[Bards] Just a few words (really good words

Michael Silverhands silverhands at sbcglobal.net
Tue Nov 7 12:06:08 PST 2006

On Nov 7, 2006, at 12:33 PM, Jay Rudin wrote:

> 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"?

(With respect, if you could answer a question without beginning with  
a sidebar about semantics, it would be a refreshing change.  
Seriously. I know that semantics are important. When we're working  
with words as our tools, we have to be careful how we use them. But  
this is a chat board, not a dissertation.)

Obviously, "we" = the people who are currently involved in the  
discussion, as in "we're talking" and "we don't yet have a clear  

> 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.

I see. So the people on this list cannot, in and of and by  
themselves, have meaningful discussions? Then why broach a topic here  
at all? Seriously?

> 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,

Tell us what that idea is first, please.

> 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.
> <snip>
> 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.

Listen to... what? Answers to the question "Should we have a  
college?" as the first talking point? How can anyone give an informed  
answer to that question until the framer of that question (that would  
be you, Robin) tells them why they might want one, and what that  
means, and what a college would do for them that they can't do for  
themselves (or at least tell them how a college would do a better  
job)? Specifically, unambiguously and clearly.

> I really, really, really believe that the college should respond to  
> its members -- and most of them aren't active on this list.

Fair enough. That doesn't preclude dialog here, does it?

On the other hand: if it does, then what purpose does the current  
dialog serve?

That's not meant to be snarky, although I realize it probably sounds  
that way. Those are serious questions, expressed in earnest.

> <snip>
> 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.

With respect, don't be surprised if we *never* do, if the reasons for  
wanting a college are not made clear before seeking an answer to  
that. I'm not trying to be obstructionist; I'm trying to alert you to  
a pit that I see you driving towards. I am as interested in the  
answers to the questions that have been framed here as anyone (as  
should be obvious, given the time I've been willing to invest in this  

If we do form a college, I would rather it be because a lot of  
Ansteorran bards made an informed choice, not because a lot of folks  
got excited and jumped on a bandwagon without taking the time to  
consider "why". Sooner or later, they may wonder...

(The irony of saying that on November 7 is not lost on me... By the  
way: vote! :-) )

> <snip>
> 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.)

Ok, that list is a start. Thank you! :-)

But I don't see anything there to challenge the idea that folks could  
do all of those things without creating a formal political entity (a  
college), and might be better served without one.

I'm open to the idea! Truly! I just don't see it, given the reasons  
that have been put forth so far. And I would like to see these  
questions answered. I want to know what the idea is before I choose  
to embrace it.

> 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.

Those all sound like *very* cool ideas!

Please tell me again how an informal group of interested and  
motivated bards can't do that now? Or how a college could do those  
things better, and how that would be different (and better) than an  
informal group etc.?

>   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

I disagree. Step one is to define what you mean by a college. Then  
you can ask folks if they want one of those things.


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