Friday, 13 July 2012

And it's another one of THOSE posts...( bad language ensues)

I swear a LOT in this post so if you don't like swearing I suggest you don't read this. It's loud, mouthy and opinionated. You have been warned.


The Society for Creative Anachronism, better know as the SCA is in flux. Today on three separate facebook conversations this topic came up. One person announced they'd had enough and wanted to chuck it, another posed the question why this is and another, in chat, discussed with me the concept of giving stuff ( in this case art) away for free and why it sorta sucks.

When I joined the SCA some 20+ years ago now it was fun, I was 19 or 20 and I wasn't involved in anything other party, boys, cool clothes and fun. I served at events and sometimes helped do small stuff but mainly it was fun. Politics came later. Politics is a polite way of saying clashes with other people and their ideas ( or lack of them) etc.

I've been through my fair share of SCA related bullshit. I won't bother to list it all here I'd be writing a 600 page novel and no one wants to read that but I do have some thoughts on why it's currently, particularly here in Europe more than a little fucked up.

1. This is a huge volunteer run group which pays the US for a membership without any real or see-able benefits especially now that our paper newsletter is being removed. Yes there are insurances etc but for the average lay person, the new membership hike ( incidentally to cover a US based lawsuit over what is essentially greed) and the rising costs of events and travel are prohibitive. (I'll get to event costs in a bit)

When you have people paying a membership fee and volunteering their time and money these people expect a certain return. I don't know that this is being met. Right now for us the ONLY reason we are still paid members is we hold offices, other than that we'd have let the membership fee go. You do not have to be a paid member to play. You do have to pay if you want to hold an office. ( there are other reasons as well but I don't care about them so we'll just skip all that, you can go look up the rules on the page if you want.

Holding an office is a volunteer thing. You don't get paid for it and it's a thankless, shitty job most of the time. This is made all the harder when offices are not handed over properly so that files and information are not available to the new officer making the job even harder and more frustrating than it has to be.  No one really polices the hand over of offices and it's lapsed into a kind of anarchy. I've taken over two in the last 8 months ( I think) or more and both offices I have NO files, no useful information and am sitting blind.  So one office will be gone sooner than later I hope and the other one, we'll have to see how that goes. But this sort of BS doesn't make for a happy volunteer. WORKING an office should be easy not a fucking uphill struggle. Training and hand overs should be done with minimum of effort to make the person coming into the office feel at ease not frustrated or unwelcome. (you weren't my first choice but no one else wanted the office is also a line I suggest one never utters out loud either)  The person taking over should not have to ask and beg and remind the person leaving the office for all the files and info. It should NOT HAPPEN THIS WAY AT ALL. No wonder no one wants to do these jobs. What a freaking headache. So it's hard to find replacements because really..who needs this sort of crap? We get enough of that in our real lives and work ( well I don't cuz my real life job is fucking awesome and my co workers and my bosses are amazing and I get paid) we do not need it in our free time and hobby.

2. Events. This is a hobby and it should be fun. When you come to an event bear in mind that everyone working at this event is doing so on a volunteer basis so when you sit at a table and announce you won't do any clean up at all because it's your fucking holiday you're NOT exactly adding to the festive feelings.  We ( the general volunteer populace) are not here to serve you. Even the people with the titles and the pointy hats need to remember this. Please and thank you GO A LONG FUCKING WAY.  Those people who are running the event are not your personal servants. ( no matter how period it may be to have slaves and servants in today's world it's not kosher). If you don't like how things are being run, done, etc... get off yer arse and do something about it. Or leave. ( try not to let that great big huge oak door whack your ass on the way our either we don't want to damage the door)

It's a pretty simple thing. the more people who pitch in and help out where they can the more fun and play time everyone has. Bending the backs of those who already give tons of their time and soul and knowledge and then bitching about everything that doesn't go your way..dude..just leave okay. I'm serious, go find a vacation paradise that caters to your every whim, it will make you a whole lot happier.

Events in Drachenwald can be really magical as well because they usually encompass an entire weekend so you get bed and board for Fri-sun. I don't really know of any other kingdom that does this with the same regularity that we do so when I hear people bitch about how expensive it is I want to scream. today's world is NOT paying under 100 euro per person for 2 nights, hot showers ( mostly) and food. This is nothing.  You want expensive ... try going to fedcon.  I see would be event stewards and groups go mad trying to find cheap, period full service sites to cater to the whims of the whiners. Same goes for the people who organize the food. Everyone and their dog seems to have food allergies or dislikes and I've seen people have a full blown meltdown because they couldn't eat a dish out of a 7 course meal at an event due to an allergy. Really?  If you have allergies bring extras for yourself, stuff you can and do like to eat, do what we do and  go off site and eat something, or don't pay for feast and eat off board but pulling a hairy tantrum only serves to make the people who cook go...what cook for that lot? Again? No fucking way.... I used to enjoy cooking in the SCA but I wouldn't be a head cook for all the tea in china any more. If food is served that I can't eat or don't like you know what I do? I don't eat it, that's what I do. I say no thanks to the server and eat some more of something I do like. In the end this means more for someone else.

If you don't a particular site don't go to that event. If it's too expensive go to a less expensive one nearby. Start smaller local events, etc....

So events are too expensive, the food is never's always the same people doing stuff ( one of my favourite sentences in the world) and then when the people who used to do the work stop they get called lazy, or told they are "resting on their laurels". In the SCA you cannot win. When it got back to me that I was doing too many scrolls for the kingdom the solution was pretty easy. I stopped. I can spend my time elsewhere and get paid for it. ( which I did yay me) But I happen to like doing scroll art and the SCA is a great place to practice so I'm back at it.

