Not-So-Insurmountable Barriers

for WisCon Member Assistance Fund

I first started hearing about WisCon in 2010, when I became good friends with people living in Madison who volunteered for the con every year.  Hearing about all the cool people, interesting discussions, and sheer fun to be found there, I gradually built up longing to go — but, unfortunately, couldn’t build up the money to match my longing.  So I sighed from afar, thinking wistfully of the awesome feminists who were talking about robots without me, and resigned myself to never doing more than reading con reports after the fact.

Then, in 2013, one of my Madison friends said, hey, can I nominate you for this assistance fund? And it was like this huge insurmountable barrier had just been poofed out of existence.

Of course, I didn’t say yes right away, because I struggled with the feeling that con assistance funds weren’t for people like me — they were for people more engaged than me, more productive, more active in various communities, with more valuable perspectives.  I didn’t see myself as valuable enough to be worth anyone else spending money for me to go.  It took a lot of psyching myself up to get past those feelings — especially that horrible capitalist shame that makes me constantly compare myself to others in terms of value, like a commodity — and realize that people genuinely wanted me there and that con assistance funds exist for anybody who needs them to go to the con.

As it turned out, I was the biggest barrier to me using the fund.  I was worried that there would be a lot of paperwork and record-keeping and receipt-tallying, but in the end it was simple.  I told the folks managing the fund how much money I needed, and for what, and they sent me a cheque.  They believed me about what I needed and didn’t place bizarre limitations on the kinds of things that could be covered — so the WisCon assistance fund ended up paying for the rental car, gas, food, and even the bill for boarding my dog for a week.  And, because it was all the same to them whether I drove or flew or took a bus, I was able to pack two of my good friends into the car with me, and WisCon gained itself three attendees for the price of one.

I had an amazing time that year.  I learned a lot, I made new friends, I talked with people who were excited about the same things I was excited about. The WisCon assistance fund taught me that I love going to WisCon, that it’s a great con for me; without the money to make my first WisCon possible, I might never have learned that.  I’m going again this year, with the same people I went with before, because we’re a little better situated financially and now know that the experience will be worth the expense for us.

I hope that, if you’re considering nominating someone or accepting a nomination, you will.  It doesn’t matter how valuable you think you are or aren’t: the assistance fund is for you.  People want you there.  I want you there.

And I hope that, if you’re considering donating to the assistance fund, you’ll give as generously as you’re able to.  This program brings new life, new blood, and new perspectives to the con, and makes it possible for people like me to join the discussion.  Your donation makes an enormous difference to both the con and to the people who receive it.  I couldn’t be more grateful to previous donors for the chance they gave me to be part of the WisCon community.

Donate to the Member Assistance Fund:

Or send a checque payable to SF3 to:

Attn: WisCon Member Assistance Fund
P.O. Box 1624
Madison, WI 53701

SF3 is a 501(c)(3) organization, so your donations are tax deductible.

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