Well the news it out! Jack Linden posted on the SL website that open mesh will officially start on October 13. You can go and read the blog here.
For a quick preliminary look at how to use Blender to export to Collada format and upload it to Second Life, have a look at Gaia’s excellent video on her Machinimatrix website. In that video she looks at general meshes and weighted meshes that can make mesh clothing or avatar parts move with your avatar skeleton.
On her website she also has excellent tutorials on how to use Blender to make sculpties if you are interested in that. There are also several other excellent Blender tutorials out there. Just google “Blender Tutorials” and choose what appeals to you.
From the thread in SL Universe, I was able to pick up some links to some websites that give you a basic primer in 3D modelling, a good place to start to pick up some of the key concepts and language. This basic understanding can be covered in an hour or so, and will make 3D programs a little less intimidating in their use of terminology.
I know there has been some anxiety about how mesh will impact on Second Life and content creators. Once we get into the open beta and can experiment, I think some of that anxiety will be lifted. A very simple program to learn is Google Sketch-Up and I would encourage people to have a look at it. I think it will be easier to use in some ways than building in world with prims.
Very few creators in Second Life can do it all. There are scripters, animators, builders, texture makers, sound specialists, and those with management, writing, machinima, DJ, and social event managing/hosting skills. All the skills are equally valuable and necessary to a rich SL experience for all of us. Find what you do and do it well!