Saturday, June 20, 2009

Caledon Project: Chat with Laird Brideswell of Rothesay

Elrik Merlin, Laird Brideswell, is an old friend of mine from my days as a Radio Riel hostess. I sat down with him in the spacious study of his Rothesay mansion for a chat. He discovered Caledon in June 2007 in search of airships and ended up with the Nautilus (by TracyLynne Carpenter)—that is currently moored over his home. “I had also picked up a little pedal airship and using that, I circumnavigated Caledon by following the coastline for a few days and loved the place,” he said. He acquired his first land in Wellsian in Sept. 2007, after a chance meeting with Mr Podruly Peccable at the Guvnah’s Mansion.

He has never taken the ducal title. “‘Laird’ simply means 'Landowner'. Despite having a larger house than I did in Wellsian, that's all I am really. I have no particular pretensions to aristocracy,” he explained. “I think the Landed Gentry all predate me. I am more like the ‘nouveau riche’ steampunk quasi-industrialist I suppose.” I gently teased him about being a man of his own fortune.

On changes in Caledon:
“I think we were thrown by the openspace region controversy and that destabilised us and started trends that have continued, notably people moving away and leaving--and now perhaps even leaving SL altogether,” he said. “I still regard that as the major example of the Lindens shooting themselves in both feet that I've experienced since I've been inworld. I think we are still finding a dynamic equilibrium, but we've been shaken up.”

On factors and "destabilisers":
First, the openspace sim issue. Second, the RL recession, which he believes has made a lot of people are downsizing and cutting back on significant expenditures, and third--a sense of "moving on" in the air. He suspects that the rate of moving within Caledon is up quite a bit, but also people are going off and doing their own thing.

On the turnover in Rothesay itself:
"We are still in flux. I am the only original resident of Rothesay. I had offered to take 1/4 of it as a favor in case there weren't four Dukes to consolidate [into a full sim]. Otenth (former Duke of Murdann), came to me and suggested that I might like to buy out his interest, thus I inherited his Rothesay stake. Rather an expensive exercise all told, as I could have picked up an open region for nothing, but I am happy here...I am simply sad to see my neighbours changing and I hope we'll stabilise soon. All the people who have had a quadrant here have been lovely, but it would be nice to have a stable community.”

On his responsibility to the Caledon community as a duchy landowner:
“When I got Wellsian what I signed up for was not simply land, but an agreement to participate--by which I mean more than simply keeping to the Covenant and building and living in a way which keeps to our 'light roleplay' way of living here,” he said. “I felt that it was about maintaining Caledon' s standards and Des' vision. Doing the ‘right’ things in keeping with established standards of behaviour and giving back to my friends and neighbours and the community at large. I have primarily done that through the broadcast medium. When I am driving Radio Riel's Main stream, I am conscious of broadcasting to an audience that includes Caledon, even though it's a lot more than that now.”

He told me about receiving a letter around Christmas 2007 about how following Caledon’s approaches to etiquette and interpersonal behavior, we could actually positively impact our first lives. “We were kinder and more polite to people and would try to foster a positive attitude in some way about how we interact with people,” he said. “I definitely think SL in general, and Caledon in particular, has had a positive impact on my RL. I suppose I think one thing that it's my ‘duty’as a Caledonian to help to maintain and encourage that attitude, so newer residents experience the same benefits in both worlds as I have done.

“When I came here, we had something special, unique. I think we still have, though perhaps circumstances have battered it a bit. I would like us to keep that specialness and help to maintain it and pass on to newer residents the same feeling of belonging, support and atmosphere that I had when I came here,” he said. “Inevitably because I have gotten a lot more busy--inworld and out--since I arrived, I am not as closely involved with the daily life of Caledon as I was originally. These days I am more a part of its 'entertainment life' I suppose, but I'm still trying to do that. I’m still trying to be supportive to people who ask me things or turn up on my doorstep. I’m still trying to be polite and to contribute positively to the discussions.”

Laird Brideswell felt that there was something very important that others should know. “The kinds of people I meet and interact with here are some of the people I've met in my life who are closest to where I feel I am: Intelligent, creative, interesting, well-read, educated.... all the things I think of myself as being,” he said. “Here in Caledon, I have generally found myself among people of like mind. I don't always agree with them on certain issues of course, but they are people I can have an intelligent discussion with, and people from whom I more often than not learn a great deal. And I hope people say the same about me. As a result I would like to help perpetuate that.”

He continued: “I like to think that if you asked some of the figures in Caledon they would say that they feel I am a good citizen so to speak. I've tried to be a good Caledonian here and encourage the arts, the aesthetics that I came here for. Now, that is not to say that we do not develop and move on, but I am trying to maintain the Caledon I fell in love with back in mid-2007.”

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