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(Brookline, Mass- June 7th, 2019) The Virtual Worlds Society (VWS) awarded its 2019 ‘Nextant Legacy Prize’ to Kathy Bisbee, executive director of Brookline Interactive Group at a special May 30th awards ceremony during the Augmented World Expo (AWE) in Santa Clara, CA.

The VWS’ “Nextant” is a person whom others can turn to for inspiration, guidance, and role modeling; whose compassion is a compass to guide others’ passion for building the future. Kathy was celebrated and designated a “Nextant” by the VWS for her initiative to develop a field for Community-Based VR as well as her drive to assure that underrepresented voices and diversity are part of the emerging VR/XR World.

Kathy, executive director of Brookline Interactive Group, and the founder of the Public VR Lab, is well-known as a passionate community organizer, interdisciplinary artist, and a producer of documentary films and emerging media experiences in the public interest, including collaborations with the United Nations Environment Assembly, the Boston Globe, MIT, Hubweek, and others.

The Virtual World Society is a nonprofit organization building a community of creators to explore the potential for immersive technology (VR/AR) to make a positive im

Ms. Bisbee expressed her gratitude saying, “I am deeply honored by this award from VWS, and their support of our community-based work. I hope that we can continue to build a movement for Community XR that extends our traditional public access media work into the VR/AR space.”pact. The term “Nextant” was coined by VWS founder and VR pioneer Tom Furness to describe a way to guide our future. It combines the desire to know what’s “next” with a navigation tool—the sextant—used by mariners to look toward the horizon to guide their course.

Kathy also serves as the executive director of Brookline Interactive Group (BIG), a next-generation community media arts center in Brookline, MA, and the Public VR Lab’s umbrella organization. She is a fellow at the MIT Open Doc Lab and was recently featured on Kent Bye’s podcast, Voices of VR (February 2019).

She sees the building of new worlds as an opportunity to take collective action to create a better reality, “Wisdom is an action arising out of a sense of presence. XR allows us to tap into our collective wisdom and take action on that understanding. What might we do if we can use the wisdom of embodied cognition and sense of the presence of XR to take action that can create justice and inclusion in the next worlds we create, from the grassroots up?”

The founder/director of Boston-based Public VR Lab, a project of Brookline Interactive Group, Kathy is building a field for Community XR, developing best practices, tools and accessible resources, and a diverse grassroots community network, all rooted in the rich legacy of public access and community-minded media. Community-based XR organizations, libraries, artists, and arts and cultural organizations can add themselves to the Lab’s network and participate in training, projects and research papers with the Lab.

Kathy is executive producer of ArrivalVR, a nationwide co-created curation of migration and immigration stories of Americans from pre-1620 through 2020 in a visual XR timeline. The project has 20 diverse partners across the United States and aims to be shared online and in XR at film festivals, museums, faith-based organizations, libraries, and at the media, arts, and cultural organizations as a participatory installation.

More information about all of the 2019 Nextant Award winners is located here:

https://www.virtualworldsociety.org/nextant-prize

About Kathy Bisbee:

Kathy is an award-winning interdisciplinary artist, producing documentary films and emerging media experiences in the public interest, with a focus on XR adoption and digital inclusion. She is founder/director of the Boston-based Public VR Lab and the executive director of Brookline Interactive Group, (BIG), and is building a grassroots field for Community XR. She is currently a fellow at the MIT Open Doc Lab and the lead creative designer and producer of Arrival VR, a national, co-created, immigration/migration participatory storytelling installation in XR. She is “unreasonably curious” and enjoys kayaking, arts and culture, and traveling in real life.

About the Public VR Lab:

The Public VR Lab is growing a networked field for Community XR that promotes accessibility, digital inclusion, and diversity. The Lab is disrupting traditional media communications in community-based civic media, journalism, and arts, cultural and educational organizations by providing access to low-cost XR Toolkits, equipment checkouts, extensive training for adults and youth, cohort filmmaking/production grants, artists’ residencies, fellowships, and creating XR content in the public interest.

The Lab is a project of Brookline Interactive Group, a next-generation public access community media arts center, and has collaborated with many partners since its inception in 2015 to create community-based XR experiences, to present on Community XR, and to develop XR education and advisor programs with the United Nation Environmental Programme, the Boston Globe, Education First, Boston Jewish Film Festival, the Town of Brookline, Emerson College, Boston VR, Boston University, Massachusetts Institute of Art, Hubweek, Lead Boston, the Alliance for Community Media, NATOA, the Alliance for Media, Arts and Culture, Arts2Work, the Augmented World Expo, Virtual World Society, the MIT Open Doc Lab, the Northampton Film Festival Immersive, the Virtual World Society, and many others.

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