What are we doing to foster joy and welcome to this community? What are we doing to cultivate its health and vibrancy? What are we doing to create an environment in which imperfect people (as all people are) can feel encouraged and supported to take the risk of a misstep, perhaps learn from it, and come back refocussed and re-energized, eager to try again?
There are many people who do good in this field, who perform small and large actions of kindness and welcome every day. I'd like to encourage more of that.
I'm starting an award, an annual kindness award to recognize five people and groups who in the previous year have done something that makes positive change in science fiction community. It might take the form of printed certificates, awarded and announced with little pomp or ceremony; perhaps via a press release. There need not be a monetary award, but it'd be nice to give the recipients a tangible token of recognition. Should enough people commit to donating a few dollars every year, such that there is an annual pot of $2,000, that would be enough for five monetary awards of $300 each, with $500 left over for administration. $3,000 per year would be enough for each recipient to receive in addition a physical award.
When life gives us lemons, we can make lemonade. I'm calling the award the Lemonade Award, not because of Beyoncé's excellent recent album, but as a reminder of what the spirit of the award is.
People will be able to nominate others for the Lemonade Award, but the final decisions won't be based on numbers, but will be up to a jury that changes every year.
I just came up with the idea a few days ago, so there are details to be worked out. Sherryl Vint, my colleague in the Science Fiction and Technoculture Studies Programme at the University of California Riverside, has volunteered to manage the nomination/adjudication process. I'll be doing fundraising, because even a non-monetary award has some costs. I figure I have enough energy to keep my part of it up for two years. If it takes off, I'll be looking for someone else to take on that aspect of it, while I remain involved in the capacity of keeping the award to its original spirit. If you're so moved and so able, please help in any way you can. You can email us at email@example.com. I think that we can infuse this community even more with something juicy and nourishing.
UPDATE: If you'd like to donate to the Lemonade Award, you can do so through the Speculative Literature Foundation. Here's the process:
a) Email a note to firstname.lastname@example.org, informing us how much you're donating. Don't skip this step. It's the only way the Spec Lit Foundation will know that the donation is for us, not them.
b) You can donate via cheque (make it out to SLF) or PayPal (preferred). Donation information is on this page: http://speculativeliterature.org/donation-info/
-- Nalo Hopkinson