Baronage Questions Answered 2016 & 2019

Master Geoffrey, Master Gaston, &

Mistress Michel

asked questions of the Baronial candidates in 2016. Here are the answers from Manus and Sophia from 2016 plus updates from looking back at those questions now in 2019

Questions from the populace:  (Posted in order received: Geoffrey’s at the top, Gaston’s in the middle, and Michel’s at the bottom – click on their names above to go to their sections)

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The answers from Manus and Sophia in 2016 are very similar to the answers given in 2019. We have continued to attend Canton and Baronial meetings most of the time, we serve at every local event except when modern-day-job duties take priority, and we have plans for adding energy to our already very successful home Barony. Updates from 2019 are in red italic font.

TLDR version: Manus and Sophia have been deeply involved in Windmasters’ Hill for many years – Manus for 27 years and Sophia for 12 years. We have served in officer positions and event jobs often. We believe deeply in empowering every single member of the barony to do what they wish to do with their hobby time and connect those dreams with the hard labor necessary to achieve them. We have proven leadership experience in volunteer groups of many kinds and proven willingness to get our hands dirty, stay up late at night, log dozens of hours weekly, and work our butts off repeatedly for the sake of Windmasters’ Hill.


From Master Geoffrey Athos von Ulm:

1)  How many Baronial meetings have you attended in the last three years?

ANSWER: Manus and Sophia have attended most meetings. Sophia missed a few in the spring of 2016 due to serving on the SCA 50 Year staff.

ANSWER 2019 – We still attend most Elvegast and Baronial meetings.

2)  How many local events (Baronial or Canton) have you attended in the last three years?

ANSWER:

  • of the 2 events in 2016, we attended both.
  • of the 5 events in 2015, we attended all but one (Conquest of Granada)
  • of the 6 events in 2014, we attended all but one (Buckston Birthday)

ANSWER 2019:

  • of the 3 events in 2019, Manus will have attended all three (Ymir, Festival of Elvegast, and Buckston Birthday) and Sophia just missed Ymir due to work travel.
  • of the 3 events in 2018, Manus and Sophia attended all three (Ymir, Elvegast’s Performers’ Revel South, and Buckston Birthday)
  • of the 3 events in 2017, Manus and Sophia attended all three (same events)

4)  What jobs, if any, have you done at a local event in the last three years?  This includes hauling, setting up, cleaning up too.

ANSWER:

We have shown up most times to load stuff to or from the storage unit, and…

2016 Events:

  1. Ymir: Manus: road signs, ran nighttime bardic;  Sophia: ran daytime bardic circle and competition, ran fundraising auction, organized and delegated running evening dance; Both helped clean up and unload at storage unit. Both ran commedia shows in afternoon and evening.
  2. Buckston Birthday: Sophia ran afternoon dance class and helped clean the kitchen; Manus ran afternoon bardic and helped clean up.

2015 Events:

  1. Ymir: Manus: road signs, served as Troll staff, helped clean up and unload at storage unit afterwards. Sophia served as Deputy Autocrat, ran fundraising auction, ran bardic circle and competition in afternoon, commedia show in afternoon, organized and delegated evening dancing.
  2. Coronation of Logan and Esa: Manus served as Head Troll; Sophia ran a commedia show, bardic circle, and bardic competition. Both worked as clean up crew until the very end.
  3. Cooks and Performers Symposium: Sophia created and autocratted this event. Manus assisted everywhere from setup to clean up and taught 2 classes.
  4. Conquest of Granada: – missed (Attended Commedia Camp in Albany, NY)
  5. Buckston Birthday: Sophia ran afternoon dance classes and evening dancing; Manus ran evening bardic; both helped clean up; Both ran feast entertainment.

2014 Events:

  1. Ymir: Manus: road signs (pretty sure) and evening bardic; Sophia: afternoon commedia and bardic, evening dancing.
  2. May Faire: Sophia: ran music and dancing for May Pole, ran commedia show and evening bardic circle.  Manus provided the rose crown prize. Both helped clean up.
  3. Buckston Birthday: (Missed)
  4. Tourney of Friends: Sophia ran afternoon and evening bardic; Both helped clean up and haul to storage unit.
  5. Fall University: Sophia managed team of people to put up and take down tents and taught 4 classes. Manus was head troll and taught 3 classes. Both helped set up and clean up.
  6. MATO: Sophia ran afternoon dancing and cleaned kitchen after feast. Manus assisted at Troll.

