Article: What I Have Learned in 50 Years in the SCA

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What I have learned in 50 years in the SCA
Willow’s little Green book
by Duchess Willow de Wisp OR,Ol, OP

My memories come back to a day long, long ago; we were still a part of Atenveldt and we were only just a principality. Clan Caldal was very strong in those days hosting 50 different Septs in 3 kingdoms and having individual members going from sea to sea. The Barony of the Steppes hosted three septs and many individuals. As the chief of the Caldal I had a sort of Mommy view of the Clann members.

Due to some political stuff, the Seneschal quit and we needed a new one right away. I hated being an officer but I took one for the SCA and became an officer. I want to tell you, I was one of the worst seneschals in the history of the SCA.

I applied my “mommy” techniques of politics to the running of a Barony. I stuck my nose into everything and micro managed everything. I had been running around behind the Clann for years, fixing things, and they forgave me and many cases didn’t know I was doing it - but the rest of the Barony of the Steppes got very mad at me. They were creative, independent, grown- up people who didn’t need a “mommy.”

The problems that caused me to be seneschal had the people in the group starting a “slow down.” They just didn’t do what the previous seneschal wanted done, and because I was getting people frustrated and stifled with my micro-management, they continued the program against me. The protest got so bad, one autocrat walked away from Steppes with a statement, “if she wants to control everything she can.”

I, on the other hand, in my cheerful and helping Mommy way, didn’t even know what was happening. Then I hurt my back. I could work and I could not be a seneschal. Something was going wrong with my mail; I wasn’t getting it and a lot of my letters were being lost. Yes, these were the ancient times where we had to send our reports using paper and the post office.

I was very lucky because my good friends stepped in and helped. Lloyd van Acer and Squire Jonathan de Laufyson took over the management of Steppes Warlord and it was one of best we ever had.

When the post office finally sent my letters, I discovered that I had been removed from office about two months after I quit. I think Countess Tessa was very patient with me after all the letters she got.

I learned some major political points.

1) Micromanagement is bad. Provide enough management so the individuals have backup. In a group like ours, people need to feel free to be creative. Start out with guidelines –luckily the SCA has some like history and good taste and since we are working off the “should have beens” that come from the days of chivalry and courtesy, and their desires to have something beautiful and gentle to counter the ugly and harsh that was all around them, we have some really good guidelines.

2) People who are in the SCA, even young people or new people do not need “Mommies”. For example, the person who I drove out from autocrating the Steppes Warlord was upper management in some business. They need mentors that can help them be the best they can be and they need officers that will help them navigate the paperwork and red tape so they can be creative.