Appreciating knowledge and feedback from all givers

A question to the Kingdom A&S Minister, Master Philip White:

“Why do some people seem to value praise from Laurels and Maunches more than the rest of the populace who don’t have these recognitions?”

A reply from the Minister:

Receiving praise is a wonderful thing. I expect that most of us appreciate someone saying a thoughtful word to us about our efforts. It’s nice to have someone recognize our work and abilities. It feels good.

Now, lets say that praise is coming from someone who you admire or respect. Like a mentor or a teacher. That might feel even better.

Or, perhaps that praise is coming from someone who is a member of an Order to which you aspire. You might have a goal of becoming a member of the Orders of the Laurel or of the Maunche yourself. Then that might feel really great. It then might feel like someone is telling you are on the right track to achieving your goals.

I can’t fault people for feeling good about any of that. Those seem like reasonable and natural responses to me.

Here is where I would caution people.

It would not be beneficial for individuals to dismiss or ignore people who are not members of those Orders.

Focusing only on hearing from people who are members of the Orders to which you aspire means you are missing out on building relationships and learning opportunities. You’re missing opportunities to grow.

You could also risk developing a reputation that you’re less interested in mastery of your skills and knowledge, teaching others, and promoting the arts and sciences as a whole. Even if it is not your intention, you could risk people believing that you’re trying to reach your goals instead through sucking up to Order members.

Making new relationships is good. Building partnerships is laudable. It is worth not risking alienating people who can help you develop by solely focusing on members of these Orders.

Remember.

Every instance of praise is a learning opportunity.

Not everyone who is a Laurel is an expert in the skill you are attempting. Not every expert in the skill you are attempting is Laurel. Be open to hearing from everyone and you give yourself more opportunity to mature as an artisan.

Now, let me add here to the original question. I know we are not only talking about praise.

I have heard people ask similar questions about why artisans seem to only value constructive feedback given by members of the Orders. Or that there are artisans who will only take classes or attend workshops by members of the Orders. If those people do exist then they are missing more opportunities to learn and grow. We have lots of individuals who are capable in their own right to teach classes or provide constructive criticism without being members of the Orders.

My suggestion?

Treat everyone with respect. If someone is taking the time to give you praise (or even feedback) then listen to them. And, thank them.

Remember… Have fun! Learn! Teach!

Your Servant to Command,
~p.w.

Unpacking hard feelings about A&S competitions

A question to the Kingdom A&S Minister, Master Philip White:

“My friend is really upset after entering an A&S competition. They are very angry and are saying they will never enter an A&S activity again. What can I do to help?”

A reply from the Minister:

First off, thank you for offering to help. It is hard to see our friends get upset or angry or sad or frustrated. So we want to help where we can. That’s commendable.

Second, A&S competitions are not for everyone. And really many kinds of A&S activities are not for everyone. Please do not try and convince someone to do something that’s not right for them. They may be best served never participating in an A&S competition again. And, that’s okay. There are lots of ways to enjoy A&S. Let your friend have fun the way that brings them joy.

Now.

If we think about it, many of us have probably experienced this situation ourselves. Right? So it may help to answer this as if we were in the same situation ourselves. What would we do? How could we be a good example? Can we then coach people into the same steps?

Me? I would start with a self-assessment.

Why am I upset? What am I angry about? What’s got me frustrated? Start there. If you can put words to feelings then you can start to take action.

Here are just a few examples of what I mean.

Did you read the rules one way? And then they were implemented another way? Or maybe even changed on you as the competition was happening? Then that’s a problem with how the competition was run. You can talk to the organizer or the A&S Office about that.

Did you get a judge that gave you difficult feedback? You can talk to them. Or talk to the organizers. Or talk to the A&S Office.

Did you not like having your entry judged? That’s okay. You don’t need to enter competitions. Maybe there’s nothing wrong with how the judging works. Maybe it is just not right for you. Try a display or artisans row or something else instead.

