Sustainability Benchmarking for WisCon Fri, 9:00–10:15 pm Caucus
Isabel Schechter, Catherine Krahe, Jennifer Ziebarth
Using conventional measures, WisCon has been making strides to become more environmentally sustainable. But we're a science fiction convention! What imaginative ways can we measure and track our progress on sustainability? How do we think about it from a systems perspective, indivisible from our feminist heritage? Does the number of con-goers at the Madison farmer's market make a good indicator? Bring your ideas to this facilitated discussion of what we can do to achieve environmental sustainability while maintaining our focus on social justice and economic viability.
How Intersectionality Enlarges Feminist Community Sat, 10:00–11:15 am Capitol A
E. Cabell Hankinson Gathman, Ian K. Hagemann, Betsy Lundsten, Isabel Schechter, Shveta Thakrar
Although the world would be nicer if this weren't true, there are axes of oppression other than gender. A forward-looking, relevant feminism needs to take that into account and work for people of color, people with disabilities, LGBTQ people, people of size, people who speak different languages, to name just a few. How do we become inclusive of groups to which we ourselves do not belong?
Why Are Some Belief Systems Valued Over Others? Sat, 2:30–3:45 pm Room 623
Kimberly Gonzalez, Darrah Chavey, Elise Matthesen, Isabel Schechter, Shveta Thakrar
In 2009, WisCon hosted a panel in which the discussion celebrated paganism, Wicca, and atheism while criticizing and disparaging Christianity, Judaism, and other traditional religions. Let's have an honest discussion about why our community rallies to defend some belief systems and disparages others.
Religion in Hard SF: Why Don't We See It? Sun, 1:00–2:15 pm Room 623
Juliana, Jennie Devereaux-Weber, Chip Hitchcock, Isabel Schechter, Philip Weiss
Religion has been a driving force for many aspects of Western culture, yet authors of futuristic science fiction often ignore its force (with Mary Doria Russell, Lois McMaster Bujold, Dan Simmons, David Weber, and Robert Heinlein being notable exceptions). What is missing when stories of future societies leave out religion?
Creating Comfortable Space at Conventions and Other Gatherings Mon, 10:00–11:15 am Senate A
Debbie Notkin, Alyson L. Abramowitz, Vylar Kaftan, Isabel Schechter, Heather Galaxy
How do we create a space in which many kinds of people might feel comfortable, while doing what we can to assure that some members do not in turn cause others discomfort? How do we acknowledge and account for the over-arching role that privilege and power play in these dynamics? Let's discuss the various types of events we've run, the issues that have arisen, and the policies and outcomes that have resulted from those experiences. Let's consider a range of events, and learn from the different concerns we encounter and approaches we take. Types of events to consider: SF conventions like WisCon or ThinkGalacticon, Steampunk events, large multigenre cons (e.g., Dragon*Con or Wickedfaire), BDSM or BDSM-friendly events, academic conferences.
I've been informed the hotel waitlist system is working, so I will turn in the room there so someone on the waitlist can have it.
I've thought about coming back several times since August, but I think it's a good thing that I didn't because I had a lot going on in lots of areas in my life, and I needed to take that time. However, I do miss my internet friends! Especially now that WisCon is coming up and I'm thinking about seeing everyone soon.
I am still very busy, and in fact, in many ways, busier, so I will likely trim my friends list in the coming days and not post very much, but I do want to reacquaint myself with what's been happening in the world while I was away. I am spending Passover week in Minneapolis with my family and will be at Minicon this weekend. After that, I expect I'll have some time to post about all the things that have been going on with me in the almost year that I've been observing radio silence!
Talk more soon!
I did find out that Prop 8 was overturned, so I interrupted my laziness for a happy dance, but as the issue was such an important one, I think interaction with the world was allowed. :-)
I started my new job 2 weeks ago and I love it! The people are nice and there is a ton of work that needs to be done, so I am quite busy. They are very grateful for all my ideas and suggestions, and seem quite amenable to my plan for world domination. I've made it clear that there is a new regime in place and we will be doing things differently and the response has been relief. Not that things were terrible before, it's just that I'm one of those super-organized, 'must have a system and documentation for everything' kind of people, and they've never had that before, hence all the work I need to do. It's the kind of work that I'm really good at, so I'm really happy.
I'm also really happy that it's only part-time, becaue that allows me time to do other things. The past two weeks were particularly busy. I spent a lot of time in the garden (separate post with pictures later), cleaned out the garage and basement for a multi-family yard sale on our block, took my brother to his college orientation, met with some folks about freelance gigs, and hosted our first Shabbat dinner in forever.
The garden is a jungle that provides us with food and is wonderfully pleasing to look at.
The yard sale allowed us to get rid of some crap, and we even made money-$240! I have to say, we looked at our neighbor's offerings of crap for sale, and not only did we have the greatest variety of crap, we also had the highest quality of crap. We didn't sell everything, though, so the rest is going to be donated to Goodwill or some similar organization.
