been struggling with this decision, but am sure it is the right one for me.
Mill Pond as it is today, will cease to exist, but the spirit will live on. The sim will be renamed, and will grow again with a new community that share the same values and ideals.
I thank you all from the bottom of my heart for being part of Mill Pond. - Micala.

In a post-mortem, one asks ‘what if’ questions. Random was clearly wrong. Micala was clearly harsh. What if Random had immediately sent Micala a sincere apology would Mill Pond still exist? Probably not. What was broken – the spirit of community - could not be restored. Besides, the chapters leading to the final chapter of Mill Pond were written long before this incident. If it wasn’t this incident, it would have been another. The final chapter would still end as it did.

.A long time Mill Pond regular believes that the end began when Micala ‘lost interest’ and no longer actively participated in the community. He fondly remembers a time when Micala was the heart of the community and organized many events and happenings. People have lately remarked they could not know Micala’s vision since she was never around. If she had a vision for Mill Pond, did she not have an obligation to guide the community? She largely took the role of an absentee landlord. One also wonders if Micala’s vision for Mill Pond might have adapted and evolved as Mill Pond evolved were she an active member of her community.
In many ways, Mill Pond was a modest sim. There was no popular dance club, no shopping mecca, no large live performance stage, no beach or maritime activities. There was just a coffee shop and a town. Yet there was always the presence of people; lots of people, people socializing, people in relationships and friendships, and people interacting in many ways. This was not a crowd attracted by superficial entertainments, but a living community, the most successful in Second Life. Couldn’t Micala be satisfied with her significant achievement? She created a viable and sustaining community in a virtual world – a truely pioneering achievement. Must she insist on her vision for it? Yes she must because Micala is a creative artist and as such is a visionary. So there was inevitable tension between Micala Lumiere and those who would have their own way in her sim. She was accused of being the ‘annoying one’ and creating ‘a huge uproar over nothing’ by persons who are guests in her sim. I have come to accept that Micala’s closing of Mill Pond was the correct decision.
The Last Picture of Open Latte taken just prior to the closing of Mill Pond
How to end this post on a place for which I have a strong emotional attachment? Perhaps by looking back at a better moment. My first posting on Mill Pond recorded another appearance of Micala Lumiere before a crowd in front of Open Latte. It was one of the most affecting scenes that I have witnessed in Second Life. And so I will close with it once again.

.Lulubelle Muircastle: people are congregating outside like never before. Indeed, we were. And the affection that the crowd had for Micala was evident as was her affection for us. Micala is ancient in SL time, and she has not kept her avatar up with the times. It is barely above the level of a noob. And don’t set me off on her clothes. But for Micala, having a stylish avatar is not very important. As she explained to us, ‘I love SL because I can build and create. To me, Mill Pond is a living, breathing, work of art. It truly is’ This set off cries for a toast:
.Lulubelle Muircastle: A toast to you Micala.
Forestwalker Flieg: here here... a toast!
Forestwalker Flieg: to Micala!!!
Lulubelle Muircastle: A TOAST
To which Micala graciously replied, ‘To all of you, actually. Without you Mill Pond is just a pretty spot - nothing more. You all make it a community.’.


  1. Well, I have spent copious amounts of time at Mill Pond in the year I have been in Second Life. I guess I hated to see Micala react to the minority. There was a small group that appear more or less last summer and it would have been easy enough to ban people and kill the roots of this discontent. Leesa Donner

    In the end, it was allowed to fester. Honestly, reading what Random said was disrespectful perhaps, but not that big of a deal. This was HER sim to do with as she liked and she should have had more of a presence. If people mouthed off, give them fair warning, then ban them. If their friends don't like it they can be warned and banned too.

    It was easy to make a list of who should be banned and I think the rules could have been posted. Honestly, when the sim was remodled after what it was last April the coziness and charm that had been removed was striking. We all commented on it...

    I know some regulars left but my observation was that most people did come around eventually. I will miss Mill POnd and feel the loss of a home to a degree, even though I have a home. I miss the newbies I liked to help. I feel that the majority of nice Mill Pond people have been punished for maybe the acts of 10 to 20 people. Seems pretty easy to deal with it if you remove emotion.

    What people fail to realize is they were guests. MIcala paid the bills there. If you don't like her rules, leave. I am sorry she did not enlist the help of monitors. People she could trust to help her with some of this monitoring. Anyway, MIll Pond is dead. It died at the hands of a few people. These people I never accepted as regulars,but more as disrupters. Things change. Nothing in life is constant. Move on....

