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Heather “Talon”

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    Tell us about yourself.

    Hey everyone, I’m Talon (she/her)! I’ve been in the furry fandom for around 15 years, starting way back when with the original official Warrior Cats forum. I’ve been in the fandom ever since as an artist, but only learned about a local community in 2021. I’ve been on staff on the communications team since December of 2022, as well as a moderator for the Discord server. I’ve been to Furry Migration twice, the first being in 2022, and in 2023 I was the Department Head for Communications. If you’ve seen events posted on the MNFurs site, socials, or Discord, it was probably me!

     

    What brought you to the furry fandom?

    As previously mentioned, I first joined the fandom 15 years ago, back when the original official Warrior Cats forum was very popular. Most people gave themselves a warrior name when they joined to be their username, and it was incredibly common to create a fursona for yourself as well. The name Talon came from the prefix of my chosen name, actually! I’ve been going by it this entire time, and even get called it IRL by my friends. Talon-the-sona has also remained a cat for 15 years, though I’ve added two other sonas in the meantime.

    I was (and still am) very into creating art, so it was a pretty smooth transition from the forums to the wider community that existed on DeviantArt, and then to Twitter. I appreciate the art and originality of the fandom; unlike other fandoms, this community is run entirely on original characters and content, giving people way more individual freedoms with their content and experiences. I love my characters, and seeing others characters, and get great joy in commissioning others to draw mine for me.

     

    How will you continue to volunteer in the community after being elected to the board?

    I’m absolutely going to continue doing my job in Communications, which I love, as well as moderating the Discord. It brings me a lot of personal joy to feel as though I’m helping, and so being in charge of making sure events go up, the community is safe, and questions are answered is very important to me. I also intend to continue as FM Communications Head as long as they’ll have me.

     

    How do you view events like Furry Migration and Midwinter Frolic impact the Minnesota Furs community today and tomorrow?

    I think that what we have going for us in Minnesota is very special. Unlike what I’ve seen from many states, we have an organized community, with events that are easily accessible to outsiders and newbies. Furry Migration as a con is also special in that, unlike many cons, it’s run by a nonprofit (MNFurs), which means there aren’t monetary gains to be made when making decisions. This is important now more than ever, since it means theoretically decisions are made to be as beneficial for the con-goers as possible. As it grows, I think it’ll also help bring more furs into the larger Minnesota Furs community.

    As for Midwinter Frolic, I don’t think the benefit of a smaller, more intimate venue where you can meet other furs more one-on-one can be understated. With such a large community, sometimes it can feel difficult to make connections with others, especially when you’re new to it. Hosting events like Frolic give furs the opportunity to actually sit down and chat with one another, and make connections that are less fleeting than a romp.

     

    What are your strengths that you will bring to the board?

    As a person, I’m typically pretty efficient at seeing problems from various angles, and coming up with solutions I think are reasonable compromises if several people are disagreeing, as well as seeing how issues would affect different demographics.

    Communication, especially written communication meant to be spread to wider audiences is also something I believe is a forte of mine. Determining how things should be worded to be the most understandable while still holding some personality is something I pride myself on. I’ve also had success in the past with helping others understand one another. By this, I mean that if one person is trying to explain their point of view to another, and the other isn’t understanding, I can often find a way to word it so both of them understand what the other is trying to convey.

    I’ve also been on a board for a different non-profit in the past, and have at least a touch of understanding on how the operations can look, though that organization vs this one is very different.

     

    What do you feel are areas where you want to further develop yourself? Why?

    Despite wanting to do the best I can, I often have a lot of anxiety that I’m not doing things properly, or that what I’m doing is letting down others. While I’m already pushing through it with my other roles, finding more confidence in myself and my decisions will help me not only do my staff duties more efficiently, but help me in day-to-day life as well.

    On a completely different note, I’d love to know and understand more about the technological side of things. I’ve got a passing understanding of how programs typically work, and can learn some as I go, but I know other members of the board and community are much more technology-oriented than myself, and I would love to learn from them some of the more back-end technologies that help MNFurs go.

     

    How can Minnesota Furs reach out to other communities local and national in furry and other fandoms?

    I think Furry Migration, which we are already doing, does wonders in reaching out to both the local and national (and international!) furry scenes. I also think it wouldn’t hurt to look into other cons in the area (such as anime or general geek cons) and potentially have a presence there, whether it be a booth or something else. Some events in Minnesota also have opportunities for nonprofits to booth and be approachable to the general public about what their organization is like – the Renaissance Festival is one of these, as an example.

     

    What are two things that you would like to see accomplished/improved during your tenure?

    One big one I’d like to see is events being more accessible to new members! I remember being new to the community, and being stressed out because I didn’t know anyone. The first picnic I went to was incredibly overwhelming – everyone seemed like they knew each other already, and I was too anxious to try and break into a group. For bigger events like Ovals or Picnics, I’d love for there to be something like a newbie table: somewhere those new to the community can go, with more known members there to greet everyone, maybe introduce them to others or at least the other newbies so connections can be made. For smaller events like romps, it wouldn’t hurt (if staffing is available) for staff or other long-running members of the community to keep an eye out for people who look a little lost, or don’t seem to have anyone to chat with.

    I also think it’d be kinda neat if the day-to-day operations could be a bit more transparent to members. Folks have expressed in the past that they feel they don’t know the Board and other members of Staff very well, so posting updates from meetings in a more accessible place, sharing anecdotes, things that both inform members of what’s going on in the org and also showing the Board are real humans (er, animals?) too, instead of just a nebulous figurehead, would help general community understanding of one another.

     

    One goal of MNFurs is to promote education. How do you intend on helping promote education?

    Circling back on how I said MNFurs could do more outreach – boothing at events can be incredibly helpful in not only finding more members, but also explaining what our organization is for! This is especially helpful for our org specifically in that the general public often has a lot of questions or misconceptions for what “furry” means, and what our community does. We often get questions on romps from non-furries about what we’re doing, and why we’re doing it, and I think outreach events would be a good way to help others understand us better!

     

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