I cried during my brother's college orientation (not where he could see me, of course!). It's starting to hit me, and I anticipate I'll be a mess on move-in day next month. This is really happening, my baby brother is going off to school. I've been wanting this day to happen for 18 years, yet I'm going to miss him and worry about him. I do't know how real parents survive this.
I may have some event planning and grant writing work coming up soon; I'll know more after some meetings this coming week. The power of the internets is really amazing; I had sent out an email to my network letting everyone know about the new job and that I was looking for freelance gigs, and I got 3 calls/emails that same week! Hopefully, things will keep coming in.
It's been sooo very long since we had a real, sit-down, say all the prayers kind of Shabbat dinner, that after I lit the candles, I went and washed instead of saying the Kiddush. I could say it was because I was anxious to eat challah and wanted to get right to the Motzi, but no, it's just been that long. The hubby even stopped halfway through the Kiddush and almost forgot what the next verse was! We didn't say Birkat after dinner, partly because our friends' daughter's bedtime was approaching and they had to get home, and partly because we're out of the habit. I really want to get back into the habit. Candlelighting and saying the blessings over the candles always make me peaceful, and I could use a little peace once per week.
I could especially use some peace this week after hearing about what is happening in Utah this week. For those who don't know, an anonymous group collected a list of hispanic people's names, addresses, work addresses, birthdates, social security numbers, and private medical information like pregnant women's due dates, and sent it to immigration officials with a demand that the folks on the list be deported immediately. When I first read about it, I was terrified. Then I felt a deep, dark rage take over. Can you imagine how the people on the list must be feeling? Someone has been following them around, gathering information about them, and wants them gone. And as you can tell by the type of information gathered, this is not casual searching, this is serious business. These people's privacy has been violated, and by someone (a health or government agency) they trusted. If I were living in Utah, I would be terrified for my safety.
So it's all official now (actually, it has been since Monday, I've just been that busy!), and I can tell you about the exciting job news. I have accepted a part-time position with a congregation in the city as their Synagogue Administrator and will be starting next week. I am excited about working in Jewish communal service again, and because it is a part-time position, I will still have time to work on other projects that are important to me, including other social justice projects and event planning work.
I really enjoyed working in the green movement these past few years, but teaching Bible this past year or so made me realize how much I miss being in a religious environment on a regular basis. I also miss being with people who are like me in some way. The mainstream green movement is very white, and my particular segment of it was very protestant, so I felt like I stuck out sometimes. I'm hoping that because of the part-time nature of the job I'm taking, I'll still be able to work on green issues and that I'll be able to enjoy all the parts of me, not just one or two.
Because the job is on the other end of town, and public transit takes more than one hour to get there, we (by we, I mean the hubby with the MBA) crunched some numbers and decided that it made economical sense for us to buy a second car so that I could drive to work. It was a difficult decision because we really hate to expand our environmental footprint that way, but giving up 2+ hours each day several times per week was just not something we were willing to do. The hubby did lots of hunting for the perfect car, and he found her. Her name is Suzy, she is a 2006 VW Jetta TDI (turbo diesel injection), and she is a beautiful shade of blue-not light blue, not navy, but rather, like space, with sparkliness! I will have to post a picture once I remember to take my car out to the car the next time I drive somewhere. Suzy gets great gas mileage (she is a diesel, duh!) and is zippier than Bob (our first car, which is a 2005 VW Passat TDI), plus she feels more comfortable to drive, probably because she's smaller and is a better fit for me; whereas I always felt like Bob was a big car, Suzy seems more proportional to my stature. Her previous owners put less than 20k miles on her, so we should have Suzy for a long time.
In other news, some of you may remember that the hubby is moving his home office from one of the upstairs bedrooms to the basement. Well, we (again, when I say we, I mean the hubby who is handy) decided that we need to install better heating before he moved down there, and the best solution is radiant heating in the floor. Luckily, there was a sale going on this week on exactly what we need, so we put in an order for the radiant part, and have begun the search for the floor part.
Because we hadn't already spent enough money this week, we went clothes shopping for the hubby yesterday. While I would like to buy almost an entire new wardrobe for him, I compromised and only bought as much as we could carry home. I did also get new trouser socks, since I will be dressing like an adult at the new job. Compared to everything else we've bought this week, the trouser socks seemed trivial.
So in total, I feel like this week we have now spent my entire year's salary before I even start this job! Ok, not really, but I am definitely feeling a little bit like a spendthrift right now. On the one hand, I'm very excited about the new job, and that we're finally getting around to these projects that we've talked about forever, but on the other, I feel like, omg how much money can we spend in one week! Plus, we still have to buy the actual floor, paint the basement, and once the hubby moves down there, he's taking my office furniture for his new assistant as well as his own furniture, so we'll have to buy me new office furniture. And then of course, his old office will be calling out for us to do something with it, like turn it into a library!
You know what, though? If these are the kinds of problems I have, I should live a long time with such problems. I am a very lucky woman. The hubby and I are both very lucky.
Final round interview in the morning. Went well. Was told I'd hear by Monday.