ANSWERS 2019:

  • 2019 Events
    • Buckston Birthday – Sophia helped run dancing and organized the dance band; Manus served at Gate in the afternoon and helped with cleanup.
    • Festival of Elvegast – Sophia was Deputy Autocrat and Webmaster; Manus was Head Troll; both were key staff.
    • Ymir – Sophia missed due to work travel to Africa; Manus ran the commedia play and helped shed load in and load out.
    • Spring Coronation – Sophia organized and taught dancers and performers to perform the Buffens Sword Dance for TRMs Adelhait and Christoph. Sophia did not attend the event but organized ahead of time.
    • Spring School Demo – Manus ran Archery all day with assistance from Owyn. Sophia helped with set up, take down, and entertainments.
  • 2018 Events
    • Buckston Birthday – Sophia and Manus helped set up and take down and produced a commedia play in honor of gay marriage.
    • Elvegast’s Performers Revel South – Sophia was Autocrat; Manus was Troll.
    • Ymir – Sophia and Manus helped set up and take down and produced a commedia play for International Commedia Dell’ Arte Day and the Shakespeare play Twelfth Night – the complete play. We both helped with cleanup to the very end including shed load out and load in.
    • Spring School Demo – Manus and Sophia ran entertainment and helped with set up and take down.
    • Summer Demo at NC Museum of Art – Manus and Sophia helped with set up and take down and ran 4 commedia performances throughout the day.
  • 2017 Events
    • Buckston Birthday – Sophia and Manus helped set up and take down and produced entertainment. Manus helped run the Elvegast Spice Fundraiser.
    • Elvegast’s Performers Revel South – Sophia was Autocrat; Manus helped everywhere.
    • Ymir (with Investiture) – Sophia and Manus helped set up and take down and produced a commedia play for International Commedia Dell’ Arte Day. Manus ran a bardic circle and Sophia ran European Dance.
    • Spring School Demo – Manus and Sophia ran entertainment.

5)  What jobs, in the Barony (including the cantons) have you held in the last three years?

ANSWER:

Manus:

  • Currently Exchequer for Elvegast and has been for the past 3 years;
  • Baronial Archery marshal from 2005 to Spring 2016.

Sophia:

  • Baronial Minister of Arts and Sciences June 2013 to May 2015 (then handed it over to Eilon)
  • Autocrat for Cooks and Performers Symposium May 2015

ANSWERS 2019

Manus:

  • Still serving as Exchequer for the Canton of Elvegast (including significant service to the Elvegast Annual Spice fundraiser.)
  • Served with Sophia and Lucretia as Co-Camp Stewards for Baronial Camp at Pennsic including large project to buy a new cargo trailer to store Baronial camping gear at Cooper’s Lake Campground.

Sophia:

  • Autocrat for Elvegast’s events in 2017 & 2018
  • Deputy Autocrat for Elvegast’s event in 2019
  • Served with Manus and Lucretia as Co-Camp Stewards for Baronial Camp at Pennsic including large project to buy a new cargo trailer to store Baronial camping gear at Cooper’s Lake Campground.

6)  What classes have you taught in the Barony (including cantons) in the last three years?

ANSWER:

Manus has taught his class on “Roses Then and Now” at Elvegast and Kapellenberg.  Both of us have taught Commedia 101 at Elvegast, Kapellenburg, and Baronial meetings. Sophia has taught European Dance at Elvegast and Baronial meetings.

ANSWER 2019:

Manus and Sophia continue to teach classes in our specialties of historic roses and performing arts at local meetings, at Atlantia University and at Pennsic.

7)  How many times have you camped with the Barony at Pennsic, WoW or Gem Joust in the last three years?

ANSWER:

For Pennsic and War of the Wings, we have camped with the Barony all of the past three years.  We attended Gem Joust only once in the past three years and did not camp on that occasion.