Did you show up late and not get the time you expected to show off your entry? That’s not on the activity then. That means you need to arrive in time to get all the feedback you’re hoping to receive.

Did you want to make a deliberate display of expertise or knowledge (i.e. “show off”) to some judges or senior A&S community members? Judges are there to give you feedback and help run a competition. They are typically not signing up for a class. While judges do hope to learn you may want to sign up to teach a class instead.

Did you expect to win? But then you didn’t? Wanting to win is good. Ensuring a win is outside your control. Be reasonable to yourself and reset your expectations. Never walk in expecting you have it in the bag. Try to win, sure, but also go in looking to learn.

Did you expect a different score than you received? You can talk to the organizer or the A&S Office about that. You may need to have your entry rescored.

Those are just a few examples.

Basically.

Figure out why you’re upset. See what you can do to fix it.

Talk to your judge. Or the event organizer. Or the A&S officer. Or a friend.

The A&S Officer could be your Local A&S Officer, or the Regional Officer, or you can even come to me as the Kingdom A&S Officer. We want to see things working out and people happy.

Not sure of who to talk to? Ask for help.

Not sure if you are in the right place? Check.

Get a second opinion and see if there is something else you can do to fix the experience.

Here’s something I suggest not doing:

Going on social media sites to complain. It may feel good to vent. It may feel good to have some affirmation from your social network. You’re also not respecting the people who volunteered to run the activity or be your judge or try their best. Go to them first and give them a chance. Venting online doesn’t actually help you or them.

Here’s what I would like:

I’d like to see entrants and judges working well together. That means constructive criticism and active listening going on between people showing respect and valuing each other.

That’s a reputation we can support throughout our organization.

Remember… Have fun! Learn! Teach!

Your Servant to Command,

~p.w.

Visibility for service folks

A question to the Kingdom A&S Minister, Master Philip White:

“You write about how artists can display their works or enter competitions. And I know the fighters can enter tourneys and fight in battles. What can service minded people do to share what they’re working on?”

A reply from the Minister:

That’s a fair question. Does it seem odd for me to answer as the Kingdom A&S Minister? I think not.

Why? Because I am very interested in the East Kingdom teaching more and learning more. I think there is much we can learn from how artisans work in sharing their experiences and then do very similar things with people who are focused on service.

A note before I begin.

This isn’t about showing off. This isn’t about sucking up. This isn’t about gunning for an award.

True. These things below can help your renown. You may have increased visibility and impact within the Kingdom. It can make it easier for people to recommend you for recognition.

But that’s not the point. That’s a side affect.

Now, back to the question.

Basically much of what I’ll suggest comes down to documentation. And, if there is anything we know about in this office, it is documentation.

Think about your process. Thing about what you’ve done. Think about what you’ve learned. Document it. Then share that with other people.

What do I mean of documentation?

Here are some examples:

  • Event Stewards: Hold a post-mortem. Talk about what worked well. Talk about what could be improved. Take notes. Write them up! Share them with the group to make the next event better. Share them with other groups so that they can learn from you too.
  • Registration: Did you figure out a great way to run gate (troll)? Did you write up an excel spreadsheet that was good for tracking for pre-registration? Did you come up with a process that made things move quickly and efficiently? Write them up! Share your spreadsheets and forms with others. Offer your work to others so that they don’t have to repeat it.
  • Leadership Roles: Were you able to plan well in advance? Have a timeline that you worked on with people? Were you organizing through web tools or other project management teams? Talk to others about these tools and help them learn how to use them too.
  • Team Lead: Promote the team members you worked with and highlight their skills. Recommend them to others. Give them word fame.
  • Local Officer: Share your reports with your local groups. Publish in the newsletter. Share them on social media or on your local website. Let everyone know what’s going on in your group and how everyone is participating. It doesn’t have to just go to your Seneschal and up line officer. You can share things with everyone.
  • Landed Nobles: Share with people what it’s like to lead a local group. How is leadership different than what you expected. Offer to help other newer Landed Nobles in their jobs. Type up a handbook or guidebook on how you did the job and share it with your successors or with other Landed Nobles.
  • Royal Staff: How are you running things? Write it down. You’re in a job that changes every six months. And it is different from Reign to Reign. But some things are worth keeping and continuing. Share it with the next reign. Share it with other people on the Royal Staff.
  • All Volunteers: Did you have a job description? Did you know what you were volunteering for? Then write a job description up. Is your job different than what you expected? Then write that up too. Figure out what you’re actually doing in your job. And figure out what you’re doing that you think is above and beyond. Write that down too.

