Bright Ideas and True Confessions: How and What to Do and Why
Welcoming Newcomers

Mundane Visitors
Ælflæd of Duckford

There are occasions when people come to events who have no close contact with a member and so won't have a "native guide." The next two items were written following an article which appeared in Sunset magazine (a magazine concerning life in the Western U.S.). The magazine was running an article on madrigal dinners and such, and someone in the SCA had told them about 12th Night and Solstice feasts in various cities in An Tir, the West, Caid and Atenveldt. Someone from the magazine called me, because I was Steward, and just wanted ticket prices, for publication. I tried as hard as I could to explain that we didn't sell tickets to just anyone, that they weren't madrigal dinners, and that people couldn't show up without costumes and get in. The lady was very impatient with what she perceived as my wasting her time. She was still pressing for addresses and costs when I told her that if we couldn't come to an understanding she would have to delete all reference to SCA feasts. She acted first as though I had no rights, and that she could get the information from someone else. I pointed out to her if they publicized this in the way she planned, it would be the same as to advertise a private party without the host's permission. She accepted that and I proposed a compromise. If she gave my address for all contacts, I would send each interested party a packet with information about the Society, what they would need to have and do to attend an event, and also particular information about the feast in their area.

The letter and the "feast instructions" follow. Please feel free to borrow phrases, clumps, or the entire thing for publication for your own area's purposes. These may be edited to suit you if you use them. I obtained permission to borrow from introductory writings of Master Robin of Mannefeld (Atlantia) and Mistress Rowan Perigrynne (Lochac, West). There were a few dozen enquiries, and a few more trickled in each fall for several years afterward. Had anyone just shown up in regular clothing, with no dishes and not a clue what we were up to, I think they would have been irritated with the Society, not with the magazine. Consider that sometimes good publicity can be bad for the Society, and always try to read things and see them from the point of view of someone who knows nothing more than is in the article.

In the CONSIDERATIONS section is an article called
"Becoming the Source," followed by a list called
"Concrete Suggestions for Helping Newcomers."
Although it deals with things non-officers can do
on a one-to-one basis,
you might want to adapt some of the ideas.

You might consider having people in your group who would be willing to serve as "foster parents" or temporary guides for newcomers, on a set-time basis, for a month, or for their first three events, or whatever. That would lessen the job of the gold key or hospitaller in a way, and strenghten the results. People would be getting more individualized attention and advice, and would have some assigned friends for the introductory period.

There are probably many experienced people who would be willing to serve as guide for a newcomer, if they knew they'd only come around occasionally on the roattion. People could pass, too, if it was a bad time or bad event for them. Don't ask for volunteers in the newsletter, though. Choose those you think would be good and ask them directly if they would please do this. General calls for help rarely yield great gobs of good help. Direct questions to individuals do better.

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Copyright © Sandra Dodd, 1991 Original site design by Marie de Blois
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