The Gathering is a great place to meet new people — or reconnect with folks you’ve met at prior WisCons — while learning or helping others to learn a new game or skill. We’ve got ten activities this year, all happening 1-4pm in the Wisconsin Ballroom on the second floor.
Looking for a way to strike up conversations with some of your fellow con attendees? We’ll have an Icebreaker Scavenger Hunt, where you can search for characteristics and experiences. To participate, put stickers from the Icebreaker table on a badge card marking which broad categories apply to you, then start conversations with other people with stickered cards in order to fill out your own scavenger list.
Continuing this year are two well-loved swaps: Clothing and Nail Polish. Calling them “swaps” is a little misleading, everyone is welcome to peruse and take home anything that strikes your fancy — there’s no need to bring things in exchange, though we love it when you bring items to donate!
Our Clothing Swap is a great place to bring those treasured pieces of clothing that you can’t quite bear to donate without assurance that they will be loved by their next owner. The formal gown that no longer fits, the perfect waistcoat that you just can’t justify keeping, or parts of that well-crafted cosplay for a fandom you’ve lost interest in — they can all find new homes! Any clothing is welcome, but we do ask that you don’t just clean out your closet. Rather, bring a few things that you think other WisCon members will love.
New this year for the Clothing Swap: Please mark whether you’re clothes have been washed with scented laundry products or if you’ve used scent-free. The scents from laundry products can linger for years in garments, so please only mark your donations as “scent-free laundry products” if you’ve never used scented products! Our valiant Clothing Swap volunteers will be working to keep scented and scent-free items separate this year.
This is the third year of the Nail Polish Swap. Is your nail polish stash overflowing with colors that looked promising in the store but not quite right on your nails? Come trade for something more your style! Bring some unloved bottles and your enthusiasm for sparkly fingers and find some new colors to experiment with. Even if you don’t have polish to swap, come pick up a bottle to take home. We know you’re eager to swap your neglected polishes for some new pretties, but remember to make sure they haven’t dried out before you pack them up!
When do you drop off your donations for the Clothing and Nail Polish swaps? You can stop by the ballroom on the 2nd floor of the Concourse on Friday starting at 11am.
In addition to swaps, the Fiber Circle returns for those who knit, spin, crochet, embroider, and more. Just bring your yarn, needles, thread, scissors, and beads.
The Gadget and Device Petting Zoo isn’t a swap, but it is a way to share any neat devices you own, and to try out some of the neat devices belonging to other folks in the WisCon community. The table will be staffed throughout the Gathering, but nonetheless we strongly recommend that if you don’t want to lose it, don’t leave it unattended.
Returning this year is the ever-popular Fancy Hair Braiding, with a braiding expert in attendance to teach techniques and demonstrate rope, round, French, Dutch, and crown braids, shapes like hearts and spirals, and other advanced ideas like 5- and 7-strand fingering techniques. Unfortunately, our second braider, with expertise in kinky, coily hair, is no longer able to attend.
Local makerspace the Bodgery is running a simple e-textiles activity where participants can learn how to combine fiber arts with electronics. As part of this activity, they’ll teach people how to sew a simple circuit using some felt, an LED, a coin-cell battery, and some conductive thread.
We’ll have Tabletop Games, too. You can join the WisCon Gaming team for some light and accessible games while you learn about the variety of gaming offered at WisCon 41. Browse our board game selection, meet GMs and fellow players, and sign up for role-playing games running this year!
Have you ever wished you knew how to pick locks? You can learn at the Gathering this year! Locks and picks will be provided; you just need to bring a steady hand and a sense of curiosity.
As always, the Tiptree Auction Preview will be happening at the Gathering so you can you can view and write bids in advance of the auction on Saturday, where all proceeds support the James Tiptree Jr. Award for thought-provoking SF&F that expands and and explores gender roles.
The Gathering is the official opening to WisCon. On Friday afternoon the ballroom on the 2nd floor of the Concourse Hotel turns into a fair of sorts. Activities range from a Scavenger Hunt to Tabletop Games to a Nail Polish Swap to a Fiber Circle. It’s a fun, laid-back way to ease (or jump!) into just the right mindset for a WisCon weekend.
This year we need a few more volunteers to help make the Gathering come to life. Would you like to accumulate time toward earning a rebate on your membership cost? Would you like to help WisCon members look fabulous? Join us as a Gathering volunteer!
Urgent — Clothing Swap seeks fashion mavens!
Our Clothing Swap is the only Gathering activity that isn’t run by the folks who propose it — because it’s so popular that we just keep holding it no matter what! That means we need YOU… to help out at the Clothing Swap. We’re in search of at least two people who love recommending clothes and giving opinions about what would look great on folks — but who also are willing to hang, sort, and set out the clothes that members bring in to gift to each other prior to the opening of the Gathering. Interested? Give us a holler at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll make sure you get first crack at the treasures.
For people new to WisCon, the Gathering is their very first look at what WisCon is like — and for folks who have been to WisCon before, it’s a welcome time to find people they haven’t seen in a year, to catch up, and to relax with one of the diversions that the Gathering has to offer!
Those experiences make the Gathering, the official start of the convention, an important event at every WisCon. A defining event, just as much as our Opening Ceremonies.