You get the idea. There are so many ways this could be done. From people running tourneys or battles to people working on voice heraldry to people working in the kitchen.

No job is to “obvious.” No job is too “behind-the-scenes.” No person is too “visible.” No person is too “remote.”

We have a lot of hard-working, talented, and smart people in the East. We are rich with opportunity to learn from each other.

How could you share it?

Here are some examples:

  • Update your East Kingdom Wiki page: Share some of this information there. You can write up some of your “best practices” for others to read.
  • Keep a blog: Write up short (or long) posts about what you are learning. Keep track of what works and what doesn’t.
  • Engage in Social Media: Start a conversation about what’s worked for you in your job. Ask others about how it might work for them. Ask them what they would do differently.
  • Publish: Write a handout. Write a handbook. Write a set up guidelines. Whatever the thing is type it up into a document so that others can learn from you.
  • Engage in Print: Write up articles for your local newsletter, or for the East Kingdom Gazette, or for SCA websites.
  • In-Person Discussions: Teach a class. Lead a round table. Set up a session. Run a consultation table. Whatever the thing your doing meet with people in person and talk to them about what you’re working on.

Again, these are just examples. And, again, no job is too big or too little to talk about. We can all learn from each other.

It’s up to you to share. This isn’t something only for people who are peers. This isn’t something only or members of well-known households. This isn’t something only for people living in highly populated areas.

We’re all making the East run. We can all be a part of teaching and learning.

Those of us in the far reaches make it happen. Thos of us who can’t travel make it happen. Those of us engaged more behind-the-scenes make it happen.

Your work is not something you need to be embarrassed about. You are allowed to feel good about your hard work. Share it. You have people that want to hear from you.

Remember… Have fun! Learn! Teach!

Your Servant to Command,

~p.w.

Complimenting work without adding pressure

A question to the Kingdom A&S Minister, Master Philip White:

I get asked, “Why aren’t you a Laurel yet?”
I know they mean well, but, at the same time it is frustrating. How should I handle questions like these?

A reply from the Minister:

We’ve probably all heard something like this at one time or another. We may have even asked it to other people ourselves.

Variations of this question include “If you lived in another Kingdom you’d already be a Laurel” and “Oh, I thought you were already a Laurel.” There’s a number of ways this can come up.

And, it could really be asked of a person about any kind of recognition.

So, there are two people here. And, I’d like to write to both of them. First, the person who gets asked this kind of question. Second, the person who asks these kinds of questions.

I remember getting asked these questions too and getting told these things. It *was* frustrating. I agree!

I didn’t have any control over the award system. There wasn’t an easy to follow checklist to know what I was missing. There wasn’t a list of people that I needed to convince to support me for elevation.

And these things are not changing. There will not be checklists or the like. They can get more transparent. And that’s what is happening. I know I figured things out more by talking to more people and having lots of discussions and learning.

But, back then, how was I supposed to know?

I knew they meant well. They were giving me a compliment. They thought that I was ready for recognition. That was nice!

It was also a reminding me that I hadn’t achieved my goal. Sometimes it felt like I was failing. Or that I wasn’t passing some test. In some ways it felt like a backhanded complement. On one hand they were telling me that I was deserving and on the other hand they were reminding me that I wasn’t. Like I said. Frustrating!

It sounds like a simple question. Yet, it is a complicated and difficult answer.

