We Are All Bears

Hei.  This is Major Ursa.  Yesterday, I was visiting my friend, Anna, who is a Finnish Brown Bear, (the national animal of Finland).  After a welcoming bear hug, we both sat down to tea.  She is an amazing cook so I was really looking forward to the meal.

However, I did not get a chance to enjoy the tea and fish crumpets before Anna burst into tears.  She said that she had heard from other friends of ours that people were saying that Worldcon 75 was excluding other fans.  No wonder she was so upset!  Eventually I got her to calm down by telling her about all ways that Worldcon 75 was inclusive of others and all the things that the convention was doing to help people attend who might otherwise not be able to.

Still, the thought of being considered exclusive haunted me!  As I got home I decided that I needed to write something about it in my blog and tell others more about how Worldcon 75 operates when it comes to including people.

Making Worldcon 75 more affordable to all fans

We at Worldcon 75 believe that all fans are equally important.  We  want everyone to be able to attend the convention and to be a part of this wonderful community.  Be they of any cultural background, any age, any gender,with any disability, with any outlook on life, tall, short, triangle-shaped, anything!

To achieve this, the first thing that Worldcon 75 did was to donate free memberships and hotel rooms to “Con or Bust” which is an American nonprofit that helps fans of color attend SF and fantasy conventions world wide.  We are aware that much of fandom is predominantly white.  There are many reasons for this all of which we can not solve easily.  What we can do, is try to make Worldcon 75 more affordable and take one we would like to do as much as we can to make it easier for fans of color to attend, too.

There are still 5 memberships remaining, although all the hotel rooms are now taken.  There is a link on our membership page to “Con or Bust” and information can be found on their own website as well: http://www.con-or-bust.org.

In addition, we offer a variety of low cost memberships to make the convention more affordable to those who otherwise might not  be able to attend due to the costs involved.  This includes a first time attendee Worldcon 75 membership, as well as a youth(16-25 years old) membership.  Both of these are about two-thirds of the cost of a full adult attending membership.

We also have family memberships which are for families or households and have no age restrictions.  Here we wish to be as inclusive as possible, as well: we recognize all types of families, not just “traditional” ones and they are all eligible to get a family membership ie up to a 15% discount on all memberships.  (More information is available in the FAQ section of our webpage.  For specific information on family memberships, please email familymembership@worldcon.fi)

The Holiday Inn attached to Messukeskus, where our convention takes place, has been reserved specifically for people who have access or reduced mobility needs (and their roommates).  These rooms will be allocated by our access team in April.  Therefore, members who don’t need these types of rooms will not be able to book rooms in this hotel.  If someone with mobility issues wishes to rent a room elsewhere,  the access team will be able to assist them in finding suitable accommodation in other hotels.

The convention will also rent wheelchairs(manual and electric) and mobies/scooters to members for use during the convention, at reasonable prices.  There are several ways to get in touch with the access team.  These are  memberservices@worldcon.fi and accessibility@worldcon.fi .  There is also additional information on the Hotel page at our website.  More information on Helsinki itself, our venue, and guidelines about access is in our Accessibility Statement at our website.

We also have a Code of Conduct posted on our webpage at http://www.worldcon.fi .   It operates around the idea of consent and asking others first whether they are comfortable or not with your actions and words.  It also lists general expectations of behavior regarding issues such as offensive speech, bullying, sexual harassment, etc. that are forbidden.  It also outlines the policy on what to do if you feel someone has offended you and refuses to change their behavior at your request.  In that way everyone can feel comfortable and have a good time whether they are polar bear, brown bear, human or other.

I am happy that I got a chance to write about this!  Even though I was uncomfortable thinking that someone might think us exclusive, that thought made me think about what Worldcon 75 was doing to be more open to all those who would like to attend and talking about this might make others see the possibilities.  I am thankful for Anna for bringing this to my attention especially since she was so upset about the issue.  Just both being able to talk to Anna about it and sharing it with my friends who read my blog has made me feel better, too. Kiitos for reading!  Until next time.

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