Let’s Save WisCon!

This update is written by me, Kit Stubbs (they/them), both in my role as Treasurer for SF3, WisCon’s parent not-for-profit organization, and in my role as WisCon 2022 co-chair. Thanks to Ira Alexandre (WisCon 2022 co-chair, acting Personnel chair) and Aileen Wall (WisCon 2022 co-chair, Hotel) for their help.

First of all: Thank you to everyone who participated in our recent Town Hall, as panelists and attendees! Special thanks to our Board members Arley, for organizing and moderating, and Annalee and Charlie Jane, for organizing and helping with logistics.

WisCon’s roots are grounded in white feminism, and WisCon continues to struggle with racism and with finding ways to center attendees of color who have been harmed. The Town Hall marks a key point in our antiracist work to bring WisCon, particularly as experienced by our attendees and volunteers of color, into better alignment with our values—even if this means that white attendees will have to sit with discomfort.

Working towards a more antiracist con is just one of the major challenges that we face. Unless we, the WisCon community, also take significant action this year in terms of finances and our volunteer pool, within the next few years we will no longer be able to run WisCon.

Why? What’s going on?

Right now, in addition to pushing harder on antiracism, WisCon is facing big challenges on two other fronts: money and labor.

TLDR:

  • We don’t have enough funds to pay for what happens if we don’t fill our contracted block of hotel rooms, and we can’t afford to cancel the hotel contract. We need about $76k in additional income to our general fund by the end of WisCon 2022 to put the con back on solid financial footing.  Thanks to a generous donor, the first $5k we raise will be matched. Donate now to double the power of your donation!
  • We are in a volunteer shortage crisis. It takes a LOT of people to make WisCon happen, and we lack dozens of volunteers in key positions.
  • The Board of SF3 (WisCon’s parent nonprofit) and WisCon organizers are already starting to work on these challenges. There are many things, both large and small, that you can do to help!

What are the financial challenges?

Ideally, when we finish running one WisCon, we should have enough money to cover our expenses for the con that’s happening in two years. Why? Because shortly after each WisCon, typically, is when we sign a contract with the hotel for the con that’s happening in two years. As a ConCom member, I remember hearing “WisCon is very slowly losing money” for several years now. But it didn’t really seem urgent, somehow.

In an ongoing-pandemic world, this has become urgent because of the way our hotel contract works. Right now, we only have a contract signed with our host hotel for May 2022. We have committed to the hotel that WisCon attendees will reserve a certain number of rooms over a certain number of nights. This contract was signed pre-pandemic and assumed normal pre-pandemic WisCon attendance. We pay the hotel some extra rental fees, but most of the hotel space the con uses we get at steeply discounted rates, assuming that we fill those hotel rooms. We’re allowed to reduce our commitment before the deadline by 20% at no penalty, but if we have more unsold rooms than that, WisCon has to pay the hotel for them.

The budget that was approved by the previous Board assumed that we would have fewer in-person attendees this year, but it assumed we would still book our entire block of hotel rooms—the same size hotel block that we would normally book pre-pandemic.

But if we’re expecting fewer in-person attendees, we should also expect fewer hotel rooms to be booked, and that is a cost that WisCon is really not able to absorb.

Couldn’t we just cancel the hotel contract?

We can’t afford the cancellation fee. If we cancelled now, according to our contract, we would owe the hotel $158,000, which we absolutely do not have the resources to cover.

I’ve run some new, conservative budget projections since becoming Treasurer in October. These projections account for online memberships, which our current budget doesn’t (yay!) but also accounts for attrition in hotel rooms, which our current budget also doesn’t (oh no!). I assume that we will take a big hit on hotel rooms in 2022 and that we’ll gradually recover in 2023 and 2024.

If we take no action to change our current trajectory and only book half of our contracted hotel rooms in 2022, SF3 will go broke: We will have spent about $7,000 that the organization does not have.

If we want to get WisCon to a healthy place—meaning we’re at best fiscal practice and have enough money for the con that’s two years out in the bank—we need about $76,000 more in income for 2022 to our general fund. (This $76k doesn’t include funds for any new initiatives, this is just basically keeping the lights on. And this is separate from any WisCon Member Assistance Fund fundraising we do, since WMAF dollars legally can’t be used to pay for anything except grants to members for travel assistance.)

The good news: I’m not saying that we need to suddenly raise $76k in donations alone. This income that we need could come from selling more memberships (online or in-person), booking lots of hotel rooms (so we don’t have to pay the hotel for unused rooms), selling Dessert Salon tickets, grants, or donations. An additional $76k of income to our general fund would help keep us afloat through 2022 and 2023 and help ensure that we would have the funds to run in 2024 and 2025.

If someone were to magically appear and donate $76k to us right now, though, we’d still be in trouble because of our other current challenge: a lack of volunteers.

What’s going on with volunteers?

We’re in a volunteering crisis right now. It takes about 70 pre-con volunteers to make WisCon happen, and we have barely half that.