WisCon is a feminist convention, and we believe that means not just “diversity,” but inclusion and centering marginalized identities, including identities around race, gender, class, and ability. The Gathering must reflect that as well.
We are currently seeking a lead for the WisCon 41 Gathering. The Gathering lead is part of the WisCon Concom and is automatically eligible to opt for a WisCon membership rebate of 40% of the registration fee, meaning that if you register for WisCon as an adult, you can opt to receive $20 of your $50 membership back after the con ends.
You need not be local to Madison, but should be planning to attend WisCon 41. In particular, we are seeking applicants from traditionally underrepresented or marginalized identities.
Your role will include some planning prior to the convention, doable in a few hours a month during March, April, and May. You will determine what activities will be held from the applications you receive, communicate with the people running those activities, and solicit other activities as necessary. During the convention you will be on hand when the Gathering space is set up Friday morning and will be present during the event itself.
To apply to be Gathering lead, contact email@example.com
The Gathering has many returning events this year, along with some new ones. Thirteen activities in all!
Swaps old and new rely on your donations. Per usual, please bring clean clothing you’d like to get rid of at the Clothing Swap — and continuing a new tradition started last year, bring any good-condition bottles of nail polish you’d like to get rid of at the Nail Polish Swap. Finally, this year we’ll have a Book Swap for the first time at the Gathering. If you’ve ever had a book that you read, loved, wanted to get rid of, but hesitated after thinking, “This needs to go to a WisCon person…”, bring that book along! [Bonus: You’ll have room for the books you buy at WisCon in your suitcase!] Feminist sf/f especially welcome. For all three swaps — clothing, nail polish, and books — you are welcome to peruse and take things home with you even if you don’t have anything to donate. In the feminist utopia there is no currency!!
In addition to swaps, the Fiber Circle returns for those who knit, spin, crochet, and so forth. The concom’s Anti-Abuse Team will be available to answer questions you might have while also providing some social justice coloring materials. We’ve also got a non-themed Coloring Table — bring any favorite coloring pages or supplies!
Steven Universe fans — you can Create Your Own Gemsona! And we’ll also have Tarot Readings, Fancy Hair Braiding, and Temporary Tattoos.
WisCon’s Gaming team will staffing the Puzzling! table, where you can work on jigsaw puzzles. You can also talk to them about gaming that will be held later in the convention, or maybe even sign up for an RPG.
As always, the Tiptree Auction Preview will be happening at the Gathering so you can you can view and write bids. This year, Space Babe blasters are happening. Aww, yiss. Pew! Pew! Pew! ZAP!! Take THAT, kyriarchy!
And, of course, we’ll have Coffee, Tea, and Subversion — this year hosted by the SF3 Fundraising Committee, who will be doing their best to subvert you to the cause of WisCon’s Member Assistance Fund.
Come join us at the start of WisCon — find old friends, make new ones, or just bask in the atmosphere of like-minded feminist sf/f fans. It’s a warm start to a great weekend.
- contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Deadline for activity proposals: April 1
The Gathering is the official start to WisCon — Friday at 1pm sharp! This is the time and place to decompress from the rigors of travel, meet friends old and new, make the transition to WisCon space-time, and get into the WisCon frame of mind! Refreshments, fun activities, and relaxation all await you at the Gathering. We also share information about the convention — and you won’t want to miss the crowning of the Tiptree Award Winner!
What happens at The Gathering? It’s a fair full of fun, free activities. In the past we’ve had activities like:
- hair braiding
- a fiber arts circle
- a galley sale
- paper crafts and access crafts
- tarot readings
- and the very popular clothing swap
We announce the slate of activities each spring toward late April.
If you’re interested in running an activity at The Gathering, please fill out our Activity Proposal Form!
Joanna & Gail
Don’t forget to pack some awesome clothes for the WisCon clothing swap, happening at the Gathering from 1 pm to 3:45 pm Friday! All clothes remaining at the end of the Gathering will be donated to the Community Action Coalition.
New this year — the WisCon Gathering will be hosting a nail polish swap! Bring some unloved but good-condition bottles & find new colors! Feel free to take a bottle home even if you don’t bring one.
eCube #7 is now available online.
Gathering apprentices needed: The soon-to-retire Gathering coordinators are looking for apprentices to learn the ropes from this year’s Gathering coordinators in preparation for taking over for WisCon 34. You don’t have to be located in Madison to do the job, but you do need to arrive at the convention in time to begin set-up at 9am on Friday.
The Gathering Coordinators’ duties include recruiting participants to do activities during the event, working with Programming to ensure all participants are listed in the database, working with the Volunteer Coordinator to get volunteers to help staff the event, working with the hotel liaison to order food and tables, writing an article or two for eCube and the program book, creating flyers, maps, and passports for the event, ordering prizes for attendees, and onsite set-up and tear-down.
It’s easy to do the job out of state since the prep work is done via email. Once you’re onsite, the job is completely done before Opening Ceremonies, so you are free to enjoy the rest of the convention. Plus, you get a sneak peak and first pick at Galley table and Clothing Swap! If you are interested, please let us know via email@example.com.