Tuesday, August 17, 2010

A Two way Street

As much as I talk about the artistic, and historical sides of heraldry, there is, without a doubt, a functional element to it as well.

What I want to talk about here for a minute is how a herald can carry information towards the event stewards, as well as towards the attendees.

Now, there is absolutely no question that the site herald's primary roll at an event is to broadcast information to the attendees on site. However, a Herald is also one of the most well traveled members of the event staff, and will likely see more of the attendees more often than the Steward or any of their deputies. A good herald, and by extension, a good event steward, should take advantage of this mechanism. People in charge of activities, merchants, taverns, feast stewards and nobles can all make good use of the site herald as a mechanism for both direct messages to certain staff members, and news from the event.

Site heralds are in an excellent position to note how things are going, what activity might need something, or where people are and are not congregated. They don't necissarily need to memorize any of this, and they don't need to really know all of reasons this information is accurate. However, if the Steward needs to know if people are parking off of the road or in the middle of it, they should probably ask the herald when they see him, rather than send someone specifically to look (unless the information is time-critical, of course). That way they don't use a resource they don't have to, and the herald is in an excellent position to carry an instruction or announcement back to the location in question.

I know this sounds like common sense, and in a lot of ways it is. However, more often than not (at least in the north) I don't see it being put to use. Heralds tend to operate outside the decision making loop, and they do so while stewards, cooks and marshals pull their hair out trying to answer questions or pass word along to each other. Its not a doom and gloom situation, by any means, and most events do get things done, but the stress levels and frustration can spike at times.

My point isn't that something is broken, but rather that the current system does not seem to be at its most efficient.

While I do teach the basics of this in my site heraldry class, the real point here is that heralds or at least the organizing heralds of the event should be part of the planning process from the early phases, and all members of the event staff should be told that the heralds are a resource they should consider using not only for announcements, but to carry messages to other staff and to relay any news they hear about other parts of the event. Conversely, heralds need to be told that they might be asked these things. In reality, most people notice a lot of this stuff naturally during the day, including heralds, so I really don't consider this a major increase in a herald's workload.

And on a functional note: I spoke a while back about my version of a herald's point. To both reiterate, and elaborate on part of that, I think the idea of a clipboard with a pencil and paper on it is an excellent prospect for leaving messages for heralds to announce. Merchants, taverns and anyone else can walk up to herald's point whenever they want, write down what they want said, and then walk away at their own leisure. The herald can then come up, see the notes, and make the needed announcements without the need to talk to eveyrone who needs something said.

Again, I'm very specifically not saying that the current system is broken, but rather that it has room for 'fine tuning'.

Overall, the thing I want you to take away from this is that the site herald is currently an under-appreciated (note, I did not say "under used") resource at an event, and if we can change that, I think we can make events that much easier to run.

At least that's the theory.

Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Protege to Master Robert Fitzmorgan
Nordsteorra Herald
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"Long Live the King!"

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