Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Letter to the Equinox herald, September 2014

The following was sent to the Equanox herald, (northern regional herald for the kingdom of Ansteorra) on September 30th, 2014. This letter was sent in response to several general requests made for an informal accounting of my activity as a consulting herald.

Greetings unto the Equinox Herald,

I offer this informal account for the month of September, 2014

Submitted recently: 
With the conclusion of September, I will soon be turning over to the Mooneschadowe provincial herald the last of the following list of submissions.

Sigríðr [redacted] name and device
Ewan [redacted] arms for registration.
Thomas [redacted]  name and device for submission
Lilias [redacted]badge for submission
Lilian [redacted] Name and Badge for submission
Elyssa [redacted] ’s arms for resubmission
~ included with this last submission was a letter requesting a waver of the resubmission fee due to extenuating circumstances on the part of my client.

With the exception notes on the last, each client has also presented the requisite check to the local reeve for their submissions.

Submitted previously:
Further along in the process, I also have a badge submission for [redacted] that should publish with the next batch of submissions in OSCAR.

At the other end of the process, we are all waiting (with admitted bated breath) for the next LOAR to publish so that the nearly year long saga that has been the device for Derega Tote can be decisively ruled on, and hopefully registered.

Current projects:
I am still working on one client who is… indecisive on her arms, but I trust she will codify her decision within the next month.  Furthermore, my forensic reconstruction work with [redacted] name and arms are going to be moved to the top of my priority list for October, with the hope of completing them and turning them back into the college by the end of the month.

I am also consulting on another badge submission (this one for a northern household), and offering heraldic procedural consultations on an armory change.

I have two clients  who are best described as at the ‘concept stage’ currently, for both their arms and heraldry at the moment.

One of my newer clients is researching a Mongolian name and arms set, to which I quickly paired him off with someone much more knowledgeable on the subject and extracted myself as the (unnecessary) middle-man in the conversation.

Another client, whose name is registered, is set to submit a wonderfully simple, but elegant device for herself, I am just currently waiting on the information for her submission form so I can fill it out and begin the process with her.

Going forward:
It has been mentioned to me, and rightfully so, that there are serious concerns about the pace of my heraldic activity. More specifically, a good number of my friends within the Ansteorran college don’t want me to burn out. In this, I share their concern, and agree that the current pace of things is unsustainable. However, the facts being what they are, I have begun to formulate a strategy, and mores specifically a pace for myself moving into the future where I can more realistically set expectations with clients, and better manage my own time.

With the current rush of clients reaching its ebb, and the half of the remainder after that only needing monitoring and paperwork, I am in a good position to being setting a limit for myself of three submissions per month. This will let me pace myself, and more accurately project my availability to my clients as time progresses.

Though, honestly, another side effect of this current pace is that a majority of the people who currently want heraldry or names are getting them, ergo, the number of potential clients is greatly reduced from the backlog of people who have been waiting ‘in the wings’ for  ‘just the right moment’ to actually register their name and device.

Realistically, my hope is that by January, I will be in a good position to work on one or two clients at a time, and not be dedicating huge measures of energy to them.

And as a  closing point, I would like to once again state how much I appreciate the work and assistance of the college of heralds, and the Facebook SCA Heraldry Chat group  that has been instrumental in helping me work through many of the nuances and challenges of these submissions thus far. Without the help of the great heraldic community, I doubt that any of these submissions would have made it this far.


Honorable lord Ivo Blackhawk

Sunday, September 28, 2014

A step away, a step forward, and a step towards the future.

I think it’s time I take a long, hard look at my career as a herald, and make some decisions about where I am going with it.

I've been voice heralding since my first Guardian, over 15 years ago.  I've made a name for myself as a List herald and a site herald, and have gone on to teach both skills across the north, and across the kingdom.

Last year (almost to the month, actually), a good friend nearly gave up on a heraldic submission she had invested a lot of time in because she had been given bad information. Even though I had largely shunned book heraldry up until that point, I stepped forward to represent her, not out of any want of glory, but because she did need an advocate, and I was rather bothered at seeing someone I care about shoved around as much as she had been.  

