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How a convention should be run

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Nine Worlds convention, how to set up a good one Nine Worlds: very real hope for the future of geekdom and inclusivity.

Geek conventions have a bad reputation for being a generally white straight male dominated field – but Nine Worlds is something entirely different.

It was my pleasure and privilege to attend the convention last weekend, from 8-10 August, and what I saw gave me very real hope for the future of geekdom and inclusivity.

Not only were there tracks for Geek Feminism, LGBTQAI Fandom, and Race and Culture, exploring how these things relate to our various nerdy pursuits, but minorities of all kinds were very clearly welcomed.

At registration, you could pick up a badge to signal whether you wanted to be social or not – a great help for those with social anxiety disorder, or other conditions that could make talking to strangers difficult.

Similarly, there was a quiet space where people could take a break if the buzz of the convention became too much.

You could write your own name on the badge – helpful if you were transitioning or had a preferred name – and gender neutral toilets were available.

There were priority seats at each talk, as well as accessibility information about the hotel and surrounding businesses on the website and in the booklets.

There were lifts in the hotel to each floor where talks were being held, as well as carers being given free tickets and assistance animals welcomed.

Young children were welcomed everywhere; there were special sessions running for under-12s, a kid’s area, and an ad hoc child minding service.

What I especially noticed was that in the accessibility information, it was mentioned that “parents are welcome to breastfeed anywhere at the convention”.

Not only was this statement welcoming to those who wish to breastfeed, but it was also gender neutral.

I was especially glad to see in the anti-harassment policy an acknowledgement of the racism that lingers in some of the most outwardly liberal of spaces – and that it was explicitly ‘not tolerated’.

However, there were still not many ethnic minorities around.

I didn’t see more than a few dozen out of hundreds of people, including myself; but I imagine this number will rise substantially in the future as the inclusive nature of Nine Worlds becomes well known, and it continues to grow in size.

All in all, job well done to the organisers – I’ll definitely be attending next year.

Nine Worlds is a shining example that inclusivity isn’t hard, isn’t “political correctness gone mad” (though this is a phrase generally said by bigots), and that it doesn’t get in the way of having an amazing convention about all the things we get passionate about.

Highly recommended to anyone who is put off by the stereotypical view of what a convention is like – and to fans of geek culture in general!

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