Orion and I spent the weekend in a hotel room. We were there as volunteers to keep things tidy, put out food, answer questions and talk to folks. Actually we didn’t even stay at the hotel, just spend long hours hosting the hospitality suite – the actual con suite -for Paganicon.
Our local Pagan Pride event has been going on for years in the Twin Cities (Paganistan) area. They’ve held events that were like weekend psychic fairs or community meet and greets. They’ve had Big rituals and small workshops.
A couple of years ago it became clear that Pagan Pride needed to serve two purposes. First to be “out loud and proud” in the larger community. That’s kind of tough when your event is holed up in an odd community building off the beaten path. The second purpose was to provide an opportunity for those who’ve been long time members of the community to network and expand their own knowledge base. To become an event that went beyond 101.
In 2009 Pagan Pride started doing a fall event with vendors, music and public rituals in an outdoor setting. Pride at Minnehaha Falls is an event that the general public can see and participate (or not) along with the existing and exploring Pagan community. It’s a great idea and a pleasant historical venue. The “meeting place of waters” is appropriate for expanding awareness and acceptance.
In 2010 Pagan Pride held its first Paganicon. A hotel based convention loosely modeled on Pantheacon. This is still a small convention but it has good buzz. I haven’t gone in years past because of scheduling and money issues but I’ve certainly heard about it from the community at large. The convention/fair model seems like an excellent expansion of Pagan Pride for this community.
I don’t know if I would have made it to the convention this year either. Money is tight since I came back from California. Orion is not too keen on sitting through the workshops I’m interested in, and he’s not quite independent enough to manage a convention on his own. We come as a pair most of the time and for a weekend long event I certainly couldn’t afford to get away. At the last minute the Pagan Pride committee discovered their regular “Suite Goddess” was swamped at work and were scrambling for someone to take her place. It sounded like the perfect solution to my predicament so I signed us up.
Someone asked me how I managed to deal with “missing” all the workshops and stuff. Essentially ‘why would you do so much work when you don’t even get to go to the convention?’ My feeling was pretty much that the convention came to us. Sometime during the weekend almost everyone attending made their way through the hospitality suite for a cup of coffee, or a snack or to sit for a minute and chat.
It’s not like we were all alone. The roving volunteer crew – the “Flying Monkey Squad” – were available if we needed help lifting heavy things (like coffee urns). Often they sat “on call” in our suite knowing that when they were needed this was where people would look. If nothing else they swung by to get those fabulous capes to wear during their shift.
There were several times during the weekend when we were “standing room only.” People would come in crowds talking about the workshop they’d just attended. Or they’d sit for a minute before the vendor room or the ball opened up. I did manage to stick my head into the vendor room (and immediately left lest I be tempted.) I also got to wander through the art exhibition which was a new and delightful addition to this year’s convention.
Yet another opportunity for me to explore community and my relationship to it. Again I got to meet new people and visit with old friends. It was nice to have an opportunity to be of service to something I support and still reap the benefits of the social support of community. I’m pretty sure Orion had a great time too. Win/Win.