Worldcon is a pretty difficult event to organise. Your team will probably consist of people who live in different time zones and don’t know each other prior to the beginning of the work. I really like how it worked this year and I am grateful to all the staff members who made participating in Worldcon 75 organisation such a memorable experience.
You can find first part of my report here.
People are (almost) all we need to run a convention
Some of you know that Worldcons use to have staff weekends when the staff members are getting to the con city to meet each other, have cross division talks, check the venue, and make plans for the future work. Unfortunately, I was unable to join any of these weekends, so I have not meet too many of the staffers prior to the convention. Because of that I really enjoyed the way how everything worked – as I was feeling I was a part of the team despite the fact I hardly knew other staff members.
What was so special about W75 that I felt connected to people whom I didn’t know? The system that we used for project management had pictures so I was able to recognize a lot of people when we finally met. It also allowed for some offtopic chat and that always brings people together. Secondly, I really found the staff of Worldcon 75 extremely welcoming (and I hope they felt the same about me). I have met some people during Swecon 2016, B-Con, Conrunner and U-con. Every time I really enjoyed discussions we had and I got the feeling that we are building one team that is going to held Worldcon successfully.
I don’t want to say here that other fans I met in my life were not behaving friendly – most of them was. Still, the Worldcon 75 team gave me a really nice welcome and therefore I find this distinctive – not because others were not nice but because the staff there was even nicer than what I was used to. 🙂
Can you still enjoy convention when you need to work?
The answer to that question is obviously „Yes”; otherwise we would probably not have any conventions ran by fans. One needs to remember though that when you are staffing the con, your pleasure comes (at least partially) from different sources compared to attending the con. During Loncon 3 I was only an agent for Poland and I didn’t establish bonds with other staffers and therefore during convention itself I did only several hours of volunteering, and large part of it I have spent in the programme rooms. In Helsinki it looked totally different.
I was dragged into the staff by Crystal who at this time was co-chairing the event. She asked me for help after one of my comments on the JOF (Journeymen Of Fandom) group on FB. After some interview it was decided I will be an agent for Poland and if I will have more time, I would help with other tasks. I didn’t had too much time, so apart from writing a short text for the Souvenir Book and helping a bit with promotion at Swecon and U-con, I have worked only on Polish cons.
During the con I had a great time sitting in the volunteer room and simply chatting with people. It gave me a lot of fun to simply watch the convention running. But I was also stressed whenever we made some mistakes. Especially the first day with long queues was stressful. Feeling connected to the team resulted also in me spending more time on certain activities. This was the case with the conzine. It happened that I had to edit one issue (what was planned) but I ended up making a layout for it (in the tool I was using for the very first time in my life). It would not be possible if the general layout was not prepared by someone else but still playing with it took me a lot of time and I had to resign from some planned programme items. I don’t regret it – it gave me a nice feeling of doing what had to be done. This is something extremely pleasant when you are running a con.
A lot of fun comes from the preparations. Helping with the Move In allowed me to come one day earlier and thus Worldcon lasted for me six days. Of course that very first day (or day minus one) had no programming but in the past multiple times I was spending even whole convention not attending the programme at all ;). The Move In also enabled me to meet some people with whom I was exchanging smiles and kind words for the rest of the con. Summing it all up – helping with the Move In is something I really love and I am planning to help with it at other Worldcons as well.
Doing other things at Worldcon 75
Apart from helping to run Worldcon 75, I had also different duties. I wanted to help Dublin in 2019 bid and I did. I have spent some time at the fantable telling people about Dublin and helping them to become friends of the bid. Later on I had an occasion to sit at the Site Selection table checking the votes. What was funny here is that the credit/debit card reader we got was working in Finnish and I had a clear instruction of what to press and when… Otherwise I would not manage. Last but not least when Dublin received the rights to host 77th World Science Fiction Convention, I was manning the conversion table helping people to become members. All this didn’t took me too much time but still it has visibly limited my time to attend panels (especially that when I was finishing at certain hour, I was not going to the next programme item).
What I really regret is that I didn’t have enough time for the Polish fantable. I promised to help a little and I did man it for one hour but this is not enough for a convention that lasts five days. I am sorry that I was not able to help more with it.
I do recall that in 2013 I was on a Worldcon presentation during one of the conventions in Poland. I was told that gophering during Worldcon is one of the best ways to participate in it. Now, after two Worldcons I have visited, I can tell that this is certainly true. While you are a volunteer, you got to meet the people, learn more about the con, and still you can enjoy it as a member. Joining the staff and being more involved in the convention is even better. I had very limited responsibilities during Worldcon 75 but I do hope that on the next Worldcon I will be attending I will have more to do. Staffing this convention is, in my opinion, a great pleasure and it has given me an energy boost 🙂
You can find more pictures in mine FB gallery.
The next post will treat about Polcon – Polish National SF Convention and will be published no later than on 3rd September