What’s Next For Cons 2: The House Con

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

In my last post on the future of cons, looking at “micro-con” replacements for small cons when areas can’t support them, Serdar mentioned a house party he’d hosted, as well as the way some bands had done basement numbers.  This let me flesh out an idea.

The House Con.

Imagine that, for a day, someone with a reasonably sized house makes it a mini-convention.  It’s open visitation (to invited guests) and the house is open for a set amount of hours, so people aren’t there all at once.  Then, you replicate a con in microcosm.

Of course you’d have a schedule, important so people know when to come, what to bring, and to let you use your rooms.  Events could be like . . .

Media Room – One room can be constantly running shows and programs, probably on a schedule.  It’s basically the video room, with one thing at a time.

Game Room – Set up a TV or two with some game consoles and go to town.  Several friends of mine do gaming meetups this way, so why not make it part of a larger event.

Con Suite – Set aside a room or the backyard for a place to hang out and socialize.  Let people connect and enjoy company.  This would probably be the kitchen or dining room so you can have food.

Cosplay – If you got a basement or backyard or want to shut down an event space for an hour, do some cosplay!  Why not?  Make it a bit of a costume party.

Art Show – People can of course put their art up.  OR you could get images of their art, put them into a rotating loop on a display program like Windows Photos and set up a laptop connected to a TV.

Panels – Why not have a few people speak on skills or do demonstrations or just have a discussion time?

Dealer’s Room – Friends selling stuff might bring a few things to deal in, or you could just have a giveaway or exchange table.

Library – Have a place with reading materials.  You could also take donations to create a Little Free Library for the con or with what’s brought in.

Sure its a house party taken in a geekier direction.  But why not give it a try?  Maybe you and your friends could even have one a month, rotating through different houses, ans getting that small con feel in microcosm.

– Steve

Civic Diary 4/9/2016 – Community

(This column is posted at www.StevenSavage.com and Steve’s Tumblr)

So my latest Civic Diary is on community.

As I document my experiments in being a better citizen (which I haven’t exactly defined, but we’ll learn along), I wanted to share my latest finding on community.

My local writer’s group needed me to take over a writing event as the person running it at the time had a change of schedule and wouldn’t be doing so for quite some time.  I took over out of a desire to help out – it’s a good group that focuses on getting together and writing.

At that point I suddenly thought about my other activities in communities.  Helping at a museum.  My video gaming group.  Movie nights for another club.  All those little things (remember when I mentioned the power of weak links?) that create alliances and bonds.  I saw how important they were.

All these little bits of community involvement are important as community is important.  Community ties us together, community helps us connect, community builds something bigger than us.  If you want to be civicly engaged, building some community, virtually any kind, is important – and lets you use other interests to do good.

Some community seem trivial?  That Steven Universe fan group could also let people network to find jobs.  Your anime club can do charities.  Your doll collector group might be a place where you can offer your skills in accounting to someone with tax questions.  Multiply those opportunities over a lifetime and you can see how important community -any community – is to being a citizen.

Obviously, I think we need to consciously think what kind of community we should build. I will doubtlessly go on about that more in the future.

A few more thoughts on community building:

  • * Real community is built by real people – be it face to face or with your real name, yu need to connect as human beings.
  • * Functional community is integrative, not divisive.  A community ma address a problem, but it does so with a larger purpose of bringing people together.
  • * Community should be connected to the “big picture” even if the big picture is “man we all have hard days, let’s have a movie club every Friday night.”  Insular communities have a way of being very non-civil.
  • * Community has some kind of identity. It needs to know what it is.

So there’s my thoughts.  What’s your community?

– Steve

Activities For The Civic Geek: Teaching And Workshops

Chances are any geek has a pretty valuable skillset others would like to learn from or use – so why not get educational and teach people.

If you’re a geek you’re enthused about something, and quite likely you do something with it.  From fanfic to coding games, from cosplaying to running cons, from historical enthusiasms to your extensive film library you have developed quite a set of skills.

Of course you may also be good at stuff that may not seem particularly geeky that’s still valuable.  Your writing skills that forge both fanfic and video game reviews may also be useful for your technical writing career.  You might be well organized which is why you run your club and game clan.  Maybe you just have skills you share in a geeky setting (such as the way I talk job skills in geekdom).

You and your crew are smart and skilled in things both geeky and not. Start sharing it.

  • Teach geeky skills to people who don’t have them – how many folks would like to be a bit better at computers, use your cosplay knowledge to sew better, or enjoy learning about Japanese cooking (that you learned due to your love of anime).
  • Teach geeky skills to your fellow geeks.  I mean, we all have to start somewhere.
  • Teach skills that your fellow geeks need.  Sure there’s many budding authors and artists, but your work in PR could be what they need to know how to sell themselves.

You also have plenty of venues to do this in:

  • You could take your skills to any community center, school, or what have you.  This is great for all those geek skills others may need.
  • You can hold events at conventions or other geek events.  They’re always looking for panels and features.
  • You can do workshops and get people hands-on.  After all hands-on is one of the best ways to learn.

Best of all when you do these things, alone or as part of a team, you learn how to teach and instruct.  As you do more of it, you get better at it.  This can open up new options in lives and careers, just be useful overall – or be something you eventually do panels and training on for others . . .

  • Steve