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Re: [SCA Newcomers] The Don't Speech for all Newcomers

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  • Iustinos Tekton called Justin
    ... All right, Uncle Justin has had his temper tantrum and will now respond like a civilized human being. :-) Good M Lord, Others have responded well to this
    Message 1 of 21 , Sep 4, 2006
      On Sunday 03 September 2006 23:09, Daly wrote:
      > This is my interpretation of what I was told:
      >   You EARN the right to be an honored member of the SCA.  You find
      > your specialty, work hard to learn/develop it on your own, volunteer
      > to help at every event and hope that some day your talents and
      > efforts are noticed by someone more experienced who offers you an
      > apprenticeship of some kind.  Then, you will become a member of a
      > guild/household and be accepted officially.

      All right, Uncle Justin has had his temper tantrum and will now respond
      like a civilized human being. :-)

      Good M'Lord,

      Others have responded well to this with some very good suggestions,
      including playing with another nearby shire. I'll start by talking about
      the rules and policies of the matter.

      I am not trying to be legalistic when quoting policies below, but rather
      I do so to back up what I am saying with documentable fact rather than
      merely my opinion. :-)

      First, quoting from corporate policy (Governing Documents, II.B):

      "Anyone may attend Society events provided he or she wears an attempt
      at pre-17th century clothing, conforms to the provisions in Corpora,
      and complies with any other requirements (such as site fees or waivers)
      which may be imposed. At business meetings and informal classes,
      the requirement to wear pre-17th century dress may be waived. All
      participants are expected to behave as ladies or gentlemen."

      Shire meetings are "Society events" in this context, so you are welcome
      to attend the meetings of any shire or other local group to which you're
      able to travel. I mention this because there is often a myth that one
      has to play in the group that claims the land where you live. This is not
      the case, as Lady Fiono has pointed out. In fact, it is quite *common* for
      people to play in different shires from where they live, simply due to
      interest or friendship.

      Second, guilds are frequently unofficial, and households are always
      unofficial, so the notion that you cannot be "officially accepted" in the
      Society for Creative Anachronism until you belong to a household or
      guild is completely, totally, absolutely wrong. Quoting once again
      from the Governing Documents (section I.E):

      "In many kingdoms, there are groups in which many people participate
      but which are not formally recognized by the Society. These can range
      from highly structured guilds to loosely associated camping groups.
      Entities that fall into this category can have many names, including
      but not limited to households, guilds, ships, and clans. Although
      these entities are not recognized by the Society in any formal way,
      some kingdoms have awards that can be given to these groups. Because
      they are not official Society groups, unofficial entities cannot
      sponsor Society events."

      All right, enough legalese. That's the policy, in a nutshell. The entire
      Governing Documents are online at http://www.sca.org/docs/govdocs.pdf .
      The bottom line is, you can play in whatever SCA group you wish, and you
      don't have to be a member of a household or guild in order to be part of
      the SCA.

      SCA titles and awards are a wonderful way for the organization -- by way
      of the Kings and Queens -- to say "thank you" for a job well done. Awards
      help to encourage and motivate people by demonstrating that their service
      is appreciated and valued. But awards should not be an end in themselves,
      nor should they be thought of as a way to set anyone above anyone else.

      When I read what you have written above, what I see -- except for the
      ending -- is a pretty decent recipe for how to view awards and honors.
      Find what you like to do and are good at, do it well and often, and have
      a great deal of fun with your friends along the way. Some day, in all
      likelihood, you will be pleasantly surprised to be called into Court and
      thanked with an award scroll. You will have done good service for all the
      right reasons, and can be justifiably proud of the award you receive.
      But that last part, suggesting that you can only be accepted based on
      your awards or on attachment to some household, guild, or Peer, is

      One might hope that your question was misunderstood. Perhaps the Chatelaine
      thought you were asking how you could belong to some particular subgroup
      within your shire, not the shire itself. Consider this possibility, and
      whether or not you need to re-ask the question in a different way. If naught
      else, the Chatelaine is human and may have misspoken through simple error.
      I make a point of trying to assume the best of *motive* even for actions
      that are incomprehensible; we all have a bad day and we all make mistakes.
      If the intent really was as rude as it sounds, though, that is inexcusable.

      The reason you have not been warmly welcomed in your local group may have
      very little to do with you and a lot to do with the group members' own
      insecurities. The SCA tends to be very accepting of people with all kinds
      of different personalities, and sometimes we have shires with a few who
      just don't quite know how to be friendly to strangers. I'm not meaning that
      in a sarcastic way at all -- there are some people in the SCA who are very
      nice once you get acquainted, but who for one reason or another literally
      never developed some of the social skills and polish that most of us take
      for granted.

