SFWA News Round Up: Year-Round Online Education: Health Care Program: Statement on Protests & BLM

When SFWA pivoted from our annual in-person convention to the Nebula Conference Online, one of the things we realized immediately was that it would give us a platform to host continuing education and networking opportunities year-round. We thought that we would ease into it, but after seeing the vibrant community that formed during the Nebula weekend, the board has decided that it is worth nurturing immediately.

The 2020 Nebula Conference Online is now a year-round virtual extension of the yearly Nebula conference. Focusing on content relevant to professionals in the genre, attendees will have access to the recorded 2020 career management, professional development, and expert knowledge panels through April 2021.

In addition, the conference provides new ways to create community connections through interactive weekly writing dates, a reading series, mentoring sessions, live Q&As, workshops, access to the Slack community, and virtual room parties. Membership also comes with a subscription to SFWA’s quarterly magazine, The Bulletin.

You do not need to be a member of SFWA to participate. We encourage anyone associated with the field to join us.

This conference is accessible and we will strive to make this event comfortable, safe, and engaging for all attendees.

In addition, as part of a pledge to support Black Lives Matter, 100% of registration fees for the 2020 Nebula Convention Online content during the month of June will go directly to the Carl Brandon Society and the Black Speculative Fiction Society.

We have also created a matching program for the 2020 Nebula Convention Online so that each registration purchased in June creates a seat for a Black writer. If you are a Black writer who would like one of these free registrations, please email events@sfwa.org for instructions on how to register.

We hope that those of you who are already members of the 2020 Nebula Conference Online will continue to enjoy the community and that our new guests will enjoy this year’s voyage.

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SFWA Joins Forces with Book Industry Health Insurance Partnership to Provide Members with Health Insurance Options

On June 10, the Book Industry Health Insurance Partnership (BIHIP), a coalition of nine organizations, including Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), announced a partnership with Lighthouse Insurance Group (LIG) Solutions to provide its US-based members with a choice of health insurance options. Joining SFWA in this partnership are American Booksellers Association, American Society for Indexing, Authors Guild, Book Industry Study Group, Graphic Artists Guild, Independent Book Publishers Association, Novelists Inc., and Western Writers of America Inc.

SFWA began working on a US health insurance solution for our members in 2010. The insurance landscape at the time did not allow coverage for members in multiple states. In April 2018, SFWA joined forces with BIHIP to begin vetting various companies for health insurance programs with an initial goal to create an association health plan (AHP).

BIHIP was formed following a presidential executive order that expanded eligibility for organizations to pool resources across state lines to offer members health insurance at negotiated rates. BIHIP’s goal, however, had to be modified when the executive order was deemed illegal. The government appealed the ruling, and the case is still in the courts.

With expanded AHPs currently off the table, the coalition modified its goal to find a company that could provide the coalition members with extensive knowledge of the health insurance market to help members navigate the wide array of insurance options, including ACA-compliant major medical, Medicare/supplements, short term policies, vision, dental, critical care, supplemental coverage, as well as small group/Health Reimbursement Arrangements (HRAs).

Additionally, the coalition wanted to ensure everyone could take advantage of the benefit, including: association staff and their immediate family; individual members and their immediate family; business owners and their W2 employees; 1099-employees/independent contractors; and association volunteers.

The partnership with LIG Solutions addresses all of these goals, and the coalition is committed to launching the program by the fall.

LIG Solutions is a division of Lighthouse Insurance Group, an insurance advisor with experience in the health, life, and Medicare insurance industry. LIG Solutions offers insurance solutions for associations, societies, membership organizations, and other affinity groups. LIG Solutions helps people understand their health benefits and different plan options to determine the appropriate health insurance option. While health insurance agents typically only represent one carrier, LIG broadens consumers’ choices and can sell insurance from many insurance companies in all 50 states.

For more information on this new offering, please look for a document with FAQs regarding SFWA’s partnership with LIG Solutions in the next week. Enrollment will begin in the autumn.

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A Statement from SFWA on Black Lives Matter and Protests

“We give lip service to acceptance, as though acceptance were enough.”

― Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Sower

People ask how worlds like Octavia Butler’s Parable of the Sower can exist. It happens through the slow creep of power aided by the complacency of those shielded by their position in society.

It is not enough to have an anti-harassment policy and call that good. We must work for equity and diversity to make sure that underrepresented voices are heard, to increase inclusion in the genre of science fiction and fantasy, in the larger ecosystem of publishing, in our writing community, and in life.

We support Black Lives Matter and the protesters who are seeking justice for centuries of white supremacy and police brutality.

We acknowledge that SFWA has historically ignored and, in too many instances, reinforced the injustices, systemic barriers, and unaddressed racism, particularly toward Black people, that have contributed to this moment. We have allowed those who spoke for change in SFWA to be drowned out by those who clung to the status quo. We have a responsibility to admit our failings and to continually commit to dismantling these oppressive and harmful systems, both within this organization and ourselves.

“People who say change is impossible are usually pretty happy with things just as they are.”

― N.K. Jemisin, The City We Became

These are the actions that SFWA is taking as first steps to clean our own house and work towards making our community safer for Black writers.

  • For the month of June, 100% of registrations for the 2020 Nebula Convention Online content will go directly to the Carl Brandon Society and the Black Speculative Fiction Society.
  • We are creating a matching program for the 2020 Nebula Convention Online so that each registration purchased this month creates a seat for a Black writer.
  • For the next year, we are waiving fees for SFWA membership for Black writers.
  • We are waiving registration fees for next year’s Nebula conference attendance for Black writers.
  • We are creating a travel fund to help defer the costs of Black writers attending the Nebula conference.
  • We are committing to reaching out to Black-led science fiction and fantasy organizations about applying for the additional grant money that we have available.

For those who wish to learn more about what you can do to help, here is a list of resources:

Many of us are feeling helpless in the face of racist terror, but there are ways for all of us to do our part with the time, money, and resources we have available. Our choices matter now more than ever. What we know from writing science fiction and fantasy is that the present we find ourselves in was avoidable but our nation chose not to avoid it. We can still choose a just and equal future, if we work together as a community to dismantle white supremacy.

If you wish to donate to organizations or causes, Black Lives Matter has curated a list of organizations that could use your support. In addition to those, these groups are part of the science fiction and fantasy community.

Unanimously signed,

The Board of Directors of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America

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