So, how would I reply?

Honestly and tactfully. That wasn’t always easy to do. And sometimes I was better at it than others.

I found a good reply to be “Thank you. I’ll take that as a compliment.”

Other replies could be:

  • “I’m on the path and looking forward to when it happens.”
  • “I’m still learning. There is more work I want to do in my field.”
  • “I’m getting to know the community and the job of being a peer.
  • “I’m not interested in being a peer. I know it is a job and my focus is other places.”
  • “I don’t know why so I’m still figuring that out myself.”

All of these things could work. And more. As long as you reply with positivity, honestly address to your circumstances, and stay tactful you’ll be fine.

Remember. They’re likely giving you a compliment. Be nice in return.

Now, to the people who feel tempted to ask these kinds of questions?

You likely really want to give your friend a compliment. So, do just that! Help them avoid the confusion and frustration and awkward reply. Don’t put them on the spot!

Here are some good examples of things to say:

  • “You’ve got a lot of talent!”
  • “You arts are beautiful! You have a great eye!”
  • “I’m totally impressed with your skill!”
  • “You’ve really improved over time.”
  • “I am so excited to see what you’ll be doing next!”

Basically? Say something with honesty. Make your complement with meaning.

You can stop there. Nicely done!

Remember? You just wanted to help your friend feel good.

So, stick with that complement.

Separately, you may want to *also* encourage your friend working towards a certain recognition. Why? Because receiving recognition can be fun and rewarding too. Accepting the responsibilities of peerage or another recognition can *also* be fun. You may want to help them with that.

To do that? Make it a conversation.

Learn more about that recognition. Talk to people holding that recognition already and ask them about their experiences. Share with your friend what you’ve learned and ask if you can help them along their path. Be a partner with them on their journey.

And, remember, you can also write them in for award recognition. Maybe that’s all that is missing!

Remember… Have fun! Learn! Teach!

Your Servant to Command,

~p.w.

Curtailing the urge to provide unsolicited feedback

A question to the Kingdom A&S Minister, Master Philip White:

“I just realized that there’s some constructive criticism I think an artisan needs. I want to walk over to them and share my feedback. How’s the best way to do that?”

A reply from the Minister:

This is a great follow up to my post yesterday. There I talked about how to give feedback when someone walks up to you and asks for it.

This question?

This reads more like we are talking about unsolicited feedback. And we’re going to ask you to please not give unsolicited feedback.

Here’s the thing.

Do you already have explicit permission to give feedback to an artisan? Are you the artisan’s peer or mentor? Do you work closely with the artisan and already have an established relationship?

If you can’t say “yes” to any of these questions with absolute confidence then please pause and reconsider.

There are other, better times, to give people feedback. Wait for those times.

Artisans will display their work at events, they will ask for comments on social media or through their blogs, they will enter competitions, they show up at A&S consultation tables. Those are better times to work with artisans on constructive feedback.

Wait for times that you have permission. Wait for consent.

That’s when an artisan is in a good frame of mind. That’s when they are more likely ready to hear your feedback and be able to take action on it. That’s when they are more likely to learn from you and to grow.

It is unlikely that an artisan will want feedback “in the moment”.

Did you just hear wording for a scroll you think needed work? Maybe you had suggestions for the illumination? Or comments on the calligraphy?

Finding that scribe right after court would not be the right time to give feedback. They are a volunteer. They just did some work they are proud of for someone else. Let them enjoy that. They didn’t enter an A&S competition.

That’s not the time for unsolicited feedback. Please do not do that.

Did you just see a person walk by in clothing that had some construction issues? Maybe a questionable fabric choice? Fit challenges?

Walking over to that person unannounced is not the right time to give feedback. They are also a participant in the SCA so of course they are wearing an attempt at historical clothing. But? They may not be as focused on historical recreation. They may just be wearing clothes that they really enjoy wearing. They didn’t enter an A&S competition.

That’s not the time for unsolicited feedback. Please do not do that.

