Charter Remembrances

Webmaster’s note 10/14/2018: This is old content from the previous version of the LexFA website. We’re including it here so it can be searched under the Essays and Articles category of posts, and under appropriate post tags as well.

By Duryea Edwards

It was the summer of 1992 and LexFA had gone through a lot of growing pains. There had been, during this time, a lot of confusion and argument over what was legal and illegal. A lot of misunderstandings and some very strained friendships.

As the incoming leader … I had been asked by the general membership to investigate the possibility of putting some basic administrative rules into writing. So I tapped Sylvia Wendell and Keith Burton on the shoulder and asked them to help me write a simple charter proposal.

The three of us agreed that it should be as short as possible and as unambiguous as possible. My main goal had been to preserve the authority and integrity of the position of leader while not letting him or her become a tyrant. Keith and Sylvia agreed with me on this. This is why we wrote into place a difficult to achieve (but not impossible) method of ousting a leader.

We met at Ryan’s Steakhouse for dinner and I handed them an outline I had drawn up. Keith and Sylvia politely proceeded to rip it to shreds and improve upon it greatly. After about 2 more meetings, we had something along the lines of two and a half typewritten pages (at 12 point Courier) and I worked a sample up on my desktop publisher that came out as one page. Then we presented it to the members at the January meeting to ask for feedback and suggested alterations.

And they proceeded to politely rip portions of it to shreds and improve upon it even more. We settled on a revised version that still came in at one page. And LexFA members immediately began complaining that it was entirely too long and cumbersome. (wink)

The thing is … Other science fiction and fantasy organizations of similar size have tended to over organize. The committee in charge of proposing a constitution comes back with something in excess of 20 pages and a member complains that the proposal is much too long. When a member complains that all of this is much too long, the leader of the committee retorts that they would like to see something shorter that would work. Then the member hands them a copy of the LexFA charter.

I’ve heard of this happening at least 3 times 😉