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Swancon 40 Con Report

 So. 

Swancon 40. Easter 2015 at the Pan Pacific. 

Convenor: 
Kat Griffiths and Stephen Griffiths (no relation) 
Treasurer: Helen Dufill 
Programmer: Sarah Parker
International Guest of Honour: John Scalzi
National Guest of Honour: Kylie Chan 
Fan Guest of Honour: Anthony Peacey

So many people are involved in running a Swancon, and I want to thank every one for making my year awesome. 

Two years ago a couple of young women said to me "We'd like you on the committee, and we'd like you to be our Prky," which, while a high honour, was already taken by Prky anyway. I said "Actually, I want to program. I have been feeling the calling, and I want to be your programmer." To which they squeed because I believe they hadn't found a victim volunteer yet who wanted it! 

This little con report is, as always, a ramble. Welcome to the perambulations through my half arsed recollections and scattered memories. 

I spent the first two days in a tizzy. I was stressed and ready to leap onto any spot fires with my laptop, phone, and backup plans, but after two days of lugging around my laptop, and not really having anything to do, I had to learn how to relax instead. 

We had one cancelled Panel, and Damian Magee stepped admirably into the spot to cover it with one of two pre-prepared backup panels. Did I mention I was ready? I was also vaguely disappointed that my other back up plan, to show Gallavant if there was time and space never actually eventuated because... there were no other cancellations. 

Every one seemed to be on time for their panels. Every one seemed to know what I wanted, what they needed, and they just did it. Andy Hahn was absolutely tireless in his devotion to the AC equipment, and I stand in awe at his technical knowledge about all things AV. Most people picked up their panelist packs, which meant I met every one face to face, and said hi! 

We only had to change a few items around, but I had developed some rules in advance. I was happy to switch rooms on people, but there was no way I was moving times. If someone was too late for their panel, then thank you for your efforts, but everything and every one was so intensely tied into who was where when, there was no chance I could move things and update people properly. 

Venue changes happened because I had managed to put Guest of Honour stuff into the smaller rooms, which was... well, that was me. :) Ooops. Like I shouted at all couple of hundred people as they walked the twenty metres to the new, larger venue. 'SORRY! MY FAULT!"

So then I spent the next two hours combing through the remaining program and moving three other items, updating livecon, writing the official change sheets, notifying Facebook, and emailing the panelists. I figure that's my punishment, right? :p

I don't really know what else to add to this. I'm still in slow moving recovery mode. Lots of sleeping and quiet video games, crochet, movies. 
:) 

Hmmm, now the ramblier bits I guess LOL 
Thursday I was busy being stressy and super alert for spot fires, so John and I went to bed at a decent enough time. Managed breakfast on Friday morning, lurked ready to pounce on unsuspecting panelists by 9:10, which is 10 minutes later than I was intending and about 30 minutes before reception was ready! 

Friday night I drank a bit. There's a lovely picture of my hands braiding Dave's Cake beard, the hotel stole my wild tea vodka and I chased them down until they gave it back :) I was "hiding" it in their icecream freezer after all! 

Saturday was the masquerade, my friend is running a mobile beauticians' business, and so I was all done up. My eyelashes looked like I had baby birds glued to my eyes, which I didn't mind so much but the contact lenses I was wearing were giving me grief. I was done up like 

Sunday nights are often my favourite night of the con. Every one's sleep deprived, exhausted, funned out, but so determined to party that last night, so this is the night where things get amusing. I visited a few room parties, drank a bottle or two of wine, flirted outrageously for bit (Me, would I do that?), met new people who swear they will always come back, and had far too much fun. 

After the room party got shut down, we went down to the foyer but then Coman was talking about his plans for 2017 and I'm *done* for now, so I said good nights and headed off. 

I didn't cry at closing ceremony, which I thought I would. I felt like I had done the best I could for my committee, and that my program, and I,  ran beautifully. None of my public speaking this con was scripted other than a bunch of PPT slides, and I ran my first ever auction! 

