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"

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