This entry will tell the story of something that forms a considerable part of my activities on my spare time. It may interest some of you.
For many years now, I have nurtured a hobby called role-playing. You can take my word for it that it involves people pretending to be other people and telling stories from these other perspectives, and that it's a lot more fun than it sounds, or you could ask Google.
Unfortunately, whereas in English-speaking countries there are dozens of gaming clubs, hobby stores, magazines, and fanzines, the situation in Israel ca. 1998 was a lot more bleak for the native role-player: a single hobby store carrying role-playing stuff (closed since), a single importer of role-playing products (a one-man company belonging to a student who does this as a part-time job), no magazine, no fanzine, and no conventions.
Role-playing conventions are really great fun: you get to meet other people who like this obscure hobby, you exchange ideas and attitudes, you play with these people and get a refreshing look at how other people role-play, and by the time you recognize some faces for the fourth Con in a row, you feel you're part of a community.
So I volunteered to organize a convention. It turned out very well. But I also undertook to found an Israeli Role-Playing Society (a legal entity registered as an NGO at the Israeli Ministry of the Interior). This took some paperwork and recruiting six other adults willing to found the organization.
This society has grown to include more than thirty active volunteers, and provides discounts and services to over 250 Israeli role-players. The society produces from three to five gaming conventions a year, three lectures every month, and a hardcopy magazine delivered to subscribers. Furthermore, it operates a web site (all Hebrew), lively discussion forums, and an open Web database listing over one thousand role-players; anyone can register with the database, or search it quite flexibly. The society charges money for most of its services (but not all of them), and uses the money strictly to cover expenses of its productions and services. None of the society members or external volunteers has ever received a single dime for their work. It's all done voluntarily. People spend dozens of hours per week preparing or holding activities produced or sponsored by the society.
I guess I'm rather proud of this society. It's something I helped build from the ground up. It's healthy; it's growing; it's doing its job. And it's made up of die-hard volunteers.
So now you know. I may make occasional references to role-playing in future entries.