Thursday, February 03, 2005

Cons and Volunteers

Spending this week cleaning for Imbolc and getting ready for PantheaCon (Feb. 18th - 21st).

I've attended this Con since it started and I've Vended there for ..what? almost 10 years now. I opened my store in 1996, and the Con started before that.

It's a fun Con, overall. As long as one avoids the Problem Children and some of the more pompous rituals, it's a good time.

The PantheaCon website finally has their program up. As usual, they are ill served by some of their web design team. The listings are ponderous and very difficult to read on-line. When you ask someone new to shill out $35 to attend an event, you need to show it's worth their while.

All the staff there had to do create a calendar box, with a link to detailed program descriptions - it would have been more readable across the board. I think that they were trying so hard to get a print ready page that they didn't take into account the needs of their website.

A good website design can do a great deal to enhance excitement about an event and create buzz" but these folks always miss the boat, here. It's a shame, really, becuase the Event Organizors work very hard to put on a good Con.

Alas, Pagans often choose anyone who puts their hand up first, instead of choosing the best people for the job. Of course, finding the good people unbelievable hard which is why so many overworked, busy organizers do too much - it's just easier to do it yourself sometimes.

I've been told more than once that a problem with this or that volunteer kept a particular group from doing better. Once someone has done a job for a while, they get to feel that it is their territory, and they often won't ask for help or allow fresh talent into the mix. I've seen this sort of thing happen with so many Pagan groups over a long time, and it's always sad, because it keeps them stuck in place. I've got a chapter in the book I'm writing (working title: "Herding Cats") on choosing, rating and working with volunteers, and there's a good reason for that. I wouldn't believe some of the stories I hear if I didn't know the people involved....

As Thalassa says, we are often too tolerant as a People. Being tolerant and accepting of others does not mean that we put up with laziness, cluelessness, dropping the ball, being late or bad behavior. I'm including a chapter on "Developing Standards" as well, so that Pagan folks will have a guideline to hand out to Chairs and Volunteers.

Two tricks to staging a successful event are a) choosing good people work with and b) training them well as to your needs and expectations.

As for choosing good people, I abide by this mantra: Enthusiasm and Good Intentions do not take the place of Competence and Hard Work.

In other words, I'd rather work with a professional, functional types than an eager well meaning "artiste" any day of the week. The issue here isn't creativity (most Pagan people are creative) it's follow-through.

In any case, I'm taking my usual table at PantheCon with Magpyre, which puts as at the center of all the action (and the gossip, too. Vendors are like theater people when it comes to juicy gossip).

I closed the store last Fall when my father died, so we are taking a single table this year and brining only collectibles and close out items. We decided to go because we like to support this Con and because it's a great way to see Pagan friends who come in from all over for this thing. It's often the one time some of us get to see each other and the Vendor room of often the best party going, so I'm glad that we're not going to miss it.

I recommended this Con to the New Witch and she is coming along with 3 friends from southern California. Good for her. She'll have fun.

I sent her Issac's latest article on Pagan types, so she'll know what to look for (and what to watch out for, as well).

No comments: