Granzella

This year I was expecting a decent Westercon, nothing massive certainly, but a step up from the “relaxacon” experience of past years in Pasadena and Las Vegas, where attendance was fairly low, at least partly due to the locations.

As it turned out, the convention was much more exciting than anyone expected. If you follow fannish politics at all, you probably already know the details, so I shan’t go into too much detail but the relatively short version is as follows:

Westercon, like Worldcon, is a convention which takes place in a different city each year. In order to decide which city will host it, different groups will “bid” for the privilege, usually throwing parties, setting up tables and otherwise promoting the virtues of their committee, location and so on at other conventions in the Westercon region. Voting takes place two years out, so this year in San Jose, we were choosing where to have the 2013 Westercon.

A month before the convention, Portland was running unopposed, which seemed fine until people started actually looking at their bid and finding a lack of solid information and disturbing absence from many of the usual promotional activities. In order to motivate Portland into a better showing, and because it would be fun, Kevin Roche and Andy Trembley created a hoax bid for Granzella, a location in Northern California unsuited to actually host a convention but thematically amusing.

Unfortunately, the Portland committee did not step up to the task and made a very poor showing at the so-called Fannish Inquisition, a morning panel in which the upcoming seated conventions and bids answer audience questions.

Although the 2012 Seattle Westercon and 2014 Utah bid, plus the Granzella and Route 66 2013 hoax bids, were at the meeting, the primary reason most people where there was to see Portland, which was expected to finally get the chance to show their mettle and assuage the growing concerns of potential voters.

Despite the warning signs, I honestly went to the morning meeting with every expectation that Portland would be fine, clueless about online marketing and a little tone deaf, but essentially sound. However, within a couple of minutes of them answering, or failing to answer questions, I was quite of another mind. The committee seemed vague at best on most issues and had no answers for questions and concerns that had been explicitly stated in the weeks running up to the convention. Absolute gimme answers that would have taken 15 minutes to hash out. As the meeting progressed, they also became defensive, at one point saying: “Well, if you don’t want to vote for Portland, then don’t.” So, I didn’t.

When the vote closed that evening, the totals were close, but Granzella won by a single vote, 42-41. Due to their status as an ineligible bid, the rules for Westercon meant that the thing would have to be settled in the Business Meeting taking place the next morning. Once things go to the meeting it doesn’t matter who was bidding previously, anyone can present a bid. Location is also no longer an issue, since the point is to select a committee that is willing and able to run the event.

At this point, the Portland committee was there to try one more time to convince the voters they were competent to run Westercon should they win. Kevin and Andy, having discussed this potential eventuality on and off during the hoax process, had sat down after the vote and considered whether they really, truly could and should try make it happen. The answer was in the affirmative and so they presented themselves as a serious bid with the intention of holding the convention somewhere in “Olive Country” (a reference to the original Granzella hoax location, but probably Sacramento). In addition, the 2014 bid for Utah offered to move their event up by a year should no other bid gain the confidence of the voters. Lastly, a new group of mainly local SMOFs put forth a bid for Hawaii.

The meeting ran for three hours, with a lot of discussion and questions, and a minority but insistent push to declare a deadlock and send the decision to LASFS (who owns the Westercon trademark but is rumored to be disinterested in involving themselves in it, and possibly desirous of simply canceling the thing entirely). Disappointingly, the Portland committee had nothing new to say and stuck to repeating their previous unconvincing arguments and being defensive. Utah said straight up that they would rather have 2014 and Hawaii seemed to lose people when they admitted they had no plan, and little interest, of attempting to grow attendance. Olive Country did well in the first vote, far better than anyone else, but not quite the 3/4 majority necessary to win outright. The discussion continued and Kevin and Andy presented some key committee members, conjured up overnight, and demonstrated their serious intentions despite the origins of the bid. And aside from one rather rude member and some questionable phrasing from some Portland supporters, the proceedings where generally civilized.

The hero of the hour(s) though was indubitably Kevin Standlee who ran the meeting like a champ, making sure the rules were followed, everyone got heard and most importantly that the process was transparent throughout; explaining as each step went along so that those of us not familiar with the rules were clear on what was happening.

At long last a second vote was taken and this time Olive Country won by a solid margin. The room erupted in applause and we emerged squinting into the daylight like Logan 5. Solid plans for 2013 will have to wait until after this year’s Worldcon since Kevin and Andy are busy running the Masquerade there. But there is a website up at www.westercon66.org where you can find information of the current status and links to the Facebook and Twitter accounts.

The plan is for Sacramento as the host city, and all of those who voted and encouraged the bid once things got serious will be stepping up to staff, volunteer and otherwise support the convention, so I hope to see you all there. Because, like the committee for Olive Country, I believe Westercon should be awesome.

