Saturday I attended Unevent, an event designed explicitly for meetings within the SCA so that we can avoid them at all the other events where we'd rather be playing. It was in Claremont, North Carolina, which is six long and tedious hours from my house. I only had two meetings to attend the entire day other than Curia, both of them for baronage. I was going to spend 12 hours in a car for three total hours worth of meetings. I was pretty cranky about it. In order to get there at a reasonable hour, I took a half day off of work on Friday. I drove with Oda and my mom so that I could take her to see my brother in Winston-Salem on the way. At several points along the way I texted my husband about this site in "the middle of ducking nowhere" (it's an iPhone, so it censors me). I may have typed "stupid event in Egypt", which is pretty strong language since I now have this nervous tick in anticipation of my son yelling "STUPID'S NOT A NICE WORD!" like the damn FCC.
It also didn't help that the first meeting I attended as a proxy had four people in it, all of whom were proxies like me. I was not feeling the love. I will say, though, that I got very valuable information from our kingdom officer and wrote down two pages of notes to take back to our local group. Ok, fine, it was worthwhile, but I'm sure I could have gotten that information online somewhere.
We had a lively discussion during our first baronage meeting about both the need for Unevent as well as the proposed changes for Curia. I was beginning to wonder if Drea had invented Unevent or the brick and mortar conference model based on her fervent defense of seeing everyone in person. Good points were made on all sides. Ironically, as we were discussing how important it was to have these meetings in person, we were also changing the schedule so that we could end an hour earlier and let folks get on the road to beat bad weather. As soon as we started talking about finding a better date for Unevent, it became apparent that the less desirable weekends are the ones that make the most sense for this "bitter pill of an event" as His Majesty Ragnar put it, in order to reserve more desirable days for play.
I was starting to get the vibe that not wanting to go to an event like this made me some medieval version of unpatriotic. If I took the responsibilities of my office seriously, I would budget for this trip and reserve the first weekend of December for the foreseeable future. That didn't make me very excited about the event, though, just made me feel guilty for bitching about it. What must a new local officer feel about this, if they have only one hour long meeting they are required to attend?
Things got feisty again in our second baronage meeting as someone mentioned her desire to remove Unevent all together in favor of using technology for online interactions. I'm not a fan of that plan as I use that for work and it really only goes well for one person to dole out information to a lot of people but not to have any sort of discussion. The idea of replacing meetings with Webex doesn't appeal to me. But our second round of debating led to a few other very interesting points. First, we realized that we as baronage are not communicating with each other as well as we should (oh the irony to discover that in person at Unevent!) about crash space availability. It's something that would be helpful not just for this one meeting-palooza day but for all sorts of events. We also talked about how baronage can do a better job of helping folks share rides to events.
The thing I found most helpful, though, was the discussion about other fun things we could do at Unevent. I bitched pretty much non-stop about going to this event but had a very productive and pleasant day. After having a day or so to ponder it more, I'm even more encouraged that Unevent is an opportunity to train and foster service and participation on all sorts of levels. As a new member in Black Diamond oh so many years ago, I would have benefitted so much from going to an Unevent to sit in on officer meetings of those I wanted to try one day. It certainly would beat taking a job I was woefully unprepared for or not the best candidate for and feeling like a screw up. Yesterday, I would have liked to have spent an hour in a classroom with a panel of Atlantian cooks. I would have jumped at the chance for rapier "office hours". I could have learned to naalbind while wearing a hoodie and jeans and it would have been lovely. I would have helped work on the hosting barony's random project in a corner of the cafeteria if it were available (painting banners, stenciling direction signs, etc.). I could sit in the main room and offer to braid hair and model head coverings.
So my unsolicited suggestions for the next Unevent (or any event) are ...
- Have it wherever the heck you want to. It's going to be a long ass drive for someone, so it's a moot point to me. - Have other things besides meetings that will entice both people who should already know and accept the burden of responsibility to attend as well as those who may be interested in attending. Put those activities on the schedule as well to make it easy to find them. - Make sure that information about crash space is not only listed with the event announcement but conveyed to baronage and seneschals kingdom wide. People are much more likely to accept an offer to stay than to call a stranger and ask what spaces are available. - As a kingdom, make sure that we embrace the concept of sharing rides.
There was talk of combining Unevent with February's University, but I think that might be tough to do. Do you wear garb to that? Does University become two days and then do folks just complain that they have to take off Monday to get back home? Just because it's a day of meetings doesn't mean it has to suck. Meetings can be fun and if you don't like what's happening during them you should bring more interesting things to do for everyone versus just leveling up in eye-rolling. Most things about the SCA are a ton of work (setting up the Jenga-designed list fences, schlepping thrones, scrambling to repair armor, finding loaner feast gear for Lord Sweatsocks) but we manage to make all that fun. Let's not have a measly day of meetings get the best of us.
I look forward to seeing all my friends again in our jeans next year.
(I had time to kill on Saturday, so I got my 10,000 steps in on the high school track.)