Not so many years ago, Super Bowl Sunday would mark the waning hours of another in-person Foolscap convention — one last rush of activity cleaning up so some of us could catch the game, a well-deserved post-con meal for the rest of us, then a few months of refreshing slowness before shifting the next con's planning into full gear.

But a lot of things have happened in those not-so-many years. We've had a pandemic. We're still having it. The nexus of fandom conversation on Twitter imploded. The entire literature and media landscape has changed, for both creators and their audiences. There are new and worrying wars out there in the world. It's exhausting.

I'd like to say that in times like these, Foolscap is needed more than ever. But I don't think that's quite right.

Community is needed more than ever. But a weekend gathering? We're all very tired, and planning an Event is a lot of work. More than that, it seems like it may not be the right work anymore, or that we no longer have access to the right kind of people for it.

Foolscap-the-convention is going away. Here's the statement from the board:

After deliberation by the Board and Convention Committee, Foolscap is going into hibernation. We are stopping our large annual events and continuing as a social group. We will continue weekly games, the Reading Group and our Discord discussion communities. We also hope to facilitate organizing and curating social events that our members share an interest in.

There are no dates for a 2024 convention, or any year beyond that. Still, we hope you'll stick around.

Foolscap was always about the people. Whether you made it to every convention we held or only ever joined us for conversations online, you're one of those people. And we're still here.

Foolscap's parent organization, Little Cat Z, will continue to operate to keep the online resources of the convention running. There will be a place to chat, and tools for voice and video conversations.

This space has always been what you make of it. We hope you'll keep making something interesting. Use it to spark conversations. Use it to gather friends for a museum trip or an outing to the movies. Use it to get those perspectives that we've always found at Foolscap. Use it.

Foolscap has transformed itself many times over its two-plus decades. And evolving into a being of pure information is absolutely a classic science-fictional narrative.

P.S. Of course one statement can't capture everything that Foolscap was, so a number of convention staff have put together their own personal memories of what the convention means to them. We hope you'll enjoy reading them, and, if you feel inspired to, share your own. Foolscap is the story of what we made it, and it will be the story of what we keep making.

Tom Whitmore

I can’t really sum up my experiences with Foolscap in a few words. It was so many different conventions to me. Different venues (remember the crab legs at the breakfast buffet in Renton? The strange layout in Redmond? The convenience to light rail in SeaTac?), different guests (getting to meet Sergio Aragones is one of my favorite memories of the con), different formats, and different people.

I think my biggest contribution to Foolscap was bringing in Open Space Programming as a regular approach to programming the convention. Marci Malinowycz and I had done it together for a cohousing conference, and it seemed to me well-designed for a maker-style convention: the people at the con decide who they want to listen to and what they want to talk about. It’s a radical change from the standard way conventions work, where a few people get together and decide what’s likely to interest the attendees. It’s a control-freak’s nightmare, and we modified it some to make sure that the guests of honor didn’t get either overworked or underutilized. I think it was a good experiment for the years we did it. It was always fun to see what people would come up with. 

And now it’s time for some part of the group to invent something else. I wonder what it’s going to be, and whether I’ll find it interesting.

Kathleen Retz

I joined the Foolscap Convention Committee for several cerebral reasons.  And one very nebulous one.  And I stayed for 20 years for that nebulous reason.

But I’ve spent the last six weeks trying to figure out exactly what that reason was.  I was asked to write up What Foolscap Meant to Me as the last outgoing Chair for our in-person event as well as how that event went.  And it has been difficult.  Between family visits, work, my 23 year old cat, Lucy, disappearing, and just life in general, this request by the Foolscap board has been weighing on my mind.  I kept thinking of all those reasons for why I agreed to join the committee for Foolscap, especially after turning down requests by San Diego Comic-Con to join their committee.

