wombat_socho (wombat_socho) wrote,

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Goodbye To All That

I am a bit hesitant to use this post title, evoking as it does Robert Graves' memoir of disillusionment and horror during the First World War, but it seems appropriate to the circumstances. One does not lightly sever connections established over fifteen years, but when you are turning your back on an organization you once helped build because it has gone horribly astray, well, there's more than enough disillusionment and despair to go around.

Just to bring those of you who are not my Anime Detour people/involved in Minnesota fandom up to speed, back in 2003 I helped found the parent company of Detour, a 501(c)3 non-profit called Anime Twin Cities. I was hoping Detour would be successful enough to enable ATC to do good things for anime & manga fans in the Twin Towns of Terror, maybe spawn a few other Minnesota anime conventions, contribute to charity - you know, all the things a non-profit is supposed to do. And lo, in the four years I was on senior staff, the convention expanded from a paid membership of 1200 and 1600 the first couple of years to 3000, which was all the fire marshal would let us pack into the Thunderbird, and since then it's grown to...I don't know, 6000 now that it's in the Hyatt? With that increase in membership came a huge increase in the amount of money the convention - well, ATC, really - has been able to donate to charity, and I take some satisfaction in hearing that ATC is one of the heavy hitters in Minnesota charity these days.

I'm not going to lie. I was not a fan of Detour growing to the size it is now, and said so early on. I'd seen plenty of science fiction conventions - most pertinently Minicon - grow too fast, split into factions, fail to recruit a steady flow of fresh staff members, and implode. I did my best when setting up the ATC bylaws to try and avoid the split between parent company and convention which I thought was partially responsible for the implosion of the "more focused" Minicon, especially because I was worried that there might be a split between gamers, ravers, cosplayers, and otaku. Some of my less formal stuff that's had a long-term impact on the convention, such as the "Everybody pays. Everybody fights" meme, has persisted with more effect, I think. Still, for now, at least as far as I can tell, Detour seems to be keeping it all together.

Mostly. Unfortunately, one of the ongoing problems is a failure to communicate, and judging from what I hear, the tendency of the ATC Board to be shitty at documentation as well hasn't improved since I was Secretary/VP. That failure to communicate is a big part of the reason I'm not returning to the convention I helped start next year, and it all started with jtrainor not realizing his boss in the Gaming department was a backstabbing, two-faced Social Justice Wanker. The ugly details and fallout are here, on the off-chance people haven't seen it already. James and I also have all the e-mails, and I'm perfectly willing to post them if people don't believe his version of what happened.

Because of this drama, I was seriously thinking of blowing off Detour this year, right up to 0200 of the day I was supposed to fly up from Vegas. I had originally planned to work in Gaming, as I have the last few years, but obviously that was right out. Quite aside from all the drama, Joe didn't bother to contact me and tell me what shifts he needed to cover; in fact, James had had to forward me his e-mail asking people to sign up for shifts. I contacted the head of Ops (renamed Convention Communications/ConComm, though everybody continued to call it Ops) to see if he needed help, which he did (badly) so I volunteered for 6-8 hours on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, because there was way too much white space on the schedule. So I really couldn't leave him and the rest of Ops twisting in the wind, no matter how much I was loathing senior staff at that point.

On Thursday and Friday, I wound up talking to a couple of the division heads/vice-chairmen, who were kind enough to let me vent about the whole mess. As for the chairman, he tried to start a conversation with me on Friday night, claiming he sympathized with me and knew how I felt. I shut that down by staring at him and telling him, "No. No, you do not." He got a slightly warmer reception in the early hours of Sunday morning, when he apologized for the whole screwup and especially his failure to contact James in time before the convention. Told him he was welcome to call or e-mail James and apologize to him, try and make it up to him, but I wasn't sure it would do any good. I'd already made up my mind not to come back in 2019, and had said so to a number of people including gohanvox and Kris McCormic, who I didn't burden with the details. They were enjoying the convention as they always do, and I saw no point in ruining the convention for them. Staff, on the other hand, got the whole story if they wanted it, and most of them did. I wound up hearing more about ATC politics than I really wanted to know - that sort of stuff is briefly titillating/horrifying, but also frustrating since unless they start handing out voting rights to former chairmen who don't live in Minnesota, there's not a lot I can do about it. The people who live there are going to have to fix this, and I will have to remind myself to look away, as I did in 2007 after the convention, when it finally sunk in that it wasn't my convention any more.

I'm planning on coming up for Anime Fusion in 2019 - the timing is better, since it's not during tax season, and I'd like to see how dejana runs things, maybe help out a little. Going to miss my friends on staff at Detour, but all things considered, I think it's best if I just walk away, if only for a year or two.

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Tags: anime detour, family drama

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