From the inside it’s hard for me to typify what my role is at PantheaCon because while pieces of it undoubtedly show my influence there are whole bits of it that existed long before I was there and have shaped the event that exists. I can’t tell if people are over-estimating or under-estimating my influence and that includes myself.
When I joined in 2007 it was because someone I knew was on staff and there was an opening in Operations. I worked a single year there and then moved to Auction to Programming. I’ve staffed at cons since the mid-1980s so it’s not like I was new to them but PantheaCon is a bit of a different beast. Programming was a good fit overall, even if we were terribly understaffed that year. It led to actually helping outside of con proper aka the submission and building the program part of the process. Over the next couple of years I moved up in responsibility. People shifted in and out of the program team, both in the ‘off season’ and then ‘at con’. 2011 was a catalyst year for me personally around it. 2012 was proof it couldn’t be ignored. 2013 was a big push behind the scenes for change. 2014 and 2015 were more of the same in concert with an unnamed party. We wanted it to be different. We wanted PantheaCon to reflect a bigger slice of pagans than we’d seen on the program. That change was welcomed, both by the leadership as well as most of the attendees. I’m not saying it was easy (because it wasn’t) but I do think it was needed.
2016. Yes, I suggested the theme but the presenters responded. There were exactly three presentations that I suggested edits to the description on (and those were for clarity). The rest is all ya’ll. There were pronoun ribbons – paid for by a suite. There were gender neutral bathrooms – managed by the hotel. There is a growing number of diverse hospitality rooms. Anti-Discrimination statements. Accessibility stickers. And in every single case there been an outpouring of support for it. There has also been pushback. I hear the ‘where is $classicevent’. In some cases we didn’t put them on the schedule. In many more cases the group, for a variety of reasons didn’t offer it. It was a rough financial year for many and holding a big ritual is expensive – event supplies, hotel room, all the prep time. There is a lot of work involved in putting on an item at con.
At the end of con 2015 I promised one more year. That I would play it by ear because I knew that my now retired partner in crime was not going to be able to help this year except in very limited ways. Others stepped up. I’ve got even more offers to help for 2017. I am so proud of the work.
At the end of the day all I did was open the metaphorical doors, offered all of you a space and you did the work. Keep showing up. Keep doing the work. As you can see, it’s worth it, at least from where I sit.
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