[Bards] What happened to the College, and what it means to a new college

Jay Rudin rudin at ev1.net
Thu Nov 2 16:37:43 PST 2006

I can't describe the level of depression that the last few days of discussion have brought me.

People have asked what happened to the old College.  Here's the short answer.

People started assuming that the college ought to be, and could be, every good thing possible for every performer, at every moment.  Instead of being respected for all the people it helped, it was castigated for each person it didn't help, like an audience sneering at each misspoken word, rather than applauding the overall story.

Look at Kat's story.  She described appearing at a bardic circle, getting help and advice and support and largesse, and no member of the college jumped up to change things.  Why should they?  Nothing was wrong.  I promise you that if a college member *had* jumped in to help, somebody would have complained that we were getting in the way of Bear's teaching and Sieglinde's largesse.

In any event, I have never, at my most active in the College, guaranteed that I would talk to every new performer at any event.

So to answer the questions being asked:

1. "If there is a College will it give EQUAL suport to bards in ALL regions of Ansteorra?"

No, it can no more do this than any other institution in the history of the world can.  When I've worked with two bards in my area, and a third one comes up for help, should I say, "No, I'm sorry but I can't help anybody else from the Central region until I get out to the Coastal region again"?  That is precisely and exactly what is required by a demand that the college guarantee EQUAL support.

All the college can do is give all the help it can everywhere it can, but, no, I do not promise to cut some people off from help until I make quota.

I can tell you this: as Premier Bard the first time, I took the Kingdom Eisteddfod out to Bonwicke.  As Principal of the College, I organized a Bardic Colloquium out in Black Lake, bringing in many teachers to help the bards in the Western Region.  A few years later, I organized the classes for Autumn Fires, again bringing many teachers to the Western Region.  

A new college will do the same -- it will help bring teachers and supporters to the Western Region, and elsewhere.  But it will not set up a quota system, and I will help people in the Steppes and Elfsea more than I help in any other branch, simply because that's where I live.

And, according to the original questioner, this means that the College "should not exist".

2. Can I guarantee success, or predict exactly how it will help people?

No, I can't.  I don't know beyond any doubt what will happen.  All I can say is that I believe banding together to help each other is worth doing.

3. Can I tell you exactly what the college will do?

No, I can't.  And nobody could, unless he were planning to be a single despotic tyrant.  

A college is a co-op.  We will do what we decide, as a group, to do.  Occasionally, that will mean putting on events.  But that will happen when somebody comes to a college meeting with an event idea, and somebody offers to autocrat it, and other people offer to come and teach or volunteer in other ways.  We will occasionally do group projects like the Sir Orfeo project and the Nine Worthies project.  (By the way, Michael, the Nine Worthies bardic project pre-dates the Nine Worthies event, and was not connected to it.)  But I don't know what group project somebody will come up with, so I can't tell you what it will be.

Here are a few examples.  Somebody came to a College meeting from the West, asking for help, when I was Principal.  I asked if she could autocrat an event.  We talked for a little bit, until several people had volunteered to go out and teach, and somebody had volunteered to organize classes, and the rest of the event was put together.  A few months later, a lot of us went to Black Lake and had a day of classes, followed by a feast and evening of performances.

Master Cadfan came to the College with the idea for the Orfeo project.  Sir Orfeo is a period poem that takes roughly thirty minutes to perform.  We got volunteers in Ansteorra and Calontir, split in into six sections, and performed it as a relay three times, using a total of nine bards from each of the two kingdoms.

That's part of what the college did befoe.  But no one person can answer Michael's question about what we will decide to do as a group in the future.  That's what "decide ... as a group in the future" means.

3. Will there be bards, as Kat documented we had before, that the college won't manage to help before other people do?  

Yes.  Neither I nor anybody else in the college will be on call 24 / 7.  I won't even be able to talk to new bards at every bardic circle I go to.  If the possibility that somebody gets help from a non-college member means the college isn't worth it to you, then it won't be, because we have no ability, and no right, to establish a monopoly on helping people.

4. Will some bards slip through the cracks and not get any help from anybody?

Yes.  Nobody is suggesting setting up a grid across every event, with an college member stationed on duty every thirty feet, coordinated by computer linkup and cross-referenced database, ready to guarantee contact with each new performer the instant he or she decides that bardcraft might be worth trying.  That's what an assumption that we will help everyone requires.  And we can't do it.

Each of us will remain ourselves.  We will not be given any super-human powers by the college.

5. Can we at least guarantee that when there is a college member present, the college member will talk to the new bard?

No, we can't.  Sometimes the college member is somebody who joined just this event, and is still somebody who needs help to jump in herself.  Sometimes the college member is a Laurel there to watch a specific performer's behavior.  Sometimes the college member is exhausted.  Sometimes the college member doesn't recognize that this is a new bard.  Sometimes the college member is sitting next to a new bard she just brought in, and is foucssed on him.  Sometime the college member is actually (gasp) working on her own pieces and performances right now.  And sometimes we just don't notice.

6. Can we guarantee that college members won't say stupid things to people?

Not without barring membership to all newbies and most others.  I sometimes say stupid things.  So do you.

Even Mary Poppins was only *practically* perfect in every way.

The college will not be perfect, the college members will not be permanenetly on call, and the college will make mistakes.

It will only be a co-operative group, imperfect, without perfect ability to reach every single person, trying on a part-time basis to do fun supportive stuff together.  If that isn't good enough, then the college won't be good enough.

Worse yet, people will have the kind of ridiculous expectation that we must be perfect, like we've been getting here for the last week.  If we can't even convince the *bards* that an imperfect college is worthwhile, how can we possibly convince the non-bards?

Can I guarantee that what happened to the first college won't happen to the new one?  No, I can't, because it's already started.

Robin of Gilwell / Jay Rudin

-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: http://lists.ansteorra.org/pipermail/bards-ansteorra.org/attachments/20061102/8cc8c1a4/attachment.html

More information about the Bards mailing list