Did you just attend a feast that had some modern elements? Maybe you didn’t like the timing for when the different elements are served? Maybe you questioned some of the ingredients?

Finding that cook right after feast would not be the right time to give feedback. They are a volunteer. They just did lots of work they are proud of for an event. They are likely tired, coming down from a stressful day, and still working on cleaning up. They didn’t enter an A&S competition.

That’s not the time for unsolicited feedback. Please do not do that.

That’s just a few examples. I think you get the point.

Unsolicited constructive criticism is one of the main causes of unhappiness for people in the arts and sciences and sometimes even in the SCA. It makes people frustrated. It makes them not want to play.

Please do not do it. Please.

Instead? Pause. And wait for a more appropriate time.

Remember that person and wait for a better time to start the conversation. Wait for them to enter an A&S competition. Wait for them to attend a class you are teaching. Wait for them to start a conversation with you some other time in the future.

You can also talk to their peer or mentor. You can talk to someone else who is used to working with them and ask that person about giving constructive criticism.

Or, you can seek consent to give feedback. There’s easy ways to do this without hurting feelings or causing misunderstandings. Something simple works.

“Thank you for your work. I really enjoyed it. I’d love to talk to you more about it sometime. This is the kind of art I’m really interested in. I’d like to get to know you more.”

Try something like that. Let them decide to come to you. Let them ask for help or feedback.

Do you have some other concern? Something more serious?

Don’t get caught up in the moment. Unless we’re talking about something actually life threatening, then please, still, pause, and wait before giving feedback.

Safety is important. The integrity of our organization is important. If you think there is a health risk (such as hazardous materials) or a legal/ethical issue (such as plagiarism) then please talk to someone. Depending on the circumstances you might approach the artist of you might also consider talking to an officers We can help.

Remember… Have fun! Learn! Teach!

Your Servant to Command,
~p.w.

Be honest about what kind of help you’re looking for.

A question to the Kingdom A&S Minister, Master Philip White:

“How can we help people understand that when they say ‘What do you think about my work?’ there is a difference between asking ‘I would like affirmation!’ and ‘I would like constructive feedback!’ because they are very different things?”

A reply from the Minister:

You know what I do?

I ask.

First? I always try and remember to ask. It doesn’t matter if I am standing in line at gate or I am judging a competition. I ask. It doesn’t matter if it is a friend or a stranger. I ask.

I start by asking.

“What kind of comments are you looking for?”

Something like that.

I don’t know what I am looking at. Is it their wedding dress? Is it something they made for their sick friend? Is it a first attempt?

I don’t know unless I ask.

And just because it is a display or a competition I still don’t assume. Sometimes people set up a display or enter a competition for different reasons. It is not always to have someone give their display or entry a hard look. And so I ask.

And by asking that gives me a chance to start a conversation. There’s a lot more we can and learn from each other if we’re actually talking and listening to each other.

Maybe they are looking for me to say “That’s really cool!” or “That’s really pretty!” and that’s all they need or want. That’s okay! Getting simple positive feedback can be good. Not everything needs to be detailed yet constructive feedback.

And maybe they are looking for some pretty specific help on only a certain part of what they are creating. That’s okay too. Sometimes we are able to give that kind of feedback too.

Now, that’s all on us, right?

We, given the position to offer feedback, are also in the position to figure out what kind of feedback we are giving.

It would be great if people asking for feedback would know how to articulate, up front, exactly what they are looking for. However, that doesn’t always happen. And, especially with newer artisans, they may not even know the difference.

If someone is asking us for help then we can help them first by asking what they are looking for from the start.

Now, what if you’re on the other side? What if you’re the person asking for help?

Think about what it is you’re looking for. What do you want? What to you need?

Be honest about what kind of help you’re looking for. Figure that out. And ask for that. If you’re not ready for constructive feedback then please do not ask for it. If you’re wanting some detailed criticism then ask at a time where we can give you a thorough and thoughtful answer.