Opening Ceremony
Ooo, I should talk about opening ceremony. Ok. Well, we got approval from WASFF about 9 days before the con started for Welcome to County. I take responsibility for raising this, it went something like "do we have a line for Welcome to Country?" and Helen going "Nope" and I was all "I am sure I saw that in a budget somewhere" and TBH it was probably 2016's budget line, but my awesome Convenor took it to WASFF and asked for it and they said yes! So, by the time we got word we had budget, I started contacting the leads I had been given. 

I had attended a Close the Gap celebration earlier in march that had an awesome Welcome to Country, and I thought Shaun would be awesome for Swancon, and really in fitting with our love affairs with narrative and meaning, however when I emailed my contact, it had a vacation bounce and said she wouldn't be back until 16th of April! Eep! 

So I tried the other details i had been given, ringing them on Thursday and then Friday, and they said they would email me a list but it never arrived, however it turns out the vacation bounce had also sent my email to another person in the department, who sent me the right contact details. 

So, now on the Tuesday before con... and Shaun said he was free, and we sorted out the details, and Swancon had it's first Welcome to Country. 

It's a bit hard to comment on it when you're sitting at the white table behind him but I found it moving and amazing and reaffirming. His story telling abilities and sense of presence were fantastic, and I felt safe in his story telling. And it turns out he knew people in the crowd! he had many people coming up to mention how amazing, how touching, his Welcome to Country had made them feel, and he caught up with some old workmates, and I said if he was free next year on the Thursday of Easter.... 

Which also gave rise to the thought that sometimes we need to invite people into our spaces better, and you know what might be fun? Perhaps we could have an Indigenous Guest of Honour, so we can learn more about some of the spec-fic that's coming out of Indigenous Writers. 

I had almost thirty people tell me how uplifting, amazing and awesome Shaun's Welcome had been, and one person felt uncomfortable in that the Welcome related to a religion, regardless of whether it had been any religion, they did feel the religious tones were unnecessary for a convention opening ceremony. 

I had asked Grant Stone to do the opening ceremony, and he said yes but then he wasn't around at the time, so in the end I opened Swancon. It's never hard doing public speaking at Swancon. Every one there is a friend. 

Coming from my pagan background, it made sense to me that since I had Opened Swancon, I should Close it too. A sacred five days of creation, narrative, genre, passionate people, discussions, personalities, and so much more, it has to be Closed so we can return to our every day selves, and start saving for the next one! 

I didn't cry during the closing ceremony for closing, but I did cry for the Mikey Award, as I always do. I cried many times over the convention, it's my way of downloading too much emotion, and then picking up and carrying on. I don't think I have ever cried so many happy tears though, nor have I ever been so thanked so often for the program. I counted thirty odd people thanking me for the Welcome to Country, and I have had more than that thanking me for the program, people I hold very dear and high in my esteem. 

Changing Communities Panel (in which I waffle for far too long about emotional stuff) 
This was one of my babies. I was so excited when I heard John was coming, for his Ant Army stuff and his activism in changing some of the communities he has been a part of, and I kind of wanted to share some of his experiences and our experiences in trying to help keep our community open and as welcoming as possible. 

It was a little hard, because I was tired and overwrought, and it's something so close to my heart, but the community we have at Swancon is what will always bring people back. I have so many amazing friends and acquaintances from Swancon, and I've always tried hard to make sure that we get to be ourselves, even while we're being a rowdy and contentious lot. 

Swancon really is a rare thing in fandom, I hear this from international visitors, and that lies entirely with the people who come, and the community we have built. We have our problems, but we work on them, and we don't try to pretend that we are anything other than normal people doing the best we can.

A lot of the community change stuff is undercurrent stuff, and from my point of view, it's not so much been anything other than a gentle and continuous reminder to people to be the best we can be. And that's exactly what people do at Swancon. We try to be the best we can. I am so proud of us, all of us. 

Anyway, I'm not so much done in writing this as I got distracted and wandered off. 
:) 
There might be more later. 



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Comments

( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
leecetheartist
Apr. 9th, 2015 08:35 am (UTC)
Lovely program! *hugs*
zebra363
Apr. 9th, 2015 12:31 pm (UTC)
I certainly enjoyed the program on the day I went (Friday).
redbraids
Apr. 9th, 2015 04:05 pm (UTC)
> I did cry for the Mikey Award, as I always do. I

Me too.

Thank you for a lovely con.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )