[Ansteorra] Diversity willow (long)

willowdewisp at juno.com willowdewisp at juno.com
Mon Oct 15 17:24:27 PDT 2012

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By Duchess Willow de Wisp
We need to diversify if we are going to grow. With gas prices going higher the cost of even going 20 miles to a meeting and back is getting expensive.  We need more activities within a shorter transportation radius. Our guilds and workshops serve that purpose.  Right now we usually have one guild or workshop serving one art, but that is not mandatory, nor necessarily constructive.
There is nothing stopping a group from having two needle working guilds or three armor workshop in their physical territory. Big Churches do this all the time. Big churches gather people together into smaller groups and set them off on their own. The Church then has activities that bring people all together and mingled everyone. 
In the past we had these kinds of things. While we did not officially call them chapters or anything; various people would sponsor Arts and Crafts or fighting in different areas.  Many times it was at a fighting practice. Gas wasn’t as expensive, but we were broke. By having things where people were we provided inexpensive SCA activities for everyone. 
The local officers would help organize the groups and give people permission to start one in their area. You would be surprised on how often people worry about stepping on other people toes and will not do anything unless someone in power comes by and tells them it is OK. 
The local officers would not run the groups, but would help people run them and collect the necessary data about the groups so a complete report could be filed. The local offices would watch over the activities and make sure people in the groups got recognitions for their good work.  Leadership was expected to come from the individuals who made up the interest group. Because we give people peerage to people who show leadership skills in their areas you should look to your peers our people who will be peers to set these groups up and run them.
Local officers would also set the rules for inaction.  They did this by stressing two of Ansteorra’s favorite values, Courtesy and Fair Play (Chivalry).  If you follow the actions guided by these ideals you will discover that some of mistakes people make will not happen.
The heart of Courtesy is that you do nothing that makes others uncomfortable and you make every effort to make people comfortable. The old story of the Hostess who had a quest who drank his tea out of a saucer and to make him feel comfortable she drank her tea out of a saucer and being polite guests everyone else did the same. A courteous chairman of a group will make everyone feel welcome and make sure everyone get a chance for impute. If someone is new they will make sure they are introduced around. If everyone else is being courteous everyone else will try to bring the individual into the conversations and show them what everyone is doing.  
Courtesy also limits the political method people will use.  Attacking an individual on a personal level is not courteous.  It is also not chivalrous. In the chivalric ideal you do not blind side someone and if you are following the ideal it should be the same in all actions.  There are many political methods that involve attacking the individual not his idea. Those behaviors are not worthy of an Ansteorran. 
The local officers need to observe the people in the diverse groups and report back to the B&B and the Kingdom officers so people who are doing well can be noticed and be given word fame and awards. The local officers should encourage the small group by given recognition at populous meetings and the newsletters of people who are doing well in the groups. 
It is the job of the local officers to make sure everyone in the group and the whole chapter view themselves as a part of a whole. It must be clear that in the eyes of the officers that interact with these groups is interaction with the larger whole.
Local officers would show people the various group and introduce them to people in their area and keep doing this until they found a place or they link with other free individuals and formed their own thing. 
It is the local officers’ duty to try to keep people interacting. It is like felting. The more people interact on many levels the stronger the group is on a whole.  Local officers need to always be introducing people and getting them to exchange contact information.  Any opportunity to interact people should be explored.
Local activities need to be arrange to show off what people are doing and to get people to interact
Local officers need to create workshops and activities that span the groups and bring people together in a learning experience. We have pushed competitions about as far as they will go so I would suggest display and non-judged venues.  Remember bragging rights spurs people on more than prizes, or at least the prizes we can afford
Local officers need to encourage Peers and Nobles and older members to attend these gathering and spend time with the individuals. Newer member view these people as significant others and word fame and recognition from them makes people happy. Extrinsic rewards can only go so far. Recognition from people who are skilled in your art form can provide a lot of intrinsic rewards.  
Do not forget the need to socialize. In studies in creativity the importance for people of various skills and levels to interact in a social setting for the production of new ideas.  For many of our populace the chance to be creative and to build something and have it respected by our community is a good part of the appeal of the SCA.
The B&B and the Local officers are viewed as the leaders so it is very important that as leaders we look at what is needed by the people and to encourage people to go out and do things.  
The bad thing about diversity is that many little groups in the same fields will produce some rivalry much like siblings. It is leadership’s job to make the groups all believe that the leaders love each and every one of them.  It is also the Leaders job to intercede when the groups get into conflict. Creativity leads to conflict. 
It is very important to keep to the ideals and make everyone play nice. It is OK for there to be some conflict, but we need to guide it so no one is nasty. The quickest way for someone to lose their dream is for that person to do something nasty.
I addressed this to local officers but many of these things can be done by all of us. 
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