The Power of Community: From the Ashes

We are back from Baltimore. It was not remotely the weekend we thought it would be, and that isn’t a bad thing. I wanted to make sure to take a minute to talk about the amazing power of community and what came out of the failure of one event to create another: Wicomicon.

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Like a phoenix from the ashes

When The Con That Shall Not Be Named fell apart, members of the community rallied around each other with amazing speed. Online, there was quickly an effort to support and promote all the artists and vendors who were left hurt financially from the cancellation, through sharing and retweeting of links and a virtual artist’s alley on tumblr.

And behind the scenes, something even more amazing was happening. In ONE WEEK, a group banded together and found a venue, and organized a one-day pop-up event for those (like us) who were still going to be in Baltimore.

That pop-up event was AWESOME. Not only was there space for vendors and artists, but there was a cosplay contest, panels, photos, celebrities, coffee and snacks. People came out of the woodwork and worked together to truly make this one day an EVENT and let it retain some of what we had all been promised in the failed one – community, inclusion, diversity.

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thank you! No, THank You!

As artists who were vending, we were perfectly willing to help with set up and tear down. When someone asked for help moving chairs, we all stopped what we were doing to help. Everyone was willing to pitch in. Organizers and volunteers were constantly checking on us all and thanking US for coming, to which we would respond with “No, no, thank YOU for pulling this together!”

It also felt like the attendees were all thanking us, and making effort to spend at least some money at as many tables as possible. All our fellow artists and vendors were also supporting each other, we all seemed to be throwing money at each other throughout the day.

Representation and community spaces matter

We saw adorable children in cosplay. Baby queers buying representation merch. Young POCs excited to have art and comics that showed people like them. We saw people forging friendships and relationships. The entire day was full of laughter, smiles, and the true definition of what community should be and feel like. I wonder, honestly, if the failed event could have succeeded so well had it happened.

I also want to give a shoutout to those who organized or attended various meet-ups the rest of the weekend – I know there were several opportunities for fans to convene together. We attended a lively queer meet up organized by Aqua (@intrstller) at the local BAMF! Cafe and had a great time. I know there were meal meet-ups, last-minute Infinity War viewings, and karaoke parties too.

These are just my thoughts and observations, I wanted to make sure I recorded things from the view of one of the vendors. Heidi McDonald has a longer post about the event here.

looking to the future

I really hope that this team puts on another event, even if they keep it to one day. They’ve proven themselves as capable and trustworthy, and it was an awesome event I know many of us would love to continue to support.

 

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