[Bards] Just a few words (really good words

Jay Rudin rudin at ev1.net
Tue Nov 7 10:33:12 PST 2006

Michael wrote:

> But personally, I think we've still got the cart before the horse. 
> We're talking about the mechanics of how a college should be
> structured, when we don't yet have a clear definition of what
> a college should do.

By contrast, I feel like I'm fighting a rearguard action, trying to keep us from putting the cart before the horse.  We aren't ready to discuss the mechanics of how a college should be structured *or* what a college should do, until we talk to a lot more people.

The key word in your paragraph above is "we".  Who is "we"?  The "we" for the college has mostly not heard about the idea yet.  "We", the very few people active on this list, can't begin to discuss this yet.  First we need to contact a lot more bards.  Only then can "we", the bards of Ansteorra, including the people on this list and a whole lot more, begin to have meaningful discussions.

What the few of us who want a college should do, for the next couple of months, is spread the word about the idea of a college, and then *L*I*S*T*E*N* to what each person says.  You've all heard way too much from me already.  You need to listen to the newer bards who don't know about the list, the people who have no time for the list, the would-be bards who wouldn't sign up for such a list yet.

> Earlier today, I wrote:

  We've asked several times (in effect) "What do you mean by 'a  
  college'? What will it do for us, exactly, that we aren't doing or  
  couldn't do for ourselves?"
> I'd still like to see a reply to that question from Robin before taking
> another step towards discussion of a college's structure. Let's please
> define "function" before we spend any more time talking about "form".
> Otherwise we're just spinning our wheels.

No.  I am *not* going to start discussing what the college should do until I've listened to a lot more bards than I can hear on this list.  I really, really, really mean it when I say that this list alone cannot decide what the college should do.  My first step, for myself alone, is to listen to lots of bards -- as many as I can reach, from as many places as I can hear from.

I really, really, really believe that the college should respond to its members -- and most of them aren't active on this list.  I have a project or two in mind for the college if it gets started, and I'm not going to bring them up at this stage.  

The function of the college is to do things together that the members propose.  Step one is to listen to a lot more people, and I will not get involved in step two until we've managed step one.

If I wrote down the functions I want to see, and then they happen, that's not a college; it's a military uinit -- one commander and many willing soldiers.  I don't want to lead a unit of bards; I want to join a group of bards for collegiality.

The biggest problem with an e-list for this purpose is that conversations run much faster in this venue than anywhere else.  I suspect that for the next few months, my major activity on this list will be to say, over and over, "Slow down -- we haven't heard from the rest of the bards."  We will have to guard ourselves from the fallacy of believing that the results of a discussion by this small self-selected group of people represents the will of the Ansteorran bards.

For instance, I am still not yet convinced that enough bards even *want* a college for us to move forward to the step of discussing its form or function.  I hope we'll have enough information from enough people to begin considering that by Twelfth Night, but I won't be surprised if we don't.

I think I'll see if I can have a meeting of the Steppes bards soon.  I recommend that anyone else interested in spreading the word get out to your local guilds or meetings, or invite bards over to your place.  And remember that a message on your local e-list is good, but does *not* reach enough people.  Go talk it up at the branch meeting.  Go out to fighter pactice.  get the word out beyond the computers.

When I suggested lots of meetings, everywhere, I'm not discussing form before function.  I'm attempting to let everyone we can reach into the discussion of both form and fucntion.

What do I want from the college?  
A group presence.
A sense of belonging that is more definite than "all the Ansteorran bards already form a community, kumbayah".  
A structure to make it easier for us to develop group projects like the Sir Orfeo, Nine Worthies, and Crowns of the Sable Star projects.
A group body ready to take classes on the road.  (Yes, many of us are ready to do so.  But there is at present no group of people ready to do so as a body.)

The functions of the college aren't something that a few of us will decide on in advance and tell everybody to do; it's what the college decides to do, month by month.  Maybe soon the "function" of the college will be to set up another Sir Orfeo project .  Maybe at another time we'll be organizing a trip out west with lots of bards bringing lots of classes.  Somebody suggested badges indicating expertise.  I have no interest, but if enough people want to do it, then they can.

But step one is to talk to more bards and find out if they want a college, and what *they* want a college o do.

Robin of Gilwell / Jay Rudin
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