With that as my motivation and impetuous, I dove headlong into the world of book heraldry, and by necessity, learned a lot of armory rules and regulation in very short order.

Since then, I have literally had people calling me out of the blue asking for help with their arms, locally and across the north. And yes, some people I prodded and said “hey, let me help you” but that was not me poaching people from other heralds, these few were all good friends that IK just wanted to help.

I now have a client list that is over a dozen names long, and I’ve even gotten into the informal art of “forensic heraldry” (rebuilding a submission from scratch after it was lost by the local herald, with no notes to go off of).  Not a full time job, but certainly not something to be considered lightly.
At the same time… things with voice heraldry have… changed.

Last year, as some of you probably know, there was some political ugliness and a very public squaring off between me and a long-time antagonist. One of the causalities of that fight was the quality of site heraldry at Triumph.

This year, as I spoke about already, heraldry was done with too little, and almost too late. It happened, and what needed to be said was said to the right people, but there to too, too many “just-in-time” moments on that front.

Now, as if the pot wasn’t murky enough already, I am currently both an officer and a deputy at the local level.

For a number of reasons, some personal, some ‘patriotic’, I stepped into the vacant roll of minister of arts & sciences in order to help the seneschal manage what has been a busy work load for her. A&S has been a dedicated night for the group for as long as I have been playing, and even in the absence of and officer, the seneschal had been organizing the classes herself.

Parallel to that, I have also been a deputy to the Archery marshal, Derega Tote. She has made no secret of the fact that when she graduates, she’s departing Stillwater (and I do note that she is leaving a mundane location for mundane reasons. Nothing to do with the SCA). After watching her single-handedly resurrect the archery program here, I wanted to be there to help make sure it stayed going. I applied for deputy, and she accepted (not a sure thing, given some of her requirements). Now, with her graduation near, the role of Archery marshal will come open, and I do plan on applying. Even if I don’t get it, I do intend to stay on as a deputy, hosting weekly practices as much as is possible.
So, what does all this mean?

It means that I need to rethink a few things.

At triumph next year, I will be responsible for making sure the arts and sciences competition takes place, and doing the same for the archery competition. On top of this, regardless of my officerships, there is the matter of voice heraldry to consider. Running it or not, I am a resource and people look to. Whether or not I do herald, I need to take that into account.

So, clearly, these three things conflict heavily, just like they did this year, and likely more so next year since I’ll be the archery marshal and not just a deputy, I am trying to decide how to address each item.

And yes, let me add to that something that probably should be its own blog post, but I still just decided to put it here.

Locally, I think the respect for site heraldry has fallen off and is well below what it should be. Sure, “anyone can site herald”, I've heard that worthless mantra more times than I can count. Funny now not “anyone” will do when we need to cry to feast servers, a missing child, or court about to start. No, it’s not that cut and dry, of course. There are details, and history, and sides (of which I know I am only giving one right now). But there was a time when heralds were treated as an integral part of the event, and were given priority and respect. I remember it, because men like Alarich and Reis and I helped make it that way with the sweat off our backs. Now, I really feel like we’re back to “oh, who wants to do this” being said a month before the event.

Anyway, before this becomes a rant, let me wrap this up.

I didn’t get into heraldry because I knew I would be good at it. I got into it because someone asked me for help and I just happened to have a skill-set that worked for that job.

Archery needed someone to help it out, and I did the same thing.

Then, my Senechal needed help, and even thought she didn’t ask me, I felt it was my duty as a member of the province to step in and offer.

I’m making something of a decision here not to see this as me walking away from anything, but rather to go where help is asked for, and do what I do best. Help others.

And yes, believe it or not, divesting myself of voice heraldry next year will radically change a lot of how I spend June, July and August of 2015. 

Honorable Lord Ivo Blackhawk

Mooneschaodwe Minister for Arts and Sciences
Deputy Archery Marchal
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"Long Live the King"

Monday, September 22, 2014

Awesome archery target!

So, by the time any of you read this, you will have either heard about the archery shoot at Triumph, or will soon want to. I figured I would give everyone a little background to the shoot and how it came to be.

A few months ago, Our archery marshal, Derega called a meeting to talk about how we wanted to do the shoot. The proverbial slate was clean for the conversation, and all of us brought ideas. It was actually Leslie who first sewed the seed for the idea when she mentioned the board game Risk. We didn't immediately latch onto it, but after a few more idea were floated and then brought down, hers kept coming up.

With the event being themed after "the field of cloth and gold", we decided that a map shoot based on the various wars between England and France would be best.

Leslie, a regular at the
archery practices
Kawamoto,  grade-A lost-arrow
finder, and fellow archer. 
Kawamoto and Derega traded concepts for a few minutes before we sort of came up with the idea of a map. I was weary of how we would make this work, but we hammered out some "rules" and fleshed out the logistics of it largely in one meeting.

All of us wanted to see this happen, but Derega really was the driving force, asking, reminding and budgeting for it. When Triumph planning turned into preparation, we set aside an archery meeting and went to work making the plan a reality.
You can see the scale of the
map best here.

Derega detailing the map before
we added the capitols.

The process was a lot of guesswork, but Derega had gone out of her way to find maps with historical borders. of the counties, duckies and baronies of both kingdoms. Using an overhead projector, and a commandeered apartment (we sort of invaded the senechal's place) we went to work taking about 4 different maps, turning them into overheads, and then making them into one very large map.

I admit, I really didn't know what to expect when I got there, but I'm always glad to support archery. We used a slew of different markers, some tape, and a lot of patience (some more than others) to trace out map line after map line.

Another of Derega, this time killing
a red Sharpie marker with the capitols
of the English baronies and counties. 

The maps look (I didn't put a tape to them) to each be about 4 feet tall and 6 or 7 long. They show England and France, and as we drew them North was largely to the left. There had been some talk of coloring them in, but the scale and scope of that didn't sit well with Derega, and in retrospect I think it was best do do it how we did, with the "capitols" colored in Red and Blue respectively, but the rest left for black lines and white space.

Once we had a good map drawn, the act of copying it was actually simple, we draped another piece of butcher paper on top of the first one and traced it. it wasn't quite "photocopy" level work, but damned good in its own right.

Derega standing next to the final project.(that's probably as close to a "smile" as I'll ever be able to capture on camera with her)

All told, I was actually very surprised as how well the activity went, and how the final products turned out. And yes, by the time any of you read this Triumph will have come and past, and we will all get to compare how planning and reality met in the middle.

Honorable Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Mooneschaodwe Minister for Arts and Sciences
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"Long Live the King"

In the wake of Triumph....

I think this is something of a critical time for me to be writing this particular entry in my blog. Nearly every year prior to this I have sat down and spoken on the time spend, and accomplishments made at Mooneschadowe’s local event, Triumph of the Eclipse. But honestly and truthfully, I and not inclined to sit back this year and extol on how great the event was. This year, more than others, I feel warrants some hard, and critical self-reflection.

First of all, there are some assumed facts when dealing with Triumph. First, its safe to assume that everyone there who has been to the event more than once before will, at best, associate me with site heraldry, if not assume I am the coordinating event herald outright. Not a good thing in itself, and not a bad thing, but something that needs to be accounted for.

This year, we included equestrian activities and competition, and as such wound up using the field out by the fort. We haven’t used that location since the last time archery was held in that field, and now, with a major element of the event held out there, it effectively doubled our logistical footprint.
And in precursor to all of this, my situation has changed markedly since the last time we held the event. Firstly, I applied for deputy-ship to the archery marshal, mostly to help support archery locally, and to help Lady Derega, whom I consider a good friend.  This obligated me to help with archery, specifically the children’s competition. Also, some months ago, I was warranted as the Provincial Minister of Arts and Sciences. Had I put two and two together when I did that, I would have realized that that meant I was the de-facto coordinator for the A&S competition this year.

So, in short, I was now in charge of two things, and helping to coordinate site heraldry meant that I was obligated to a third. In short, I was over committed from the moment the sun came up Saturday. As a result, none of the things I had to do got the attention that that deserved, and most of them got just barely enough of it to make things work.

