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An Honest Discussion about the Drama Surrounding MNFURS

Home Forums MNFurs Discussions An Honest Discussion about the Drama Surrounding MNFURS

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  • #56989 Quote
    Good morning everyone,

    I want to start off by saying I don’t dislike MNFURS. In fact, I think MNFURS is a great organization and adds to the furry community. With that being said; in my personal opinion, MNFURS is not for everyone. Many people in the furry subculture have different ideas as to what the furry fandom is and what the image of furries should look like. What a lot of people don’t understand is that MNFURS is a family friendly organization. Also, there is a lot of older people running the organization, causing there to be a generation gap with younger furries who want to get involved in the community. I’m not going to air all of the dirty laundry but I wanted to make this post so we can honestly discuss the issues and misunderstandings going on between furries living in Minneosta at large and the organization of MNFURS.

     

    #56997 Quote
    I don’t think what you are describing is unique to mnfurs. It is a problem, and it’s one that every volunteer organization shares.

    I’m 34. I don’t feel super old. A lot of the people who help run the organization (or any organization) happen to be 30+. We actively do community outreach. We host informational panels, we call out that we need help. We actively try to source new talent for helping to run the organization (no matter the age). The issue is one of getting those volunteers and no matter the age – it’s really tough to get volunteers. It’s even more difficult to get volunteers in their late teens / early 20s. Again, this is a universal problem I’ve seen across all non-profits, whether furry, anime, or even churches (just not all three at the same time, Ridayah).

    My challenge here would be, if you are late teens/early to mid 20s and you want to see change – step forward and help. We have an event submission form on our website. If there’s an event you aren’t seeing, like, a pub night as an example (yes please!) offer to run one. If you want to see adult programming at furry migration – offer to run something. Because that’s really what’s missing right now. The board has the bandwidth to make sure foundation events like the picnics and Perkins and Oval meetups happens, and HEY there’s a convention. But we really are depending on the community to come forward to flesh out our programming. Our board meetings are open and times are in our event calendar. So yes, my challenge is PLEASE PLEASE show up and help and talk to us about what you want.

    There’s an Oval meetup this Sunday. We are doing a quick furry migration discussion. Maybe right after that we could do a community forum and talk about the future of mnfurs.

    • This reply was modified 4 weeks, 1 day ago by Aerak. Reason: Typing on my phone sucks
    • This reply was modified 4 weeks, 1 day ago by Aerak. Reason: I found a laptop!!!

    MNFurs is a 501(c3) educational non-profit organization. We provide events in the Minnesota area, but we also provide learning opportunities, scholarship programs, and we provide charitable work with our members for others nonprofit organizations. Our board of directors is elected each year by our membership, from our membership

    MNFurs Staff
    Furry Migration Assets Head

    #57024 Quote
    In my experience, when it comes to participating in events or services run by volunteers: You get more when you put in more. This isn’t directed at you as a call to action, this is just my experience. It applies to everyone in the community.

    I’ve been on/off with a LARP group that’s 100% volunteer run as a player and a stint as a Storyteller (Dungeon Master role). The games I enjoy most are when I am pro-active to talk and interact with other players. The only time I’ve been mostly satisfied with leadership is when I was on STaff (I always felt like I needed more time than I had to do better).

    I think this completely applies to MNFurs. I’m not very active on the boards so I miss events posted that actually would fit my work schedule. I’ve never hosted an event so I don’t know what MNFurs staff goes through to set it up. Even on the unofficial Telegram I’m hardly browsing or replying – so I don’t know many other furs. I’m not putting in much for activity so I’m getting back little from the community and that’s perfectly fine for me.

    In contrast, at FM’19 I did volunteer hours during the night and had a very good time doing so. I even got mentioned by name at closing ceremonies for how many hours I banked by being to assist at the times most furs were asleep or at a party event. A few other furs talked to me while I was just checking for badges. I answered questions about the con to strangers who happened to be at the hotel for unrelated reasons. I got a shirt. It was a really positive experience once I offered to be more involved.

    Fun For All and All For Fun

    #57043 Quote

    I’m not very active on the boards so I miss events posted that actually would fit my work schedule. I’ve never hosted an event so I don’t know what MNFurs staff goes through to set it up.

    Just to provide input on this portion of your response, hosting an event is layers of work.  By layers I mean that when a community member sends in an event submission then we (Events Department) look through it, make sure dates/times do not interfere with other events/cons/holidays/etc, write up a little description for it to help sell the event, & then send it off to be posted here on the forums as an announcement with a thread if one was not already created.

