SCA-trans-msg - 1/4/96
How to handle the move from one group to another. For the people in the group too.
This file is a collection of various messages having a common theme that I have collected from my reading of the various computer networks. Some messages date back to 1989, some may be as recent as yesterday.
This file is part of a collection of files called Stefan's Florilegium. These files are available on the Internet at: http://www.florilegium.org
I have done a limited amount of editing. Messages having to do with separate topics were sometimes split into different files and sometimes extraneous information was removed. For instance, the message IDs were removed to save space and remove clutter.
The comments made in these messages are not necessarily my viewpoints. I make no claims as to the accuracy of the information given by the individual authors.
Please respect the time and efforts of those who have written these messages. The copyright status of these messages is unclear at this time. If information is published from these messages, please give credit to the originator(s).
Mark S. Harris AKA: THLord Stefan li Rous
Stefan at florilegium.org
From: mittle at watson.ibm.com (Arvall of Northpass)
Subject: Re: starting over
Date: Sat, 1 May 1993 18:45:02 GMT
Organization: IBM T.J. Watson Research
Greetings from Arvall! Cahan Kyle asked:
> I have a question to ask. Is it a normal occurrence in the SCA that when
> one changes Kingdoms, they must prove themselves all over again even
> after several years of experience?
> Alas, the syndrome you describe is all too common. I've lived in three
> kingdoms and a number of groups and have had it happen to me and watched
> it happen to others... It's sad that one of the features of the Middle
> Ages we're so good at re-creating is a xenophobic clannishness and
Bertram, I think you are being unnecessarily melodramatic. The phenomenon
that Cahan described exists everywhere, and I don't think it is in the
least bit surprising that it does exist or that it is reasonable to expect
to eliminate it.
The SCA is a largely decentralized organization; most of the real activity
happens on a very local scale. Every branch has its own style, dynamics,
and customs. No matter how many years' experience the new arrival may have
with the SCA in other places, he cannot know the way people like to play to
game in every shire. Just because he knows how to help run things where he
came from does not mean that he knows enough to help out in his new home.
A general familiarity with the Society and specific experience will help
the new arrival learn his way around more quickly, but until then he is
like a newcomer to the SCA who has done work in other volunteer
organizations: He has useful skills but has to learn how to apply them to
the local situation. Most of the transplant problems that I've seen are a
result of the new arrival assuming (unconsciously as often as not) that
everyone in the SCA will enjoy the game best if they play play it the way
it was played back home. When he encounters something unfamiliar, his
natural reaction is to correct it: "Back where I came from, we did it this
way." The intent is friendly and helpful; the result is condescending and
In a similar vein, it is unreasonable to expect a branch to put its
confidence in a new arrival immediately, no matter how much experience he
has elsewhere. Most branches have limited resources - offices,
autocratships, regular meetings, money, etc. The members of the branch
want to get the most out of those resources, and they don't know a new
arrival well enough to be sure that they can entrust their resources to
him. It is more than a little presumptuous for a new arrival to sweep in
and expect to have a major role in alloacting resources until the rest of
the group gets to know him. It might help to think of arriving in a new
group much like starting a new job: You are stepping into a functioning
company, whose members know each others' strengths and weaknesses. They
don't know you at all. Your awards and past accomplishments will carry
some weight if you make gentle suggestions, but it is self-deluding to
expect to take up here exactly as you left off in your old group.
Part of the problem is simply a change of vocabulary. Take the word
"persona": In the East it is a harmless word that everyone applies to
everything from complete immersion in a single time and place to a vaguely
defined set of SCA interests. In the West it's a dirty word, even though
the things people actually do in the West fall well within the word's
meaning in the East. For another example, consider "household". In some
places a household is a routine part of SCA life, understood to mean
nothing more than "a group of people who choose to play together." In
other places, history has tied the word so closely to vicious personal
politics that any newcomer who innocently mentions a household incites
instant anger. The center of the problem is that the SCA really is
different everywhere you go. It's easy to be fooled by the surface
similarities, but even when people use the same words in your new home,
they may not have the same meanings.
Arvall of Northpass mittle at watson.ibm.com
From: haslock at rust.zso.dec.com (Nigel Haslock)
Subject: Re: starting over
Date: 4 May 1993 01:04:23 GMT
Organization: Digital Equipment Corporation - DECwest Engineering
Greetings from Fiacha,
If you move beyond range of your reputation, you will have to work to
reestablish your reputation. If you have credentials from someone whose
reputation runs as far as your new home it will be easier. If you haven't
received an AoA yet expect to start from square one.
Strategy and tactics can reduce the time it takes to become integrated.
Remember that your goal on moving to a new group is to become an integral
part of the group.
Step 1. Look for something that was done 'back home' that is missing in your
new home. That is MISSING, not merely done in a different and seemingly less
effective manner. Supply that missing activity/service. This is helping your
new group to grow and demonstrating your committment to it.
Step 2. Look for something this is being done poorly (in your opinion) and
volunteer to assist. Make sure that everyone involved has seen you doing
it their way before you suggest any changes.
Step 3. Look for something that your new home does that you never tried in
your previous home and start at the beginning, just like any other
It hurts to discover that your hard earned skills are ignored or undervalued
but it hurts more and longer to win a reputation as a trouble maker or
as an undesireable alien.