That will help the person asking and the person responding.

If we’re talking then we can both figure it out from there. So let’s work together on it.

Remember… Have fun! Learn! Teach!

Your Servant to Command,
~p.w.

Maintaining your feeling of relevance

A question to the Kingdom A&S Minister, Master Philip White:

“I’ve been a Laurel for over a decade now and I have started feeling irrelevant. What can I do to feel wanted?”

A reply from the Minister:

This is a really honest question, right? I think so. It is also a really hard question to ask oneself.

I don’t think this is a problem that only Laurels face. And I don’t think it is a problem that only peers face. Or, for that matter, I don’t think this is a problem only people in the SCA face.

As we grow older, we likely all eventually struggle with relevancy.

I think in order to understand why we feel irrelevant or unwanted we have to start by asking ourselves what it is we’re doing in the SCA right now.

Not a decade ago. But right now.

What are we doing?

Are we going to our local business meetings? Are we working gate? Are we helping with set up? Are we washing dishes after feast? Are we teaching? Are we learning? Are we spending time with our friends?

Are we doing the things now, today, that made us feel a part of the game a decade ago?

Are we “resting on our Laurels”? Or, are we still doing?

Are we changing with the Society? Are we adapting to how the game changes? Are we making new friends? Are we investing time and efforts into their successes?

Are we adapting to how our bodies and abilities and bank accounts and time commitments are changing?

It takes some honest self-assessment to look closely at what our participation is in the Society. Then, knowing that, it can help tell us how it is we’re fitting in with everyone else.

Now, to answer this question, I’d like to hear what is working for others.

What’s your success story? What worked for you? What did you find helps you still feel like you fit in? How have you adapted? How have you changed?

Tell us the things that are positive and constructive! Help us learn from you!

Remember… Have fun! Learn! Teach!

Your Servant to Command,
~p.w.

Supporting others who are recognized

A question to the Kingdom A&S Minister, Master Philip White: 

“Someone I know received an award. I don’t think that they are deserving. What should I do?”

A reply from the Minister:

Spoiler alert. This was really my question. I’m allowed to ask questions, too, right? If you follow my feed you saw me ask basically the same question on my friends’ list.

I felt it was a good chance to check in with people and see what their thoughts were and to get some different perspectives. There were a lot of great ideas and I think that they are worth sharing more broadly.

Also. I get that this is a broad question that deals with all parts of the SCA. It is not solely A&S related. However, these kinds of things do come up a lot with A&S recognitions and I am comfortable addressing it for those reasons and hopefully it can be helpful everywhere.

So, back to that reply.

Start by thinking about why are you even asking this? What is your basis of opinion? Where are you starting from? Do you already hold the award yourself? Are you a member of the Order or have that same rank? Are you presuming superiority?

Be honest with yourself. Is this a moment of jealousy? Is this part of a personal issue that really has nothing to do with the award?

Start with that self-assessment. Be mindful of what’s making you feel the way you feel and that will help you know what next steps you should take.

Okay. Now. Maybe you’re right. Maybe the award is not a great fit. And maybe you’re wrong. Maybe there are some things you don’t know about.

Unless you are the Crown it is not your decision to make or decide if it is right or not. Keep that in mind.

Here’s how I would approach it.

Have fun. Learn. Teach.

That is a motto I try to live by in the SCA. So, I have decided that however I go about addressing this issue needs to fit in that framework.

So, nope, I am not going to walk up to someone and say, “now you’ve got to earn it.” That’s not going to make either of us feel good. That’s not how you make a good mentor. That’s not how someone learns.

Nope, I am not going to walk up to someone and say, “You don’t deserve this.” Same trouble. No one feels good. No one learns. No one teaches.

Here are some things I am going to do:

* Have I checked in with others? Maybe I am off base in my assessment. Maybe my standards are too high. Maybe I don’t have all the details. I need to be open to being wrong.