  2. On the day that Mill Pond closed a rather interesting and (no pun intended) random event took place in Mill Pond. As a former member of the Mill Pond community who over time became very dissatisfied with the direction that a few people seemed intent on taking the community, I had happily "moved on" but still retained an interest in what was going on there as it affected the lives of many of my current and former friends that remained there. I had placed a self-imposed on myself from visiting Mill Pond as it always seemed to lead to events that I no longer had a desire to be a part of. But that day I decided to stop in for a quick visit and while was there a most curious thing happened. one by one people started to arrive. People that use to hang out in Open Latte back when I started. people that had long since discovered the simple truth that SL really is a very big and diverse place and that there is far more than Mill Pond to see. It was so enjoyable and pleasant to see this crowd assembled for one last, final time and brought back many good memories of the old Mill Pond.

    My desire to spend time at Mill Pone ended with the arrival and attempted takeover by the "voice crowd" a the time I happened to be running a Linux operating system which did not at least easily support the use of voice and as a result I was made to feel an outsider in a community that everyone should have been welcomed. Some, such as Otis Windslow took it so far as to use only voice and refused to type. At that time the community was starting to show signs of falling apart but the voice issue was the final straw for many.

    Yes Micala was the sim owner, paid the bills and as a result had every right to establish and enforce any and all rules that she saw fit. However having said that I think that many of the problems that took place there were caused by one simple reason. Micala was, in effect, an absentee sim owner who might show up once in a great while. She had her home in another sim. She was never around. As a result many people took the attitude that they could "push the envelope" and do things and get away with them with little or no consequence. And they did. At great expense to those that loved the community.

    The Mill Pond that I found when new was a fun, vibrant, enjoyable place to visit. I truly miss that place. The Mill Pond that was there at the end was for me, anything but that. It was inevitable that Micala would be forced to close Mill Pond at some point. I'm rather shocked that it took so long to get around to doing.

  3. Mariko this is a beautiful blog, its always a pleasure talking to you in-world.

  4. It was Micala's place, I see her falling victim to her own success, consider this: SecondLife its almost empty everywhere you go and Micala built one of the biggest success stories in SL a true community.

    Still, SL its full of oddities and most times disapointing; you might totally confuse my actions with being "againts the pond" or Micala. But honestly I was just being very cinic. I am sure I did not manage to close down the sim.

    I know the Pond was an open place and it meant a lot even more than to me to many ppl

    If you want to know my point, my point was that it is mission impossible to try to control a place like SL. The only way its to make a private club, but eventually you would need new people to come in.

    If a person does not have the patience to suffer the odd ones, whats she doing in SL?
    Anyways... it was bound to happen

  5. Mariko, Random Mefusula here, I just stumbled on your account of the demise of Mill Pond and I appreciate your effort to be as objective and accurate as possible, but you unintentionally omitted some key points. I don't know if you interviewed Micala for you rendition of events, it seems you have, but since you have placed me in such a significant position I would think it only fair that you might have approached me as well.

    I think your analysis of the breakdown of Mill Town's 'vision' due to the moving on of most former regulars is accurate, but your portrayal of the events immediately preceding the collapse has major gaps. I'm not attempting to post my version of events here, but rather fill in blanks.

    You wrote, "But was this banning really spontaneous and precipitous? It appears that Random was not banned solely because of this one incident. He spent the previous week pushing and goading Micala, breaking rules and arguing with her about them. He insisted that he was the true leader of Mill Pond and that he even understood her vision better than she did."

    Firstly I NEVER claimed I was "the true leader of Mill Pond" or that I "understood her vision better than she did" This is slanderous and purly fictional, I never said or implied any such thing and I think you should remove this from your piece at once.

    The fact is that I was working WITH Micala in that week; I was trying to be helpful in the interest of resolving the tension that had resulted from the complaints coming from former regulars and the old-regulars who weren't happy about the atmosphere that had developed in the vacuum that the former regulars left behind. I was also helping Micala deal with the 'thugs', as you described the griefers to be, as well as helping to keep her informed about some of the details regarding events that were taking place when she wasn't there. A lot of people were exaggerating and even inventing details and events that never took place. My discussions with Micala were respectful and cordial and were NEVER argumentative.

    But I was disturbed by one reference she made regarding the new regulars who were enjoying her sim and are are in fact featured in your photo essay on this blog. We were discussing her vision and I was telling her how much I appreciated the History of Millpond that she posted and how I think that in itself might be all she needed to express her vision rather than posting the Rules and Regulations that were not being well received and seemed to invite rebellion, thus having the opposite affect she intended. The following is her response.

