GenghisCon is a project that’s been dear to my heart since it’s inception in 2001. I’ve watched it grow and blossom from a fledging idea hatched in our lounge room into a full-grown, successful annual convention.

It’s fun to see what the changing committees come up with in terms of ideas for convention activities each year and how much the Genghis-community pitches in to help out.

With the 2o17 GenghisCon on the horizon, I’ve volunteered my services to be ‘Market Day Liaison’. This is really just a fancy (and short) title for trader-wrangler and organiser of fun stuff associated with the market day.

I want to make the market day to be a draw card and have some cunning plans in mind. I’m thinking that having some entertainment to entice people into the market area would be fun. Perhaps a few different items/events, each running just enough to be entertaining and draw the crowd in. We could have some roving minstrels, a fairy floss machine, random juggling, handouts of cookies (baked by moi and other lucky ‘volunteers’), a raffle… and whatever else I can come up with.

This will take a little while to plan, so I’m starting now to avoid the aargh-factor later on. What I’d REALLY like is to get some help from anyone with ideas / time (just some) / creative spirit / musical and/or juggling abilities. Help?

GCon Traders 2017

After years of debate and discussion, changes to the Western Australian Associations and Incorporation Act has just about completed its slow move through parliament. The Dept of Commerce anticipates that the Associations Incorporation Act 2015 will replace the current Associations Act as of 1 July 2016.

The changes to this piece of legislation will affect about 18,000 not-for-profits (NFPs) and incorporated associations operating in WA. These organisations range from the tiniest of social clubs (you need minimum of 6 members to be incorporated) all the way up to large ones, such as the RAC.

Since the last time the Act was changed was back in 1987, it’s not surprising that the Department of Communities has been hosting a number of information evenings for groups over the past few weeks. I opted for the session at the East Fremantle Yacht Club, since I thought that’d be the most convenient venue. What I – and the Department of Commerce (clearly) – did not take into account was parking.

News flash: the yacht club has minimal parking and the car park (such as it is) is at the bottom of a narrow little cul-de-sac. This resulted in epic traffic flow problems to augment the ultra-epic parking issues. Much aaargh all round; also a lot of people cruising around side streets trying to find plausible parking within walking distance.

I finally landed the last spot outside the East Fremantle Cricket Club and hotfooted it over to the venue, arriving out of breath but just in time. The presentation started almost as soon as I got there and took about an hour, including question time. In short, the changes relate largely to good governance and to protection – both for members of associations and for the public with whom they/it may conduct business. As far as the associations I’m involved with, the following points appear to be most significant:

  • there will be a requirement to introduce a dispute resolution process into the rules/constitution of every organisation
  • the Register of Members can now include email addresses instead of postal/physical addresses; the choice will be up to the individual members
  • the range of penalties for non-compliance have increased
  • there will be mandatory annual reporting requirements. Groups will be required to update the following information online on the Department website: change/confirmation of address, confirmation of at least 6 members, the date of the last AGM, and confirmation that the organisation is continuing to meet its financial obligations.

All in all it was definitely worth attending the session, despite the parking debacle – but it’s not a venue I’d frequent again willingly… unless someone was dropping me off. Walking back alone in the dark, past the (now empty) tennis club parking lot and along the deserted side streets, wasn’t an adventure I enjoyed – but at least it didn’t rain on me!

Whilst community association/groups will have three years in which to make relevant alternations, I’d urge anyone involved in at an organisational level to take the time to make themselves aware of the pending changes and to stay up to date with them. As first step, you could watch a video of the presentation online and download a copy of the PowerPoint slides  You can also access the Transition Pack, which covers most of the details of the changes and will be a handy reference tool.

Associations Transition Pack1 cover

Whilst I’m certainly not leaving the Genghisverse, this weekend I waved goodbye to the 2015/16 GenghisCon Committee.

GCon_logos 2002-2016Every committee has a very busy convention year, but we went a step further. Although our committee was quite small, we forged ahead and made a large number of (what we perceived as) necessary changes to our favourite Perth convention. Many of these changes were aimed at streamlining the planning stages for future conventions and/or breaking some habits. Some of those habits started out as good ideas, but had become inculcated as ‘traditions’  over time – despite waning popularity/feasibility.