* Can I have another conversation with the person? Not about getting the award. I don’t want to make anyone feel bad. But, maybe we were just having a misunderstanding. Maybe they’ve done work I don’t know about.

* Can I speak with the person’s peer or mentor? Maybe they have some way that we can mutually help the person.

* Is this recognition for a Peerage? Then I can speak with the candidate before elevation at their vigil. Again, I do not want to ruin their day. I’ll go in a congratulatory manner and I will take the opportunity to emphasize the positive aspects of their work and behavior. I want to focus on the good parts and build those up.

* I can encourage the person to continue exemplifying those aspects that helped them earn the recognition.

* I can give the person a chance. Again, maybe I was wrong. Maybe the person is ready. I should give them a chance in their new role without judging them based off older events.

* Can I find common ground by empathize with challenges of the new role and accept that we may have differences of opinion? We’re all human. We can disagree and that’s okay. We can make mistakes and that’s okay. I am not going to expect total alignment or perfection of any one. That would not be fair to the person or to others.

* After the award is granted, I can caution the person on questionable behavior as it happens. Make the context of the conversation about how the person’s actions could be in opposition to the person’s own goals and good experiences.

* Sometimes bad behavior does happen. Sometimes mistakes happen. That’s okay if we allow that we are all human and that we own up to our own actions. It is important to keep these kinds of events transparent. That’s how we learn from our experiences and continue to grow.

* I can work as a positive example myself. Be the person you want candidates to be. That’s the best way you can show the populace what a good example is of an award recipient or an Order member.

* Advocate for exemplary behavior and achievement. Focus on the best qualities of these people. Keep striving for excellence and promoting our best achievements.

And, really, these strategies work to encourage all kinds of people. I think I’ll be using them with anyone to help create good experiences for everyone.

Note!

These are things that I think will work for me. You’ll have different ways that work for you. People are welcome to share their approaches too. We learn best by listening to each other.

Remember… Have fun! Learn! Teach!

Your Servant to Command,
~p.w.

A&S Orders and making recommendations to the Crown

A question to the Kingdom A&S Minister, Master Philip White:

“My friend makes really awesome work! Everyone loves what they do! Their art is beautiful and gets lots of praise and recognition. Everyone wants to own one of their pieces. Shouldn’t they be a Silver Broach? Or a Maunche? Or a Laurel?”

A reply from the Minister:

Maybe?

Ultimately, award recognition is up to the Royalty. To make their decisions, they do rely on recommendations by their populace and by members of their orders. So, how’s that work?

Recommendations and the endorsement of candidates rely on a number of factors.

These factors are not all equal. Some Royals value some factors over other factors. Likewise, existing Order members and populace members will also value some factors over other factors.

Let me state that again.

Everyone sees these things differently. The different Crowns and the members of the Orders and the populace all have different feelings and expectations. There is no easy answer.

I sympathize with those who find this frustrating. I find it frustrating too.

I want to try and help with that here.

How individuals achieve these factors varies from person to person and from art to art. Sometimes a candidate is strong in one aspect and weaker in another aspect.

But, somehow, they come together to make a compelling case to members of the populace who make the recommendations, members of the Orders who endorse them, and the Royals who decide upon them.

I know there are people who wish there was an easier way to go about this. That we had a checklist or a rubric that would help people understand expectations and in order to help set goals.

At least in my opinion, recommendations are really much more of an art than a science.
So, to help with that, there are many questions you can ask yourself when writing an award recommendation, including but not limited to:

* Are they showing expertise?
* Do they have a good understanding of materials and practices?
* Are they attempting difficult works?
* Are they able to reproduce the same quality of work repeatedly?
* Are their works well researched?
* Have they added or extended to the research available?
* Do they understand the cultural/political/social context of their works?
* Do they teach?
* Do they share information in order ways?
* Are they examples of positive behavior?
* Are they encouraging other artisans?
* Are they a good judge of other artisans and their works?
* Are they serving through the arts?