    Next the person running the event does his/her work the day of and coordinates accordingly from there.  I have setup & hosted many different styles of events from small to large and it is a lot of work.  You can also see how much work goes into an event by viewing my event running 101 guides right here.

    * * * * * * * * * *

    Stereo – In not having too much to say at the moment about your initial post, what can we (staff and/or board) be doing better?  Can you maybe elaborate some more?

    Thank you!

    ~ Drake M.

    T H €  B | Z   F [] X

    MNFurs Events Department Staff - Having an idea, planning logistics, & putting them in motion is what we are here to help YOU do successfully

    MNFurs ~ 501(c3) Non-Profit Organization

    #57061 Quote
    Since everyone seems to wish to pass the buck, perhaps there should also be a point to look at the internal working as well. Case in point, when someone submits an idea for a meet, if it’s not within the physical limits of the city, it gets ignored. We call ourselves MN Furs, yet we do not promote events outside there. Then change the name to “Twin Cities Furs” instead since it’s far more accurate. I know there were MAYBE two events that were in St Cloud that were posted, no one really showed interest except maybe one or two individuals. All meets seem to be required within the city boundaries or no one shows, this is not a state-wide setting. Not to mention, in 2018 at FM the staff were so disorganized, there was nothing to identify them from regular people. I heard that one individual was harassed about his props due to someone not doing their job and tagging it properly. When it was brought up by said individual, the staff member approached didn’t care to do much since the person had no identifier. This was poor coordination at the very least, and when it came to light, it was swept under the rug. I remember hearing about it on a furry radio station, because it was pointed out. The age gap is not the problem, it is everyone’s attitude to things and how it has effect MN furs and Furry Migration. That said individual was so hurt seeing how fursuiters were taking all the attention and never tried to be social with non-suiters that person regretted being furry and promptly left the community thanks to the high school level of interaction. So, with that, I wish to make it known that before you invite others to get involved, you should look at yourselves, and make sure you know what you are doing so any others may also, be on the same page and create an event worth going to instead of drama, disasters, and the like that are well-known to be swept away, till very recently thanks to furs speaking out.

    A mind without purpose will wander in dark places

    #57062 Quote
    I was told there was a post that mentioned my talk show I was involved in. I am the one that discussed that lack of coordination, as it was put, and pointed out how little attention was given to correcting that mess. We are supposed to be inclusive but with someone getting messed with over a prop, which by the way someone else had similar props in your parade video, and then staff just blowing it off instead of openly discussing it………………poor communication and coordination at its highest. Doggone right we let our world wide audience know, and I saw the stats we had over 50+ listening that night. Get your brains put together folks, because you desperately need to rethink things.

     

    Joliet Bandit*

    #57063 Quote
    I do my best to steer clear of MNFurs politics as much as possible as I have burned myself in the past. Too much passion and not enough restraint. Twice now I have looked at this thread and told myself to walk away. But I do have some unique perspectives as a result of the paths I’ve wandered. I’m going to share some of my experiences and opinions that I think some people may find of value in hearing. It’s clear to me that there are some frustrated people and it’s very easy for people to get emotional or take things personally when this happens, so just keep that in mind. Being angry doesn’t make people listen just as lecturing somebody who’s angry doesn’t address their frustrations. I see the potential for the past repeating itself here and I wanted to make sure I waved the caution flag for both sides. Always remember that your personal experiences do not tell the whole story.

    So far I’ve heard several different specific issues given voice and the responses so far have been the same responses given whenever similar complaints have been made. But everything stated so far can be boiled down to a difference in expectations. 1. If you’re called MNFurs you should be doing stuff around the whole state. 2. We’re volunteer operated so if you want something to happen you should make it happen. 3. We want more people involved so get involved. All of these statements on their own are in a sense valid, but they ignore all of the intricacies of the matters involved and thus avoid identifying potential problems and solutions.