3. Free art: Yes I hear this a lot and I agree with it to a certain extent. My take on it is this. I don't cook, or clean or do other service stuff but I make scrolls. Scrolls which take my time, energy and equipment and that's my service contribution to the volunteer side of the SCA. It's not my problem that someone else doesn't get this and bitches because they never see me doing "real" service. It doesn't seem to dawn on them that I may not spend half an hour helping in the kitchen because i spent 40 hours at home working on scrolls so I see the event as my down time. It's not free art. I worked very hard to contribute to the group. The art is my contribution. End of discussion. Anyone who thinks I don't do enough service for the SCA and the kingdom can go fuck themselves politely in a cupboard somewhere.

4. recruitment.  We need to work on this big time. I've said it before I'll say it again. It starts with the website and right now ours is awful.  Instead of being touted as a fun, easy to start off in medieval recreation group we sound like a bunch of boring scholars all trying to out costume or award each other.  It's not easy to find information, the information available is pretty blah and with all the medieval groups in Germany alone who the hell would choose us first? I and my husband have a bunch of ideas on recruitment but no one is interested so we apply this to our other hobbies ( online guilds and the 501st)

There is a lot of why bother going on these days. I do understand it. The award system doesn't help. That in itself is a post so I won't touch it here but it fails on as many levels as it works.

The SCA got selfish and insular. Less about partying and having a great time and more about snobbery and who has more bling and titles.  I have heard so many people complain about how other people have such great garb and how unfair it is... uhmmm dude you know they made it themselves right? Or about how it's always the same people getting awards.... well that might be because it's always the same people doing the work. Jealousy and apathy seem to be the two major issues we have and I don't know how to fix this.

People get burned out a lot because let's face it who wants to be the constant worker bee? 

I do know that I have decided that from now on I do what is fun. Fun encompasses a lot of different things for me but being dicked around isn't one of them. So I will speak my mind on the BS that pisses me off, I will do my damnedest to help my scribes and support them in their arty efforts, I will avoid contact with the people who drive me crazy and I will remember this is a hobby and  I do it for fun. If it's not fun I'm walking away.

and that's really the biggest thing I see wrong with the SCA. We forgot it was a hobby and it was supposed to be fun. We got spoiled and we got mean and very self centred.

and yeah I'm going for queen bitch of the universe with this post so award me my pretend pointy hat so I can be a pretend ruler in a pretend kingdom wearing long out of fashion dress-up clothes and hope that people take me seriously enough to fall down to their knees and worship my every breath because booya I IS IMPORTANT!


  1. Booyah. I tend to agree. We've been playing since the late 70's and seen many changes, some for good, some for bad. We stopped playing two years ago... we were just tired. Didn't enjoy ourselves, didn't like what we were seeing and seemed to be the only ones... so.. we took an hiatus (not our first) I wish people would stop taking themselves so seriously. This organization was founded on the success of a party for heaven's sake. How we each get enjoyment from the group is going to be different, we should not judge or condemn others for not seeking the same things as we do.

    Thank you for the perspective on doing scrolls. Sometimes I wonder about giving artwork away, but I had never considered it part of my volunteer hours to make this group work.

  2. re offsite work vs washing up: Perhaps the King could announce at the feast "My following subjects are relieved of cleanup duty due to their pre-event work on X, Y, Z, to whit John, Bob, Mary, etc." This would publically recognize workerbees, and would inform the vast unwashed why these folks were not helping with post-feast cleanup. I never really knew who were the pre-event workerbees when I attended feasts. Obviously the vast unwashed are not going to peacefully accept "unfairness" if they don't know the basis for it. The King might also say "cleanup is commanded for the rest of the feasters, on pain of A, B, C." :-).

    re does art=work or does art=play?: Just because something is fun for the participant does not disqualify the time it requires from consideration as a worthy contribution to SCA. It's time spent for the good of the organization; if no one else did it, would the SCA be better off? If people don't think the work contributes to the SCA, then have the King make a ruling so that everyone knows where they stand.

    re burnout: I feel a club's decisions on what to work on should be determined by the members (as opposed to being determined by The Boss). Let the members speak. Just because I think X should be done does not make it correct for me to order others to do it too. What makes it correct is if members want to do it. If I'm the only one who wants to work on X, then the club should not stand in my way. But I should also not bitch if no one will help me. I have seen burnout occur when a person thought they were working hard for the Club, but no one else agreed, so no one else ever volunteered (or expressed thanks). If you have been busting your butt to provide X, but no one is impressed or wants to volunteer to help, then accept that and adjust your efforts on X accordingly.

    re records transfer continuity: Hardly anyone volunteers for a job And the paperwork. Paperwork is a skill, just like any other; some are interested in learning or improving, and some aren't.If you screen volunteer leaders for their attitudes towards paperwork, you'll likely end up with a smaller pool of volunteers. If the paperwork is critical, then find someone who wants to do just that; some people would rather be secretary than boss. If no one volunteers, then the members have spoken - no paperwork, hang the consequences.

    re thankless shitty job: Maybe it's thankless because no one knows you are doing it; have the King announce at the Feast. Maybe it's thankless because you are the only one who cares; then quit, or resolve just to have fun doing it for your own personal satisfaction. Shitty can come from the worker not really wanting to do the job, but having undertaken it from a sense of "obligation". Obligation negates fun, in my book. Shitty can also come from unrealistic expectations from the Boss. Remind him that SCA is a volunteer organization; if he does not like your output, then remind him that he is always free find someone else.

    re lazy, resting on laurels: "I'm retiring to give you a chance to assume a leadership position, and a chance to learn a new skill."


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