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Did you know that olives, picked fresh from the tree, green or ripe, are so bitter as to be inedible? That they take processing, curing, work to turn into little ovoids of addictively tasty goodness?

I know, you’re thinking “What does that have to do with Westercon?”

We’ve had a lot of recent Westercons that have been, as it were, picked fresh from the tree.

We have green Westercons that haven’t engaged in the retail politics of bidding. Getting out there, sitting fan tables, throwing parties, engaging the site selection electorate, building support with online fan communities, driving site selection participation. This takes time, money and a lot of work. But it’s work that has to be done.

We have ripe Westercons, seated committees, that haven’t differentiated Westercon from their local conventions. They haven’t built a program that showcases the richness of both the local F&SF community and the regional diversity of western F&SF. They haven’t promoted regionally, showing fans why it’s worth traveling to the convention. They haven’t shown local con-goers why it’s worth registering for and coming to another convention, one that’s not the convention they go to every year. They haven’t reached out to local fans who don’t already know about conventions.

That’s the double-whammy. What if you threw a Westercon and nobody came?

Programming and pros bring new fans to the convention, and it’s the fans that make the convention.

If we don’t have the costumers, the filkers, the party hosts, the fanzinistas, the engaged fans attending panels and events, it doesn’t matter how good the scheduled on-site events are. Masquerades with no entries stink. Filk circles that are filk triangles just aren’t fun. Night life that only consists of spending time in the bar gets tired and expensive. Panels with more people at the table than in the audience are sad. It’s going to be a dull, bitter Westercon, and the fanwriters aren’t going to have fun until it comes time to savage it in their next ‘zines.

All we have left then is the summer SMOFcon, and while it’s fun to spend time with the folks who are too busy working at other conventions, that’s not enough of a reason for Westercon to continue.

Let’s be honest here. The Granzella’s Inn in Olive Country bid is not going to file with the business meeting. We do not have a hotel contract. Our location is an hour from the nearest airport in Sacramento. But we still think we’re the #1 bid for Westercon 2013.

So ask yourself:

Who do you vote for?

Do you vote for a bid that stirs up excitement? Do you vote for a bid that engages the fans? Do you vote for a bid that questions what Westercon really is, what Westercon should be? Do you vote for an ineligible bid and perhaps make the Westercon business meeting take action?

Or do you vote a bid picked fresh from the tree #1 on your ballot?


( 9 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 27th, 2011 01:12 am (UTC)
IMO, you could substitute "Worldcon" for "Westercon" for much of your manifesto and be just as accurate.
Jun. 27th, 2011 01:34 am (UTC)
I don't think you can compare at 5000-person convention to a 500-person convention that way. While Worldcon is no 100K ComicCon or 40K Dragon*Con, it's still a horrendous nightmare of a monstrously huge convention to some folks. But I also get the feeling that even if Worldcon grew to 10K people (about the limit to what our current management structures can handle), it still wouldn't be enough for people who are convinced that if there aren't at least 100,000 people attending and more than three miles of aisles in the Dealers Room, it's not a "real" convention.
Jun. 27th, 2011 04:18 am (UTC)
I was not referring to the convention itself, I was referring to the advertising and promotion (or rather, the lack thereof) done by the committees. The majority of recent Worldcons seem to have focused their attention on having a presence at Worldcon, but have seriously failed to get the word out at the various local and regional conventions all over the country (not just near the Worldcon) and I know one in particular did not do any advertising to their own local fannish community at all.

If Worldcon committees don't actively work to change this trend, Worldcon is going to eventually have many of the same problems that Westercon is currently having.

Similar to a canary in a coal mine, Westercon's ill health and downward spiral are a warning for where Worldcon could be headed if changes are not made.
Jun. 27th, 2011 03:45 am (UTC)
Many Worldcon bids and committees fail the same way that many Westercon bids and committees do, there's no denying that.

I don't think Worldcon is in the same sort of trouble that Westercon is. There are a lot of unopposed bids, but most of the bids have a relatively strong presence.
Jun. 27th, 2011 04:01 am (UTC)
In my experience, the amount of presence of recent bids (and seated conventions) has been hit or miss. It takes more then having a presence at Worldcon, and that seems to be the main focus of most of the recent bids and seated cons.
Jun. 28th, 2011 12:34 am (UTC)
Reno, Chicago, Texas and London had fan table space at Baycon this year. Where I think everyone is falling down (Reno less-so, because I can see inside of Reno) is promoting to people who aren't already established con-goers.
Jun. 27th, 2011 03:44 am (UTC)
Very good thoughts!

Westercon does seem to need to figure out what it wants to be.

You can have a bloody good time at a 500 (or 200, or 90) person convention. It just has to realize that's what it is and plan for that. And imho, a western regional small con would be a cool idea.
Jun. 27th, 2011 03:55 am (UTC)
"What if you threw a Westercon and nobody came?" That's essentially been done. More than once. Been there, have the t-shirt.
Jun. 27th, 2011 04:07 am (UTC)
It's a rhetorical question. I was at one of the Westercons nobody came to. I've also been to a few that felt tiny even though they weren't.
( 9 comments — Leave a comment )