Over the past 12 months we fundraised madly, selling chocolates and entertainment books, running two very successful sausage sizzles and hosting a quiz night and a games day. As a result we were able to drop the membership fee back to its original (2002) price – which was one of our main objectives.

We also prebooked the venue for the 2017 convention, booked dates for fundraiser sausage sizzles for the incoming committee, got the insurance sorted out, updated the constitution, invented a ‘dummies guide’ to running a convention and got paypal set up. We then ran a very successful (low cost) convention — and even fed everyone icy cold watermelon!

Capture the flag (aka water fights) at GenghisCon 2016

All in all, we achieved an awful lot and are confident that we’re leaving the new committee in a strong financial and strategic position. I’m sure that – once we recover – we’ll all feel a real sense of accomplishment. A big ‘well done!’ to all involved 🙂

Ginger Akers (the new GCon President) has a great team and I’m sure they’ll do an outstanding job in the year ahead. We’re all looking forward to the next convention with great an-tici-pation…

GCon 2017 promo with minions


I’m often met with puzzled looks when I mention that I’m involved with a group called GenghisCon. “What on earth is that?” or “Did you say Genghis Khan?” or “Say what?” are fairly standard responses. Despite the relative frequency with which I get those responses, I’m always slightly taken aback. After all, it’s been part of my milieu for about 16 years…

So what exactly is a GenghisCon and how did it start?

Essentially, it’s a low-cost, max-fun 3-day geek annual convention. GenghisCon provides a range of activities from table-top gaming/roleplaying/LARP/console gaming to panel discussions on technology/gaming/geek culture/science/etc., as well as hands-on creative workshops. There’s even a one-day marketplace with traders and stalls, selling a wide range of geek loot, books and handcrafted items. We sometimes have water-balloon and water-pistol fights (because we can), tend to eat junk food and have been known whack each other (gently) with foam rubber swords 🙂

It all started in 2001 with DaughterDearest. A science fiction enthusiast and, at that time, a member of MARS (the Murdoch Alternative Reality Society), she’d become increasingly indignant at the cost of the then one-and-only science fiction convention in Perth.

“It’s iniquitous!” she ranted. “How do they expect students to afford those prices? And it’s not like it’s even fun anymore!”

As the annual convention drew closer, her litany of irritated exclamations escalated. Dinnertime conversations centred on the topic long enough for the parental unit (me) to eventually find it tedious. We’d thrashed the topic to death, we all agreed on the basic points and I was over it. So I suggested that instead of complaining, perhaps she should do something about it – perhaps start her own (low cost, max fun) convention…

One thing about DD – she does rise to a challenge – and this time she did so in spades. The next day she thrashed the idea around with some friends at MARS, several of whom were very keen to roll with it, and invited a few of them over to the old homestead to take the discussions to the next level. Before we knew it, we’d been invaded by a flurry of students and our whiteboard was being colonised with ideas, strategies, timelines and possible convention names.

deej at gcon1_2002This group included Danielle Linder (aka DaughterDearest), Mark Turnley, Douglas Linder (aka Boychilde), John Blahusiak, Wendy Macdougall, Colm Kiely, Mike Fineberg and Dean Caruana. By the second meeting they’d been joined by Zara Astle, Robyn Creagh and Msquared – who also thought the idea of an all-new max-fun convention rocked. Together, this happy band made up the first committee.

A lot of brain storming later the name GenghisCon emerged – a nod towards Genghis Khan, who’s empire changed the face of the world…logo_gcon banner3Having a name anchored the convention as a reality, after which things rapidly gained momentum. Robyn drew a Mongolian horse-shield/UFO logo, which remains the identifiable GenghisCon image. Grant Stone  agreed to be our Patron Saint and his tacit support of the new convention helped it to gain traction with the broader SF community. An affordable venue was found, a programme of events – with a strong focus on interactive fun – was devised, and some fundraising was undertaken to pay for the venue and to keep costs down.

