Behind the Scenes at #SkepchickCon
Warning: This post is full of pics and even more packed with awesome.
What really happens behind the scenes at SkepchickCon? Thanks to Hero Machine 3, I can finally reveal the true identities of the volunteers in a form that does some justice to how amazing they were (with permission to unmask them, of course).
Posting this today (finally) is just coincidence, but it’s a welcome coincidence to remind us that we are not defined by the assholes in our community. We–writers, readers, and especially volunteers–define what this community is and what it can be, and from where I’m sitting, we are pretty fucking amazing.
This was my first year organizing SkepchickCon, my first year organizing anything, really, aside from the occasional shower or party. I had no clue what I was doing, but Kammy Lyon, the previous organizer, Obi-Wanned me through it and threw kick-ass pre- and after parties for volunteers and panelists.
Melissa Lee and Niki M. are veteran volunteers, and they ran the party room like pros. Melissa took charge of organizing the volunteers
online and through texts with the power of her MIND. Niki was not only helping in the party room, but she tabled for Rebecca and Amy and videotaped panels with Don Scurlock that the main videographer, David McConnell, couldn’t do because of overlap. Don helped out with the heavy lifting as well when we were setting up the party room.
David and his kids took on a huge amount of work videotaping nearly every single panel in the SkepchickCon track as well as some of the sandboxes and Anne Sauer’s demonstration, not to mention some of the video editing and long uploads of files that might have crashed his computer if he weren’t part cyborg. (I mean, he has to be. He was recording almost nonstop for four days.)
Chris Pederson was a new volunteer this year, and she completely astounded me. She helped with everything, from heavy lifting to washing test tubes to putting up fliers. She thought to call before leaving home in case I needed anything, and now she’s given our permanent party room furniture a new home in her garage. And she’s been doing the lion’s share of video transcription. She is amazing.
Returning volunteer Megan Press is always a huge help in the party room, particularly covering the bar, as well as tabling for Rebecca and Amy when they had panels. She was joined by another new volunteer, Erica Mahlum, working long hours mixing it up for science.
Beth Newmaster not only helped out a ton in the party room but she drove me to get supplies mid-con when I couldn’t safely drive because I hadn’t really slept for days. This meant risking her sweet parking spot. We were amazed it was actually still there when we got back.
Mel Springer is a professional set designer for the Guthrie Theater, and he designs our party room every year as well as the Freethought Blogs party room, right next door. The hotel doesn’t even ask us to pay for the busted wall because they are too intimidated by his buzzsaw hand. (OK, we didn’t actual damage the room. But he totally has a buzzsaw hand.)
Corey Van Meekeren is another veteran volunteer, always there when we need him, especially to help with the lifting. Dan Berliner was new to the team but somehow managed to magically appear whenever I needed him, to help in the party room, putting up fliers, and tons of heavy lifting.
Ted Meissner, who also helps us out every year, was the picture of calm amid the chaos of the party room, along with new volunteers Steve Theiss and Mark Hinterthuer. All three guarded and carded at the entrance to the bar area, and Steve helped out with some of the Sandboxes.
Our volunteers weren’t alone in doing all the behind-the-scenes work. When I mentioned that we needed more help loading and unloading, Stephanie Zvan rallied the troops. She and Ben Zvan, Jason and Jodi Thibeault, Corey and Dan all met up with Mel at the magical warehouse of set pieces. (This is seriously the coolest warehouse ever.) Jason has also helped a ton with video editing and effects.
The Myers clan, led by Mary Myers, and other Freethought bloggers arrived the next day to help finish setting up the party rooms. Skatje Myers and Kyle Hughart served up delicious brains throughout the con, and Connlann Myers, Alaric Myers, and Vicki Anderson didn’t hesitate to help tear down the rooms and head out to unload at the warehouse after the con was over.
Many other Skepchick Network contributors and Freethought Bloggers pitched in:
Last but far from least, a special thanks to Anne Sauer. You all know about the demos she did in the party room, but you probably don’t realize that she helped out in a ton of ways throughout, with fundraising, setup, helping me keep my thoughts organized, and coming up with great ideas (like asking Amanda Marcotte to come back and DJ again after the first night’s impromptu, and very popular, performance).
Of course, all the panelists and special guests were also wonderful, and many of them helped a lot with making our programming the best it could be. This post is focused on volunteers who were on the ground doing the work that too often goes unrecognized. My gratitude is immeasurable.