    [17:31] Random Mefusula: I wish you luck with your vision... and I do hope it works out for you... I am a bit worried it might backfire... but it's not my call
    [17:31] Micala Lumiere: I think your idea of 'backfiring' and mine are very different
    [17:32] Random Mefusula: I guess what I mean is the drop in traffic that might result
    [17:33] Micala Lumiere: See, that's where we're different. I don't give a shit about 'traffic' numbers.. that does nothing for me. Those 20-30 people that sit outside the coffee shop all day long do nothing to help me pay to support the sim.. with their occasional L$10 tips... so.. if those people leave, I'm not too sad.

    Those 20-30 people are the people you photographed in your blog, do you think that's respectful and an attitude that will garner a resolution to the tensions? Do you think that attitude will promote Micala's 'vision'?


  6. Regarding your presentation of what I call Black Friday, you have left out critical details of what happened (just before Micala showed up) that created the, "large agitated crowd" you rezzed into that day. Micala's partner, Reginold, was there when I arrived and he had a tag reading "Mill Pond Management" above his head and was discussing the rules and regulations... and enforcing them. It wasn't long after I arrived that people I've never seen in the 8 months I've been there were rezzing in one after another. They kept commenting on how it was like "old home week" and were seeing each other for the first time in ages. It soon became apparent that these were the old-regs of Mill Pond, something that we might have really enjoyed under different circumstances, but on this day seemed cliquish and more like an exclusive group who suddenly showed up. They began to behave in ways that were in violation of Micala's posted guidelines for behavior, and when I pointed that fact out to Reginold his response was to declare that the "old-timers were exempt" from the rules. This only served to further divide the community rather than attempt to bring it together, and this was the atmosphere that existed when Micala came walking up that day.

    Another detail that needs to be pointed out is concerning by brief comments preceding my banishment and what I attempted to do immediately afterwards.

    You posted this text:

    [15:02] Micala Lumiere: I think I'll start getting rid of people that are just annoying too because I'm tired of hearing it.
    [15:03] Loelia Zabaleta: getting rid of ppl ?
    [15:03] Random Mefusula: yes... like Gort in The Day The Earth Stood Still
    [15:03] Random Mefusula: your choice is simple
    [15:03] Random Mefusula: join us and live in peace
    [15:04] Random Mefusula: or pursue your present course and face obliteration

    What I said was: "yes... like Gort in The Day The Earth Stood Still"

    But the rest...

    [15:03] Random Mefusula: your choice is simple
    [15:03] Random Mefusula: join us and live in peace
    [15:04] Random Mefusula: or pursue your present course and face obliteration

    ... is a gesture I happened to have that was a sound clip from that movie.


    You wrote: "What if Random had immediately sent Micala a sincere apology would Mill Pond still exist? Probably not."

    A fair point, but had you interviewed me before writing your piece you would have learned that I made several attempts to IM Micala and all were met with silence. I honestly don't know what was going on with Micala to prompt her to do what she did, but your portrayal of our interactions leading up to that point are completely fictional. Up until shortly before that incident I was giving Micala a gift of something I made that she thought was lovely and wanted in the Cafe, and we were exchanging what I believed were for the most part constructive and mutually respectful discussions with the interest of helping to maintain Mill Pond as the great place it was.

    In closing I would like to add that if you really want to present an objective account of events such as this you can avoid posting obvious misquotations and or misrepresenting what people said by simply contacting them and asking if they said it. You might also consider interviewing both people if you choose to have the 'sides' represented by individuals.

    Random Mefulsusla

  7. Mariko, Random Mefusula again. I'd also like to add that the coffee was never fresh and everyone always ate the scones before I got there. The only thing left was stale biscotti. I do not know if you have ever had stale biscotti but if you have not, I would advise against it.

    If they're going to call a place "Latte," one would think that at least the coffee would not be disgusting and that scones would be plentiful.

    Random Mefulsula

  8. That last post was from someone being childish and pretending to be me and imitating my typo on my name.

  9. Hello Mariko, thanks for taking the time to document the development and downfall of The Mill Pond. As a frequent guest and banee i would like to my view of the events and opinion of the reasons for its downfall.
    Having been a regular and seeing the reaction of others at the pond to the bannings of Pophetic Writer and Kevin Paisley , perhaps warented, i contacted Micala days following that telling her that people felt unsettled and were wondering what rules these two had specifically broken and asking for , in all fairness, some guidlines which could calm fears and help guests know how to behave at the Pond. I was told that there had been many complaints about Kevin and that Prophetic was advertising - both reasons for thier banning.
    Micala said that "rude " behavior would rusult in banning but she did not want to give rules of conduct or make them public and that if one were banned they would know then they had broken the rules. I told her how unfair, misleading and inhumane that was but she was not interested in duscussing further.