Also remember that Rialto fame does not map to reknown in ones branch.
Finally, don't expect it to be easy. Moving house and home is traumatic enough,
without trying to win a new collection of friends at the same time.
Fiacha, trouble maker
From: Suze.Hammond at f56.n105.z1.fidonet.org (Suze Hammond)
Subject: Re: Newcomers
Date: Fri, 10 Sep 1993 23:25:00 -0800
SC> From: sclark at epas.utoronto.ca (Susan Clark)
SC> Newsgroups: rec.org.sca
SC> Organization: EPAS Computing Facility, University of Toronto
SC> 1. For transplants,the main problem will probably be the one of
SC> fitting into a new group after being well-established in
SC> another one. These folks will probably not need all the info a
SC> rank newcomer will, but they should be made to feel welcome
SC> and become acquainted with your group (size, barons n' stuff, who
SC> does what, etc.)
Whatever "inter-kingdom anthropology" you are aware of, be sure to tell
people who came up in other kingdoms, so they won't stumble into some
social gaffes that upset their enjoyment of their new home.
For instance, nothing can make people think you're just another nut-case
as fast as quoting some tenet of kingdom policy that you were brought up
to think was SCA-wide law, if that happens to be something your new
compatriots never heard of!
(I recently had to take a herald from one of the central kingdoms aside as
he was telling some real newbies all about how you had to be a member and
a holder of an AoA to register a device. Not in An tir you don't! I also
once had to rescue a fellow from a bunch of my light friends who were
about to have it out with him in the tavern because he was certain it was
against SCA law to have mixed war combat, and was "going to write the Earl
Marshal" about us miscreants! And we lost a very promising person who
came from a more authenticity-oriented kingdom, because he was
constantly critical of anything he hadn't seen documentation of in his
home kingdom, even if we had it... sadly, he made many enemies. Could
have been avoided...)
Be sure to ask about any of the subjects you've run into here on the
Rialto that you know are widely discussed.
... This is just my personal opinion; Moreach NicMhaolain
From: ddfr at quads.uchicago.edu (david director friedman)
Subject: Re: Peers as Members (was Re: Obligations of Peerage?)
Organization: University of Chicago
Date: Mon, 24 Oct 1994 02:54:14 GMT
Andrixos, in arguing (correctly) that uniformity is a matter of
"Likewise, I expect that Cariadoc would be a bit miffed it when he
had sojourned to Meridies he found his ducal rights were ignored and
even abrogated because they "weren't earned here, and nothing that
happens outside our kingdom matters."
1. You are mistaken. It would be fun. The nearest I have managed so
far was visiting for some months in Caid, not telling anyone any of
my ranks, and successfully maintaining anonymity for a month or so.
2. What is more important than whether they recognize my rank is
whether they are willing to listen to my ideas. When I did move to
Meridies, a good many years back, they were very polite to me on
account of my rank--the people in that group took rank very
seriously, perhaps too seriously. On the other hand, they did not
have much interest in my views of how things should be done--in large
part, I think, because I was a foreigner. In order to have any actual
influence on the group--and I am not certain if I ever did--it was
necessary to proceed very much as if I had not come in as a duke.
3. Or in other words, the important issues in how you are treated
when you move to a new group are the ones that are not regulated by
From: queta.stetser at mercopus.com (QUETA STETSER)
Subject: Re: "In the West we..."
Date: Sun, 03 Dec 95 13:23:00 -0400
Organization: Mercury Opus BBS - Dunedin, Florida - 1 813 734 2799
An interesting little exchange between Brian Mahoney (bjm10 at cornell.edu)
and Elina (becks2 at aol.com) provokes my small comments below. They were
discussing attitudes when a newcomer to a Kingdom references how some-
thing is done in their *former* K'dom residence. Elina made the point
that "...What is said is not always what is heard, and vis [sic] versa.
They may hear you say "This is the one true way", when you are only
saying "This is A way".
BJM>ahoney quoted her in his response:
"It may be the most common way to hear "this is the One True Way", I
ask you to be exceptional."
[meaning he should possibly allow: "This is A way".]
And Brian added in his reply to her:
BJM> Cute, so you twist everything around like that, Ms. Dumpty?
[Brian, that sounds really rude; you *were* joking, weren't you?]
[If you weren't, then you need to apologize, don't you?]
BJM> The most common way I've seen it used is to expound upon a "one
BJM> true way". Why must the burden suddenly come upon those spoken
BJM> to rather than upon the speaker?
Neutrally speaking, I add: Being native to, and resident of Trimaris
for about 19 years, I've seen many fine folks move into our Kingdom from
myriad other K'doms. Most are anxious to settle into their new SCA
land, meet their new neighbors, and are often generous in their sharing
of ideas. Their only `mistake' is, I think, that they preface their
ideas/suggestions with a statement of, "in X Kingdom, we did that
thus-n-so". No matter what the tone of voice from the newcomer, the
oldtimers always bristle, and vocally depreciate the suggestion's, *and*
the newcomer's, merit. This oldtimer suggests: When moving to another
Kingdom, folks, *don't* reference your former homeland when offering an
idea - let 'em think the brilliant idea is exclusively *yours* ! ;-}