Memorial Day weekend 2003, Missoula, Montana
Greetings, From MisCon 17
reported by Elizabeth Youmans, R.N.
Back in February I decided I wanted to support The Heinlein Society at our local SF Con, here in Missoula, Montana. So I e-mailed THS Secretary-Treasurer David Silver and he sent me lots of information and ideas.
Not much went wrong, the custard fruits tarts went nowhere, due to a refrigeration problem, so I made some cookies (ten dozen) and they went over well. Right off the bat… don’t get all excited about the food, Fen descend on food like locusts and hardly notice what they are eating. However, anything you serve should be homemade, by you or someone you know — it shows you care. Let me tell you, the biggest problem I came up against was lead-time. Four months was not enough to do everything right. Especially living in a relatively small community in a state with low-ranking income and budgets. Not only did I have a hard time setting up a blood drive, but also the fans were not prepared to make large donations. The folks who did come through for us, as I know the types of jobs they have and an idea of how much (or little) money they make, impressed me.
The Blood Drive: The first thing to remember, even if you’re a medical or nursing professional, is: don’t assume you know how your local blood collection facility runs things. This first time I came up against budget problems I didn’t expect. Our local Red Cross didn’t have the staff or the budget to send out its Bloodmobile on a holiday weekend on such short notice. It also took me almost a month and a half to find the correct person to talk to. His name has gone into my Con building kit. Start real early with any blood collection agency, especially the Red Cross. I will be talking soonest with the Red Cross and getting set up for next year. They have a bit of warning now and are ready to help me.
I handed out ‘pin vouchers’ as I did not have any blood donor pins. These I created myself with instructions to donate in RAH’s name and how to report to THS their donation along with my address and to please make the donation within the next two weeks. When they return the voucher to me, I will send them a pin. Mike Sheffield, our Blooddrives Chair, has ample supplies, and will mail them out to you if you host support for a blooddrive; but you have to give him enough lead time. But that wasn’t my main problem; most of the fans interested in donating (our local Vampire LARP) had already donated in the recent past and were unable to donate so soon. I gave them exceptions as to the timing of their donations. They will receive pins for their next donation, as long as I get the voucher back.
You Need Help: You need someone who can spell you at the table or a partner in crime. There are times you want to leave the table, if for nothing else but to stretch your legs. Me, I couldn’t resist the boxes of books going into the dealer’s room and the Art room. There were also panels I wanted to attend, we traded off for some of the panels, but there are some that both of us wanted to get to. In that case we would pack up anything we didn’t want to walk away and left a note telling people what panel we were attending. Besides needing help, we offered help to the Con Com.
Simple things, we would watch the registration table, and allowed schedules to be placed on our table for those fans who had lost theirs or needed directions to the different floors of the convention center. We also helped some of the kids on the Con staff who had spent all their money just to get to the Con and had nothing left for food. I set up a tab for them in the hospitality room and nobody took advantage. In exchange for the help, Con Security hung around more and registration staff pointed out our table as THE place to visit.
Last Day Of The Con: Don’t blow off the last day. Many fans attending the con are stingy with their money the first couple of days, by the end of the con they are getting tired and generous. Continue your presence at least until the dealer room closes. But What Do I Say? The Heinlein Society has an excellent website and everything they stand for is listed on the site. Read it, read it again, mull it over and make it your own. This is much better than having a rote speech written down. Just talk to folks, find out what their first Heinlein book was; what does Heinlein mean to them? One fellow was talking about his relationship with Heinlein; and I found out later it was David Gerrold …
We had several nice surprises, many of the fans we talked to we knew from the ‘outside’ and never knew they read and enjoyed SF. Since MisCon is so small there were many friends we meet up with every year. This made our first attempt at a Heinlein table easy on us. The local TV stations have community service spots, and the public access station is available – I’m planning to distribute Flyers in the bookstores and ask MisCon to include us on their flyers
MisCon 18 will be the place to be in 2004. But most of all… Even though I have a hard time believing in myself, I believe in Heinlein and what he has taught me. His memory makes it easier.
We will be having our own Missoula Chapter Heinlein Society dinner in the not to distant future. I was hoping to spring for steak dinners, but at this rate we’ll have to settle for McDonald’s.