  10. It was only months later that Black Friday occured. Hence , I personally blame Micala for having mismanaged the Pond or better not having managed it at all. She complained of not having time and that some of the guests just didnt understand her "vision " for the Pond. Well since Avatars may be teleportive, they are not telepathic and can hence not know how to behave without explicit guidelines. How insane to expect people to understand a vision that is never communicated. Micala's sim died for lack of a brain to conrol it. Like a beautiful woman with no human communication skills who when confronted with difficulty and stress fell into a nervous breakdown grabbed her ball and went home in a huff.She could have called in help and given warning before banning but intead insisted on shrouding her vision and springing on the masses in a hysteria of frustration and childishness.
    Was a great place with a great mixture of playfulness, and seriousness. The guests were the cream of the SL crop- both those who prefered quiet IM chats to those who like to shake their SL booties and experiment with all the fun social tools that SL has to offer. Oh, well we have all moved on -- would be nice if Micala didnt blame the guests for the demise but instead did a little soul searching and to find her contribution and her untimate responsibility in the matter. Communication and the "inhabitants" made the Pond special as much or more so than the " visual" .

  11. I for one support Micala's decision to do whatever she wants with a sim that she bought and paid for. It's a shame that some acted in a manner deliberately contrary to her stated wishes, destroying the atmosphere for everyone. I was a frequent visitor to Open Latte close to the end. I observed a number of people acting out and engaging in attention getting behaviors. It was pathetic, created serious lag, and creating a policing problem. Micala did not seem like she wanted to be in the role of police, and I don't blame her. Shame on you all for blaming the person that provided the service for you rather than the persons who wrecked it. Mefusula, I remember you. You would use voice to talk behind people's backs and used text to insult them to their faces. I never liked you, and I felt put off enough to remember you and not want to return to the sim that started out so wonderfully for me. I liked meeting people there, but I very quickly was made to feel uncomfortable and unwelcome, and I stopped coming as a result. Shame on you! Micala, I hope that whatever you do, you realize that in order to have peace, you need to police. It's sucky, but there it is. Hire friends if you want, or don't bother and just do your own thing, but trusting selfish artisans to police themselves is not going to work. They just don't care about you, or the sim that they claim to love so much. God bless you for trying. It was beautiful for awhile and I applaud you for making the effort.

  12. Wow. I just found this posting. Thanks for this, Mariko. I managed to miss "Black Friday" (as Random calls it), and had to rely on hearsay from others. This is a most useful record of the demise of a sim that was really my introduction to SL, and my home base for a very long time.

    I'm not terribly sorry, as it happens, that I wasn't there for the events you chronicle here, because I honestly don't know how I would have reacted. It was clear to everyone paying attention in the last weeks of Mill Pond that any real "issues" had been replaced by personality conflicts.

    I know Random well, and like and admire him greatly, whereas I don't know that in all my time at Latte I ever exchanged a single word with Micala. And I think the banning of Random was an arbitrary and unmerited act. That said, (and forgive me, dear Random), I'm not sure I would have leapt to his defence, because it was clear that both he and Micala were feeding into each other's anger.

    To a really important extent, the focus here on the conflict between Micala and Random misses the point. Ultimately, Mill Pond didn't die because of a power struggle between two individuals: it died because of a failure of this community to cohere and function in an workable, open, and inviting manner. I think that this was probably inevitable: places in SL do change over time. But certainly it was aided by a number of things that you have highlighted: the change of the sim to a more "commercial" space, the increasing reliance on voice, which really WAS not merely annoying, but also terribly exclusionary, and the attempt by Micala to impose her "vision" from above, rather than organically from within. With regard to the latter, while I sympathize with Micala's motives, she herself had noted that what "made" Mill Pond was the community: and you simply cannot change a community by imperial fiat.

    I think too that Random and a few others bear some responsibility for the death of the community: Random's very prominence in the community meant that increasingly it was identified as HIS community. And again, that's not the way a real community should function.

    In the final analysis, however, Micala did not kill Mill Pond, nor did Random. In the immortal words of Pogo, "we have met the enemy, and they are us." Any community that cannot govern itself is doomed, and we did a terrible job of that. Latte in particular became progressively more cliquey, more exclusive, less kind, and less welcoming. And for that, we all share the blame. (Also, there should have been more rooftop dancing, but that's another story.)