SF3 is WisCon’s parent not-for-profit organization. WisCon happens because there are a bunch of committees of people within SF3 who do the work, and right now, we have a record number of vacancies.

SF3 has a Board of Directors. Under the Board there are four committees: Personnel (helping to recruit, onboard, and offboard volunteers); Communications (taking care of the newsletter, website, and social media); Strategic Planning (looking at our vision and mission); and the ConCom (the Convention Committee, which handles the logistics of running WisCon). Of those committees, only the ConCom has chairs right now—Personnel, Communications, and Strategic Planning have a few volunteers, but none of these three committees has a leader.

The ConCom itself is made up of the three co-chairs and 28 departments of varying sizes. Currently we have 8 departments that are completely empty and at least 8 that are critically understaffed.

In general, the ConCom has been dwindling for the past several years. We had 71 members in 2017, but only 56 members in 2019. (Here is a graph showing Concom participation by the numbers over the past several years.)

If you’re reading this now, and you’re already a WisCon volunteer: Thank you. I’m not writing this expecting you to suddenly start putting more work on your plate. (If you have the extra capacity, great! But I’m not expecting that of anyone.)

The State of WisCon

We are definitely having a WisCon in 2022. Without more volunteers, we won’t be able to offer nearly as good an experience as we have in the past. Without more financial resources, WisCon 2022 may be the last one.

I believe these challenges are surmountable, but as members of the WisCon community, we have to act quickly to make change.

What are WisCon organizers already working on?

  • The SF3 Board is applying for grants on behalf of WisCon.
  • I (Kit, as Treasurer) am starting to recruit large donors for a matching funds campaign that will help double the power of small donations to WisCon. We already have a match pledged for our first $5k raised!
  • Our Personnel Committee continues to onboard new volunteers as quickly as they can.
  • While the Dessert Salon may work a little differently this year due to health concerns, the ConCom is still organizing a Dessert Salon for 2022! The Dessert Salon is a fundraiser for WisCon in general, and any funds raised through Dessert Salon ticket sales will absolutely help.

What can I do to help?

  • Please sign up for our email newsletter! One of the biggest challenges we have is reaching out to our own community. Sign up and encourage your WisCon-going or potentially-WisCon-going friends to sign up, too.
  • Register as soon as you possibly can when Registration opens this week. The more people who register in advance, the better idea we’ll have of how much additional income we need to bring in. For in-person attendees, consider supporting the con by buying a ticket to our Dessert Salon fundraiser when you register!
  • Book your hotel room as soon as you possibly can. The more hotel rooms we have booked, the less additional funding we’ll need to raise, and the sooner we know how many people will be staying at the hotel, the better.
  • Help spread the word about WisCon. We’re struggling to reach new people, especially younger speculative fiction fans, who might be interested in joining us and who may not know that you don’t need to be an academic or big name to attend WisCon and be on panels!
  • Tell us you’re interested in possibly volunteering, and/or register to attend our Volunteer Info Session on 12/12 at 3pm Central. We’ve previously posted some of our needs from Communications and Personnel and the ConCom. You don’t need to be in Madison to volunteer, and we have many positions open that don’t require you to attend WisCon in person.  If you’ve volunteered for the ConCom in the past and have the time and energy, please consider joining us again. We could really use your expertise!
  • Can you give $5k or more to help save WisCon? Write me (Kit) at treasurer@sf3.org to join our matching funds drive.
  • Have a smaller amount you might be able to contribute? Thanks to a generous donor, the first $5k we raise will be matched. Donate now to double the power of your donation!

Yes, we recognize the pandemic is still going on—if you’re able to book your hotel room and/or register early, great! If you’re able to chip in financially, great! But if not, no worries.

We need to address our issues with money and labor within a larger antiracist framework.  And I think we need to be honest that we’re in a bit of a chicken-and-egg situation: We’re short on money and volunteers to implement new antiracist policies and practices, which we need in order to attract and retain volunteers, especially volunteers of color.

If you’ve made it this far: Thank you. Posting this feels like the scariest thing I have ever done as a WisCon/SF3 organizer, and I really appreciate your time and energy in reading it.

Call for Volunteers: WisCon 2022

WisCon 2022 planning season is upon us! It’s been a tough couple of years for us all, so we’re hoping we can put together an event in 2022 that is cathartic, engaging, intellectually stimulating, fun — and, above all, safe. To make that happen, we need to start early– and we need your help.

To make a WisCon happen in 2022 that’s in keeping with the SF3 mission and the shared values of our members, we need a fully staffed Convention Committee (ConCom). That means enough members in every department to reasonably and equitably spread the work around so that no one gets burnt out. This is even more important as we move through the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We have to be honest: ConCom participation has been trending downward. The ConCom had 71 members in 2017 and participation had declined to 56 members in 2019. (Here is a graph showing ConCom participation by the numbers over the past several years.) In a year when putting on a successful WisCon will face many challenges, we turn to our smart, talented, resourceful membership to help make it happen. There are going to be some tough calls to make: If we can’t staff a department or event in a viable and sustainable way this year, the chairs may have to cut it entirely. So if you’re passionate about a particular part of WisCon, please do whatever you can to help. If you can’t sign up, then spread the word on social media platforms, or even offline.