    • Yes, it’s called MNFurs. But the vast majority of the people living in the state live in the Twin Cities, and thus that’s where most of the furries and the programming are found. I will point out here that Werecamp is an official MNFurs event that is taking place down by Rochester for the third year now. Also, Furry Migration itself serves an area far beyond the Twin Cities. So MNFurs does in fact serve the entire state. Now, I imagine there are people who would like to see more smaller events spread out around the state. That’s not an unreasonable desire, but MNFurs doesn’t have unlimited resources. There are potential solutions that could be worked out, but that is another conversation.
    • If somebody says they want something to happen in MNFurs, the response is almost always to tell the person to go ahead and come up with a proposal for an event. There’s nothing really wrong with this response, but it assumes everyone has the time and skills needed to do so. When the person in question doesn’t, then they are effectively being shut out. A person could be very interested in participating in the community, but maybe they are looking for something the community doesn’t seem to do yet. Maybe they are the only person looking to do that hypothetical activity, or maybe they are simply the only person who has asked. By deflecting the request back to the person, an opportunity to explore a new idea has been shut down and maybe an opportunity to expand the community to new people has been lost. In the event somebody does take up the challenge to organize the event, they will be met with obstacles that MNFurs does not help them with.

    I’m going to tell of one of my experiences in trying to start a new class of events for MNFurs. The year before the first Werecamp, I decided to organize some outdoor activities for those furs who enjoying  said outdoor activities. Namely hiking, biking, and snowshoeing, but I was also open to running other activities if anyone was interested. I organized these events on the forum, but I didn’t have any other way of reaching people in the community. Since they weren’t sponsored events they weren’t listed on the calendar. I had no way of figuring out how or even if I could reach the whole community. When I tried submitting one of the events I got an unhelpful response of, “that doesn’t conflict with anything be sure to state whether fursuits are allowed.” In the end I had a hiking and snowshoeing event with low but ok attendance, a biking event with just one attendee, and another hiking event where a handful of people told me they would go but nobody showed up. This is very demoralizing for somebody who is trying to run events. I have lots of experience running events, but I decided to give up on this particular series of events. Somebody who didn’t have any experience running events would probably give up completely on the idea of running events for MNFurs and maybe even give up on the idea of joining the community if they were new. I had a handful of people contact me to let me know they would have participated, but they didn’t know about the events. To this day I don’t know if the events failed because nobody was interested or if they simply didn’t know about them. Communication has always been an issue with MNFurs, and that’s not all on MNFurs. The members of the community each have their preferred ways of communicating with the others and that makes it very hard to reach them all.

    • We want more people involved so get involved, or the passing of the buck. MNFurs chose to operate as a purely volunteer organization, which has it’s pros and cons like everything else. Now, this wasn’t a bad or good decision, it was just a decision. From my understanding this is normal for convention focused nonprofit organizations. My personal experience outside of MNFurs is with educational and community nonprofits, where this is not normal. Every other nonprofit I have worked with has at least a core of paid staff. Why? When all of your staff is volunteer based, they can only put in the amount of effort that they have available after they have worked on their income and personal life. In other words, it will always be a hobby and when people get burned out they won’t be able to put as much into it. (And multiple organizers were burnt out this year.) When you have paid staff they are able to put their energy into the nonprofit first and are in a much better place to support the efforts of the volunteers as well as actively seek out new volunteers. Of course, to have paid staff you need a source of funds. If anyone thinks this is something MNFurs has to change, then you need to find a funding source. Otherwise you just have to accept this as the way things are. I will say this. I have had the privilege of working with a top tier volunteer program, and when people ask how the agency I work with was able to pull it off, the answer is simple. You get out what you invest into it. Maybe MNFurs can’t invest the money, but there may be other ways of investing into the volunteer program that could be explored if people want to improve things. Food for thought.

    The age gap is not the problem, it is everyone’s attitude to things and how it has effect MN furs and Furry Migration. That said individual was so hurt seeing how fursuiters were taking all the attention and never tried to be social with non-suiters that person regretted being furry and promptly left the community thanks to the high school level of interaction.

    Everyone’s experiences are of course different, but this is a sentiment I can agree with completely. Yes, I’m going to share another story of my experiences. The first time I ever met other furs was at a convention. I didn’t have a fursuit but I was able to learn about fursuit making from the guest of honor. But most importantly I participated in the parade and saw the fursuiters in action from their view. Yes, the parade was for everyone, not just those in a fursuit. It was an amazing experience and I wanted to become a fursuiter after that. I made the arms, paws, and tail, but when I got to the head I couldn’t do it. So it became a thing I couldn’t participate in but I wanted to support it. I was the one who originally organized the parade unit for the winter carnival. But my experiences with the fursuiters here eroded my enthusiasm for the art. I went to the fursuit bowling meets. The first time the suiters and nonsuiters bowled together. The second time nonsuiters were pushed to the side on their own lane. The third time I wasn’t even allowed to bowl. Since then I haven’t been able to look at fursuiting without seeing that exclusive club. Anytime I see fursuiters now they seem to be screaming to me, look at me whoever you are since I don’t really care who you are. (These bowling events were a long time ago, I have no knowledge of current bowling events.) Going back to the previous story, I couldn’t help but wonder if the reason my outdoor events failed was because they weren’t fursuiting. And if the only way to have a successful event is to support fursuiting and fursuiters won’t support your events in return, then I had to wonder what, if any purpose I had for participating in the community. Right now, Werecamp is my sole involvement. This perceived attitude from the fursuiters is one of the reasons I limit my engagement with the community. It’s not because I hate fursuiting or anything stupid like that. I was just made to feel like there’s no place for me in the community. There’s nothing wrong with focusing on what you enjoy, but if you don’t do things for the other people as well, you do close doors on some people.