    For me, Mill Pond had actually died some time before it's official departure: it's telling that the picture of me you have posted in your other Latte People posting was, in fact, taken in Hallelujah. I love Hallelujah, truncated though it now is: there IS still a very real community there. But nothing will ever compare, for me, with what Mill Pond was for the first half of my "life" in SL. I am only sorry that we could not sustain it.

  13. Random Here... I had an opportunity to speak with Mariko and asked her to provide her evidence supporting her assertion that I said I was "the real leader of Mill Pond," and that I "understood Micala's vision better than she did." Mariko had nothing but flimsy hearsay from disgruntled Pondies and has left this purely fictional account in place in her blog. Mariko also characterized my exchanges with Micala leading up to Black Friday as argumentative and disrespectful. I provided transcripts to Mariko of my exchanges with Micala and they clearly prove her characterization is fictional, but she has allowed that to remain in her blog as well. It's clear to me at this stage that Mariko has created a fictional account of what happened at Mill Pond to support her biased opinions and conclusions, and she's not going to allow it to be spoiled by any pesky facts.

    What's more, Mariko has also characterized my exchange with Miclala as "practically" calling her a "Nazi," yet provides nothing to substantiate this. All I did was to respond to Micala's announcement that she would "begin getting rid of people," by mentioning that it reminded me of a 1950s sci-fi movie called, The Day the Earth Stood Still, and I played a gesture that was a sound clip from that movie. It wasn't a movie about Nazis, and if anything I was comparing Micala's "getting rid of people" to Gort the alien space robot. This is known in debate circles as the Godwin Principal: when any comparison of your opponent to Hitler marks the fact you have already lost your argument.

  14. To be more precise, it's "Godwin's Law" that Mariko has lost her argument to more or less when claiming that I "practically" called Micala a "Nazi."

  15. Saw this link on NWN today. I liked Open Latte -- you could always count on finding interesting people and conversation there. It was my favorite place to hang out with friends, although I was not as immersed in the Mill Pond community as so many were. I remember trying to go there one day and it was just . . . gone. I was confused and sad. Thank you for this very in-depth post about it.

  16. I was prompted to look in at this blog after attending the Latte reunion and having it mentioned and suggested to find out what happened at the Out Latte. I am dismayed that Mariko has allowed the fabrications, distortions and outright lies about me to remain. I never said I was the "real leader of Mill Pond" or any of the other misquotes and distortions she has posted here, and I pointed that out to Mariko and demanded she remove them back when she first posted this. I have no idea what her agenda is in posting lies and distortions she knows are untrue... sad.

    Random Mefusula

  17. Random

    I have an extensive collection of interviews that I conducted with Mill Pondies regarding the events leading to the closure of Mill Pond. From them, I have distilled what I believe are the events and circumstances in the sim's final days. However, to be fair, I have always allowed you to post your comments and rebuttals here, and, therefore, I have demonstrated that I have no agenda directed against you personally.

  18. Mariko, I have never claimed I was "the real leader of Mill Pond," or that I "understood Micala's vision better than she did." This is an outright lie by disgruntle people who are using you to make me a scapegoat for their errors in attempting to manipulate people's behavior with lies and distortions. If you asked anyone who actually knew me at Mill Pond they would laugh at the idea that I allegedly said these things. I have told you directly to remove these lies from your post and you have kept them up regardless. These are lies and shouldn't be in print; you are facilitating slander in your blog by publishing them. A quote like that would have to either be proven or direct in any responsible journalism. I still say you should be responsible and remove them from your blog out of fairness and decency. You have also refused to let me know who claimed I allegedly said these things, so there's no accountability, and that is intellectually dishonest. There is no record of my saying these things, and you fail to be accountable by allowing me to confront the accuser. If I asked them directly I bet they would change their tune realizing the lie was exposed. Please be responsible and remove those quotes as they have no substantiation.

    Random Mefusula

  19. Mariko writes: "I have an extensive collection of interviews that I conducted with Mill Pondies regarding the events leading to the closure of Mill Pond."

    What's interesting is that you never interviewed me, and I am featured as one of the main characters in your piece about Mill Pond. I think that in itself should raise some flags regarding the integrity of your blog posting.

  20. I find it interesting that you have determined the narrative about my involvement based on "an extensive collection of interviews" that excludes me. Your description of events lacks any credibility without my input considering how you have placed me in your story as a major player. To neglect any consideration of my experience indicates bias on your part. Please post this comment.