Friday, February 19, 2016

Why Do We Keep Doing This? A panel at Sasquan about con runners.

Some of the answers the panelists gave were:
1. SMOFDOM is a virus.
2. It is the urge to do something.
3. It is a way to see you far-off friends.
4. Some people have an inability to nothing at a convention.
5. Working with people makes it easier to talk to them.
6. Ego-boo; people saying you did good
7. "And then there were none".
Conventions are all about the people who are running them. Usually detail oriented with a mix of extraverts and introverts who have the urge to do something because they can't sit around an event without helping out. They like talking to people, whether those people live nearby or across the country, a convention brings like-minded people together. And when fans get together they learn what expertise other fans bring to a project. A Chairman's job is to get the right people in the right places.
There was a time when various groups of Swedish fans were fighting. They overcame the feuding by working on a large project together: a Eurocon. That is a European wide SF convention, like Worldcon it moves around from year to year and the site is selected by a vote of an earlier Eurocon membership. So they had to find a way to work together on this large convention which meant they had to learn everybody's strengths and weakness. They had to overcome their differences and learn about each other.
Omaha could take a lesson from this, if we put aside our grievances for a moment and sat down with each other, we just might find a way to make the community strong and grow the number of fans doing things together. Because fandom is a fun village where everyone has a skill that others can use and enjoy. Everyone needs a little Ego-boo in their day.
The flip side of working together is fighting, feuding, and big bad word: Drama. And when it gets out of control fan groups break apart. It has happened before in Omaha. In the 1990s there were three SF conventions happening in the town and another in Lincoln. At the time none of them could draw enough of a crowd to cover their overhead. Facilities cost money, even if you only use local guests. They solved this by coming together into a single convention. Unlike Swedish fandom, they couldn't work together. They fell apart and left one of the fan groups to run the convention. Needless to say, those who were left soon burned out. Especially since they lived in Lincoln and tried to run the convention in Omaha. The logistics of that is too much for anyone.
Omaha has fans that don't know they are fans, don't know about conventions and how much fun they are, they haven't met the friends out here waiting for them. The only way we can introduce those closest fans to the community is to put aside the drama and work together to get a message of opportunity and fun out to them. I think this community can do this.

The panelists in Spokane did have one warning though. If you make a suggestion about something a con needs to do, you may find yourself running it. Of course that is a great way to break into being a con-runner.  
So what do you think?  Are there too many cons in Omaha today?  Is an area of fandom not being served?  Is there something you would like to see and would you be willing to work for it?  And if you are thinking about these questions at all, why are you not on a convention committee?

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