HL Elewys and HL Aenor - Our Vision for Aquaterra
We, Elewys Cuylter of Finchingfield and Aenor de Pessac, have a multi-faceted vision for Aquaterra, which can be summarized into two categories:
1. Action for improvement
2. Listen and learn
Action and improvement
For this first stage we want to do the following:
- We want to encourage education in Aquaterra. The people of Aquaterra have a great passion for knowledge. At the end of 2013, Elewys proposed the start of classes for Ithra credit at Aquaterra’s monthly socials. Working with Emma Compton, Aquaterra’s A&S champion, these classes have been immensely popular. We want to continue in this vein by supporting more workshops and classes. We’d like to welcome dance classes and more hands-on activities at our socials, utilizing the knowledge of the members of the populace and embracing the interest expressed through increased attendance at the socials.
- We also want to support Art of War and its new rapier track. This is a great opportunity for Art of War to grow and include more members of the Kingdom population. Perhaps by this support we will be able to increase rapier interest in the Aquaterra populace and improve the participation at the rapier championship.
- We would like Aquaterra to work more collaboratively with the Canton of Bearwood. The Canton is comprised of a small group of talented, warm, welcoming people that have created a community of kindness and inclusion. Yet the relationship between Aquaterra and Bearwood hasn’t been very collaborative in several years. We would like to build that relationship, which would benefit both communities.
- We believe that we need to streamline Aquaterra’s events to revitalize our community. Aquaterra is struggling with a problem many SCA communities face at some point: the participant pool has diminished, and the same small number of people shuffle around the officer and event steward positions. This leads to burnout, and cycles between the group further diminishing and reliance upon a smaller participant pool. In order to face this challenge, we believe that an analysis and streamlining of Aquaterra’s events is necessary. There is great love for each of the events Aquaterra hosts, yet we have an unusual task of taking on an imposing public event annually. Ursulmas draws upon a pool of participants for six to 12 months to organize this massive tournament, which can limit the energy and ability of those participants for other events, both within and outside of our borders. Additionally, the average barony in An Tir hosts 4 annual events. Aquaterra hosts six annual events, supports the Canton’s three annual events, plus is a crucial participant in the Shire of Shittimwoode’s Warren War. We believe a full and frank discussion is necessary with the populace. We, as a community, need to identify our priorities, strengths, needs, and how we’ve been faring the last few years, in terms of volunteerism, participation, and financial viability. We don’t want to dictate to the community what events to discontinue - we believe that if the decision is made, it needs to be made by the people of Aquaterra.
- We want to improve the event steward process to build a community of knowledge.Each year, event stewards face a challenge of trying to glean lessons from previous event reports and event bids. Frequently knowledge is lost from year to year. In the past, there was a team of event stewards working on Ursulmas that created a ‘master and apprentice’ relationship for each role. This was a helpful and sustaining method. We think an amalgamation of the event bid process and the ‘master and apprentice’ process could create a stronger event steward team. We would like to have our event steward teams to utilize learning notebooks which contain all the materials from the bid sheet to the final event report, which can be passed on to the next year’s event team to learn from and digitized to prevent loss. We also want to create an ‘expectation of education’, in which the previous year’s event stewards are resources to the current year’s event stewards.We would like to build stronger relationships with other Baronies in An Tir.
- Aquaterra is blessed to be geographically close to so many incredible Baronies. And we, Elewys and Aenor, would like Aquaterra be known as an active friend to those around us. The North Sound Sergeantry trials have been a wonderful step in that direction, but we could do more. We would like to build treaties with our neighbors, in which we support each other with volunteers for events - large or small. One of the problems our barony has faced is that we are an insular crowd. By stepping out of our comfort zone and building stronger ties with the communities around us we can expose ourselves to greater ideas. This could do so much to grow and better our community and ourselves.
- We would like to promote service to the Kingdom, participation at the Kingdom-level events, and at events throughout the Kingdom.Aquaterra is just a fraction of the greater community of An Tir. We would like to recognize this and do what we can to allow Aquaterra and members of our populace to be more active throughout all of An Tir. There are many ways we can do this:
We can host Kingdom guild competitions at Kingdom-wide events, such as the Kingdom Costumer’s Guild, Kingdom Embellishers Guild, or the new Kingdom Apothecary Guild.
We could have Kingdom largess-making competitions and parties to help spread the skills of Aquaterra artisans across the Kingdom, as well as replenish the diminished largesse coffers.
