This morning we had a meeting to plan WisCon 22. WisCon is an annual Madison science fiction convention with a feminist emphasis. It's organized by the local group SF3 ("SF-cubed"), and I'm the Webmaster for their site, so I was at the meeting in that capacity.
I deal with enough politics elsewhere in my life, and I am basically indifferent to the politics of SF3; basically, whatever they want to do is fine with me. (This seems a safe approach, since the last two WisCons have been wildly successful.) So I basically showed up to learn anything I needed to learn, and have a free bagel.
Many SF conventions are struggling to stay afloat, in large part because of a lack of people-resources to do the important jobs (hotel liaison, coordination, programming, security, etc.) that require planning and effort. Moreover, the advent of Star Wars, Star Trek and their ilk have routed many young (30 and under) fans who would otherwise have been serious reader-fans into media fandom. There's nothing wrong with this, but I think it has helped to deplete the pool of fans who would have helped run more serious conventions (and in my arrogant opinion, written science fiction is orders of magnitude more serious than media SF; don't even get me started on manga).
I feel a little guilty about this because I'm not very interested - or willing - to take on those critical, time-intensive jobs myself, although I'd probably do a decent job due to my organizational skills. (My interpersonal skills, on the other hand...) But I try to contribute in some other ways, when I can. Maybe I'm just not fated to become a back-room SMOF type.
That's selling Madison a bit short, though; Madison is in fact a haven for used book stores. There are about six good used stores within walking distance of my apartment, and a good comics & SF store two miles south of here. And on the west side of town is an excellent store named the Frugal Muse which sells used books, CDs and videotapes, and has the best prices in town. So I have no shortage of things to read or books to buy. (Madison is also a haven for used CD stores.)
Round about 7 pm I decided that I wanted to: