Meet the Guild
Kara Helgren - President
WHAT IS THE GEEKIEST THING YOU DO? I love reading and writing fanfic.
Kara has been president of PDX Browncoats for many years. “I’m not only a member, I’m the president!” She is hilarious.
“My first fandom was Firefly/Serenity. I watched the series and then I actually googled Portland Firefly fan group back when the internet was young and found out there was a meet up happening a couple weeks later. I showed up to a small Vietnamese restaurant and was so anxious about meeting new people I had to talk myself into going inside. And I never left. The group that is, not the restaurant.”
She is really excited about the direction PDX Guild of Geeks is going. “Fandom can make some amazing things happen. There are a lot of folks I meet through fandom who don't get out a lot or have social anxiety or who didn't have a community to call their own until they fell in love with a living piece of art and talked to others who felt the same. It can open the door to a sense of belonging you may have never had or lost at some point along the way. It can bring people together in a way I've rarely seen outside of, or even sometimes within, a religious setting.”
When asked what she hopes to accomplish with PDX Guild of Geeks, Kara is clear. “With PDX Guild of Geeks I hope to build a space to enjoy whatever fandom you might be part of. It's a coalition of geeks from all over the Portland area, regardless of fandom.”
Diana Hildebrand - Treasurer
WHAT IS THE GEEKIEST THING YOU DO? Uh. I help run events for my faction in Ingress. Or the geeky knitting. Or...this.
Diana came to PDX Browncoats through a multi-state Browncoat group on Myspace. “From the Myspace page there was a link to my 'local' Browncoat group, PDX Browncoats. I joined a week before the first CSTS charity screening. The next year, I ran sponsorship. The next year, I got involved in the incorporation process and ended up making us into a nonprofit.”
“Becoming a non-profit was an important step for us originally and maintaining that status as PDX Guild of Geeks will only allow us to accomplish what we’ve set out to do.” At the time of incorporation, there were a few Browncoat groups in the United States that were working toward that goal. “We’re currently one of the last remaining groups that have stayed a non-profit and I’m incredibly proud of that.”
Diana learned about fandom through the X-Files online. “It’s where I discovered fanfic and a group of people who liked talking about the show. There was an email newsletter that would go out. It included articles written by other fans about episodes and there was always a fanfiction selection in it.”
When asked why fandom is important, Diana also feels the connections are the key piece. “It's all about connections and finding your people, whether that's virtual or in actual meatspace. Fandom has tremendous power to connect us.”
Diana sees the next iteration of the non-profit as an opportunity to grow and expand the foundation the Browncoats laid after Serenity came out. “PDX Guild of Geeks is the next step for PDX Browncoats. It’s the next step in our evolution to a broader fan collective. I see PDX Guild of Geeks as a friendly, multi-fandom group, that uses its awesome power to make the world a better place.”
Christine Mooney - Member at Large
WHAT IS THE GEEKIEST THING YOU DO? Before I taught myself to sew, it was my sci-fi spaceship tattoos. Now I sew historical-ish costumes and where them to cons.
Christine might be one the one person who has been with PDX Browncoats the longest. She joined the group when it was still just a social organization getting together at the Barley Mill Pub on SE Hawthorne. “We went to many of the screenings as a group, and then when Serenity Now/Equality Now (which then became Can’t Stop the Serenity or CSTS) started, I helped out a little there.”
PDX Browncoats was not her first foray into fandom, however. She jumped on board the fandom wagon in 1977 after Star Wars premiered. “I was 10 & I loved it for many years until I put ‘childish things away.’ Then as a lucky grown up I found Farscape & an online communities & conventions. I embraced my geek & really grew up into the happy geek I am today.”
When asked why fandom is important, Christine is quick to emphasize how it brings people together. “Fandom gives us a chance to find others who enjoy the same entertainment, hobbies, interests as ourselves. To share about something that means alot to you with others care for it also, creating connections.”
Her current role as Convention and Merchandise Coordinator keeps her busy with making sure PDX Guild of Geeks are at Pacific Northwest conventions and that we have the best merchandise around.
Christine hopes to continue this growth and connection through the transition to PDX Guild of Geeks. “I want to see PDX Guild of Geeks expand to include representations of all geeky things and to expand our fundraising and doing-good efforts. It’s a chance to celebrate all the geeky nerdy things we love. Some of us game, some of us play, some read, some sew. This is my community, these are my friends, and this is our mission: geeking for good.”
Anna Snyder - Secretary
WHAT IS THE GEEKIEST THING YOU DO? I play and read and listen to a lot of Dungeons & Dragons related media. And also I serve on the board of an organization that was intentionally created as a geeky outlet.
Anna has been involved with the Firefly/Serenity fandom since 2007 and joined the board in 2008. “It was actually Kara who put me on to Firefly. She was involved with planning the very first charity screening of Serenity. When the movie came out I was in graduate school and didn’t know anything about the TV show. She was telling everyone at work about the screening and I decided I wanted to go. I was so impressed with the dedication all these people had I immediately signed up to be involved the following year.”
Her first fandom was also through X-Files. “The Internet really opened up the opportunity to connect to people all over about things we loved.” It took off, however, with the Harry Potter fandom. “I was thrilled to dig in and talk about theories and characters with all these amazing people. The Leaky Cauldron website was my hang out.”
When asked why fandom is important, Anna is excited about the possibilities. “People think fandom is just a way to pass time or that pop culture is mindless, but out of fandoms have come amazing efforts to improve communities. There are a lot of service organizations that started out just to be service organizations. I don’t think there are a lot of groups who started out to be social and realized they could focus their power to create change.”
“PDX Guild of Geeks is really what we’ve been moving toward for a couple of years. We want to engage and represent and include. It would be great if any and all fandoms could look at PDX Guild of Geeks and know they have a safe place to be themselves and to practice fandom and geekery with no judgement. We’re all about that!”
“What I hope to accomplish with PDX Guild of Geeks is to make an impact on our community; to share and show what people can do when they gather together around shared ideals and values.”