ANSWER 2019

We camp with the Barony every year at Pennsic. We camped with the Barony at War of the Wings for 2019 but not 2018 or 2017 due to illness. We have not attended Gem Joust in the past 3 years.

8)  What jobs have you done for the Baronial camps in the last three years?

ANSWER:

For Pennsic the past three years, we arrived on site early in the first week and have helped with camp set up, particularly this past year.  While camping with the barony we have done camp chores like hauling ice and trash, filling tiki torches, and cleaning the showers and kitchen.  We have helped with camp teardown, including using our truck to haul stuff to the storage unit, and have been the last people to leave the camp.

With WoW camp, we have assisted in the putting up and taking down of the baronial pavilion, helping clean the kitchen, and unloading stuff at the storage unit. Last year we loaned our grill to the camp kitchen and this year we loaned our firebowl.

Answer 2019:

Same service for Pennsic camp in 2017 & 2018, but in 2019 we served as Co-Camp Stewards for our Baronial camp of about 30 people including providing showers.

9)  If you fight, how many times have you fought with the Baronial unit at any event in the last three years?

ANSWER:

Neither of us fight.

ANSWER 2019:

Sophia just authorized to fight Heavy Rapier in summer 2019. She fought with Atlantia at Pennsic and fought with the Windmasters Hill fencers at War of the Wings.

10)  How many Baronial fighter practices have you participated in in the last three years?

As neither of us fight, we have not directly participated in the baronial fighter practices.

The fighting community within Windmasters’ Hill is one of a few “Keystone” communities. While Keystone communities need to be given additional attention, it is our intention to treat every member of the barony equally regardless of what their favorite activity is.

ANSWER 2019:

Sophia gets to rapier practice when she can on Thursdays with Kapellenburg. Thursdays are also Elvegast’s weekly meetings, so conflict between these two critical meetings is a problem.

11)  When Maddalana and I were Baron and Baroness, we had a long list of goals for our term.  We made new surcoats for the heavy fighters, cloaks for the rapier fighters, sheet walls for the Baronial camps, new coronets, rehab of the old Kingdom thrones and making new Baronial thrones to match them and Baronial and Canton banners to name a few.  What projects/goals do you have for the Barony?  Please be specific and tell us how you plan to accomplish your goals.

ANSWER:
Two kinds of goals: 1) “Populace Driven” goals that come from what the populace wants, and 2)  “Leader Driven” projects that we believe from a leadership position need to be done.

The first major project we will implement is a survey of the populace, designed by Sophia (based on extensive professional experience designing surveys for program evaluation), and reviewed by officers and other stakeholders before publication. The results of this survey will produce data regarding what the populace wants to do, what they are motivated to work on, and where their priorities lie. This survey will give direction to many “Populace Driven” projects that we will provide leadership, guidance, and support for.

The second major project we want to do is a review of Baronial equipment with the Quartermaster and other Officers to discover what maintenance work needs to be done and what holes need to be filled in our supplies. If things like benches, cloaks, surcoats etc are needed and discovered as priorities for the populace, we will organize and support baronial projects to make these items. This is a combination of “Populace Driven” and “Leader Driven” project planning.

Third is readdressing a project idea that was attempted previously in baronial history with mixed results: a hard copy of an annually updated Baronial Populace Directory. Sophia has seen this project implemented successfully in other SCA groups. Manus witnessed the mixed results of the project done previously in this barony. A new attempt at this project is a high priority for us. This is a Leader Driven project but would not be done without populace approval.

Fourth is creating an online information sharing system based on our baronial web page for sharing files like class handouts and other research materials. This has already been discussed with the Web Staff over the past few years, and the online resources are available for creating this. The manhours of skilled labor for implementation are the current limiting factor. This is a Leader Driven project.

Fifth is a project to create a camp gate to be used at the Pennsic camp and also at other camps like WoW and Gem Joust. Manus discussed options with Solvar this summer at Pennsic, including possibly using existing materials previously made for this purpose, and has design ideas ready for discussion. This is currently a Leader Driven project but could be a Populace Driven project after the survey results are gathered.