    I guess that is the final difference of expectations. Some or perhaps most people expect fursuiting to be the focus while others are looking for a place to belong and feel welcomed as people with similar interests expressed in other forms. The events, with a few rare exceptions, certainly make it seem like fursuiting is the only thing that matters.

    Sorry for the book, but I felt that these views may be useful in providing understanding of some of these less common viewpoints some community members may have. The two most recent posts before mine state that changes need to be made, but that is up to the community to decide. Remember, this was just my experiences and many people have benefited from fursuiting. I’m perfectly ok with my views being discarded as those of an outsider.

    #57064 Quote
    I’m kind of sad. I kind of feel like Leslie Knope from Parks and Rec when she’s trying to help her town but can’t catch a break. Seems whatever contribution she makes either isn’t big enough, or gets overlooked for something she’s not doing.

    I feel like whatever I say here will just get misconstrued. If I argue a point someone else is making, it will be looked at as, “Oh, Aerak is biased”. So responding at all makes me feel uneasy, but it’s something I have to do.

    I agree with some of the points and disagree with others. For instance, I agree/disagree about “MNFurs needs to be providing events outside of the twin cities”. I would love to but it’s just not feasible right now. MNFurs provides events in the twin cities because a majority of the furries in the state live in the twin cities. But outside of those events, we rely on people within the community to host events. They can either use our forums and say, “Hey, this is happening” or they can contact our events team and they will help provide advise and logistics support. But at the end of the day, we need people to step forward and run the events. Everyone doing this has a day job and as I said in my comments somewhere further up this page, we just don’t have the staff or volunteers needed for that kind of scope.

    MNFurs provides a lot of unseen services. It helps provide some of the foundation events that people have come to expect, but a lot of what they do is provide a safety net. They have event insurance in case someone gets hurt. They educate the greater community on furry and dispel the myths that were common place in the 90s. They keep the community safe and give people safe places to meetup and have fun. And they take care of all of the boring/stressful tax work that goes along with having a large community.

    So let’s talk about Furry Migration. I haven’t heard the issue brought up with Furry Migration – about the prop. It sounds like an honest mistake on the part of the staff – one that shouldn’t have happened – but a mistake nonetheless. I think FM will have to be more diligent in the future in making sure that all of the staff are on the same page. During the period that this took place, it was the 5th year of FM, and we were struggling with what year five of every convention brings – staff burnout. Most of the staff have been there since year one and it can become a bit daunting. We are trying to bring in more staff and I think a big part of this coming year will be having the leadership better support the staff and that way, hopefully the staff can better support the attendees.

    So yes, I agree completely that staff should have been on the same page about what props are acceptable and that our staff need to be better supported so they can support the attendees. That’s something important to me moving forward. But here’s what I don’t agree with: that the individual affected used that one bad experience to decide to leave the fandom, and thus it’s the conventions fault. I’m sorry that it caused that individual to feel like they were being picked on, but deciding to leave the fandom over this one event seems extreme and it’s not fair to pin it on the convention or the people running it. That issue falls into perception – fursuiters are more important. And I empathize. Even owning a fursuit can be a bit like a highschool popularity contest, and the experience at least for me is a mix of amazing or pretty crummy, depending on when I’m being asked. Not wearing one but seeing them run around – it’s hard not to gobble up all the attention with how bright and colorful most of these fursuits are. But like I said, this is an issue within the fandom at large – not with a specific convention.