My very quick “yes” to Linda Deneroff’s “Wanna join the Foolscap concom?” at the end of Foolscap 3 took even me by surprise.  I’d not only refused to join the committee at Comic-Con several times, I called them and asked them to take me off the concom when a friend received their early progress report and saw my name on their list.  I was way too busy to devote that much time to any convention (it wasn’t as big as it is now, but it was still way too large for just a handful of people to run it).  I just didn’t feel like I could add anything to the group.  I was just really good at organization and running a cash register.  

Fast forward about five years and a move from San Diego to SeaTac and I was in a different world of fandom.  The conventions up here are very different from those in San Diego and Los Angeles.  I wasn’t used to them and I found it frustrating how non-inclusive some of the cons were.  In SoCal, I would show up at a con, be hugged all around, have a badge slapped on me, and I was usually plopped behind the Reg desk because I was fast at getting people both checked in and processed through.  I was good at layout for art shows.  I worked as a gofer and loved to talk to strangers.  I befriended people simply for liking Star Trek and reading SF&F.  And once I started finding the media fanzines, that networking got even bigger.  I teamed up with Catherine and we published a multimedia fanzine back when the only printer available for the Apple ][+ computer was an IBM Selectric typewriter!  I worked in a bookstore in downtown San Diego that became a hub for SF&F readers, attracting professionals to hang out, autograph books and become friends.  I got my MFA in Creative Writing and decided to leave San Diego (because the weather and cost of living was driving me nuts).

At first, Washington State was great: cheap rent, better food and gas prices, weather a lot less hot and dry, fun stuff to explore.  But, I noticed something really strange.  I attended several conventions (NorWesCon, DragonCon, and WesterCon) and found myself at loose ends.  I no longer had an “in” to work at the cons.  Volunteering wasn’t as prevalent as it was in SoCal.  And those running and attending the cons were not really into talking to folks they didn’t go to school or hang out with.  In fact, the people I ended up hanging with were the same ones that I knew in SoCal who had also moved up here.  Years later, I learned that this was the “Seattle Freeze” and it was actually a documented phenomena.  Sigh.

So, back to Foolscap and why I joined.  One of those former SoCal friends told me about Foolscap.  She said that a friend she’d met at a workshop in Los Angeles was part of the concom for this little con called Foolscap and she’d been invited to the room party for it at NorWesCon.  We went, I met Amy Thomson, we all chatted, and we bought memberships.  I really enjoyed the small convention when I attended, even though it was nothing like cons I’d been to before!  It took me a couple of days, but I got the hang of it by Sunday, how panels were more like discussions, that there were only a couple of professional guests (Robin Hobb that year), and that the con suite was where most of the fun stuff was happening.

Linda Deneroff was a name I knew from fanzines.  We had attended MediaWest-Con in Michigan many times even though we ran in different circles then.  But we recognized each other’s names.  And we had several mutual friends.  I ended up in many intense conversations with people.  I recall the first time I spoke with Robin Hobb and we pleasantly argued about the role of fanfic and why it should or should not be allowed to exist.  We never convinced each other, but we did enjoy the discussion.  And she liked my Little Black Book where I kept track of the books I wanted to and had read.

On Sunday night, I helped them break down the con (‘cause that’s what I always did in SoCal) and hung out in the con suite at the end of the event.  Linda tapped me on the shoulder and asked me if I wanted to join the Foolscap concom.  Without even ruminating on it, I said Yes.

Gads, what was I thinking?

I really wanted that camaraderie I experienced for over ten years of convention attendance in SoCal.  I wanted to help capture the joy of arguing over silly things in books.  I wanted to talk about the stuff I’d read and learn more about what others read that I might like too. I wanted to meet folks who wanted all those same things.  I liked the small format of Foolscap.  I liked its goals of making fan interaction the focus of the convention.  I liked how it made the ratio of pro to fan more fun for both. And I wanted to be part of that.

