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Lady Asa the Nine Fingered and Lord Magnus gandr
Your Majesties, People of the Middle Kingdom, and the Barony of Shattered Crystal,
My name is Lord Magnus gandr, and I wish to present myself and my fiancée, Lady Asa the Nine Fingered for consideration as the next Baron and Baroness of Shattered Crystal. Lady Asa and I joined the SCA, and the Barony, shortly before quarantine from the plague began; this gave us a unique perspective on the kingdom, and especially on our fellow members of the Barony.
My main focus when starting in the SCA was combat. I am currently working to become authorized in both heavy combat and fencing, with a goal of becoming a youth marshal, and possibly standard marshal for both. I am also looking into archery and thrown weapons as opportunities present themselves. Very recently I have discovered combat A&S and am excited to learn more about that as well. My other passion is for food. Learning about, preparing, and feeding people period food is a fantastic way to connect back to other periods, while also taking care of others and getting a good meal yourself.
Lady Asa is no less than a magical creature in my eyes, but doubly so when she is working with fibers. Whether it be for an A&S display on Monmouth caps, making herself a new dress sewn by hand, or weaving anything from laces for a shirt to table runners, nothing seems to be out of the range of her fiber magic. Due to unforeseen circumstance, Lady Asa took over as our baronial chronicler quite suddenly, and though she was thrust into the position with little warning, guidance or direction, she not only rose, but excelled at the task, ensuring an organized newsletter was produced in a timely manner, while also laying groundwork and setting up an efficient method for whomever takes the position after her. Her organizational skills and artistic problem solving skills are a constant asset to both myself and the barony at large.
The Barony of Shattered Crystal is very much a family, and like a family, especially one chocked full of big and brilliant personalities, heads tend to bump. Lady Asa and I excel at problem solving, both separately, but even better as a team. Coming from different areas of expertise and knowledge, we are often able to see angles and reasons that the other does not, and combine those two sides to come to conclusions that can appease all sides, or at least minimize damage to all sides. One of our key hopes is to grow our community with more people, more minds, and more ideas, but as we do this, being able to help everyone enjoy their game will become more vital.
We understand that we have not been in the SCA or in the barony as long as some others have, in fact by comparison we are still fairly young. While this could be seen as a detriment to some, it affords us an opportunity of ignorance. While we may not know the history of disputes, ill wills, or drama between baronies and kingdoms, we are also not weighed down by them. We are both quick studies, and know when to lean on others knowledge and experience for what we may, at the start, lack. Our sincere wish is that under our term as baron and baroness we can help heal some of the old wounds that still pain our relations, to bring in more friends than we create rivals, and to help our barony shine as bright as the crystals it is named for.
Lady Asa the Nine Fingered and Lord Magnus gandr
Mistress Berengaria Mordaunt and Master Avery Austringer
Unto Their Majesties Ullr and AnneLyse, Their Hignesses, Arch and Runa, Her Excellency Petrona, the populace of the Barony of Shattered Crystal and all to whom these missives come, do we Mistress Berengaria Mordaunt and Master Avery Austringer send greetings.
By this letter of intent we wish to make known our desire to assume the roles of baron and baroness of the Barony of Shattered Crystal.
In our years in the Society we have had many experiences which we believe make us ideally suited for this role. Our active involvement with the group is decades long; we have held many local offices; stewarded multiple events; and led numerous baronial projects and demos. We have been previously active in two other groups outside of this barony, so we have an intimate understanding of how SCA groups succeed and how they falter. We were deeply involved in the movement to establish a Midlands regional identity and were the first land agents for the Midlands regional encampment at Pennsic. In addition, we have held positions at the regional and kingdom levels and, as a result, have an extensive network of friends and contacts throughout the kingdom. As we are both peers of the realm in our own right, we are able to freely pursue success and renown for the barony and its people without the temptation of chasing personal glories.
As longtime members of the barony we have a clear understanding of the group’s strengths and weaknesses, and a long baseline from which to judge where we currently stands. Among our strengths we count the following:
* We are a powerhouse in the areas of the arts and sciences and service – punching well above our weight in members of the Orders of the Laurel and Pelican, Evergreen and Dragon’s Heart. The barony counts amongst its members talented people in many fields who teach both locally and afar and people who hold regional and kingdom offices.
* We have a number of strongly committed longtime members who are deep wells of institutional knowledge, but we also have a significant crop of enthusiastic newer members even now taking on responsibilities and gaining recognition on the regional and kingdom stage.
* We have a tradition of hosting quality events with highly regarded feasts. Thus we have a wealth of experienced feast and event stewards.
* We are well equipped. Our storage locker is brimming with materials to host most any type of event or demo we might want.