This year we are recruiting for the following specific positions. We have listed a brief description of the duties, any required experience, and the expected time commitment in the year before the con and at the con itself. Please note that applying is neither a commitment nor a promise: If you change your mind, please feel free to let us know and bow out of the process; if you apply, you may not be guaranteed a position. But the more people apply, the better chance we have of achieving a sustainable level of staffing for this year. If you’re interested in any of these positions or in pre-con volunteering with any other department, please email personnel@sf3.org.

Thank you so much, and here’s hoping we’ll be back together in May of 2022!

Convention Committee (ConCom) Positions

Anti-Abuse Team Co-Lead (1)
Anti-Abuse Team Member (3)

The Anti-Abuse Team keeps records of Safety incidents and other violations, and participates in vetting all SF3 volunteers. Anti-Abuse Team Members must be able to recognize problematic behavior, hear out cases, and take actions and render judgments that protect the rights of our attendees, including the needs of marginalized and multiply marginalized attendees. The Anti-Abuse Team Co-Leads have the authority to ban people from con spaces or to veto Guests of Honor. The Anti-Abuse Co-Leads need to be reachable during the con to verify incident history and render bans or penalties. The Anti-Abuse Co-Leads interact with the Safety Co-Leads and the ConCom Chairs. Utmost confidentiality is a must.
Pre-Con Commitment: 1 hour a week
At-Con Commitment: Leads should be reachable during the con but in-person attendance not required

Bake Sale Lead

The Bake Sale Lead accepts and documents volunteered baked goods prior to the con and arranges for appropriate allergen signage. At the con, the Bake Sale Lead receives the baked goods and arranges for their display and distribution. The Bake Sale Lead manages the at-con volunteers who handle the sales. At the end of the Bake Sale, the Lead documents and collates the proceedings and passes them to the Otherwise Liaison.
Pre-Con Commitment: 1 hour a week
At-Con Commitment: 5 hours

Dealer’s Room Team Member

Dealer’s Room Team Members assist in going through vendor submissions, vetting potential vendors, and dealing with the physical logistics of the Dealer’s Room at the con. At the con, the Dealer’s Room Team Member will assist the Dealer’s Room Lead in ensuring the Concourse Hotel staff set up the space according to the plan the department has agreed on.
Pre-Con Commitment: 1 hour/week
At-Con Commitment: 1 hour at the start and end of the con for setup and breakdown

Gaming Team Member (preferably open to being trained to be next Lead in 2023)

The Gaming Team Member assists in collecting, vetting, and collating game submissions and scheduling gaming sessions prior to the con. The Gaming Lead will provide a signup binder to be used at the con to sign up for the scheduled games, which the Gaming Team Member may take shifts watching over.
Pre-Con Commitment: 2 hours/week
At-Con Commitment: 3 hours

Guest of Honor Liaisons (4)

A Guest of Honor (GOH) Liaison interfaces with their specific GOH, making sure their travel and accommodations are taken care of and that they are familiar and comfortable with their schedule, as well as addressing or conveying any additional concerns or requests they may have. At the con, GOH liaisons introduce the GOH at the reading on Thursday and make sure the GOH has everything they need while at the con. We would like our GOH liaisons to share as much background as possible with their GOH, or to know them already. Our GOHs for 2022 are Zen Cho, Sheree Renée Thomas, Rebecca Roanhorse, and Yoon Ha Lee.
Pre-Con Commitment: 1 hours/week
At-Con Commitment: 1-3 hours/day

Kids’ Programs Lead

The Kids’ Program Lead oversees program items for children and teens. Teen programming at WisCon is by teens and for teens, but the Kids’ Program Lead will provide spaces and means to schedule, and will be advised by the departing Lead. Must be able to attend at-con in 2022.
Pre-Con Commitment: 1 hour/week
At-Con Commitment: light duty 8 hours a day

Online Con Team Members (5-6)

With the success of WisCONline in 2020 and the uncertain situation looking ahead to May 2022, we need to be prepared to provide a robust online component for the con. Roles in this department will be shaped by our resources and circumstances as the year leading up to WisCon 2022 unfolds. We welcome anyone with experience in running online events or building successfully moderated online spaces, or anyone who has video production expertise to apply to this department. In particular, previous experience with OBS (open broadcast software) and familiarity with Zoom, MS Teams, Jitsi, and/or administrating Discord are most welcome.  As we learn more about what we’ll need in May 2022, we will separately recruit for an appropriate number and type of online moderators.
Pre-Con Commitment: 3 hours/week
At-Con Commitment: dependent on role and evolving needs; in 2020 the entire Online Con traded off panel production duty during the 3-4 hours a day panel programming was run