    I guess all I can say in closing is that this is complicated. It’s not black and white. I think we have to all assume that there is no malice. This fandom is growing so fast, I think that a lot of us are figuring it out as we go. And we can’t change the past. All we can do is learn from it. MNFurs has an event problem. We don’t have the staff to do everything the community wants. And it’s not really feasible with our limited staff to put on events outside of the twin cities. I would love it if we could, but we just aren’t there. If anyone wants to talk to me about it, you can always ping me on telegram. I’m open to ideas. And as for Furry Migration, being a division head I can say we are genuinely aware of a lot of things we would like to work on for this year, and at least for me personally, the staff are pretty high up on that list. Hopefully if we can take care of the staff and better work with them, we can clear up the issues a few of you have outlined.

    MNFurs is a 501(c3) educational non-profit organization. We provide events in the Minnesota area, but we also provide learning opportunities, scholarship programs, and we provide charitable work with our members for others nonprofit organizations. Our board of directors is elected each year by our membership, from our membership

    MNFurs Staff
    Furry Migration Assets Head

    #57065 Quote
    You are correct, that the experience should not deter, which was a sad event, and I certainly hope that they reconsider. However on the other paw, depending on how deeply they personally felt affected, they may have just been in a state that they felt shunned altogether. I have not spoken to that party since, but hope to have a chance and see if it were just this isolated incident, or a combination of incidents that pushed them to that. It could allow a better view on things as a whole, and learn from those past mistakes to try and make changes where possible to prevent them from becoming a repeat. I spent 20 years in security [yes I’m a grey muzzle so hush] and can nit pick the daylights of things I have seen that could have been done better in a variety of cons. All in all, our radio discussion was not to point paws and blame, but to point out discrepancies, in an attempt to bring them to light for review and prevention.  As for my statement of “providing events outside the city” I have been made aware that there are a handful of furs that would likely host, if given the positive encouragement rather than what they consider, “being ignored” which may have been part of the underlying issue in that scenario. If I didn’t live a bit of a distance, I would certainly attend, just for the sake of giving that support.
    #57069 Quote
    Ok, so one thing I’d like to weigh in on is that whenever somebody tries to organize a meet outside of the Twin Cities metro area, we met with people in the metro saying “but that’s too far to travel to…” While true, I’m going to say this: this isn’t for you guys in the metro, this is for the people in Rochester, in St. Cloud, in Duluth, in Brainerd . Its cool if people from the metro show up, that’s welcome, but they are not required. This in turn makes it discouraging for anyone trying to set up a meet for the first time because “oh but that’s a far drive to make.” And to be honest, your local community might be quiet but there will be a few furs coming out of the woodwork to hang out. And the thing is communicate with the MNFurs, communicate with them, they can try to support you even at a distance somehow some way.

    To wrap this up because I’m writing this on a time crunch, if you want to organize something, do it. Something like a park romp or even your own picnic (not sure why you’d do it now with the snow but you do you), and just do it. And then communicate with MNFurs, ignore all the complaints on how its too far away. If its a small turnout, its a start. Keep doing it and more will show up.

    #57085 Quote
    I don’t think people know how good they have it here.

    People do work and plenty of it to provide opportunities for people to meet online or in person. This gets taken for granted all the time. Ya just don’t know how good you have it… take a bit of time to step back and look at the bigger picture. Instead of complaining, step up. Take the initiative to put forth the work to make things happen. Offer your time. Having ideas is easy… seeing them through takes a crapton of effort. Arm chair critique is easy. Do the work to set things right in your eyes.

    Don’t rely on others to increase the enjoyment of your world then shun them for not catering to your desires.

    ByCats4Cats.com

    http://en.wikifur.com/wiki/Snap_E._Tiger

    #57089 Quote
    No one said anything about whether or not  “how good they have it here” instead they were pointing out some issues that can be easily discussed as it has, without the self righteous ego. Someone expressed their concerns and it was discussed very maturely. So, rather than stepping in to attempt to be macho, perhaps you should make certain to read posts clearly and rethink things without the ego getting in the way.
    • This reply was modified 3 days, 14 hours ago by JB Raccoon.
    #57119 Quote
    oh, I do have a bit of an update, I was able to track down that other in question again. They stated that there was more that pushed them to the edge from other locations, however this particular event we discussed was the catalyst. They have admitted they didn’t actually leave the fandom, but they were upset enough to seriously consider it. I’m going to base off what was discussed with me that what had occurred was not an isolated incident for them at just the con there, but others as well. So, with that knowledge, perhaps others may be able to share in the discussion of the conflict at the con. Now, in regard to the events, I was assured they would certainly consider trying again at a later time, and I offered to give any advice that I can to assist them in attempting to make it something worth travelling to for many.
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