We have a long list of other project ideas based on populace feedback gathered over years of participation in this barony. Those ideas include and are not limited to the following:

  • Improved Officer Onboarding training materials
  • Baronial Demo kit with script and instructions
  • Camp Management Kits with books of instruction
  • Improved awards recommendations process instructions
  • Newsletter article writing workshops
  • Research workshops
  • Improved “Getting Started In Any Activity” materials & kits
  • Creation of a Baronial Music Ensemble and Chorus

ANSWER 2019:

Nearly the same answer as last time, but two of the goals are currently being addressed by others:

  • Baronial Inventory is being conducted on November 23 by Galen and Eilon, and we expect to participate at the shed.
  • A musician named Ciaran who came back to Windmasters after many years has started a new Kingdom-wide music ensemble with will certainly have key players here in Windmasters’ Hill. Sophia would still like to encourage a singing group to form.

Communication technology has evolved a lot in recent years and we should take advantage of that.  Online conference tools like Google Hangouts or Zoom.us provide methods of meeting in a “near face-to-face” manner and we would like to encourage use of these tools for things like disciple-focus meetings (e.g. a quarterly online meeting of all the local exchequers (canton and baronial) to assist each other preparing and troubleshooting reports, periodic online meetings of the marshals in the barony to assist in coordinating finding marshals for practices and events), event planning for our larger events like Ymir or when sponsoring a Kingdom-level event, etc.

We would like to add to this list some projects specifically for our camps that make better use of our existing baronial camping gear, especially the SHOWERS (big issue).

12)  When Maddalana and I were Baron and Baroness, we had a goal of going to something (meeting, practice, class, party) in each canton at least once a month to be accessible to the whole group.  How do you plan to keep in touch with what is going on in all parts of the Barony?

ANSWER:
Two methods need to happen to keep in touch with a community as large, varied, and spread out as Windmasters’ Hill:  1) In person visits to Canton and Baronial meetings or practices and 2) Online meetings or conference calls to supplement in-person contact.

We expect to visit Canton activities on average once a month per Canton for the first 3-6 months and then re-evaluate and adjust as needed. This will be supplemented with a Baronial level online presence like a monthly conference call on Zoom.us to open up another venue for connection.

ANSWER 2019:

Nearly the same answer as before, except with the addition of Sophia attending more fencing practices. We both already attend Elvegast and Kappellenburg meetings often. We get down to Attilium when the baronial meetings are down there. Buckston will be a challenge since their meetings are now on Thursdays – the same night as Elvegast and Rapier Practice. If rapier practice can happen at Nimenfeld, Sophia would like to attend.

13)  As Baron or Baroness, will you come to Baronial meetings, fighter practices and events?  Will you camp in the Baronial camps at Pennsic, WoW and Gem Joust?

We regularly attend baronial meetings already, and we will continue our habit of attending all events in the barony (barring family and day-job requirements), regardless of whether we are selected as Baron and Baroness.  If chosen, we would support and visit fighter practices, art nights, and other meetings to maintain communication venues in person.  We would continue to camp with the barony at Pennsic and War of the Wings, as we have been doing; For Gem Joust, our intention would be to camp with the Barony and support our baronial community.

ANSWER 2019:

Same as before – we will continue to camp, fight, meet, and plan with our home Barony at the many meetings our community has.