A Brains Trust was set up: Himself had attended the very first Swancon (back in 1976), Sibling#1 had served as Treasurer on various Swancon committees, DrMark – a regular visitor and a long-time Swancon-er – had been on the Board of WASFF, Boychilde had uber computer skills, and I had helped to establish a couple of not-for-profits in the past. Between us we could offer suggestions on incorporation, insurance, finances and venue options when needed.

From there it was a relatively short step to the realisation of DaugterDearest’s core idea: a small, student-and-impoverished-fan oriented science and speculative fiction convention, with a strong emphasis on interactive fun. GenghisCon is now a Perth institution, with successive volunteer committees keeping to the basic premise of providing a small, friendly, fun, and inexpensive annual event.

It goes to show that a small group of people with a cool idea can make things happen. If you have an idea, why not start a club, build a convention, join a committee – get involved and create the culture you want to enjoy. If not you, then who?

GenghisCon 15 runs from 15-17 January 2016. Bookings are open now.genghiscon2004_M2pie2

Gcon Sausage Sizzle_25apr15Last week saw us gearing up for a sausage sizzle fundraiser barbecue outside our local hardware store. The preparation phase included getting up to our elbows in raw onion a few days before the event – and the miasma continues to permeate my house and fridges, car and numerous plastic containers. 40kg of medium sized brown onions is a whole lot of onion. In fact it’s two very large sacks of onions. Being involved in peeling and processing them individually made me realise much more clearly just how much ‘a lot’ really is – and it’s heaps!

We had a good system going, though: five people and an industrial strength slicer/dicer machine. This combination of teamwork and machinery peeled and shredded all 40kg in about four hours. This was followed by a fair amount of cleaning up, because little bits of onions somehow just went everywhere. Then we had to find somewhere to store 16 bags of onion slices for two days, whilst leaving space for about 400 sausages. My fridge and freezer may never recover from this little exercise…

The adventures with onions was just one part (but definitely the smelliest part) of the preparations. Other aspects included ensuring that the group’s public liability insurance was up to date and that the venue was booked – these things needed to be done well in advance. Then there was costing, sourcing and purchasing the onions (!), soft drinks, sausages, sauces, bread rolls, cleaning equipment, oil, serviettes and so forth at the best prices available. We also had to acquire 30kg of ice and a 135 litre esky (giant cooler box) to store the items that had to be kept below 5 degrees on the day of the ‘sizzle,’ specifically the onions(!) and the sausages. The hired esky may also never recover completely, despite the enthusiastic application of bleach after the event…

Next time round we’ll try to get some of these items donated, which would no doubt help our bottom line.

Only one the helpers on the day had had any prior involvement in running one of these events – and her input was invaluable. Nevertheless, there was a very steep learning curve for all of us. Fortunately we had a relatively short day of trading, since it was a holiday. This meant we could only set up to start selling by 11.30am and finished up at about 3.30pm. Generally the stalls run for twice that long, which would have been quite a stretch for our little team.

Next time round we’ll also try for some extra helpers so that we can work in shifts, rather than flat out for the whole day.

Things I learned along the way:
* Shopping wisely (like pre-ordering the bread rolls in bulk and keeping and eye out for special offers on soft drinks) can bump up the bottom line considerably
* You can NEVER have too many helpers
* Aprons are amusing
* Onions are smelly… really, really smelly… and the stench lingers in a house (my house!) for an awfully long time


Confit d’Oignon, almost ready for bottling

On the up side, it turns out that Confit d’Oignon (French onion marmalade) is a cunning way of using up a LOT of leftover sliced onion – but it’s quite a lot of work and once it’s made it needs a home… I don’t need that much onion jam – so all offers of rehoming a bottle or more of onion jam will be considered.

After all the dust has settled we made about $650, which is an excellent start towards our fundraising goal of $4,000 for the year. We raise the funds in order to cover the venue hire and insurance for our annual convention (GenghisCon). If we didn’t do this, we’d have to bump up our membership prices (like every other local convention has) and we quite simply don’t want to go there.

So sausage sizzle #2 is booked for 21 November – put it in your diary now and come on down to support us 🙂