We are not, though, without our weaknesses:
* We have a tendency towards insularity. The geography of the Midrealm puts many kingdom events outside of a reasonable weekend driving distance for us, and, as a group, we have never really developed strategies to mitigate this. As a result, many members of the barony have developed fewer connections outside of the group, resulting in a negative feedback loop where we enjoy fewer external friendships, peer / dependent relationships and opportunities than one might see in a more kingdom-centric groups.
* There is this joke. “Q: How many West kingdomers does it take to change a light bulb? A: That light bulb was used at the very first SCA event held in Diana Listmaker’s back yard! It was good enough then and by God, it’s good enough now!” We, too, are bad about admitting when the light bulb is burned out and that we need to replace it.
* Several years of meeting in Marine, which is very much on the periphery of the group’s centers of population, followed by the scourge of COVID has been a harsh one-two-punch to our membership rolls. The resulting lack of hands at the oars has had a detrimental effect on many of our activities, even those for which we were previously well known. This leaves fewer available to man the tiller and risks exhausting those who doing the rowing.
* While we have traditionally enjoyed relatively good finances, two years of lockdown have eaten into our financial reserves. We are not in dire straits, but what would have been of minimal concern two short years ago, now weighs heavy on our minds whenever even moderate expenses are considered.
While drafting this missive we have considered the history of our group. Endeavors that went well, and those that seem like they should have gone better. The strengths and weaknesses which we have enumerated above and how we would utilize and mitigate those. Thusly, we have set for ourselves the following goals and priorities should we be chosen to lead:
* Recruiting – Many of the group’s issues would disappear, as if by magic, if we had more members. All of the pieces are in place: COVID restrictions have been relaxed, we are meeting in a central location and we have begun to do demos and other recruiting activities again.
Fostering this kind of growth is important to us and activities focused on drawing in and integrating more new members would continue to be one of our highest priorities. As Seneschal and Chatelaine we made this our focus, and as Baroness and Baron, we would continue.
* A Shift in our Eventing Mentality – With the pandemic winding down, and gas prices roaring back, developing a culture with increased mutual support (car pooling, food groups, arranging crash space) would make attending events easier, more affordable and more fun for all of us.
As Baron and Baroness, we would encourage and facilitate attending events by championing car-pools, day camps and dayboards, crash space and lodging, camping together and food groups in order to make attendance more affordable and less effort for each individual. We promoted this sort of group effort for Maidens just prior to the lockdown to great success.
* Restoring our erstwhile canton – a decade ago there were stirrings of a new group in the Carbondale area. But this never truly came to fruition.
Today I cannot count the number of interested people in the area on just my fingers. Now would be the time to come together with the folks down there and to make them feel like part of the barony, but not shackle them right out of the gate with the formal duties of a full fledged group.
* Support for the Arts Martial – Even before COVID our martial footprint was small for a barony with only a handful of individuals in each of the various disciplines. We feel that the martial arts are as critical to the health of the group as any of the other endeavors of our society.
During my tenure as armored marshal the number of combatants at our practices has gone up as much as four fold and we have authorized our first new fighter in years. And it appears we will be enjoying continued growth in that domain for the foreseeable future. We perceive that baronial support and recognition in these domains is critical for growth and success and we would support, recognize, and reward activity and excellence in all of the arts martial.
* Reinventing Sunday socials – In the past we did a monthly social meeting. These provided additional martial practices, a chance to engage in large A&S projects, and a chance to garb up and share a meal together. However, these “mini-events” lacked focus and flexibility, were sometimes scheduled opposite nearby events and suffered from trying to be all things to all people so that critical mass was hard to come by and the activities in which some people were most interested often did not occur at all.
While we see value in regular extended gatherings, it is important to remember that we will never be Carolingia or the Principality of the Mists and will never have hundreds of people at our local moots. Because of this, trying to be all things to all people at all gatherings is a fools errand. Our approach would be as follows:
– The champions tournaments / courts would remain more or less as they have, perhaps expanding one of them into a local overnight weekender in the spring or the fall.
– We would add to this A&S days focusing on a particular arts or projects (e.g. armoring, bardic, dance, cooking) that do not work well at our Tuesday night gatherings.
– Add to our schedule a regional fighters practice and village green A&S session – nothing so fancy as Chamfron or Crystal Ball – but an open invitation to our neighbors to join us for a relaxed day or weekend.
During the COVID lockdown there were those who voiced the opinion that the Society might be done for – that when restrictions were finally lifted, there would be no one left to play this game that we love so well. As we believed then, and as we see now, this pessimism is grossly unfounded and that the Society has begun to roar back with renewed vigor. We are eager to face the coming challenges and joys and lead this barony into this renaissance of the current middle ages.
Berengaria Mordaunt OL, ODH, OE, OW, APF, AOA
Avery Austringer OP, OL, ODH, OE, OSO, OW, APF, APF, ORC, AS