      My lady and I have both been in the SCA for over 15 years. A couple of years
      ago, we attended an event at a shire in another part of our Kingdom and were
      amazed that no one greeted us at all. We were at a local event where as far
      as I could tell we were almost the *only* guests; just about every one else
      there was from the local shire. Normally, local groups are thrilled to have
      people attend their events because, among other things, that's WHY WE DO
      EVENTS in the first place. I'm not saying we should have been welcomed because
      of awards or offices, but simply because we were visitors. It didn't happen,
      all day long. We felt really strange, because this is the only time this has
      ever happened to us in 15+ years.

      Others have told us of similar experiences at that particular shire's events.
      We weren't singled out or anything, it's just that this specific group of
      people aren't very socially polished. I think they just don't know *how* to
      welcome visitors and newcomers. Once you get to know them, they're quite nice.

      So, what can you do about it?

      First, although this sounds difficult, give it some time. Maybe the people
      in the local group are shy themselves, and just don't know how to relate
      to you. Maybe, deep down, they're very nervous about meeting you and react
      to this by withdrawing to their comfort zone. Keep going to meetings, and
      eventually people will figure out that (1) you don't bite, and (2) you're
      serious about joining the group.

      Second, try to expand your participation outside this one local group.
      Going to other events in your area will help to broaden the type of people
      you meet, and you're bound to connect with someone soon. Once you make your
      first acquaintances, you'll find yourself getting introduced to more and
      more people by them and then by their friends and so on. Sooner or later,
      that circle of introductions will come back to your local group, and you will
      find that you have a connection there after all. If the front door is barred,
      try the back door. :-)

      Ian the Green has made two additional points that I wholeheartedly support
      and will (with acknowledgment to Ian) echo as my "third and fourth"...

      Third, take the initiative to make first contact, in a polite way, for
      topics that interest you. This is, as Ian points out, a great way to join
      a conversation in progress.

      Fourth, ask SCA folk about things they are doing that look interesting to
      you. Most of us *love* to talk about our interests in this hobby's many
      aspects. This technique particularly works when you approach someone who is
      temporarily not involved in another conversation and who doesn't seem to be
      either really busy or specifically seeking solitude.

      Fifth -- and here I acknowledge Brangwayna's post -- volunteer to help at
      events, when you see something that needs doing. Nobody should feel they have
      to work like a slave in order to be accepted in the SCA, but as Brangwayna
      points out, we run on almost 100% volunteer labor, and as such, volunteering
      is one way to earn respect. If you're one of the three or four people who
      volunteer to do kitchen cleanup after feast, you can be sure that at least
      the cooks will consider you a saint. :-) Don't try to volunteer to be the
      group Seneschal, an event Autocrat, etc., until you have some more experience.
      People will have a problem with that, and with good reason, because you really
      *do* need to know the SCA's rules and customs pretty well before holding office.
      But there are plenty of opportunities to volunteer in other areas. If someone
      doing a job looks as if they're overworked, simply walk up and volunteer to
      help. In the SCA, most working tasks turn into conversations and socializing
      while the work is getting done. (I've often been in the kitchen doing dishes
      and had it turn into a bardic circle right there in the kitchen.)

      Sixth, if all of the above fail, consider abandoning that local group and
      finding another nearby group that is more welcoming. There are, alas, a few
      local groups that are just plain dysfunctional because they happen to be
      made up of a statistical majority of immature, self-centered people. Give your
      local group every benefit of the doubt before concluding this, because it is
      a very, VERY rare situation, but if you try and try and try and just can't
      seem to make it work, you may have found one of those very rare groups. Don't
      give up on the SCA. Come and play with the rest of us who act like grown-ups.
      Well, okay, we play dress-up and hit people with rattan sticks, but we mostly
      act like grown-ups otherwise. :-)

      I hope this is helpful. Whatever the cause of the misunderstandings with your
      local group, I do apologize for the hurt feelings that have been caused, even
      if it's just an innocent misunderstanding on your part or theirs. It is always
      unfortunate when someone's first exposure to the SCA is unpleasant. Please rest
      assured this organization is full of wonderful people who would be honored
      to make your acquaintance. You've just met about 1100 of them on this list. :-)

      Kind regards,


      ()xxxx[]::::::::::::::::::> <::::::::::::::::::[]xxxx()
      Maistor Iustinos Tekton called Justin (Scott Courtney)
      Gules, on a bezant a fleam sable and on a chief dovetailed Or two
      keys fesswise reversed sable.

