Spotlight on Zander Greene

April 15, 2018

 

The Relay Refresh RoadTrip rolled into New Hope, Pennsylvania, a few miles north of Washington’s Crossing - the infamous location of General George Washington’s crossing of the Delaware River in the American Revolutionary War, to visit with Zander Greene, one of the infamous founders of Fantasy Faire in Second Life.

 

Zander told us he spent his early years in the Washington, DC area, where his dad was an Electrical Engineer at Andrews Air Force Base responsible for Air Force One that flew President Lyndon Johnson from 1966 -1968. Zander told us that his dad was a huge part of his life and continues to influence him even to this day.

 

A Windows 10 desktop guy with an iPhone 7+, Zander found out about Second Life from a TV news report while living in New York City. He told us he literally was walking out the door on his way to an audition and came back inside to watch and listen. He quickly scribbled down a note and downloaded the client the next morning. He recalled the first thing he thought was how this may be able to help him promote his theater career especially the set design part.

 

When Zander landed on Welcome Island he met two avatars in the land business who he quickly became friends with, learned to build and became their builder. He eventually bought his own piece of land and within a few weeks a new neighbor moved in who would change his entire Second Life. Lauren Thibaud was building a house and they quickly became friends. She told him she had been asked to join the Friends Fighting Cancer Relay team to help them build their campsite for the 2007 Relay Weekend. Lauren asked him to join her and help with the build. He did and looking back, who could have known this would be the genesis of Fantasy Faire.

 

Zander went on to become a masterful builder, but we learned this was not always the case as he shared a funny story from his early building days. He told us he was about 24 hours into building a custom home, a dark gothic castle, and with one errant click he textured his entire build as “pink cotton candy”. We all laughed as he told us with “a slip of a finger… blamo… La Cage aux Folles”.

 

Zander is a funny guy with a huge sense of humor. He loves a dry sarcastic wit in others and is a self proclaimed Monty Python - Flying Circus junkie. He shared with us a YouTube link as an example of things that make him laugh. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAOdjqyG37A  

 

 

His current favorite song is Breathe by Fleurie. His favorite all time song is Funeral for a Friend - Love Lies Bleeding by Elton John. And like so many others, Zander loves Stevie Nicks

and Fleetwood Mac. He told us his all time favorite TV shows include Lost and Game of Thrones.

 

Zander told us his dad is his hero, “not just because he died from bone marrow cancer and not just because he was everything a dad should be”, but because he was “compassionate and brilliant”. His dad was part of the Western Electric team of engineers who developed fiber optic cable. Zander told us that his dad gave him his “technical and creative drive” and instilled in him “a love of fantasy” by giving him lots of books to read. Perhaps the greatest gift his dad gave him was how he “shaped his value system” and taught him “spirituality without being religious”. Zander proudly told us his dad “did not teach me what to think but rather how to think”.

 

Zander’s involvement in Relay started in 2007, while helping Friends Fighting Cancer with their campsite. The theme that year was Quest For A Cure and they built an Atlanteans’ Temple with underground caves and mazes creating a very peaceful environment. He told us he had an amazing time that weekend and met Ember Farina, another team member who would forever change his SL.  Zander described her as “the most dynamic can-do person” he has ever met. Zander, Lauren and Ember all became very close friends. The following year they Relayed doing small events, but Zander told us that at one point Ember said “we can do more, we can do something bigger”. Instead of doing small events, she wanted to do something much bigger over the span of 7-10 days. They all had a love of fantasy literature and started talking about doing a fantasy themed event. Zander recalled him saying “that sounds great for next year” but Ember insisted, no we are going to do it this year. A few months later they held their first Fantasy Faire on 9 sims.

