Norwescon is a literary-focused generalist science fiction and fantasy convention based in the Seattle area. Much more information is on the con’s website, of course, but in brief:
Norwescon is the Pacific Northwest’s Premier Science Fiction and Fantasy Convention and one of the largest regional Science Fiction and Fantasy conventions in the United States. While maintaining a primarily literary focus, Norwescon is large enough to provide a venue for many of the other aspects of Science Fiction and Fantasy and the interests of its fans such as anime, costuming, art, gaming, and much, much more.
Norwescon is a non-profit, all-volunteer organization, and I’ve been volunteering with the convention since 2010.
Attending: NWC29–30, 32
The first year I attended was Norwescon 29, in 2006. I’d heard about the con here and there, mostly from friends in the SeaGoth community, but this was the first year I decided to check it out. I attended Friday and Saturday, took a lot of photos, and was determined to come back.
After Norwescon 32, though, a couple funny things happened. First, early in 2009, I got a note from Norwescon’s webmaster asking if they could use some of my photos for the website — which, of course, I happily granted. Also, as a side project around that time, I’d started unofficial Norwescon Twitter and Flickr accounts, and that summer I got a polite request to turn ownership of those over to the Norwescon webmaster so they’d have official control, which I also granted. In that same message, however, was a note that they didn’t actually have an on-staff photographer to manage that Flickr account, and since I was obviously interested in the con and photography, might I be interested in volunteering?
And that led to…
Lead Photographer: NWC33-41
For eight years, I was the lead photographer. When I started, there hadn’t been a formal photography department or position for some time, so I was able to build it all up from scratch. This definitely meant there were some learning curves for me — for instance, I did the first year entirely on my own, and I do not recommend trying to cover all of a four-day convention as a solo endeavor — but on the whole, I’ve been quite happy with how these years have turned out. By the time I stepped down, each year I managed a team of three to five assistant photographers, ensuring as comprehenive coverage of the conventon as possible.
The formal collections for those years are all on Flickr. As many of those albums will also include photos from the assistant photographers that were part of my team, here are direct links to my photos: NWC33, NWC34, NWC35, NWC36, NWC37, NWC38, NWC39, NWC40, and NWC41.
Social Media: NWC34-present
Since I’d already been handling some social media work for Norwescon on an unofficial basis before they asked for formal control over the accounts, it wasn’t long before the webmaster asked if I’d be willing to assist in handling social media for the convention. I said sure, assisted until the webmaster left, at which point I formally assumed oversight of all social media. I wrote posts, adapted content sent to me, posted content on both automated and ad-hoc schedules, replied to questions and comments, and managed directly or with assistants the con’s various social media accounts (primarily our Facebook page and group, but also and to varying degrees over the years incorporating Google+ (now defunct), Instagram, Mastodon, Pinterest, Twitter, and Tumblr).
Since I already had a solid WordPress background, and the photography and social media conversations already had me well in contact with the webmaster, I started assisting with managing the website in early 2011 in the run-up to NWC34, and then formally took over as webmaster in the spring of 2011 as we closed out NWC34 and started looking towards NWC35. Since that point, I’ve been the convention’s webmaster, responsible for all aspects of the convention website including back-end management (WordPress for the primary website, Omeka for the historical archives), design, and creating any content beyond that provided by the various internal departments.
Safe Committee: NWC36
In the early 2010s, the wider SF convention community was in the midst of grappling with recognizing that it hadn’t always been as inclusive a space as many of it’s adherents liked to believe. While Norwescon hadn’t had to contend with a major incident, the Executive Team at the time decided it was time to investigate creating a more formalized anti-harassment policy. To that end, a Safe Committee was formed with the directive to discuss whether a formal policy was needed, and if so, to draft a policy for potential formal adoption, and I volunteered to be part of this committee. We met through the end of 2012, held a panel during Norwescon 36 to directly involve our attending members, and continued our work into the summer of 2013. We presented a proposed policy to the Executive Team, and after a few tweaks, Norwescon’s Anti-Harassment Policy was announced in the fall of 2013, well before Norwescon 37. I’m quite proud of the work our committee did to ensure our members’ safety and comfort was formally codified as part of our convention culture.
DJ: NWC36-present, non-consecutively
I’m one of the many, many people in the Seattle area who “used to be a DJ“, and every so often, I relive my glory days by spinning at Norwescon. So far, I’ve appeared at NWC36, NWC39, online during our pandemic hiatus, and NWC45, and I’ll be back for Thursday night of Norwescon 46 in 2024!
Executive Team Secretary: NWC42-NWC44
After several years of juggling three positions, I had decided that it was time for me to start thinking about turning them over to other volunteers. I’d been in those positions for quite a while, and it’s good to get new people with new ideas in to avoid things getting stagnant — plus, I didn’t want to keep doing them all for so long that I risked burnout. I had also been interested in getting more involved with the convention’s Executive Team (analagous to a Board of Directors), and as it so happened, there was an opening for the Secretary position for NWC42. As Secretary, I oversaw Exec Team documentation, including meeting agendas and minutes, organizational charts and contact information, bylaws, policies and procedures, and managed a small team that assisted with notetaking and handled management of the convention’s Google Apps Suite. After four years (which covered the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is why my tenure only covered three conventions) I stepped down to focus on the Philip K. Dick Award ceremony.
(Somewhat amusingly, while I was able to pass photography on to someone else, we never did find other volunteers to take over social media or the website, so I still ended up juggling multiple positions through my time as Secretary and beyond….)
Philip K. Dick Award Ceremony Coordinator: NWC45-present
The Philip K. Dick Awards quickly became one of my favorite parts of Norwescon. Since 2014, every year I read all of the nominees before the award ceremony at the convention. I had started discussions about taking over from the prior coordinator during the convention’s pandemic shutdown, and after spending a year shadowing him as I finished my final year as Secretary, as of NWC45 I stepped up into the ceremony coordinator position.
Lifetime Member Award: NWC45
Norwescon will occasionally, at the discretion of the current Chair, award a Lifetime Member award to a staff member who has contributed significantly to the convention over their years of volunteering. During the Wednesday evening volunteer pizza party for NWC45, I was quite pleasantly surprised with being one of two recipients of this award. I’m now automatically registered for every future Norwescon, get to be part of the annual Lifetime Members dinner, and — as many people good-naturedly reminded me — am never getting away. It’s an honor I’m quite happy to have received.