Friday 18 August 2017

The Road to Worldcon 75

For most of you, Worldcon 75 lasted 5 days. For me, it has been my favourite project for over 2 years.

It started in the fan village of Loncon 3, 2014, with the Helsinki party. I helped by serving tar soda and buckthorn & rhubarb drinks, and also hung out with a lot of lovely Finns for the whole convention-week, I knew by then I needed to be a part of Worldcon 75. And so, when they won in 2015 I volunteered.

To my own astonishment, this tweet gained a lot of traction, being retweeted by over 100 people during the course of a few days. It was my first taste of Worldcon 75 Social Media awesomeness and resulted in me being assigned to work as a Social Media (SoMe) staffer. 

I've since then been working Worldcon 75-Social Media almost all of my waking hours for 2 years, save for a few breaks, work, and other cons. I did expect to work a lot, but in the end I worked a lot more than initially expected, just because it was such a wonderful experience, and unexpectedly rewarding. I love interacting with people online, and working customer service. Another benefit of working Social Media is that it gave me an overview of the all the different corners of the convention and included working closely with all the other divisions, meeting with and chatting with lovely staffers from all over the world. It's the best position I could ever have hoped for.

But I must admit, I feel slightly bad for what I put my Worldcon-bosses through, they had a hard time getting me to log off during my days off. (Sorry Outi, Paul, Colette, Karo and Jukka!) 

Me and Sini

Worldcon 75 at Eurocon

Karo,  Hanna and Tero

Of course, we've had our share of rough patches, but what Worldcon doesn't? For me, the fun greatly outweighs any difficulties there have been.

In the winter of 2016, my lovely Area Head Dave Hogg, and my lovely co-worker Nina Niskanen sadly decided to step down, and I was appointed Area Head of Social Media. Me and my right hand woman Lucy Huntzinger have since then mostly been managing things by ourself. It worked really well! In May 2017, we recruited two more staffers: Kat Grimsley and Minna "Loviathar" Hiltula, to help prior to and during the convention. I had a lot of fun working with and getting to know these people, and together we managed to respond to things online all day, 24 hours. There was some really amazing SoMe teamwork going on there and I am super proud of us.

Lovi, Fia and Kat

Fia and Lucy

Aside from the monitoring of SoMe, I've attended three staff weekends, May 2016, November 2016 and May 2017. I highly recommend going to staff-meet ups before the convention, as you get to know some of the people you'll be working closely with, get time to wander around the venue and get your bearings. Also, planning is way more efficient when you're all gathered in one room talking things through.

My great leader, Outi, posing with the sleeping mask.

Me and Michael

Saija and Gareth, scheeming 
The greatly amused Colette and Nicholas

Kisu, John-Henri and Hanna

The programme DH and DDH Kisu and David

If I could do it again, I would. I have made hundreds of new friends through out the years, and absolutely love Finnish fandom. 

Thursday 17 August 2017

The Finnish Fandom

On Sunday the 13th of August 2017, I had the great honour of being formally adopted as a member of Finnish Science fiction-fandom, together with the lovely Colette H. Fozard and Regina Kanyu Wang. Taking up the role as my fairy god-parents are Jukka Halme and Saija Kyllönen, the best god-parents a girl could wish for.

To say I was ecstatic about being included into the Finnish Fandom family would be an understatement. I can't really find the words to say how much this means to me, but I am going to try to, anyway.

As a young woman, I've often felt that I wasn't taken very seriously in the fandom community. I'm sure a lot of other young women have felt the same. But the Finns, they not only invite me in as a fan and a con-runner, they gave me more and more responsibility, showing me in many different ways how MY opinions matter, how I matter, and that they believe in me. Heck, they even thought I was suited to be a Social Media Area Head for Worldcon 75.

It all started at my very first convention, Eurocon 2011, I met the the wonderful Jukka Halme. He was doing a quiz of some sort and was being hella funny. I love quizzes, so I joined,  and I had a blast.

Jukka also did an amazing job as fan GoH. During the con, he talked about the fandom family, his own wow-moments and how much fandom meant to him, which really opened my eyes to the community behind the convention, as well as the impressive backstory it carried with it. It made me want to be a part of that.
After only a short acquaintance I decided Jukka was the coolest guy on earth, so I went up to Jukka and told him (in a very non-creepy way, I promise!) that I was his biggest fan. A fact that remains true to this day. And now he's my fairy god-father! 

Jukka has always been incredibly kind and including, he has asked me to assist him as quizmaster or join in the quiz-teams several times, and he has also let me stay at his and Sari's place during the three Staff weekends I attended, to which I am ever grateful.

Throughout the years, as I got more and more involved in Swedish fandom, I also met more and more Finnish fans. They let me help them with the party in the Fan Village at Loncon 3, they asked me to help recruit Swedish fans for Archipelacon and they asked me to help with twitter for Åcon 8. 

I've also been talking a lot about my hearing disability throughout the years, and Finnish fandom has always have been super attentive when it comes to helping me get the best and most accessible con-experience. They've even consulted me before conventions, making me feel so very welcome. 

Remembering back, one of the people I met first was Saija Kyllönen, at Eurocon 2011. Memories are fleeting from that convention, but I do remember meeting Saija again at Loncon 3, where she quickly established that she was my fandom mother. (Well, Saija, now you sort of are!) And by now, she's even met my real mother, which seems suiting. 

At Loncon 3 I also got to know Hanna Hakkarainen, Jukka Särkijärvi and Mikko Lammi, in particular. The were kind enough to explain how a worldcon works, and the whole puppy-debacle, to a noob like me. And they introduced me to people. I don't know where I would be now if I hadn't met them.

I can't really remember when I met the brilliant man Tero Ykspetäjä, but I am glad I did. He's the pun-master of Finnish fandom, who I've shared lots of laughts with throughout the years, and we've also bonded over our passion for effective organisations. He, and all the others, has really made me feel like Finnish fandom cares about me.

All of these people, and so many more, I am proud to call my friends. And with the years, they have become like family to me. And now they officially declared that they want me to be a part of theirs.

Kiitos paljon, my Finnish family.