brainwane: Sumana, April 2015, with shaved head. (Default)
crossposted from Cogito, Ergo Sumana

I have been to WisCon three times (2009, 2010, 2011) and I am going again this year, yay! If you enjoy my writing, you might like WisCon, and -- especially if you've never tried it before -- you should consider joining me in Madison, Wisconsin, USA, May 22-25 (Memorial Day weekend).

Smart, funny conversations. Mary Anne Mohanraj and me at a past WisCon, photo by E. J. FischerSome of my best WisCon memories are of really funny panels (I enjoyed serving on the "Must Pleasures Be Guilty?" and "Imaginary Book Club" panels, and watching "Not Another Race Panel"). Some are of friendly semistructured interaction like the clothing swap at the Gathering on Friday afternoon. And some some are of formal and informal discussions where incisive people tossed around ideas that gave me new thoughts for the rest of the year. I expect to get all of that this year, and if you decide to come, I'll happily tell you which panels/panelists/parties/workshops/etc. look promising to me!

Relevant sessions. You can create a free account to look at programming signups and indicate your interest in attending -- the deadline is March 29. The programming committee does take those numbers (how many people demonstrate interest in attending something) into account when rejecting or scheduling specific sessions. And there's an Overflow/Spontaneous Programming (a.k.a. unconference) room throughout the convention -- for topics people want to discuss that aren't on the schedule -- where we can hold impromptu sessions about vidding, open source, self-directed learning....

Accessibility lane at WisCon, photo by sasha_feather, CC BY-NC-SAGreat accessibility. I especially love the Quiet Space to regroup, the free-flowing traffic lanes marked in the hall with blue tape, and the rule that speakers use microphones so the audience can hear better. They all help me enjoy the con more, and they help other attendees, which means I can enjoy their company. And overall, I find WisCon participants care about being intersectionally feminist and inclusive (example: discussion and renaming in the Floomp dance party). Sometimes folks make mistakes, as we all do, but we apologize, and fix it, and (although I know other people have had different experiences*) I trust in WisCon in the long term and am happy to recommend it to others, including people who have never been to a scifi con before. It was my first!

First-timers welcome. The site gives you detailed directions to the venue. There's usually a first-timers' dinner (small group expeditions to local restaurants, I think), and orientation sessions, early in the con, to help first-time attendees and first-time panelists (tips) and first-time moderators (tips). If you feel better showing up someplace for the first time if you're being useful, check the checkbox to volunteer, e.g., for a couple of hours in the con suite stocking free food for everybody. And I would be happy to help you meet folks (my credentials from a shy previous WisCon first-timer).

Another world is possible. I cannot overstate how much it has influenced me to participate in WisCon, which asks everyone to influence programming, provides accessibility and childcare and a comprehensive program guide, and nurtures and amplifies feminist voices. And WisCon communicates thoroughly with its community via blog, Twitter, Facebook, an email newsletter and printed, mailed progress reports, and more. This includes talking about really difficult stuff like owning up to past mistakes in handling harassment reports and disinviting a Guest of Honor (if you've never been to a scifi convention, think "keynote speaker").

A gateway to more. I've made friends, started watching or reading new stuff, and joined Dreamwidth to keep in the feminist fannish conversation year-round.

I skipped WisCon for years basically because I had other travel commitments for work, and this year I'm so glad to be coming back. Feminists of all genders who enjoy science fiction, think about coming to Madison in May.



* Kameron Hurley posted "Burn it All Down: Wiscon’s Failure of Feminism" before the WisCon con committee permabanned a particular harasser. As this year's cochair said in criticizing the previous decision for a temporary ban, "WisCon bills itself as a feminist sci-fi con. And compared to some others that I have attended, it is definitely better at paying lip service to being feminist than any of them."

brainwane: Sumana, April 2015, with shaved head. (Default)
If you know me via fandom, this might interest you. The Ada Initiative has a tried and tested Ally Skills Workshop that it teaches, which "teaches men simple everyday ways to support women in their communities. In three hours, one person can create 30 new advocates for women in their community or workplace." I've taught this workshop and people find it hella helpful.

Feminist fans at WisCon are hungry for these kinds of resources, and with some additional funding, the Ada Initiative can run a train-the-trainers session at WisCon next year, so people can learn how to run it and take it back to their schools, workplaces, and communities. At this writing, Ada Initiative needs about USD$6,000 more in the next day and a half in order to make this session possible. I hope you will donate towards that goal.

Donate now




(And if this gets funded, it greatly increases the chances I'll come to WisCon next year!)

brainwane: Sumana, April 2015, with shaved head. (Default)
I'm home from WisCon!  I have to dive into work for the next few days so I won't have time to write up reports of the panels I was on:
  1. Imaginary Book Club
  2. How To Describe Nonwhite Characters Sans Fail
  3. Sciency Fiction
  4. I Don't Know Why I'm On This Panel
for a while, if ever.  I welcome links to existing reports of those panels so I can go add to others' notes in comments.  (The only panels I attended in full were the WisCon postmortem and the WisCon software application development discussion, so I have in effect no notes to share.)

Kate Nepveu's report on How To Describe Nonwhite Characters Sans Fail.  Thanks, Kate!

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