Sunday, December 28, 2008


Conventional Organization

One of the more difficult things in fandom, in my experience, is balancing a year around organization (or club) and a single central convention. They are serving somewhat different social needs; they attract different volunteer groups. This isn't something that I discovered in the last five months I've served as a Director on the Minnesota for Society for Interest in Science Fiction and Fantasy -- it is something that I've seen in just about every convention and club combination I've seen over the years.

One of the things that has been a challenge for the Society is how to organize things properly. This has been a work in progress that I don't think people really understand how things are today, especially since earlier models hadn't quite worked properly.

There are really two different parallel organizations when it comes to CONvergence and MISFITS -- one isn't really the "parent organization" of the other. In so much as there is a parent organization, it is represented by the combined group of both the CONvergence and MISFITS directors. We've been generally referring to that as "The Society" because the whole name can quickly be unwieldy.

The MISFITS brand isn't really ideal because that's not quite how thing were originally put together. It serves as a club name, but it can get in the way when one is trying to present yourself in the 'real world' and trying to help in the broader community. It is also confusing because while MISFITS and CONvergence build their long-term vision together, they are two different subcommittees of the entire board of directors of the Society, and one is not the "parent" of the other, but parts of the whole.

There are times where people look at our community as something unique -- but the comparison isn't just the other fan organizations around the world; we don't just look at organizations like LASFS or Arisia, Inc. We share some things in common with fraternal, religious, and artistic organizations; after all.

I look at three different parts when I think of what CONvergence, MISFITS, and The Society are about:

  1. The Social Center

  2. The Inspirational Center

  3. The Education Center

The Social Center is just that -- we're providing a place for people to meet other like minded people. Relationships form. Because of the second two are a part of it, we can provide a networking opportunity for people to do new things.

The Inspirational Center motivates all of us. Our guests of honor are a key part of that. But also as part of our in the schools programs. And coming out of the relationships that are built above, we can inspire new creative pieces; both professional and amateur.

The Education Center certainly looks like it starts with the in the schools program, but it is not limited there. We provide venues for people to get better with public speaking; our convention guests are sometimes people that can share their knowledge and experience to others. We teach each other, because we know the more you know, the more jokes you get.

For me those three pillars all interact -- we inspire each other through our social connections; because you are inspired; you desire to learn new things. Sometimes people think that one part is secondary to another -- that the convention is the fun, and MISFITS is all of the non-profit stuff. But the missions are all there for everything -- the MISFITS social agenda is important, and CONvergence is meant to better the community as a whole as well. All parts of the whole.

Oh, I suppose I should disclaim this post a little -- this is purely my own thoughts on these subjects, and aren't the official words of CONvergence or the Minnesota Society for Interest in Science Fiction and Fantasy. I've had elements bouncing in my head for a while, and wanted to get them out somewhere...

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