This year I was expecting a decent Westercon, nothing massive certainly, but a step up from the “relaxacon” experience of past years in Pasadena and Las Vegas, where attendance was fairly low, at least partly due to the locations.

As it turned out, the convention was much more exciting than anyone expected. If you follow fannish politics at all, you probably already know the details, so I shan’t go into too much detail but the relatively short version is as follows:

Westercon, like Worldcon, is a convention which takes place in a different city each year. In order to decide which city will host it, different groups will “bid” for the privilege, usually throwing parties, setting up tables and otherwise promoting the virtues of their committee, location and so on at other conventions in the Westercon region. Voting takes place two years out, so this year in San Jose, we were choosing where to have the 2013 Westercon.

A month before the convention, Portland was running unopposed, which seemed fine until people started actually looking at their bid and finding a lack of solid information and disturbing absence from many of the usual promotional activities. In order to motivate Portland into a better showing, and because it would be fun, Kevin Roche and Andy Trembley created a hoax bid for Granzella, a location in Northern California unsuited to actually host a convention but thematically amusing.

 

Unfortunately, the Portland committee did not step up to the task and made a very poor showing at the so-called Fannish Inquisition, a morning panel in which the upcoming seated conventions and bids answer audience questions.

 

Although the 2012 Seattle Westercon and 2014 Utah bid, plus the Granzella and Route 66 2013 hoax bids, were at the meeting, the primary reason most people where there was to see Portland, which was expected to finally get the chance to show their mettle and assuage the growing concerns of potential voters.

Despite the warning signs, I honestly went to the morning meeting with every expectation that Portland would be fine, clueless about online marketing and a little tone deaf, but essentially sound. However, within a couple of minutes of them answering, or failing to answer questions, I was quite of another mind. The committee seemed vague at best on most issues and had no answers for questions and concerns that had been explicitly stated in the weeks running up to the convention. Absolute gimme answers that would have taken 15 minutes to hash out. As the meeting progressed, they also became defensive, at one point saying: “Well, if you don’t want to vote for Portland, then don’t.” So, I didn’t.

When the vote closed that evening, the totals were close, but Granzella won by a single vote, 42-41. Due to their status as an ineligible bid, the rules for Westercon meant that the thing would have to be settled in the Business Meeting taking place the next morning. Once things go to the meeting it doesn’t matter who was bidding previously, anyone can present a bid. Location is also no longer an issue, since the point is to select a committee that is willing and able to run the event.

At this point, the Portland committee was there to try one more time to convince the voters they were competent to run Westercon should they win. Kevin and Andy, having discussed this potential eventuality on and off during the hoax process, had sat down after the vote and considered whether they really, truly could and should try make it happen. The answer was in the affirmative and so they presented themselves as a serious bid with the intention of holding the convention somewhere in “Olive Country” (a reference to the original Granzella hoax location, but probably Sacramento). In addition, the 2014 bid for Utah offered to move their event up by a year should no other bid gain the confidence of the voters. Lastly, a new group of mainly local SMOFs put forth a bid for Hawaii.

The meeting ran for three hours, with a lot of discussion and questions, and a minority but insistent push to declare a deadlock and send the decision to LASFS (who owns the Westercon trademark but is rumored to be disinterested in involving themselves in it, and possibly desirous of simply canceling the thing entirely). Disappointingly, the Portland committee had nothing new to say and stuck to repeating their previous unconvincing arguments and being defensive. Utah said straight up that they would rather have 2014 and Hawaii seemed to lose people when they admitted they had no plan, and little interest, of attempting to grow attendance. Olive Country did well in the first vote, far better than anyone else, but not quite the 3/4 majority necessary to win outright. The discussion continued and Kevin and Andy presented some key committee members, conjured up overnight, and demonstrated their serious intentions despite the origins of the bid. And aside from one rather rude member and some questionable phrasing from some Portland supporters, the proceedings where generally civilized.

The hero of the hour(s) though was indubitably Kevin Standlee who ran the meeting like a champ, making sure the rules were followed, everyone got heard and most importantly that the process was transparent throughout; explaining as each step went along so that those of us not familiar with the rules were clear on what was happening.

At long last a second vote was taken and this time Olive Country won by a solid margin. The room erupted in applause and we emerged squinting into the daylight like Logan 5. Solid plans for 2013 will have to wait until after this year’s Worldcon since Kevin and Andy are busy running the Masquerade there. But there is a website up at www.westercon66.org where you can find information of the current status and links to the Facebook and Twitter accounts.

The plan is for Sacramento as the host city, and all of those who voted and encouraged the bid once things got serious will be stepping up to staff, volunteer and otherwise support the convention, so I hope to see you all there. Because, like the committee for Olive Country, I believe Westercon should be awesome.

~España Sheriff

SF/SF Issue #119, July 27, 2011