Panel Programming Team Member

The Panel Programming department collates panel idea submissions, checking for problematic ideas or language and combining panels that are sufficiently similar. This is done with the aid of panel programming software. Once the list of panels has been edited, Panel Programming administers the interest survey where WisCon members vote. Once the votes are in, Panel Programming draws up the actual panel schedule, taking into account expected attendance and accessibility needs. At the con, Panels Programming puts up the ad-hoc programming chart but does not administer anything on it.
Pre-Con Commitment: 3 hours/week
At-Con Commitment: none other than putting up the chart, so we’re happy to have remote volunteers

Registration: At-Con Leads (2)

As part of the Registration department, At-Con Leads coordinate setting up and tearing down the Registration & Information Desk area, manage scheduling and training of Registration volunteers, and are on-call during the convention in case of any escalated membership or payment issues. At-Con Registration Leads also handle cash reporting at the beginning and end of each day, and before the con they coordinate with the Pre-Con Registration Lead about any outstanding payment or membership issues. (Our existing Registration staff are flexible in their roles, so if you would prefer to help out Pre-Con, get in touch to learn more about what that involves!)
Pre-Con Commitment: 3-6 pre-convention (planning)
At-Con Commitment: In addition to opening and closing the registration desk (approx. 30 minutes at start and end of day), the leads trade off being on-call for escalated issues throughout Registration Desk hours, usually cover at least one 1.5-3 hour shift per day, and may need to cover additional unstaffed shifts. 

Safer Spaces: Disability Safer Space Volunteer

We are looking for BIPOC members who would like to volunteer with the Disability Safer Space. Disability Safer Space volunteers participate in preparing the space prior to the con and volunteer inside or at the space during the con. They report any incidents to Safety.
Pre-Con Commitment: 1 hour/week
At-Con Commitment: Shifts inside the Safer Space as possible, healthy, and safe

Safer Spaces: Trans and Genderqueer (TGQ) Safer Space

We are looking for TGQ members who would like to volunteer with the TGQ Safer Space. TGQ Safer Space volunteers participate in preparing the space prior to the con and volunteer inside or at the space during the con. They report any incidents to Safety. Multiply marginalized TGQ members encouraged to apply.
Pre-Con Commitment: 1 hour/week
At-Con Commitment: Shifts inside the Safer Space as possible, healthy, and safe

Safety Co-Leads (2-3)

The Safety Co-Leads are in charge of making sure there are enough Safety volunteers to cover the entire weekend, scheduling shifts, and responding to any incidents. There must be at least one Safety Lead available at all times during the con. Safety Leads often take turns being “on-call” over the weekend to manage at-con and on-the-spot volunteers and to respond to incidents. Often interfaces with Anti-Abuse Team to record incidents and with ConCom Chairs to give updates or request assistance. Experience in de-escalation and crisis management or Safety or ombudsman at other cons a plus.
Pre-Con Commitment: 1 hour a week
At-Con Commitment: At least half a day for every day of the con

If you’re interested in any of these positions or in pre-con volunteering with any other department, please email personnel@sf3.org.

Invitation: WisCon Town Hall Event

The board of SF3, WisCon’s parent organization, has posted the following statement on their blog. Please visit that post to comment.

It’s been almost two years since our community has been able to meet in person, and a lot has changed. The board of SF3, WisCon’s nonprofit, invites you to join us for a virtual town hall meeting on 11/14/2021 at 1:00pm central time to discuss where WisCon has been and where we’d like it to go in the future.
Our agenda is structured but flexible. We will be discussing problems the WisCon community has been dealing with in the past and present, including racism and microaggressions that we’ve seen on panels and in social spaces. We want to listen to what people have experienced and make space for the community to speak; and we also want to develop and enact strategies which will make WisCon a safer, welcoming space, where BIPOC members can feel at home. As we discuss WisCon’s future, we’ll explore ways to make WisCon a welcoming convention for everyone, through programming, anti-abuse policies, accessibility, workshops, and new ideas for WisCon activities and outreach.
We need your feedback and thoughts to make WisCon a sustainable community, transforming to meet the challenges and needs specific to our community. If you’d like to join us, RSVP on Eventbrite and we’ll follow up later with details on how to join the virtual meeting.

Beginning the Strategic Planning Process

The board of SF3, WisCon’s parent organization, has posted the following statement on their blog. Please visit that post to comment.