      Marche of Alderford (Canton, Ohio) http://4th.com/sca/justin/
      justin@... PGP Public Key at http://4th.com/keys/justin.pubkey
    • Susan B. Farmer
      ... I ll second that irate-ness. If I knew that you were in my Kingdom (Meridies), I d make it a point to speak to the society seneschal and the king this
      Message 2 of 21 , Sep 4, 2006
        Quoting Iustinos Tekton called Justin <justin@...>:

        > On Sunday 03 September 2006 23:09, Daly wrote:
        >> You EARN the right to be an honored member of the SCA. You find
        >> your specialty, work hard to learn/develop it on your own, volunteer
        >> to help at every event and hope that some day your talents and
        >> efforts are noticed by someone more experienced who offers you an
        >> apprenticeship of some kind. Then, you will become a member of a
        >> guild/household and be accepted officially.
        > I will have a more reasoned response after my temper cools down, but right
        > now I am *furious* to hear that you were told such things. This is utter
        > nonsense! (I'm not angry at you, but whoever told you this. What a load
        > of garbage.)

        I'll second that irate-ness. If I knew that you were in my Kingdom
        (Meridies), I'd make it a point to speak to the society seneschal and
        the king this weekend (Coronation) -- that's the biggest load of crap
        I've seen since the fertilizer truck left us a load!

        I daresay that there's somebody from every kingdom on this list --
        maybe this post should make the rounds of the various Kingdom
        Seneschal's e-lists .....

        Susan Farmer
        University of Tennessee
        Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
      • Signora Beatrice
        Greetings from Beatrice. As it has been a little while since this has graced the list, I figure I d post it again (I m hoping Ian won t mind), with a few extra
        Message 3 of 21 , Jun 2, 2007
          Greetings from Beatrice.

          As it has been a little while since this has graced the list, I figure I'd
          post it again (I'm hoping Ian won't mind), with a few extra DON'T messages
          from me:

          DON'T sweat it. This is fun, people are generally nice, forgiving, and
          willing to help.

          DON'T take any ONE person's word for anything. There are a lot of myths
          out there, and even more mis-informed but well-intentioned people.

          DON'T take it personally if you have a bad experience. Sometimes, people
          have a bad day.

          DON'T be afraid to ask questions. No matter how "stupid" "silly" "basic"
          or "annoying" you thing they might be.

          *Evil grins* So, those of you not-so-newbies out there. Anything else
          you'd add to the DON'T list?

          --- David Roland <mystborne@...> wrote:

          > I feel the urge to give the Don't Speach again.
          > I'm the Chatelaine for a group in the Chicago Area known as the Grey
          > Gargoyles. And I give the Don't Speach often enough that the older
          > newcomers can probably quote me on it and I have often heard them
          > giving their own versions.
          > And this is what I say:
          > You're new to the SCA come check it out, find out what you like and
          > explore. You might find something you like that you never thought
          > you would. But a word of advice.
          > In your first year DON'T.
          > That's right DON'T.
          > DON'T register a name.
          > DON'T register a device.
          > DON'T join a household, guild etc.
          > DON'T attach yourself to someone as in an apprenticeship or squiring
          > or other such thing.
          > DON'T register your name. Once you have registered it you are more
          > or less stuck with it. Sure you can unregister it or change it but
          > once people are used to calling you something they're gonna keep on
          > calling you that name. Besides you might find a name or persona
          > that you think is cooler later on. Chill out try a few on and see
          > what sticks. Most newcomers in my experience change names a few
          > times before they settle on one.
          > DON'T register a device. Same reason as not registering your name
          > really.
          > DON'T Join a household, guild etc. Hang out with them, get the lay
          > of the land and the internal politics, have fun, get to know
          > people. IF they're cool now, great! But really if they're cool now
          > they'll be cool in a year just the same. You may find that you like
          > hanging out with them but don't really wanna join up. That's okay.
          > DON'T attach yourself. Those kinds of things in the SCA are viewed
          > as permanent and forever. Yes, you can get out of them but it is a
          > BIG deal when that happens and people will talk for years about it.
          > Take your time get to know what you really want to do and what the
          > person is really like and what their reputation is. Once you DO get
          > attached to a person you WILL ALWAYS be judged in that light and
          > will ALWAYS be associated that way. So know the person well before
          > you get attached as a squire or apprentice or other such thing.
          > Take your time, explore things and research them to your hearts
          > content.
          > And if anyone gives you any guff over not registering your name or
          > device, politely tell them to lay off.
          > I'm an apprentice and my Laurel has NEVER registered her name or a
          > device. NEVER. You simply are NOT required to do it and you should
          > wait around to see what you want to register for certain before you
          > do.
          > That's the Don't Speach.
          > Feel free to heckle or applaud. :-)
          > If you like it though, spread the word. There are plenty of stories
          > in the SCA of people having registered names or devices and wishing
          > they hadn't and being "stuck" with it. And even more stories of
          > having joined a household or guild and wishing they had spent more
          > time getting to know people and things before they had.
          > Ian the Green
          > Chatelaine - Grey Gargoyles
          > Region of the Midlands
          > Middle Kingdom

          In Service to Lioncourt Manor and An Tir,
          Signora Beatrice Domenici della Campana

          Boardwalk for $500? In 2007? Ha! Play Monopoly Here and Now (it's updated for today's economy) at Yahoo! Games.
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