A&S was a mixed bag. First of all, I am overjoyed that I was able to enlist the help of friends on the A&S side of things. Lady Uallach, and Lord Aonghs for both sat the tables for me during the competition, and HL Sabine and HL Aline both helped provide me judges and making sure projects and judges were pared off appropriately. I would have felt a lot better about the whole process of more of that decision base had been made weeks in advance and not hours. As it was, things went well, but not with the margin of error that I am inclined to call “acceptable”. Coming away from this, I am inclined to call the process a steep learning curve, and will definitely make sure not to do the same thing in the future. In the future, (and for reasons I will explain shortly) I am inclined to delegate the whole thing. Its not terribly complex, but it does require a lot of time and immediate availability. I do intend to make myself far, far better acquainted with the A&S community in the north, and to make sure I keep those contacts current as much as possible. While I am not an active artisan now, as a warranted officer, these are connections that need to happen.

Youth archery was little better, at least in my opinion. I had hoped for some better targets and a more unique shoot, but as luck would have it things worked for my favor. I’d known I was in charge of the Youth shoot for weeks, and wound up just not having time enough to better prepare for it. To my favor, we had a good turnout, with parents there with each kid. Also, I had a phenomenal support cadre there to make sure all arrows got pointed in the right direction and no one came out of it with a missing digit or extra piercing. We shot two rounds, three arrows each, two kids at a time. Cian was the marshal of record while I was officially calling the range. Ultimately, the shoot was simple, easy, and the kids all had a blast, so I am really not complaining. However, again, a lot of that came together too last minute for my preferences, so I was fortunate (as opposed to downright lucky), that things turned out the way they did.

Heraldry was another mater entirely. As a long-time site herald, one of the cornerstone heralds for Mooneschadowe, and one of the people who helped write the proverbial book for site heralding Triumoph (and Guardian before that), the only thing I can say here is that heraldry at the event was downright neglected, and a lot of that falls to my own shortcomings.

First, the fact that I had to be at archery and A&S at all means that I couldn’t put the energy I needed into site and list heraldry for the event. A huge portion of my normal fellow heralds this year were either not available, or obligated in other directions. Add to this the fact that the event footprint was almost half again (at a minimum) of what it was last year, with a new schedule and new activities, and your end result is twice the work with half of the normal manpower.

The important thing to point out is that what needed to be announced was, and things did happen. That being said, the expectations of people attending were clearly not met on several occasions, and that is based on my own conversations with several good friends. Mooneshadowe’s heralds, and those with work with them have set the expectation that information will be regularly, accurately and event announced around the event. Here, I was scrambling time and time again to find someone to cry for me when I was otherwise obligated, or just too physically burned out to make an announcement. I managed to pull it off, but I don’t call that a success, rather it’s just a lucky few moments.

List heraldry…. Yeah, lets not go there. A lot of our normal leaders in this field were again obligated to other duties this year, and I certainly wasn’t in any position to help. I heard that it was well handled, but that it was mostly managed by the fighters who weren’t about to go out. As a man who teachers list heraldry, I am not happy with this. I’ve largely been pulled away from list heraldry these past few years because site heraldry is such a full time job. But With Lady Adalia Vanderburg serving as herald to the prince and princess, and both tournaments running at once, the usual backbone to the list heraldry effort just didn’t exist.

Also, I feel like there were some critical breakdowns in communications between myself and the coordinating event herald. I’m not entirely sure I made it clear that I could “help” herald, but could not be the central coordinating figure for voice heraldry at the event. I’m not completely sure if I failed to convey that to the coordinating herald, or if he failed to understand what I said, but that is an academic conversation right now.

The take away, for me, from this event is manifold. First and foremost, I need to make sure I better understand my commitments (assumed and written) with officer ships before applying. Secondly, preparation is not something to be done days in advance, especially if we are going to be doing events like this again. We need names and promises months in advance, and supplies (barring the perishables) weeks ahead of time.

The major concern here is not the activity itself, but the raw emotions and hurt feelings that come from stress and fatigue. I, at least, was fortunate that things went as well as they did, but the lessons learned here need to be applied going forward so that I both don’t over extend myself in the future, and can better complete what I have to do already.

Honorable Lord Ivo Blackhawk
Mooneschaodwe Minister for Arts and Sciences
Kingdom of Ansteorra
"Long Live the King"