Drove directly to celebration lunch with my brother, who is now one of only a handful of high school graduates in our entire extended family! Given that we have approximately 50 cousins, this is both exciting and sad. This fall, he will be the second person in the family to go to college! (I'm the first) Again, both exciting and sad. As his graduation present, the hubby and I will be outfitting his dorm room with all the necessities like sheets, a laundry basket, and a case of Ramen noodles. He seemed very excited about that.
After lunch, we went to the mall down the street and I finally found shoes for the NY wedding! After looking for over one month and going to 9 stores and still not having shoes on the day before we were supposed to fly out, I was starting to worry!
Went home to pack and write thank you notes for the morning's interview.
Got a call that the hubby's cousin's husband died and the funeral was Monday. The cousin was very sick, so it wasn't completely a shock, but still, his wife and mother-in-law are pretty devastated.
NYC wedding, plus hanging out time with WisCon folks!
Dad flew in for the funeral from Minneapolis at the same time we did on Sunday and came home with us.
Got a call with a job offer first thing in the morning! Yayy! I have to be approved by the organization's Board before it's official, so no details until then.
Funeral and shiva. Not yayy.
Drove Dad to the airport.
Spent lots of time catching up with email, voicemail, and LJ and DW.
Went grocery shopping and then back to suburbs for shiva.
Finally feel caught up on sleep!
Back to regular life.
Last night of shiva.
Spent time in the garden! It's amazing what weeks of rain and heat will do for a
Made a delicious dinner from the garden.
Caught up with some television. Yayy for the DVR!
Currently suffering from insomnia. It's ok though, since it gives me time to write this post and listen to the rain.
And now, back to my regularly scheduled life...
In the process of catching up, I realize that a bunch of folks have switched to/are cross-posting between LJ and DW, so I am going to clean up my friends list so I don't have you down in both places.
Full report later, but the quick details:
My brother graduated from high school
The NYC wedding went well
I got a job offer
I am exhausted!
Why are All The Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?
Let's have a round–table discussion of this book by Beverly Daniel Tatum, Ph.D. First published in 1997, with additional material in 1999 and 2003, it still has a lot to say about racial identification and development of same. How does it speak to the discussions happening in WisCon and online, particularly about safer spaces and how to organize them?
M: LaShawn M. Wanak. Luke T. McGuff, Saira, Isabel Schechter
To be totally frank, I don’t remember much of the details of the panel because it was so emotional for me that I was too involved to be able to remember to take notes or separate myself in any way from what was going on, so if anyone has actual notes, please let me know.
I know that going into the panel, I was both confident and scared. I was confident that my co-panelists all took the topic seriously, had prepared appropriately, and were committed to the idea of creating safer space at WisCon. I was scared that there would be people in the audience who were opposed to the idea and that it might get ugly. I’m very glad that it didn’t get ugly, and instead turned out to be the highlight of the convention for me in that we made an impact and changed someone’s mind who had previously been opposed to a POC space at WisCon. The person whose mind we changed attended the panel and at the end, thanked us for sharing our personal stories and told us we made a difference.
WE MADE A DIFFERENCE.
THIS is what WisCon is about. Conversations, sharing, learning, understanding, growing. All of that and more.
I’m still high off this. I may stay high for a while.
So back to the panel, as I commented in someone else’s journal, overall, I think it was a great panel. I enjoyed learning more about my fellow panelists and how brave they are, each in his/her own way. We each talked about how important it is to have a POC space, and we shared our personal stories about why we needed that space. In Luke’s case, he spoke as an ally, and while I don't want it to sound like I'm giving Luke a cookie (and I didn't feel like he was looking for one), I think it was brave of him to admit the he has experienced being uncomfortable, is still experiencing that in certain ways, and is actively working on it (my paraphrasing). I think that sometimes we POC want White enlightenment / transformation to happen immediately, and we forget that we ourselves are a work in progress. Given that the majority of the convention membership is not POC, I think it's great to have someone who is White model good behavior, and not good as in he's such a good ally, look at him, but as in, this kind of thoughtful behavior is good. Saira mentioned how she hosts people in her home for different salons; it’s not that she doesn’t ever host White people, it’s that sometimes, she needs to host people who have a similar experience so that they can all share that. In response to a question asked by someone in the audience, I mentioned that I realized that the more out I was about being a fan, the more it lead me to be out about other parts of my life, even though I hadn’t thought I was ‘hiding’ them. And as for the ones I knew I was hiding, like my accent, I’ve stopped hiding, and now when I hear myself talk, it almost sounds like I’m faking an accent because for so many years I didn’t sound like that (except when I was agitated or drunk and my control slipped). I also mentioned how intersectionality plays a part in the need for a POC space. For example, even at a feminst sf convention, it’s still difficult to explain some issues to a woman who shares my same gender, but not the same cultural background or expectations I have/had.
I’m sure there was lots more said, but I was too highstrung at the time to be clear-headed, and now I’m just high.
WE MADE A DIFFERENCE.
I look forward to the POC space next year.
There's a registration discount of $100 if you register by June 15, so if I go, I would like to register in time to get the discount. There's also discounts for groups of 3 or more.