As noted in our recent Anti-Racism Statement, SF3 will begin a process of strategic planning, starting in early November. The purpose of this strategic planning process will be to re-evaluate the mission, vision, values, structure, and policies of SF3 as an organization, in an effort to eliminate racism in organizational structures and projects, and to increase equity, safety, and inclusion for all members of our community — BIPOC in particular.
A strategic planning process is meant to deeply engage the full WisCon/SF3 community in the work of imagining what SF3 and WisCon can be — what the community as a whole wants and needs it to be.
To that end, over the course of the next year, SF3 will establish a temporary Strategic Planning Committee, created for the explicit purpose of planning and implementing organizational change according to community input and feedback. This committee will begin by developing a process for community engagement that allows all community members to speak about their experiences with WisCon/SF3: about the failures and successes of the organization and its projects, and to offer ideas for change and improvement . This listening process will consist of varied formats so as to give space for all who wish to be heard to do so safely. One example is a virtual Town Hall, currently planned for November 2021, in which non-officers who serve on the SF3 board (organized by Charlie Jane Anders and Annalee Newitz and moderated by Arley Sorg) will hold a community conversation to discuss and envision the future of WisCon/SF3.
A strategic planning process for SF3/WisCon will occur in two phases. The first phase, as noted above, involves listening to the community: gathering information, input, and feedback through events such as the virtual Town Hall, Board listening sessions, member surveys, etc. Some of these will allow people to provide feedback without disclosing identity. The Board and strategic planning committee will collect the details of these discussions; the Strategic Planning Committee will then move to the next phase — determining how to implement feedback, suggestions, and organizational change. This work will include developing a new Mission Statement for SF3 as well as revising organizational and project structures, practices, and more to support equity and empowerment of BIPOC members.
The first step, to begin in the weeks following the upcoming SF3 Annual Member Meeting, will be for SF3 to establish the Strategic Planning Committee, and to begin discussing and developing actionable plans and a timeline for holding community conversations and gathering feedback.
If you feel strongly about the future of WisCon and SF3, and would like to be a part of this workgroup, please email the SF3 President with the subject line: Strategic Planning Committee. You do not need to have previously been involved in either SF3 or WisCon to volunteer.
SF3 is committed to eliminating racism, white supremacy, and other barriers to inclusion within all of our projects and spaces. Through listening, accountability, and concrete action, we will work toward building an organization that creates truly inclusive spaces to explore and understand identities, injustice, and possible paths to a more equitable future, via speculative media.

SF3 Annual General Meeting: October 24 + Open Officer Positions

The board of SF3, WisCon’s parent organization, has posted the following statement on their blog. Please visit that post to comment.

SF3 is the nonprofit organization that’s responsible for WisCon; it provides long-term governance and financial management not only for the annual convention, but also for other projects and initiatives.

SF3’s Annual Meeting is coming up on Sunday October 24 at 1PM (Central). This meeting will be held virtually; you can join by telephone or online. If you are a current SF3 member you will receive information about how to join no later than Thursday, October 14 , via email.

This meeting is where officers on the SF3 board present their annual reports, and where significant business facing the organization is discussed. Anyone who is a member of SF3 can attend and vote at the annual meeting—you can join SF3 at http://sf3.org/join/. The deadline for joining SF3 prior to this year’s meeting is Wednesday October 20.

This year’s Annual Meeting is particularly important, because all current board officer positions will be open. At least three of officer roles—President, Treasurer, and Secretary—must be filled for SF3 to continue to legally operate and keep its 503(c)(3) status. At the time of this posting, we don’t know of anyone who plans to stand for any of these three positions.

We encourage anyone who loves the WisCon annual convention to consider standing for an open board position. At a very general level, board members are expected to participate in discussion about policies and governance for SF3, and to help ensure that SF3 is on sure footing for the future (financially and organizationally). This ranges from making sure our annual taxes are accurate and filed on time, to discussing our mission and values, to planning new projects or initiatives. More information about specific board roles can be found at http://sf3.org/about/board-duties/. Though the current officers are not able to remain in their positions, they will be available to help orient new board members.

One of the past failures of the SF3 board has been its lack of support for participation from BIPOC members of the WisCon community. As noted in our recent Anti-Racism Statement, we are undertaking a strategic planning process focused on inclusion and eliminating practices and attitudes that contribute to a white supremacist culture. This strategic planning work is separate from the board, although we expect both groups will be in frequent communication.

SF3 membership is free for BIPOC. Moreover, if you are Black, Indigenous, or a person of color and have any interest in joining the SF3 board as an officer, we hope you will do so! While the many officer vacancies is a hurdle, we also hope it will be an opportunity for renewal and reevaluation of SF3’s direction. This will be happening at the same time as we are updating SF3’s  interim mission, vision, and values to center inclusivity and reject racism and white supremacy.

If you have concerns about the commitment involved, or could join only with further support, you are welcome to contact any individual board member, or the board as a whole at board@sf3.org.

If you are interested in standing for a board officer role, please contact Jess Adams at vicepresident@sf3.org by Tuesday, October 19 to express interest. Jess is also available to answer questions you may have about board roles.

Summary Agenda

A more detailed agenda, and all materials for the upcoming meeting, will be sent to SF3 members after October 14, no later than Saturday October 23.

Old Business

  • Officer reports
  • Reports from committee chairs (WisCon concom, Personnel, Communications)

New Business

  • Elections to the board + open officer positions:
    • President (Jackie Lee vacating, 1 year left in term)
    • Vice President – vacant, 2 years left in current term (Jess Adams interim Vice-President, June – October 2021)
    • Treasurer – vacant, 1 year left in current term
    • Secretary (term ending, Bronwyn Bjorkman will not stand for re-election)
  • Notice of appointment of Committee Chairs
  • Other business

The terms of officer positions are set according to our bylaws.

“The president and treasurer shall be elected in years evenly divisible by three; the vice-president shall be elected in the following year; the corresponding secretary and recording secretary shall be elected in the year after that.” SF3 Bylaws, Section 4.3

(As of 2019, corresponding and recording secretary were collapsed into one role.)

Vacancies on the Communications & Personnel Teams

We’ve got a variety of exciting roles that we’re looking for help with in our Communications & Personnel Committees. Unlike most of the Convention Committee (ConCom) roles, these tasks are spread over several months or are year-round, but because they are not all ramping up to a convention weekend, they are a LOT more chilled out. 🙂

Communications: Bloggers (up to three volunteers – one spot filled already)

WisCon’s blog is our primary method for communication with our community. It’s the main way that we recruit volunteers, share news that impacts the convention, fundraise, and keep conversations going. Our blog is published on our website, wiscon.net, and is collected into a newsletter format once a month for most of the year, becoming weekly in April & May. We’re looking for at least one and up to three volunteers who would like to help us tell people what’s up! Is that you? We’ll share a draft schedule of blog topics that will include some that we know we need, but you’ll be encouraged to write on any relevant topic — dig into WisCon’s history, to connect with our sibling organizations, and to spotlight our past guests of honor, attendees, and volunteers. You’ll also crosspost blog posts and newsletters to our social media, including Twitter & Facebook, in collaboration with the volunteers managing those accounts.

Commitment: 2-3 hours per month, increasing to 5 hours per month in April & May.

 

Communications: Facebook Wrangler (one volunteer)

Are you on Facebook? This role can be as big or small as you’d like it to be! Our Facebook content has generally been limited to cross-posts from our blog and some advertisements — so at minimum, we’d like you to respond to comments & messages there, as well as helping us run a few advertisements per year. At maximum? The sky’s the limit, as long as you keep it related to our mission & values.

Commitment: 1-2 hours per month.

 

Communications: Ads, Marketing, & Sponsorships (up to three volunteers)

This year, we’ll mainly be looking for sponsorships — businesses and individuals who would be willing to make a gift to support part of WisCon in exchange for our public thanks and a banner in that space. In the past, we’ve had sponsors for the Gathering and for various other events. In the past, this job has included selling advertisements in the Souvenir Program Book as well — we’re not sure what that will look like yet this year. This role is about reaching out to people and organizations that you believe WisCon’s community would love to hear about, and bringing them together!

Commitment: 1-2 hours per month October-May.

 

Personnel: Team Member (up to three volunteers)

You’ll follow a checklist to give new members of our committees or board access to the tools they need to make WisCon and all our other projects happen! You’ll also assist ConCom departments with documenting their roles, collaborate with the Communications Committee to write recruitment blog posts, and orient people to the tools they need (these include Google Docs, Gmail, and Basecamp).

Commitment: 1-3 hours per month.       

Please email personnel@sf3.org to volunteer!

Organized? Responsible? WE NEED YOU!!

We’re seeking folks to Chair two of the committees that support WisCon!

What does a “Chair” do, though? And what’s all this about “Committees”?

Well, our Committee Chairs are primarily project managers — they make sure that the necessary tasks get done in order to carry out that committee’s purpose. When needed, they make the decision to cancel tasks that can’t be successful due to a lack of time, resources, volunteers, or all three. They are appointed by the board president of SF3, which is the nonprofit that provides oversight for WisCon.

You can think of our committees as workgroups, each of which has a clear purpose and purview.

There are currently three peer committees, and all are necessary for each others’ success:

  • The ConCom (Convention Committee), whose purpose is to carry out WisCon.
  • The Communications Committee, whose purpose is to maintain a flow of information between all of our projects (including WisCon!) and our community.
  • The Personnel Committee, whose purpose is to recruit, equip, and support all of our volunteers.

We need a chair for Communications, and a chair for Personnel. We have some volunteers ready to go to do the work in each of those committees, but we need you to step in! We’re also happy to help you find someone with whom you can co-chair, if you don’t want to go it alone.

Interested? Please contact president@sf3.org to express interest, or with any questions.

(Interested, but not in being a chair? Hold tight, we’ll have a post soon with information on volunteering for communications, for personnel, and for the ConCom! But we need to fill these two spots first, so tell your organized pals to reach out!)

SF3: Interim Mission, Vision, and Values

The board of SF3, WisCon’s parent organization, has posted the following statement on their blog. Please visit that post to comment.

As noted in our Anti-Racism Statement, the SF3 Board is undertaking work to reexamine our organizational mission with the intent to eliminate white supremacy and build an organization and convention where all members can thrive and contribute. In connection to this work, we are sharing interim versions of a mission statement, organizational vision, and a clear statement of our community values which center inclusivity and explicitly reject racism and white supremacy. These interim statements will guide our work over the next year, including community-wide conversations and strategic planning to develop a permanent and inclusive set of foundational documents for SF3 and its projects, including WisCon.

Interim Mission Statement

SF3 seeks to provide and support spaces to explore and understand identities, injustice, and possible paths to a more equitable future, via speculative media.

Interim Vision Statement

A world where we engage collaboratively in imagining and building a future in which all members thrive.

Statement of Values

SF3 values a community that is inclusive and that welcomes diverse voices without privileging any particular identity over others; as a result, SF3 and its projects are committed to identifying and eliminating white supremacy within all activities. SF3 values spaces in which no one is silenced or discouraged from participating due to racism, sexism, fatphobia, transphobia, biphobia, homophobia, ageism, classism, colorism, ableism, nativism, anti-semitism, xenophobia, islamophobia, anti-immigrant sentiment, and other expressions of identity based hate. SF3 does not tolerate those behaviors and does not welcome participation in any of its activities by people who seek to exclude others from participation. SF3 values accessibility defined broadly. We believe that implementing accessibility for one group can and often does create universal benefits; however, the implementation of a measure that improves access for only a single person is not less worthwhile. We strive to create and support spaces that are functional for people in all our physical and mental variety.  We also recognize that access needs can and often are in conflict. Every space may not be appropriate for or accessible to every person, but we will do our best in good faith to implement accessibility for as many people as possible. SF3 values the principles of restorative justice: encourage collaboration and reintegration rather than coercion and isolation; give attention to the unintended consequences of our actions and programs; show respect to all parties, including victims, offenders, and community members. SF3 values diversity of thought, except expressions which deny or invalidate the identities and experiences of others.We understand that there is no true objectivity.  Every person is part of society and has a history that has shaped them. Who we are as individuals influences our understanding and decision making; inclusion and exploration of multiple perspectives leads to better decisions. SF3 values environmental sustainability. We use vendors that employ green practices, conduct our planning meetings remotely, give our members the ability to opt out from paper mailings and self-select printed materials at events, and make use of carbon offsets to reduce the overall impact of events requiring travel in addition to encouraging our members to use public transportation or share common rides with one another. We are committed to reducing global environmental harm, and to supporting a sustainable future. SF3 values collaboration and consensus, while recognizing that the perspective and knowledge necessary for many decisions can be limited by role. The people who carry out tasks can and should be the decision-makers concerned with the methods used for those tasks. Strategic (multi-year) decision-making must be decided by the board, or proposed to the board for adoption, as the board exists and is configured in order to provide multi-year, overlapping personnel, appointed by member vote, and enabled to carry out those decisions. SF3 values trust in each other and in openness to learning. All SF3 and project-related roles are carried out by volunteers who donate their time, knowledge, and labor to advance the org’s mission and to carry out its projects. We seek to assume good intent on the part of everyone involved in SF3 projects and activities. We strive to offer grace where words or actions are unclear to us, and seek to improve our own understanding, while nonetheless holding everyone involved responsible for their actions. Every one of us is working toward a more full understanding of the world, and that is a life-long and non-linear process. SF3 values sincere effort to avoid harm, while recognizing that harm may occur with or without intent. A lack of intent does not negate or excuse harm. SF3 values the past while recognizing that the events, experiences, and truths that brought us to this point may not continue to be effective in the future, and that in many cases, aspects of the past which we individually found beneficial may have been actively harmful to others. We leave those things behind and seek new ways of thinking and acting that will benefit us all. SF3 values a process of continuous learning within a culture of accountability. As such, we appreciate that people change over time, and that mistakes are a part of that process. We endeavor to reshape our opinions of each other’s abilities and potential based on who they are now, rather than holding tightly to their past errors — once they have been held accountable for those errors. Conversely, past accomplishments and status do not excuse current harms done by any person in our community, and we cannot excuse anyone, including individuals who were held in high esteem, if their behavior causes harm.

SF3 Anti-Racism Statement

The board of SF3, WisCon’s parent organization, has posted the following statement on their blog. Please visit that post to comment.

WisCon’s parent organization, SF3, has been thinking deeply about the recurring racism and white supremacy culture within the convention and within our committees (the Convention Committee aka “ConCom”, the Communications Committee, and the Personnel Committee). The presence of racism and of white supremacist culture, which impacts and injures people with any marginalized identities, are parts of our culture that we must address.

SF3 rejects white supremacy, racism, misogyny, transphobia, homophobia, and ableism. The SF3 Board expects the same of our membership and has no tolerance for racist acts or statements.

We recognize that racism has led to conflicts at WisCon every year. This is unsustainable and wrong, and these are not isolated or unrelated instances — they are part of structural and historical problems. We also recognize that it is the SF3 Board’s responsibility to solve this problem, and the solution is not and cannot be asking BIPOC members of the community to fix the organization.

Further, we want to acknowledge that over the history of WisCon, many BIPOC community members have volunteered in good faith for the ConCom, the SF3 Board, and other projects. Those volunteering situations were hostile, and this organization failed to keep those volunteers safe or to enable their success. Those situations were also not isolated incidents, and are part of a larger pattern and organizational culture.