We would like to help Aquaterrans have a ‘home away from home’ at events hosted outside our lands. We want to promote the Aquaterra camping area with a fire hosted by the Baronesses, in which anyone, Aquaterran or not, can join the circle. We can also foster a larger community by hosting a potluck breakfast or Stone Soup lunch at ‘away events’ for anyone wanting company or a meal to join.
Some populace members miss out on events outside Aquaterra because of the limitation caused by distance. We could create ‘get to know you’ opportunities at the monthly socials for people looking for a ride to an event (or people to camp with) to meet others attending said events that are willing to open their camps and transports. This would allow attendees to connect and build relationships before hitting the road.
- We also would like to have the Barony recognize the accomplishments Aquaterrans made outside the barony. We would like to publically recognize these accomplishments, such as winning competitions, teaching at events, and awards given by Their Majesties and other branches. We could accomplish this in the Murmurs newsletter, the Aquaterra web site, and other social media.
- We would like to improve Aquaterra’s presence in the greater Snohomish County community. Just as Aquaterra is part of the larger Kingdom community, we are part of the larger Snohomish County community. There is an interest and a compassion in our people for the community of the modern world. In December 2014, Aenor organized with Baroness Sineadin a toy and food drive for HelpLink of Snohomish County. The outpouring of donations demonstrates how much interest is present. Additionally, in July 2014, Aenor worked with United Way of Snohomish County to create a donation station at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s annual employee picnic for victims of the Oso mudslide. With the connections we have in our modern communities, there is a lot of good we Aquaterrans could do for our neighbors. We, Aenor and Elewys, have discussed opportunities for toy and game drives for Seattle Children’s Hospital and other fundraisers.
Listen and Learn
We, Elewys and Aenor, believe that every person deserves to have their voice heard. In that vein, for the listen and learn stage, we would like to do the following:
- Communicate with former members and members not currently active in the barony.
Aquaterra has suffered, over the last few years, a ‘mass exodus’ of a large portion of our Sergeants and other members of the populace. We know that some wounds cannot be healed, but we, Elewys and Aenor, want to reach out to these people and learn from past mistakes. Every person in Aquaterra deserves the chance to be heard, whether they currently play in the Barony or not. We want to hear their grievances, hear their advice, and ask them what would make them consider coming back. There is also a greater group of SCA participants that don’t play on the baronial level. This ranges from knights to merchants to people interested in larger events. We would like to ask what they, too, want from the SCA, and if Aquaterra could possibly provide it.
- We want to provide ‘market research’ for Aquaterra.
We want to hear the thoughts and ideas and criticisms of the people, and use those to build and shape the Aquaterra that they want to be in. What have people liked over the past few years? What have they not liked? What do they miss? What do they see in other branches that they would like to see here? At the core of the job, the Baronet of Aquaterra is a servant to the populace. Though we have our own ideas and visions, we want to respect the visions of our people. We want to help each person build the community that will continue on, long after we have stepped down.
- We want to create a community of open communication.
A coronet is an intimidating thing. It is a symbol of office and responsibility, but it is also a barrier that often prevents honest dialogue. With this in mind, we would like to host quarterly Parliaments--open discussions-- with the people. These “bare-head” nights will be in a public area, so each person feels like they are on equal ground. And on these nights, we, Aenor and Elewys, will literally and symbolically remove our coronets and hear the voices of the people. It’s a night in which people can feel free of the intimidation of the headgear and can speak to us as equals, with no fear of reprisal. Any populace member wanting to discuss a topic can decide if they want the discussion to be public or private. And the topics can range from issues with the coronets to mediations between populace members. This is an opportunity for the populace to drive the conversation, not rely on an agenda compiled in advance. We want to hear the populaces’ criticisms as well as accolades. It’s only through this open and honest dialogue can we keep our community healthy and strong.
- We want to learn from other communities in An Tir and the Known World.
We aren’t experts, and we aren’t all-knowing. But there are skills and experience in so many people across An Tir. We want to go to Madrone’s curia and just sit in the back and learn from what we see and hear. We want to ask other coronets their opinions on Aquaterra and what solutions and ideas they think would be good to bring home to our branch. We also want to build dialogue with contacts outside An Tir. We would like to contact Baronets from across the Knowne Worlde; from the Kingdom of the West to the Kingdom of Drachenwald. We want to bring their fresh ideas to liven our community, and share with other branches of An Tir.
We are servants of our Kingdom and our Barony, no matter our titles and achievements. Each person has the power to impact the health and life of our Kingdom and branch. But with the opportunities provided by the Baronet, we, Aenor and Elewys, could help Aquaterra achieve great changes and great growth. With this vision of our path, we could certainly do amazing things.
HL Elewys Cuylter of Finchingefeld
HL Aenor de Passac