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- The Canton of Seashire is in dormancy, the largest Canton in Ruantallan cannot consistently find enough officers to fulfil its basic reporting requirements. In the past, when the Canton has gotten in trouble, a few people have put out a heroic effort to save it, but this is not sustainable, and things quickly revert to the way they were before.
- There is a general problem with filling officer roles throughout the Barony. Seashire is currently in crisis because of this, but the Baronial Curia also has trouble finding and training new officers. Many people who have served in the past are not willing to serve again. Newcomers have a steep learning curve.
- The lack of defined boundaries between the responsibilities of groups within the Barony has resulted in confusion over who is responsible to conduct activities and events. In order for Seashire to have a clear purpose and continue to operate, Seashire must take back responsibility for local events.
- Because of the large geographical size of the Barony of Ruantallan, unusual in the East Kingdom, the Barony has historically had Cantons, to allow for local SCA activities within reasonable driving distances of where people live. Without a functioning Canton in Seashire, and since most of the populace lives in Halifax, most or all Baronial activities have been organized in HRM, which disenfranchises SCA members living in the less populated areas of the Barony lands and at some distance from the city.
- Cantons and individual SCA participants outside HRM already feel left out when most Baronial events and activities are held in Halifax. They say they are expected to travel for all Baronial activities, while people from HRM are unwilling to travel to their events and activities. In addition, the smaller cantons have even bigger staffing problems and smaller pools of expertise, especially when it comes to putting on events.
- Curia meetings at all levels have fallen into a pattern where they are not publicly announced, the minutes and financial statements are not available, and what is talked about there is not accessible to anyone except Curia members. It’s hard to get buy in from a populace who has no idea what’s going on, except for what the rumour mill has to say when a meeting is particularly contentious.
- There is a general lack of vision about what the SCA in Ruantallan is supposed to be accomplishing. What is our purpose? What should be our focus? What do we do well and want to specialize in offering? What don’t we do so well and we can let go of? How do we relate to the wider modern communities around us? In modern corporate terms, we have no mission statement. People are doing their own thing and not working effectively together. This can lead to the blame game, where the problem is stated as everyone else doing it wrong, which makes leaders feel like targets, and makes it even harder to find volunteers to do the work.
Guiding Principles for the Proposals
- There should be a clear and natural distinction between the activities of the Barony and the activities of its Cantons. By each having their own important work, this will give Cantons a reason to exist, which under the current Baronial Constitution and SOPs, they don’t have.
- Canton activities mostly support the work of local residents of the area, where attendance of those outside the geographic area, although welcome, is not expected. Baronial activities mostly support the work of the Baronial Coronet and the residents of the whole Barony. While there will always be (and should be) cross-pollination between the different areas of the Barony, and sometimes the Crown Principality of Tir Mara and the East Kingdom, Curias should consider what the target audience of an activity is before they agree to sponsor it.
- The Barony should work intentionally to promote broader populace participation in its activities by rotating them through all the lands it claims. This includes a regular rotation of mandated Baronial events through the different Cantons, and could include sponsoring demos, meetings and practices in areas where the population is too low to support such things with their own resources.
- If every level of the Barony is clear on what its goals are, the work is transparent and well communicated, and new leaders are trained and mentored as they try an SCA role for the first time, volunteers for crucial roles will be easier to find. People will understand better what the needs are, and better able to make a match between their passions and skills and the work to be done.
Proposals to Address the Challenges:
- Publicized (official) events sponsored by the Barony will be limited to:
- Twelfth Night usually in January, War Camp weekend nearest 1 July, and Baronial Investiture Anniversary (BIA) usually in October.
- Annual Baronial Championships. These may include A&S, Bardic, Rattan, Rapier, Archery, or any other champions the Coronet should deem necessary. Whenever possible, Baronial Championships should be combined with other Baronial events, or with each other, to relieve pressure on the calendar and the need for autocrat teams.
- Kingdom events such as Crown, Crown Principality of Tir Mara events such as Championships, and such Royal Presence events where the resources of the Barony is needed to support the size of the event, may be sponsored by the Barony.
All other official events will be sponsored by Cantons.
- Baronial events will be on a rotation through the Cantons. A call for event bids will be issued by the Baronial Seneschal six months before the usual date. If a bid is not submitted by the Canton whose turn it is by four months before the usual date, other Cantons will be invited to bid. Where necessary, the Barony will provide help to any Canton to run the event.
- A section will be added to the Ruantallan SOP laying out the expectation for Baronial Champions. These include swearing service/fealty to the Coronet, attending the Coronet at Baronial Courts and at other times as requested, organizing the contest for their successor, communicating with the Baronial Signet to ensure a scroll is prepared, and turning over the regalia in good order to their successor on their installation. Our official documents are currently silent on the topic of champions, and this formalizes a tradition that not everyone knows.
- Since Champions belong to the Coronet rather than to geographical areas, tournaments and contests sponsored by Cantons will be styled as something other than Championships. We wish to encourage such other kinds of contests, such as prize tourneys, melee contests, focussed A&S competitions such as Cloth of Gold (look it up if you’ve never heard of it), etc., while maintaining the privilege of the Coronet to name champions.
- All A&S meetings, marshall practices and other such meetings will ordinarily be sponsored by Cantons, and wherever practical announced to the rest of the Barony. The exception is for meetings and practices designed to rotate around the Barony, or mini-events like Baronial Archery Practice which happen occasionally and are publicized to the whole Barony or beyond.
- All Curia Meetings will be open to all the people of the Barony or Canton they serve. This means they must be announced by all usual communication channels no later than two weeks before the meeting (as is already policy), all interested people may attend, some means of having their voices heard needs to be arranged, and minutes and financial statements must be posted in a timely manner on the relevant webpages (as is already policy). If necessary, the Curia will appoint a recording secretary to handle notice of meeting and distribution of minutes (secretaries are period). If we are going to get engagement, transparency is an absolute must.
- The ancient institution of the Ruantallan Parliament will be re-envisioned as an annual meeting of all nobles and gentles to consider the state of the Barony and launch policy initiatives. The Canton of Seashire will likewise establish an annual Althing, where people of all station are encouraged to speak about anything that concerns or inspires them.
- The Baronial Curia will begin a two-year process, guided by the Curia and the Parliament, of developing a set of five-year goals. These goals should foster growth and mutual support of our members, and should also consider our relationships to our wider community and also the East Kingdom and the Crown Principality of Tir Mara. There should be a broad consultation with the populace through a number of methods to determine what their desires are for the future of the Barony. The conversation should stay focussed on what is in our power to do.