From Master Gaston Valmont:
  1. Do you understand, or do you agree with the thought, that accepting this role means setting aside your personal SCA goals, projects and or ambitions for at least three years while you focus your time and efforts on the Barony?
    1. Personal SCA projects should be set aside, but not 100%. None of those decisions would be black and white. The official leadership of projects Manus and Sophia have been working on in Performing Arts arenas at Pennsic, Kingdom wide, and locally would mostly be turned over to new leaders who are in the deputy or student pipeline right now. We would still serve as mentors and supporters.
    2. ANSWER 2019: 
      1. SOPHIA: Sophia’s biggest Leadership positions have evolved to passing on the baton to new leaders. 
        1. The Commedia dell’ Arte Department at Pennsic is now led by Lady Cael O’Conail of Aethlemearc.
        2. The Atlantia Performing Arts Guild is now led by Lady Jean Kilmeny.
        3. The i Firenzi Commedia Troupe has now a number of Assistant Directors who have proven they can stand in for Sophia and Manus when they want to produce commedia plays.
      2. MANUS: The Archery Marshall position was passed on from Manus a few years ago. Finding a new exchequer for Elvegast will need to be done.
      3. BOTH: We will likely keep teaching classes in our specialties when time allows.
  2. Because your actual ‘power’ to do anything as baronage (aside from giving awards) begins and ends at your ability to ask for help who are your 5 “go-to” people that you tap when you need them to drive a task to success. Do they know? Do you have 5 more behind them because 3 years is long time.
    1. ANSWERS
    2. “Tapping” people to drive a task to success depends greatly on the task. We don’t believe there are 10 people in the barony who are general-purpose enough to be excellent task drivers for all possible categories of tasks that could arise over the next 3 years. We do believe that every person in this community is capable of driving a task to success when given the right task, guidance, and support. The task must be something they want to do.
    3. Refer to an answer to one of Geoffrey’s questions about possible projects: We want to survey the populace to discover what interests drive individual people and track them. Sophia has excellent data tracking skills, and we want to track what individuals want to do in their SCA time and match those desires to the tasks necessary for running the barony. The times when the tasks at hand do not match anyone’s desires in the community should be few, and if they’re not, we need to step back and re-strategize.
    4. That said, the people who have stepped up to serve as Baronial and Canton officers and Event staff in the past few years are all people natural to ask to help with specific tasks corresponding with their interests. We don’t believe in “tapping” people but rather having discussions and negotiating with those likely to be interested in the work needing to be done.
    5. The entire barony is a community of willing volunteers who can produce excellent results when matched with jobs that serve their own dreams and given support and training. Anyone who has stayed to clean up an event site in the past few years knows who the “Regular Suspects” are who can be counted on for service, and expanding those Regular Suspects to other folks who can pitch in without anyone burning out is key to the healthy management of our volunteer labor pool.
    6. ANSWER 2019: We would like to take a different approach.  Having a short list of “go to people” for all things seems unrealistic. Volunteers get sick, have “Real Life” duties, have changes in employment, and a dozen other common reasons why they can’t do a job for an SCA event. The solution is to keep a flow of information shared among a large group of possible volunteers so that awareness of what could be required is not confined to a tiny team of Baronial “experts.” That awareness should be shared throughout the community so many people can do a job at any given time.  This approach also allows us to give individuals with less direct experience growth opportunity rather than always going to “the usual suspects.”
  3. What does your plan to work with the baronial officers to get participation up from existing members in all aspects look like?
    1. There is great power and motivation that comes from asking someone what they want to do with their time. As Baron and Baroness, We see it as our job to empower the people to do what they want to do in their SCA time. Surveying the people and helping them get organized into effective groups or individuals supported to do what they want to do is our plan for “getting participation up.” Finding that support includes connecting experienced SCAdians with interested SCAdians who have less experience.
    2. When it comes to service like set up and clean up, I believe the key is to connect the fun to be had with the necessary labor support. If you want to sleep in a tent, you have to put it up. We often don’t get that clear connection between the long-term planning and work to set up an event and the fun you eventually get to have.
    3. ANSWER 2019: Talk to them. Spend time with them strategizing
      about how to work smarter and how to find resources.
  4. What does your plan to energize your baronial officers look like?
    1. At the December 2015 Officers’ meeting, Sophia ran a goal-setting session for their 2016 goals. This was moderately successful in that many of those goals were met. Some were not.
    2. People care about their progress when someone else cares about it and tracks it. Sophia has witnessed this in her re-vamp of the Atlantia Performing Arts Guild and the creation of the Royal Players program. We expect to be regularly checking in with baronial officers outside the monthly baronial meeting. That means having a discussion where progress is celebrated, lack of progress is assisted, and no shame but only support is offered when progress stalls.
    3. ANSWER 2019: Spending time with them. Providing venues for them to be heard, ask for help, and celebrate victories.
  5. What are the current issues in/with the Barony as you see them, and what is your plan to address them?
    1. We are blessed with having few “issues” because of our excellent leadership and many volunteers. Our perception of those issues are guaranteed to be different from many others. When Sophia ran an exercise to collect the barony’s perception of “What’s going wrong” vs. “What’s going right” at the Baronial Althing in January 2015 (remember the one with 3 different colored post it notes?), there were trends where we all agreed on our barony’s strengths and weaknesses, and there were some surprises. Along with surveying the barony for people’s’ interests, we expect to survey the barony for their perceived “issues” and address them.
    2. That being said, some issues we see include:
      1. “Onboarding” for new officers is weak. When new people step up into an officer position or an event staff position, the training they receive is inconsistent and difficult to find. We can assist this issue a lot by just collecting existing resources or creating simple documents with “institutional knowledge” and making it available on the baronial web page or other information sharing source.
      2. “The Regular Suspects” are a group of core baronial members that are in danger of burning out from working too much for too long. Mentoring and actively helping new people in a job rather than walking away throwing up one’s hands upon burnout is one solution. Helping The Regular Suspects in doing the mentoring job is something the Baronage can do.
    3. ANSWER 2019: Nearly the same answer as last time, but focus given to the fact that some of the “Regular Suspects” have already burned out and no longer donate their time to Windmasters Hill.
  • “Baronial Pride” is waning by some accounts by some people. Projects that encourage regular in-person interactions of people from different cantons can assist that. This, again, would need to be driven by the interests exposed by surveying the people. Two ideas Sophia already had include a singing group and a dancing group because those interests were expressed already from people in multiple cantons. Project nights hosted by Eilon and Rowan are also great examples of connection opportunities. The fighters can also benefit from joint practices where the Knights that live here could be enticed to travel and offer sage advice to multiple practices.
  1. Attillium is a canton separated from the rest of the barony geographically which means that staying connected has historically been a challenge. We want to use the ways that work to empower Attillium members to feel like a part of the Windmasters’ Hill community.
  2. Nimenfeld recently went through a significant change in officers and structure. We want to support the newer members of Nimenfeld while also honoring the years of work the recently retired leadership invested in the creation and management of the canton.
  3. Buckston has gone through a renaissance of its own in the past couple years. We want to document the Lessons Learned about what worked well for their recent successes and see if those can be repeated in other areas.
  4. Kapellenberg is struggling to keep membership numbers up. We would like to see what can be done to work further with the college community in Chapel Hill to make use of the exciting energy college kids bring.
  5. Elvegast is perfect in every way and cannot be improved upon. 😉 Just kidding…One of the opportunities we would like to explore more for improvement in Elvegast is also the involvement of the local university, NC State, and possible rebirth of the college household “House Red Wolf.”
  6. Attillium and Elvegast pioneered a good model where two cantons pool their resources to throw an event then split the proceeds. We are seeing this play out at the baronial level with the Return to Camelot event with the Barony of Ravens Cove.  We would like to encourage this model to be used between cantons to allow use of bigger/better sites and facilities, and allowing the risk to be shared.

