wombat_socho (wombat_socho) wrote,
wombat_socho
wombat_socho

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Gathering of the clans, er, chieftains

michaellee has been pimping this website aggressively of late, and I have some gut reactions. I'm posting them here because, well, I'm not really part of Twin Cities fandom any more. My future in fandom, such as it is, will be defined by whatever I do here in the Baltimore/Washington are. So I don't think it's my place to shit up League of Wonders with my comments.


With all due respect to Joe, I think he's trying to reinvent the wheel with an amazing new polygonal design. Bringing together representatives from the major fan groups to collaborate on joint projects sounds like a good idea at first blush - but what, exactly, are those projects supposed to be? A couple of the projects mentioned seem to me (despite the nod to voluntary membership) more like a prelude to lumping all the fan organizations - or at least those large & organized enough to be running conventions - together in one group, a group that will be wealthy enough to buy a clubhouse.

There was a time in my life when I thought all SF societies ought to have a club house, but I was about half the age I am now and relatively naive about fans and fandom. Yes, LASFS and NESFA have clubhouses, and possibly there are others, but does anyone seriously think Twin Cities fandom is large enough (and well-off enough) to afford such a thing? Sure, VFW halls are available for what look like reasonable prices, but that's just the purchase price. Who's going to maintain that hall? Is the parent org (let's just call it MTC, Misfits Twin Cities, because we all know who the 800-pound gorillas on the proposed Board are going to be) going to hire a caretaker? What about the bar? Are we really going to store all the stuff for Convergence and Detour and the other five Twin Cities conventions in the hall?

There is a reason fan groups tend to meet in peoples' living rooms and occasional hotel function spaces, when they aren't hanging out in neighborhood restaurants helping the local economy. It helps build community and cohesion on a small scale, in a way that conventions don't. One of the things I've learned in 35 years as a fan is that big things grow out of small groups of people who know and trust each other well enough to want to work together on those big things. Are you really going to get that out of a clubhouse that belongs to some bunch of wannabee SMOFs that most people who attend Detour and Convergence (to say nothing of Marscon, Minicon, Diversicon, Arcana, and Consume) will never have met, much less had a good conversation with, in their lives?

If you're getting the impression that I think MTC as Jon's described it is a Bad Idea, you're damned right I do. The current parent organizations of Convergence and Detour are essentially creatures of the convention staffs, and the idea that they represent the average SF fan or otaku is a sick joke. Admittedly, most of the 5000+ members of those convention (I'm assuming there's about a 2000-fan overlap) could probably care less who's filing the Form 990s with the IRS as long as the Consuites have plenty of pop and munchies and the yaoi/Raptor panels happen on schedule, but you could cause a lot of trouble for both organizations if you started showing up to meetings with 20-30 friends on a regular basis. Every dollar spent by Misfits and ATC comes out of those fans' pockets, and if it isn't going to the convention or back to the community*, I submit that it's being pissed away. Sure, the IRS says those 501(c)(3)s can spend money on buying a clubhouse or renting office space. They can also pay salaries to the directors/Regents, too. Does anyone think that's okay? Didn't think so.

I'm willing to stipulate that Jon means well with his proposal. I'm not at all sanguine about the notion of a "coordinating organization" that has the power to grant or withhold seed money and/or assistance. There's no reason ATC and Misfits can't work together to do things that they both have a common interest in doing, and the same goes for SF Minnesota and MNSTF, etc. I don't think there needs to be a new organization to do that, and I assert that there are plenty of reasons not to start one. Especially if the idea is to set up a Geek Community Center.

Protip: We already have those. They're called "libraries".

*With a nominal amount for hookers and blowadmin expenses.
Tags: anime detour, convergence, low, the bush of fandom
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