Norwescon 33

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We attended our second science fiction convention, Norwescon 33, from April 1-4, hoping to attract some new Starfarers to join our active membership. We talked with lots of great people, got to hang out with sci-fi luminaries like Vernor Vinge and Cory Doctorow, and gained nine new friends on our email list (welcome all!), one of whom has also joined the wiki.


Notes taken at the convention

Talking with Charles Radley

Conferences to look into

People to research or talk to

Nonprofit panel

  • G. Robin Smith of Five Rivers Fundraising
    • Performs as Ben Franklin
  • Charles Radley, on boards of several nonprofits, also on local water board
    • mainly there to listen to G. Robin
    • Leeward Space Foundation submitted a 30-page package to become a 501(c)3, which Charles can send you
  • Best resources:, Showcase of Fundraising, Innovation, and Inspiration
    • founded by Ken Burnett, who wrote The Zen of Fundraising
    • Ken's publishing company publishes "Tiny books"
    • Charles:
  • Getting volunteers is a form of fundraising b/c it replaces the funds it would take to pay people to do that work
  • G. Robin has done some fundraising in Canada for SCA, and contacted people in Australia and Europe for Leukemia & Lymphoma Society
  • Audience member: Putting money into PayPal is dangerous b/c they can close your account at any time if they don't like you
  • Useful get-the-word-out techniques include interviews, YouTube, podcasts; "If you liked this podcast, send a few $"
  • NSS is 501(c)3, vs. Space Corps is 501(c)4, vs. Space PAC: all related orgs but can't move $ between them in certain ways
  • Holding raffles or other game-of-chance events is legally tricky
  • Related nonprofits and for-profits
    • Moon Society had a hard time getting 501(c)3 status because of association with for-profit Artemis Project
    • Can have a "nonprofit" that makes profit but doesn't distribute it to shareholders
  • There are 3 clients in fundraising: the charity, the investor, and the community
    • Try to get ideas, time, and energy from investors as well as $ (builds genuine relationships)
    • Tell the investors honestly when you screw up, and generally have an honest, straightforward approach
  • "No" always means "Not yet"
  • Read widely so you can connect your vision with other people's own interests (or at least find other ways to help them)
  • Figure out all the different ways volunteers can help
  • People don't retain info written in sans-serif
  • Example: K-8 magnet school on the Olympic Peninsula that has been a 501(c)3 for 20 years
    • Wants to build a sustainable building to get out of the 3 portables they're now in
    • Include a community center, library, meeting space
    • Advice:
      • Contact with Chamber of Commerce is important: ask them for business ideas/expertise
        • Ex. Lumber company can put up a sign advertising their sustainable wood lines
      • Don't "cap" the idea, make the investors part of the dream
      • Start with community event where "we just want ideas, leave your checkbooks at home"
      • Talk with other nonprofits in the area, also city, county, and state reps

Panel on "Space: Humanity's Best Hope for Long-Term Survival"


  • G. David Nordley, former astronautical engineer, now writes science fiction
    • General position: It's easier to go to space than to survive in the long term with just Earth's resources
  • Guy Immega, science fiction author
    • General position: The rest of this solar system is too hard, so we're stuck here until we find a habitable exoplanet
  • Jim Frankel, Senior Editor of Tor Books
    • General position: Unfortunately, we probably need to go to space because it may be too late to save the Earth
  • Vernor Vinge, science fiction author and Norwescon Writer Guest of Honor
    • General position: We may need a Technological Singularity before real interplanetary civilization becomes possible


  • Vinge:
    • We will need to go interstellar to survive over geologic time
    • Mentioned a guy named Martin Rees who thinks Earth is the home of the only life in the cosmos
  • Nordley:
    • We can give Mars a magnetosphere by running a tube around the equator
    • Don't worry too much about NASA rules against impacting other worlds
    • Exoplanets with free oxygen are taken, so we should avoid them
  • Frankel: We need a longer view than the 1-to-3-year time horizon of a typical business plan, to understand that wrecking the Earth means killing potential future customers
  • Vinge:
    • Jerry Pournelle says major expansions of freedom occur in one of two ways, and a vast increase in available resources is one of them
    • Neither business nor government are good at long-term thinking, but there are people with good ideas about it whose voices should be heard
  • Audience question about asteroids and other small space colonies as a first step
    • Immega: Biosphere 2 failed very badly; Lynn Margulis observes that we can't even make a self-sustaining ecosystem in a petri dish
    • Nordley: We don't need a totally closed system, since resources are available even in space (and some can be shipped from Earth for awhile)
  • Vinge: Lots of research has shown that we have no idea how big the minimum sustainable breeding population of humans would be
    • Nordley: The number gets smaller over time
    • Frankel: If you need extra genetic diversity, just pull some sperm or eggs out of a bank
    • Audience question: But what is the minimum size to produce a viable culture and economy? (No real answer given)
  • Audience question: Can going to space relieve population pressure on Earth?
    • Nordley: Actually we could evacuate significant fractions of the population and build enough colonies for them
    • Vinge: Not likely; Ben Franklin observed that people may just breed more if some of the popuplation is removed
  • Frankel: Don't worry too much about the psychology of living in space or on other worlds; people are very adaptable; just look at how differently you have to live in Alaska
  • Final question: Does leaving Earth, all by itself, make us posthuman?
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