ANSWER 2019: Baronial Pride should be nurtured continually. We intend to create activities where baronial members can share their common interests. Energy is created by finding that common ground first.


Questions from Mistress Michel asked on the evening of November 19, 2016:

“Greetings from Mistress Michel.

Regarding the upcoming vote for new Baronage I would like to ask one question for those who are being considered.

I realize that you don’t know me. I moved to the Barony a little over a year ago and have only attended a few canton meetings, Baronial meetings and Baronial events. In the past year I have been watching and not really participating as I have been trying to figure out how I fit in. What strengths do I have that the Barony would benefit the most from? That said my question is “how do you plan to engage new comers to the Barony”?

This of course is a personal question and a subject that I have been very concerned about for the past 10 years. Our membership is dwindling in the SCA. The resources that people have (money, time, desire) are limited and pulled in many directions as we are not the only game in town. I feel strongly that getting people in the door is important, but keeping them – that is the key to our future success.”

ANSWER:
From Sophia because Manus is outside planting new roses right now: To my dear Mistress Michel and those also asking the same question, “What to do about recruiting?”

Our sage friend actually asks two questions here: “How do you plan to engage newcomers to the Barony?” but I also see “How do you plan to engage Transplants like Mistress Michel to the Barony?”  

Given that I was a Transplant like Michel back in 2007, this issue is close to my heart. I had 13 years of SCA experience from Midrealm and Pennsic life that was very different from what I saw when I hit Windmasters’ Hill in Fall of 2007 when I met Manus.