 

What started with a team of 3 people and 9 sims, Fantasy Faire, with Elizabeth Tinsley at the helm since 2012, has grown to become one of the largest and well attended events on the grid with 15 sims, a team of some 500 people, with over 10,000 unique visitors from 126 countries. This year the Fantasy Faire will have 200 merchants set up shop on 15 sims, each of them offering at least two unique items, many offering more than two, with 100% of the proceeds going to Relay For Life of Second Life. There will also be silent auctions and gotchas spread out over the 15 sims. The largest event of Fantasy Faire will be their final auction where they take iconic elements that have been part of Fantasy Faire and auction them off live in voice. Historically this has raised as much as one million lindens in a 2 hour auction. Over the last 10 years, Fantasy Faire has raised close to $250,000.00 for Relay for Life of Second Life.

 

This year ACS is allowing fundraisers to earmark donated funds to go to a special project. All the money raised during Fantasy Faire 2018 will go toward the first Hope Lodge in Nairobi, Kenya. The Kenyatta National Hospital holds the only public comprehensive cancer treatment center in the country, which means that patients from all over Kenya travel there for their treatments, and often end up sleeping on the hallways of the hospital, or outside. Many choose to not go to treatments at all because of this. The planned KNH Hope Hostel will provide free temporary housing and integrated hospital services for the cancer patients and their caregivers, house an on-site resource center with cancer information, offer a place to rest during the day, and serve more than 1,000 cancer patients annually.

 

Last year, Fantasy Faire started the One Team initiative, holding a One Team Day, where 8 teams were invited to join with Fantasy Faire. Zander told us that "each team was given a DJ hour” to rezz a kiosk, and fund raise for their team at the Faire. This year they are expanding the One Team initiative to cover the span of the Faire. Nine teams will be participating this year, 3 experienced teams, who will act as mentors for six newer teams. Zander said they will be included for the whole duration of the Faire, with their own "home" at the faire and can" hold their own events". Quoting from the Fantasy Faire website "While our strength as individuals contributes to our strength as teams, it's from each other's strength we reach our goals. We are One Team, with One Goal, stronger together than any one person could even dream of being. Together, we are the cure."

 

When asked about what fuels his passion for Relay, Zander told us “dad’s death pissed me off”, He told us his dad was “strong and healthy”. He said “his cancer was highly treatable”. He said he was “doing good”...”fought like a lion”… “and in three days he was gone”. Zander told us he was “angry and had so much rage about it”. Fantasy Faire gave him a way to channel his “frustration and anger” and “make something beautiful out of it”. Zander told us that “Fantasy Faire saved me, my mind and my soul”. While anger drove him in those early years, it has now given way to a more “melancholic… he is gone… how can that be true...” mindset turning a dark time in his life into something that brings him vast amounts of joy.

 

Zander told us that Relay Weekend 2007 was when things turned around for him in his personal journey. He was “in a dark place” and his “dad had been gone a couple of months”. During the Survivor Caregiver Lap, he recalls teams “cheering and calling out his name” and that “was the beginning of his healing” and the beginning of his ten year Relay journey.

 

Zander Greene is passionate about Relay for Life of Second Life. Year after year Fantasy Faire touches so many different people in so many different ways and that reinvigorates his passion. Zander Greene could easily be the spokesperson for Relay. His passion is palpable. His favorite part of Fantasy Faire is interacting with people and hearing their stories. Perhaps the best story he shared with us was the story about the day after Fantasy Faire ended, when an avatar seeing his title asked him if he was one of the organizers. After he said yes, the woman wanted to let him know how much she appreciated Fantasy Faire and how it had helped her in her real life job. It turns out she was a nurse in a cancer treatment center and she carried her laptop to work to show her patients how people from all over the world were there to help them. Zander Greene was then and continues to be now, one of those people helping others to cope with the harsh realities of cancer.

 

In the words of renowned fantasy author Cassandra Clare, “Whatever you are physically… male or female, strong or weak, ill or healthy - all those things matter less than what your heart contains. If you have the soul of a warrior, you are a warrior. All those other things, they are the glass that contains the lamp, but you are the light inside.”

 

Zander Greene has the heart of a warrior...

 

Zander Greene is a light for so many others…

 

Shine on Zander Greene... Shine on….

 

 

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