Over the years, I wore many hats while part of Foolscap.  Early policy was everyone shifting positions every couple of years so no one got burned out and we didn't lose too much knowledge when someone left.  So I did the Progress Report, Programming, Hospitality, put out flyers, hung posters, backed up Registration, put up and took down the Art Show, ran the Commons, developed the online programming for our Pandemic events.  And Chaired the last in-person event this last August.  And while I did all these things, I really didn’t participate too much in the panels and programming.  Sure, I was on a couple of panels. I oversaw the Reading Group stuff, helped set up the Game Show a couple of times, and attended a couple of the main events that I helped organize (particularly the DeLint concert and the Ellison talk).  If I was running Hospitality, I tended to stay there most of the weekend. So, I worked the conventions.  But didn’t really “attend” the conventions.

So, today, while I was outside picking up the last of the clipped jungle my dad left in my yard and blowing the leaves into several areas to be gathered up in the coming weeks, I realized exactly why I not only joined the Foolscap concom all those years ago, but exactly why I stayed on the committee for twenty years.

I love organizing events for people.  I want people to have a good time.  I want them to let go of the stressors of mundane life and be welcomed into a space where they can talk about all the things that their other friends and family tease them about (I won’t go into my sibs’ teasing me about Star Trek and Sherlock Holmes…).  So while I may not have attended all those panels I put people on, or taken part in all those discussions in the Hospitality suite, I really enjoyed baking bread for the attendees. I liked arranging the Commons to encourage both relaxation and interaction. I loved gathering all the folks who joined us on our two Zoom cons.  I already miss doing all those things.  

I really liked setting up the last in-person event held last August.  I liked visiting sites to find a good fit for a one-day event.  I liked overseeing the rest of the concom to get the programming and other stuff in line.  I liked creating the Plan-o-grams for the room layouts.  I will admit it was hard to let others do all the minutiae since I really get into that stuff, but I liked overseeing the event as a whole with the goal to make it run smoothly and be fun for those who attended.  And while I had hoped the attendance would have been better, I am grateful for those who came and helped us with our last hurrah.

I wish we can gather again in the future, even if it’s just to hang out and relax with interesting people discussing interesting things. 

Karen Anderson

I came late to fandom (by way of the tech and maker communities) and to Foolscap. My first Foolscap was 2008, and I was a volunteer.

I’d been involved with Anita Rowland and Jack Bell in the Seattle Blogging Meetup, and they invited me to attend the 2006 Potlatch (a small convention that moved between Seattle, Portland, and the Bay Area). At Potlatch I met several Foolscap attendees, and learned that I could volunteer. Thus I found myself at Lile Gowen’s house in the spring of 2008 planning Foolscap (which moved that year to the Redmond Town Center). GOHs were Esther Friesner and Michael Kaluta.

This was about the time that I got together with Tom Whitmore, a notorious West Coast SMOF. He was often involved as an auctioneer for Potlatch and Foolscap so it was natural for me to take on some duties as the auction organizer. (I believe my predecessor was Ellen Eades.)

Among the many wonderful auctions we organized over the years these are the moments I remember best:

• Jay Lake licking one of the books during the bidding

• Auctioning off a violet ray machine Tom and I had found at a garage sale

• Kevin Sonney, GOH Ursula Vernon’s husband, modeling a satin corset

• Auctioning off the opportunity to cut (or not cut) Jason Wodicka’s hair

I also put together some half-day writing workshops for Foolscap with teachers including Cat Rambo, Kat Richardson, Jennifer Brozek, Cory Skerry, Randy Henderson, John Lovett, Mark Teppo, Amanda Hackwith, Spencer Ellsworth, Manny Frishberg, and Edd Vick.

Foolscap is where I found out about PowerPoint Karaoke and where I learned to make Dutch Babies. 

Foolscap meant a lot to me as a new writer. One year, Hank Graham did my story “The Right Man for the Job” as a radio play. And one of my favorite memories of Foolscap is checking my email during the Sunday “dead dog” gathering in 2013 and learning that I’d made my first professional fiction sale. I screamed, and Bruce Durocher, across the room, said calmly, “I think she sold a story.”

Good times.