It is the SF3 Board’s obligation, in engagement with the WisCon community and all current and past volunteers, to address and fix systemic racism and other problems within our organization and its spaces. Being a welcoming, inclusive, and equitable organization cannot be achieved without honesty with ourselves and with others.

We recognize that white supremacy is baked into the social and cultural landscape of the US. Members of SF3/WisCon must recognize and work to counter this; it is work that white people in particular must undertake in order to live up to WisCon’s values and purpose.

The SF3 Board, within their purview over nonprofit governance, is reexamining our organizational mission with the intent to eliminate white supremacy, and will be working to revise organizational bylaws and foundational documents to restructure a racist power system and ensure BIPOC empowerment. The Board has created interim versions of a mission statement, organizational vision, and a clear statement of our community values which center inclusivity and explicitly reject racism and white supremacy. These documents are intended for use over the next year, and will be shared in this space later this week.

Following that step, we will be undertaking a strategic planning process specifically focused on inclusion — in particular, on eliminating racism and empowering BIPOC members. We will be inviting everyone in our community to take part in strategic planning, which will create a permanent new mission, vision, and values for our organization and all of our projects, including WisCon.

We recognize that this is not a goal we can reach in a single year. Our strategic planning process will involve mapping out our goals for the next five years, along with broadly stated tasks for achieving those goals. We ask the full community to hold the SF3 Board accountable in this work.

We commit to sharing a monthly update on our progress, our goals, and what we have learned.

Within the next 30 days, we will be proceeding according to this schedule:

  • September 30, 2021: Share interim Mission, Vision, and Values

  • Early October (no later than October 14): Send out meeting agenda and information packet in advance of SF3 Annual Member Meeting.

  • October 11, 2021: Share overview and initial steps of strategic planning process and invite volunteers to join a committee established to carry out that process. The strategic planning process will include a plan for soliciting input, experiences, and feedback from BIPOC members of our community in particular. There will be a clear process for this; in order to treat feedback seriously and with care, we will not solicit that information before a system is created by the strategic planning committee, equipped with the resources they need to succeed.

  • October 18, 2021: Blog post outlining plans for the next month of work on these goals, with dates. This post will also include reports of the work accomplished so far.

  • October 24, 2021: SF3 Annual Member Meeting (details forthcoming)

Updates on WisCon in 2022

We would like to again thank everyone who participated in Visioning WisCon in May. Visioning WisCon was not intended to replace a full online con and was organized differently from our usual structure.  We’re glad that our community was engaged that weekend across a variety of virtual spaces, and we’re grateful for all of the feedback we’ve received on the event. We’re working to incorporate the lessons we’ve learned as we look towards WisCon in 2022. Speaking of which…

We have some exciting news about our next in-person WisCon in 2022!

  • Our wonderful host hotel, Madison’s Concourse Hotel and Governor’s Club, has opened room reservations! We have a group discounted rate that is available from now through April 26, 2022. Please show your support by making your reservation today.
  • Guest of Honor nominations for WisCon in 2023 are open! Anyone is welcome to nominate someone to be a Guest of Honor (GoH) by sending an email with the nominee’s name to gohnoms@wiscon.net. (If you already nominated someone any time during/after WisCONline in 2020, we have your nominations and will include them for 2023. Thanks!)
  • We have Co-Chairs! WisCon is organized by a group of volunteers called the Convention Committee (or ConCom, for short). For 2022, Aileen Wall (she/her), Ira Alexandre (they/them), and Kit Stubbs, Ph.D. (they/them) are co-chairing the ConCom. Aileen is a previous WisCon co-chair who has also served as our Hotel Liaison with the Concourse for the past six years. Ira and Kit co-chaired WisCONline in 2020 and continued volunteering as chairs of the Personnel Committee and the Communications Committee, respectively, throughout 2020 and 2021.While Aileen, Ira, and Kit are all awesome people, they need more volunteers to join the ConCom to help organize the con. If you’re interested in finding out more information about volunteering on the ConCom please let us know (signing up is not a commitment, just a request for info!) Look forward to role descriptions and an online information session coming soon.
We’ll continue to post updates about how con planning is going on our blog and email newsletter.

Questions/Comments?

Thank you for joining us for Visioning WisCon!

We have a Google Form where you can ask questions about the ConCom, give feedback on this event (Visioning WisCon), and make suggestions for WisCon in 2022. You can also request to join our email newsletter or request more info about volunteering on the concom (no commitments, just info).

The form will be open through Monday evening (5/31) at 9pm Central time. After that, you’re welcome to contact us or subscribe to the email newsletter through this website!

Visioning the WisCon ConCom

We have a new Spontaneous Programming item this evening at Visioning WisCon!

Visioning the WisCon ConCom: Do you have ideas for how to carry WisCon forward? Do you have questions about how WisCon is organized that you’d like answered? Start a conversation about #VisioningWisCon with several current ConCom members in Spontaneous 1 on Kumospace, today (Sunday, 5/30) at 6PM Central.