KON_gres 2024 – Smoffing and Sightseeing

KON_gres 2024 was held in Gniezno. On one hand I was unhappy as it was quite far from Krakow. On the other hand it meant I was finally able to attend a convention by Fantasmagoria society. I wanted to attend their flagship con – Fantasmagoria for years. Yet it was always held in the dates when I couldn’t attend.

Smoffing instead of learning

Somehow KON_gres 2024 was not a big learning experience for me. It is not because the programme was not interesting! There were plenty of valuable items I could have learnt from. Yet because of smoffing (and more mundane activities like eating) I skipped most of those.

I firstly attended a presentation called “Destroying fandom – an idea for ZSFP”. ZSFP is an “umbrella” organization that joins some of the Polish SFF clubs. It also oversees the trademark of our natcon (Polcon) and associated Janusz A. Zajdel Award. Presentation was led by two of the candidates for the ZSFP board and one more person. They were presenting their idea for the future. And unfortunately it didn’t went well. The basic idea of bringing together the SFF, M&A, and furry fandoms is a valid one. Yet the way how it was presented didn’t encourage support. One of the presenters asked me afterwards for the opinion and we talked about it. What he really wanted to do and what he presented were not exactly the same. No surprise it made many people upset.

There is a table surrounded by presenters. Two of them stand and one sits. In the corner of the picture you can see also a part of the audeince sitting.
Presentation of the vision for the future of ZSFP.

The next item I attended was a talk about retaining the knowledge in the organization given by Seji. It is a crucial topic for fandom. In my observations way too often all the knowledge is kept in heads of people doing particular thing. When they leave a con/club/fanzine loses the knowledge. Seji in a concise way presented the basic concepts and how to adjust them to ones needs. Making a big knowledge base may not make sense for a small fanzine but it is worth to think of what we should store for the others.

Later I had to take a break to discuss the ZSFP topic with one of the panellists from the panel that I mentioned above. Afterwards I was a speaker in a panel about Worldcon in Poland. It was not a preparation for us to bid. Instead it was a very general discussion on what it would encompass. And I was rather sceptical about hosting one in the next few years. Yet as Rynvord, who was moderating it said, it is important to discuss the topic even if the answer is “no”. As much as I would love to have a Worldcon in Poland I don’t think it is the right time for it.

A room full of people sitting on chairs.
The room during ‘Polish Worldcon’ panel was full. I regret to say it was also very hot!

Afterwards I had to eat lunch as at 3PM a 3-hour long item was starting. The said item was The Council of Fandom. It is a General Meeting of ZSFP. It always lasts long but this time we had elections of the board so I expected it would take a lot of time. And it lasted for almoast the full three hours. The new board was elected. There were five candidates for five positions so there was not too much choice. We also had elections for the audit committee. There where six candidates for the three positions.

And that was a day for me. After the General Meeting I was rather exhausted and had to rest a bit. This is why I skipped some items. The evening programme seemed very good. It covered some good topics. Among them were access and safety at conventions, succession in fannish organizations, and more. I spent a bit of time in the corridor and then went to the hotel. My plan was to stay there till the morning yet I decided to attend the evening convention meeting in the pub. I didn’t go there for long. Yet it was good to meet the people and enjoy some nice conversations.

Five people standing and smiling. Two of them have microphones.
The previous ZSFP board says farewell.

So I spent my first day of KON_gres 2024 mainly on smoffing and resting after smoffing. Not a bad thing to do but I regret missing so many programme items I could benefit from!

Sightseeing instead of learning

My second day at KON_gres 2024 started rather late. In fact exactly at midday. Why? Well as Gniezno is a first capital of Poland there were some things I wanted to see. I managed to do some sightseeing on Friday but we decided to visit one museum on Sunday morning. It was the Museum of the Origins of the Polish State. Quite interesting one although I regret so many of the items on the display were copies. Still part of the exhibits were truly fascinating.

Arriving at the con at 12 meant that I had the chance to attend just two more items. The first was a panel about the relationship between organizers and gophers. It was a good discussion. Although I don’t usually take care of the gophers myself it touched a few points I may use in the future.

Five people sitting on armchairs set on a stage.
Panel on working with gophers.

The last item was a Closing Ceremony. A few takeaways from it were the following. It was decided to change the convention name from KONgres to KON_gres. The reason for that was SEO and the difference is only in writing. Another important aspect was the presentation of the next KON_gres. It will take place in Wrocław in 2025. So it is coming back to the city of its birth. And last but definitely not least the KON_gres award was presented. This year it went to Magdalena “Ithilnar” Stawniak. She is very active in the Star Wars fandom and works in preparing SW zones at some general SFF cons. Ithilnar – please accept my congratulations.

Travels and Conversations

As Krakow is far away from Gniezno the travel took a lot of time. I was travelling alone to get to the con. Well at least that was the plan. On the train station I met a friend who initially planned to travel later but due to lack of tickets he took the earlier train. We didn’t have seats next to each other so we spent large part of the journey in the restaurant carriage. I am still concerned that I talked waaaay to much. On my way back I was travelling with another friend and of course we talked a bit but then went to sleep. It seems that conventions are exhausting. Who would have thought…

Woman sits on a chair and hugs a plushy dragon.
Vinga is clearly happy to be taking care of the dragon.

I stayed in a hotel with another friend from the other part of Poland. So on Friday when we both arrived we started with little sightseeing. In fact he was showing the town to me as it occurred he knew it quite well. Unfortunately the famous Gniezno Doors were already closed for visitors. I just got the chance to see a copy in the museum on Sunday. After the short tour around the town we stayed in the hotel and talked for a few hours.

On social aspect KON_gres 2024 was quite good for me. I managed to meet many friends. I was even recognized by a person with whom we were on a common M&A forum around 2003 and 2004 (hello Asti!). So overall I had a good time. I would however be happier should there be one more day of the con. I think it would give me some time to enjoy the programme more and learn a few useful things!

You can find more pictures in my FB gallery.

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