All of this information can help the Orders in endorsing candidates and can help the Royals make their final decision. If you’re writing a recommendation, answering these questions and including examples supporting your responses will help.

Reasonably, a Silver Broach candidate will achieve a few of these, and, perhaps to a lesser extent. A Maunche candidate would likely fit well for more of these and to a higher degree. And a Laurel candidate would be a great example of a number of these factors. Only a rare individual would have all of these and maybe more.

I do not write these as requirements. They are not an exhaustive list.

If you meet existing members of any of these Orders they will share with you how they all have very individual expectations. They will tell you want they want to see in order to add their support to a candidate.

I fully expect people to add where they agree and where they disagree with this post. I expect them to say what was missed or what should be added or what should be removed. That’s okay!

Everyone is different. The candidates are different. The members of the Orders are different. The Royalty is different.

And that is okay. Differences can make us stronger. That’s what can advance our knowledge base and improve our proficiency.

Remember… Have fun! Learn! Teach!

Your Servant to Command,
~p.w.

The new SCA harassment policy and A&S activities

A question to the Kingdom A&S Minister, Master Philip White:

“Clarification, please, about implementing the new SCA Harassment and Bullying Policy. Do we need to post the policy at locally sponsored activities? Like our monthly craft night?”

A reply from the Minister:

The short answer is “yes”.

And that “yes” is not just for A&S activities. This goes for any SCA sponsored activity. This includes weekly meetings, craft nights, demonstrations, fighter practices, and the rest that your local branch is hosting.

Bullying and harassment can happen anywhere. We all know this. It doesn’t just happen at weekend events.

I ask people to do three things: have fun, teach, and learn.

People cannot do any of these things if they are experiencing an environment of harassment and bullying.

It is important that we let people know that they have resources. It is important that we reassure people that the SCA is a safe, supportive, and welcoming group. It is important that we commit to this policy.

Please do not think of this as “work”. Please do not think of this as something that is “hard to do” or “taking away from the fun”.

This is really easy to do.

You can just print out the bullet points onto a piece of paper once and then remember to bring it with you. Tape it up when you are running your branch-hosted activity. That’s all it takes.

Now…

For anyone who needs to understand the details, here are the particulars for a longer answer:

The SCA Harassment and Bullying Policy:

http://socsen.sca.org/the-sca-harrassment-and-bullying-policy/

Specifically:

The following statement must be posted at gate/troll at every SCA event in a size large enough for people to see it as they enter our events. This language must likewise be quoted in ALL site handouts at every event a site where a handout is made available.

* THE SCA PROHIBITS HARASSMENT AND BULLYING OF ALL INDIVIDUALS AND GROUPS.
* Participants engaging in this behavior are subject to appropriate sanctions.
* If you are subjected to harassment, bullying or retaliation, or if you become aware of anyone being harassed or bullied, contact a seneschal, President of the SCA, or your Kingdom’s Board Ombudsman.

The Organizational Handbook, Including Corpora, the By-Laws, Corporate Policies, and the Articles of Incorporation:

http://sca.org/docs/pdf/govdocs.pdf

Specifically:

II. Events
A. Society Events Defined
The term “Society event” refers to tournaments, feasts, and other activities whereby participants can display the results of their researches into the culture and technology of the period in an environment which evokes the atmosphere of the pre-17th century European Middle Ages and Renaissance. It also refers to educational activities involving either one-time classes or ongoing Society university organizations, and meetings where participants share skills or discuss the business of the group. All Society events must be sponsored by official branches of the Society, registered with the Seneschal of the sponsoring branch, publicized at least to the members of that branch, and conducted according to Society rules.

Please keep in mind:

These policies are subject to change. The organization changes and our policies change with it.

You may support these policies. You may want more out of them. You may not be happy with them. You are always welcome to send your feedback to the Society directly. Take that opportunity.

Please set aside your personal feelings and understand that it is important to follow the rules of our organization.

Remember… Have fun! Learn! Teach!

Your Servant to Command,
~p.w.