On Saturday, many of the Finnish fandom’s active members gathered in the Tampere winter swimmers’ sauna cabin for the annual smoffing meeting. This year there were more people than I remember there ever being (someone said they counted 70 participants), and it showed a bit; the building was bursting at the seams.
Before the traditional general co-operation meeting, there was the annual meeting of the Finncon association. It was business as usual—closing of the previous year, looking at the plans for the current year. A new board for the association was elected. Karo Leikomaa continues as chair, and Harri Kiiskinen and Pasi Vihinen continue as members of the board. New members this year are Ari Seppi from Tampere and Saija Aro from Espoo (but also representing Jyväskylä).
The co-operation meeting went smoothly, thanks to Jukkahoo who chaired the meeting very efficiently. This year most of the societies present had also done as was asked, and prepared their presentations beforehand, so there was much less going back-and-forth, remembering activities bit by bit, than in the previous few years. This is a practice I hope will continue in the following years. I would like to see the meeting be a bit more efficient still: in my opinion it’s not necessary to go over all the standard stuff that continues from year to year: publishing a club zine, having regular pub meetings, etc. These things could be collected in a info letter, for example, and use the meeting time for discussing things that aren’t exactly the same each year (such as bigger events, and also changes to the usual routines of course).
The usual activities took place after the meeting: sauna + swimming in the lake (quite a few braved the icy lake, despite the freezing weather), filking, raffle, announcing the NoFF delegate (Susanna Leppälahti from Turku will be attending a convention somewhere in the Nordic countries this year), the NoFF auction (which, if I remember correctly, took in about 400 €; a great result), informal meetings, and of course eating and drinking with friends from all over Finland. We also saw a sneak preview of material from the long awaited Iron Sky movie. And had a meeting of the Señor Humidor’s Wondrously Scientifictional Cigar Society. Nice cigars in good company—who cares if it was cold enough to freeze the beer I was drinking while smoking the cigar.
This year the meeting time was longer than before, and I thought it worked very well. The Finncon association meeting was held before the regular meeting (which is excellent, because it takes a while and not everybody needs or wants to be present for it), and also the evening ran longer because the place for reserved for the whole evening. This made for a much more relaxed evening—there are so many activities that the evening has felt very rushed. What I’d like to see in the future would be making the evening less strictly programmed. For example, I would reserve the sauna for a longer period, not just a couple of hours. I’m sure there are people, for example, who aren’t that interested in the hour-long raffle, or the filking session, but would like to relax in the sauna instead. I see no need to try to put all the activities back-to-back, thinking everyone will want to participate in every one of those.
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On Sunday, a few of us met for the now quasi-traditional brunch. As always, this was more of a nice and relaxed meeting of friends, taking a couple of hours before heading home. Something said during the brunch caught my attention, and we discussed the idea further with Harri on the way back. Jukka suggested that the co-operation meeting could officially be a two-day event, and I think this would be an excellent idea. It would allow for more time to have smaller meetings (such as a board meeting for the Finncon association) without having to try to cram it all in one evening—and naturally also leave more room for socializing on Saturday. Not everyone who attends the general meeting on Saturday would want (or need) to attend the Sunday part, so a much smaller venue would do.
Sunday’s schedule could be something like:
- brunch, 10–12 (enough time so that those who don’t want to be up at 10 can attend, but I’d still say start earlier so that us who are up earlier can take our time with the brunch—and please find a place that actually does open when announced, unlike the venue used this year)
- meetings, starting at noon (those who prefer to sleep in can skip the brunch)
- end the day around 5 or 6 (with perhaps a pizza break during the day)
My idea of the ideal Smof Sunday would be a very relaxed, loosely programmed day. There could, and should, be some scheduled meetings (the aforementioned Finncon association board meeting would be a good candidate, and perhaps for example a FSFWA meeting as well), but there should also be plenty of time for informal smoffing. This would be a great opportunity for discussing the upcoming events in more detail (Finncon planning), bouncing ideas off other “smofs”, and just socializing. Does this sound like something people would like to try? I’d be game for trying this on for size next year. How about you?
My thanks for the organizers! Next year the meeting will be held on Saturday, February 25. See you in Tampere!