One of the amazing things about fandom is the respective fan funds. There’s a triangle of them connecting the three largest concentrates of fandom in the world. (There’s also several minor ones, my favorite of which is CUFF, which sends fans back and forth within Canada.)
The first one, connecting Europe with Australia, is GUFF, which stands for the Going Under/Get Up-and-over Fan Fund, depending on the direction of the trip. As this is the leg of the triangle that I can’t participate in, I don’t know all that much about it. The next trip direction is EU -> AUS, for the Australian Worldcon next year.
The second one, connecting Australia with North America, is DUFF, which stands for the Down Under Fan Fund. This fascinates me, as Australia’s always seemed like a nifty place to visit. (That’s why I was hoping to get there next year, but my plans to be employed full-time by this point have been thwarted by the economic meltdown.) Anyway, this year’s DUFF trip is NA -> AUS for the same reason as GUFF.
And then there’s my favorite fan fund, TAFF, or the Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund. Now it might be my favorite because I hang out with Chris Garcia at conventions and thus get the full fury of the manic TAFF delegate. TAFF connects Europe and North America, and got its start in a one-off fund to bring a great fanwriter named Walt Willis from Ireland to the US in 1952, which means the fund is the granddaddy of all the fanfunds and, well, older than my parents. (There’s a lot of things older than my parents in fandom. There are things in fandom that are older than my grandparents, actually. And if that doesn’t make most folks in fandom feel old…)
And TAFF is NA -> EU this year. And they’ve just called for nominations
So, what’s the catch, you ask? Well, if you win, you get to spend two years (or until the next person travelling in the direction you took your trip in goes) managing the fund and raising more money for it. This means talking it up whenever possible. Basically, you’re trading two-four weeks of awesomeness with two years of representing and earning more money for the fund. Thankfully, fandom is generally generous with both items and money to support the fund.
TAFF is the trip I’d like to do, as I seem to have more friends in British fandom than I do in Australian fandom, which is probably partially a function of the APAs I’ve decided to join. This would be the year to do it, too, as the trip is supposed to be attending the Eastercon in 2010, but Corflu’s the weekend before, and it would be fun to attend both and get the general vibe of things.
But after some thought on the matter, I’m going to hold off for a few reasons:
- I’m still a newbie, and trying to convince folks to vote for me would probably take some doing. (I could probably find nominators, but again, it helps to be better known.)
- Even if I could get past the hurdle of point one, I’m part-time at my job. This means I get no vacation whatsoever. My attendance at Worldcon was sandwiched by two days of eight hours and three days doing my usual time, and I still lost four hours of time I’m allotted every week. It wouldn’t be fair to either myself, the British fans I meet, or the fund in general for me to have to put in work time while I’m on the trip.
- Even if I overcame both those hurdles, I’m still dependent on the US Government providing me some small measure of my income, and the draconian asset limits attached to that. (Seriously, to get disability in this country, you are allowed to own a house, a car, and no more than $2000 in assets.) Since the TAFF fund gets put in your name, I blow the asset cap with money that isn’t even mine.
Of course, points two and three could be mitigated by getting a full-time job that offers a benefit like, oh, vacation pay, which is why I’m holding off at the moment — to let the economy warm up a bit and figure out what the future might hold as well as getting more involved and active within fandom. It’s possible I’ll re-evaluate in 2012 and do it then, but 2014′s looking a lot more likely at the moment.
But in the meantime, I just wanted to spread the word of the awesome things that are contained within fandom. And this is one of the most nifty parts, in my opinion.