Arisia 2020 and the barefooter situation: belated resolution

  Three weeks and a lot of email later ...
    but notice how this section is green??  Read on!

  After sending off my advocacy epics, I received positive and concerned-sounding email back from the various target entities, promising that they'd address the situation on their sides.  Nothing more transpired for a couple of weeks, and I figured that despite feigning sympathy, their first tendency would be to sweep the whole affair under the rug and hope I'd just go away.  Heh, right.

Some of the tech folks who had skipped Arisia were nonetheless interested in Boskone less than a month later, and were encouraging me to come hang out with them and oh by the way could I supply a small bit of gear?  Boskone is also in the Westin these days, and I wasn't really jonesing to step back into a potentially hostile situation, so it would be really useful if at least the hotel end of things could figure out where it stood.

I sent both Briar and the Westin a gentle poke early in the relevant week, just to see if they were awake, and packed for the con anyway including enough for a crashspace-type stay on the cheap if I decided to not commute.  Then on the *day* before I would head in I received a response from Steve, the Westin GM I'd first met in the elevator.  His wording was a little ambiguous but the bottom line I took from it was that I, and by extension we, could officially be anywhere in the hotel we cared to without shoes.  He said he had gone around and informed his staff about this as well, so evidently I was all clear for Boskone.  Great news!  I finished packing and headed in the next day to help with the minimal tech build, carrying a printout of Steve's email to show around.

One down...

The Briar Group folks hadn't responded by then, but evidently it had been in the pipeline and I learned that in an interesting way -- from the manager of M.J.O'Connors I had addressed my initial letter to.  While passing by its door I spotted a likely-looking person at the desk inside, [can we say "profiling", kids?] and on a whim popped in to ask if he was Donnie.  He was indeed, and we then had a completely pleasant conversation in which he made it clear that all of us barefooters were also genuinely Fáilte inside MJ's as well!  He said that the Briar rep *had* answered my email, but probably after I'd already gotten on the road.  He touched on the merit of seeing it from their viewpoint as well, with regard to the supposed risks of mishap, and I agreed that someone who isn't that used to barefooting may be at greater risk but it is still *their* own risk and not that of a restaurant.  In large part we were agreeing with each other about perspectives until he was called away to managerial duty, but it was all upbeat and positive.

Whoa!  Awesome.

Bottom line: I had apparently prevailed on behalf of the barefooter community on both fronts, and footwear or lack thereof had been declared no longer an issue or even notable in any particular way at all.  At least for the moment, the weekend of Boskone and for its attendees, which Steve's phrasing of "you all" presumably referred to.  But frankly, I *should* be able to walk barefoot into the Westin lobby at any time, during the height of their stuffiest corporate confab, and grab a drink at the bar without any fear of being singled out.  I wasn't sure if their newly-learned principles ran that deep yet, or would only apply to events already full of social freakazoids.  But at least my exercises in expressive writing had paid off for the time being.

That's really what a lot of this is about -- a simple challenge to write as persuasively as possible, lay on the SJW sauce nice and thick, and see if I can turn people around or at least make them think fairly deeply about the question.  And of course to assert my own freedoms by extension, which is where the personal passion gets poured into it.  As I've mentioned elsewhere, it's almost like a religious argument, where one side is backed up by logic and evidential science, and the other by nothing more than deep prior conviction.  Being convincing across the rift is always hard, but often worth the effort.

During the weekend I also caught up with Cynthia, who I'd had that half-hour chat with at Arisia, and who was not only there to work her restaurant duties but also attend the convention with her kids!  They apparently had a great time, and she even bought a bunch of art.  She mentioned that after my interaction with Steve, the hotel management was planning on having some "cultural training" or something like that, to bring the new folks from the franchise more on board with the types of events that come through the venue and remind some of the "old guard" about their general hospitality obligations.  When people work somewhere for a long time in the same role, they tend to land in a rut, resist change, and come up with dubious reasons for feeling that way and clinging to a supposed status quo.  Yes, we were talking about a particular example right then.

Overall, Boskone was a pleasant, mellow time.  I hadn't been to it since the Boskone from Hell in 1987.  In its still-downsized state of around a thousand warm bodies on site, there wasn't a whole lot of "big tech" to do and its function space was maybe a third the size of what Arisia took up, but clearly still held strong on its traditional literary and artistic fronts.  There is certain merit in not trying to be the "everything at once" convention.

The full email exchanges with the various management entities are here in the same directory but not directly linked, so a browser has to be pointed to them manually.  My interaction with Steve is in steve-m.txt, and with Briar Group in briar-m.txt.  Both files obviously include the long letters I linked in the main convention report; they were part of the overall flow.  Some of the messages are embedded in forwards to the Society for Barefoot Living mailing list where I was also detailing some of the developments.  The Briar folks still seemed rather indecisive in the email I finally read from them after getting home, so I was glad that Donnie took his own initiative for our sake and suggested that they follow his example upstream.

It is beneficial to place interactions like this in the public record, so people researching for their own purposes can see how such things play out when handled "professionally" and in the context of better customer service.  Let's remember that "professional" is *who* we are from the neck up and what we can do with our hands ... all four of them.  In other words, our competence and work ethic.  It's not about what we wear, despite society's pervasive willingness to be swayed by such superficial things.  One only has to look at those in our highest offices to see how surface appearances mean absolutely nothing in terms of genuine human advancement.

_H*   200218