Transplanting is an emotional and a logistical challenge. How do you fill the emotional holes left behind from your previous home and friends and make room for new experiences? Everyone will have different needs, but the first order of business I would suggest to any transplanted newcomer with SCA experience is to 1) Get to business meetings so you can get plugged in to where decisions are made, and then 2) offer to teach classes.  The structure of teaching classes is universal in the SCA since we are a 501(c)3 organization with a requirement to teach classes. So whatever SCA experience one brings with them, one can teach an informal class in it nearly anywhere in one’s new group. That process of teaching a class gets published so one’s name is mentioned repeatedly, a topic is associated with that name, and an opportunity to spend more than one minute with the new person is created. Classes offer a networking opportunity that doesn’t have to be about ensuring students have bigger brains by the end of it. Anyone can offer what they know in a class setting and start making connections.

Similarly for newcomers to the SCA, classes are one structure to get them involved, especially when they are labeled for Newcomers.  The Atlantia University system has recently started a new habit of a “New To You” track of classes to encourage Newcomers and branching out into new topics for everyone.

Recruiting Newcomers has one key piece for me: offering new people a way to feel successful doing something on their first experience with the SCA. That means showing them the smorgasbord of activities we do, but ensuring there is something for them to do and get their hands on that they will succeed at on their first day. I find that dance often provides that – as we just saw with 6 newcomers enjoying my 2 hour dance class at Buckston Birthday.  Archery also provides that if you can ensure there’s loaner gear. At the last MATO we held a few years ago, there was a class of teenagers that stood in line as Manus (and I think Inar too?) showed them how to shoot arrows with the loaner gear Manus brought. Those kids and their parents left with big smiles.  Other activities that offer some amount of instant gratification include: calligraphy and illumination, sing-a-longs (like Master Dunstan’s new one “Kittyhawk Courage”), drumming, and many A&S crafty intro projects that can be brought to an event.

Activities that are enticing and exciting on one’s first day but you can’t get instant gratification include heavy fighting, fencing, equestrian, costuming, and feast cooking.  These are exciting for the temptation to keep coming so a newcomer can work up to participating, but they’re not going to provide first day success someone can take home.

Recruiting newcomers needs to include both kinds of activities: instant gratification and exciting temptations for coming back. Those activities can be offered at existing events, and we can bring them to demos.

Retention is another topic that is very complex and personal. The SCA census from 2010 provided great insight into why people leave the SCA and I suggest everyone reads it: http://www.sca.org/scacensus2010/ Interpersonal relationships going bad is one of the top reasons people leave. One of the gifts anyone can bring to the Baronage position is a leadership position where those interpersonal conflicts can be assisted. I’m not saying any Baronage can fix those relationships, but the Baronage position offers an opportunity for leadership to step in and offer wise counsel before relationships fall apart. Adriana and Calli have accomplished this upon a few occasions in the past 5 years that I know of where private conversations helped smooth feathers and keep people from leaving completely in a huff. It’s not a 100% solution, but the Baronage is in a position of trust that can help when applied gently and with great consideration for people’s’ feelings.

And I would like to point out that Mistress Michel’s presence in our barony has brought wisdom, perspective, and much A&S fun for those who have met her. If you haven’t yet, I suggest seeking her out. She’s usually wearing a creative and beautiful coronet of her own making that changes with her mood and time to create her art.

ANSWER 2019: I would answer Michel’s question just a little differently now that it’s three years later. I believe that the Gold Key loaner garb is a key piece to a newcomer’s feeling of successful participation. That and some personal quality time with people of like interests. Our Baronial Chatelaine, Isabelle, has done an amazing job of this task at  SO MANY events!. Supporting Chatelaines and encouraging teams of baronial members to help them is a key piece for recruiting and retention.

To answer Michel’s very first question about how she could fit in to a new Barony after moving, I’ll say that to join in the fun opportunities she creates is a thrill. She’s a fountain of ideas, and some of those ideas have worked very well. When she offers an activity that you like, go dive right in! You and she will spark with joy! The playmates Michel found here are a big part of what’s kept her participating in Windmasters Hill – IMHO. It’s a great model others can join in with. 🙂


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