July 30, 2007

Pre-pennsic lull (thank the gods)

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It is a really good thing that the pre-pennsic activity lull is almost as well understood as Scadian time, or I'd be doomed. This is my last week teaching summer school, we have family coming in from out of town (to stay and catch an early flight), and, of course, the inevitable last minute sewing and packing for Pennsic.

As a result, the Challenge is taking a back seat for a week. I've got about a dozen folks to put on the contact list, and a Challenge to do list almost as long as my Pennsic sewing list, but it is just going to have to wait for late August.

Things on my Challenge to-do list include:
*FAQ
*Press release (so folks can stop copying the site's ENTIRE front page!)
*contact list update
*figure out/beg someone to help with getting contact info in a form system
*work on Laurel list (some day!)
*mass email folks from previous sessions about publishing their contact info
*write up details on how to run A&S 50 sesssions so others can start doing so
*work up organizational structure for the whole project
*remember, whenever I get too bogged down in the administration of it, that this Challenge is supposed to be fun, and go and do some of my own art to prove it...

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July 28, 2007

The Buzz

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I've been hearing from lots of folks that they have been hearing about the Challenge on List X or Blog Y, so I googled the Challenge and read some blogs. Wow. Folks are copying the entire front page off the website into their blogs and newsletters. Folks are talking and talking and talking about this. Folks are feeling oddly guilty if they are NOT doing the Challenge.

Yikes.

One thing came up that I really feel needs addressing though; someone said that they didn't see the point in 'banging out' 50 things for some arbitrary target. I couldn't agree more! Our motto isn't "do 50 things and be done with it," but "to learn and share of our learning, and to create and share of our creation." If folks aren't taking, as their 50, those things that will *take their work to the next level,* well, I just feel like they are cheating themselves.

Likewise, the SHARING part of the Challenge is critical - any of us can work on 50 things in isolation, and feel good about it, but we'd miss the Community aspects of the Challenge - shared passion, shared discovery, shared support. Sometimes we'll be of equal experience, and can learn together; other times we can mentor each other, and, as my mother likes to say, we often find out what we do NOT know by trying to teach someone else, so everyone benefits in these relationships too. It is our Community that is our greatest strength, and the part that makes the SCA work - I doubt we'd be approaching AS 50 if we didn't love getting together so much...

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July 25, 2007

I need a team!

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I'm thinking about how best to organize folks for the continueing development of the Challenge, and I'm working with a team model. One team for each Kingdom, an Admin team, and a team comprised of some of the heavy hitters of each of the others for Inter-Kingdom events and our big capstone exhibitions.

I'm also thinking about a timeline, with benchmark goals along the way, both to keep folks motivated, and to keep us all on track. I'm thinking that some big shindigs for "5 'til 50" would be a close enough goal that we could really start working on stuff now, rather than putting off the ideas of 'bigtime' for another five years or so, and would be ending just in time for us to start gearing up for 2015.

I'm staggered that I am already feeling such a heavy need for an administrative team. I just don't know enough about web based data entry and community software applications to solve some issues I see on the horizon: I can't keep inputting everyone's contact info in by hand (we need a form), we may need to move to a different forum provider (since I think this one could get chaotic fast), and I'm even a bit frustrated with my current CMS (I can't seem to nest pages; they either exist and are listed on the front page, or they can't exist, and even then they have numberstring URLs). I just don't know this stuff, and, quite frankly, don't have time to learn it - the backlog by the time I did would kill me, and probably the project. Momentum is everything, and right now the site is getting over 100 hits a day - I daren't do anything but keep on going for now, hoping for help. I'm going to post a note in the tech issues forum asking for assistants, and we'll see where that lands us.

I'm also forseeing needing help just keeping up with everything; even if a task is something that I DO know how to do, that doesn't mean that I have TIME - uploading pdfs, answering questions (I'm working on an FAQ, which should help enormously), keeping track of session records, moderating our online community, etc. I just can't do everything myself, and these are all opportunities for others to get more involved anyway, so why not let them?

Fortunately, I think that folks will be pretty understanding when I vanish for 2 weeks later this month - Pennsic is upon us, and I've gotten nothing done for it! I have expanded my tapestry class to 2 hours, and need to finish collecting my materials for that (including finishing my new loom, darn it!), I still have some warmer tunics and lighter pants to sew for my girls (and I dream of doing a period-cut dress for myself so I'm not teaching in t-tunics again!), and packing? Yeah, right. To top it off, I'm giving my final exam the day we are supposed to be leaving for the 13 hour drive, so... this should be interesting!

Coming home to my inbox afterward is looking like it is going to be even moreso!

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July 20, 2007

Riding the Tiger

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The symbol of the most noble Kingdom of the East is a Tiger, and my husband has just said that I need to learn how to ride one. I was just about to go to bed, but found two letters in my mailbox; turns out one from someone who wants to start running A&S 50 sessions in her home Kingdom, and the other is from a Kingdom I have never even heard of before tonight (sad, but true.)

While these are both *amazing* things, since they mean that the project is growing and that folks are actually interested, it is making me panic a little bit too...

I have hoped that this would happen, but now that the Challenge has hit a growth spurt, I'm not really sure how to handle it. I have known that I'm going to need to let go of this to some extent to let it *run,* but I can't help but be afraid of where it might go without me there to guide it in person. It isn't like the Challenge is my adult child, capable of making decisions for itself; I would be letting other speak for ME. My concept, my goals... how do I know that other presenters will, well, get it *right?*

Obviously, others may have ideas that make the Challenge even better, but there is always that chance that I, and the project, will be grossly misrepresented. If someone ran an A&S session and stomped on someone's dream or inexperience, I would feel like I owed them an apology for letting that person speak for the project, but the project can't grow unless I DO let others speak for it.

Part of me wants to 'screen' people - get to know them a little before I 'approve' of their representing me. And, yet, I know that they wouldn't be representing ME (even though this WAS my baby), but the project, which belongs to all of us now. I guess I'm trying to figure out my role in the larger 'organization' now that it isn't completely housed under my one roof here in the Freehold.

One of my guiding principles behind the challenge is that no one can tell another person that they are doing the Challenge *wrong.* We each have our own independant goals, and I hope that the Challenge (and its community) will help many people to reach theirs. To that end, I guess I really just want to be the philosophical leader of the project - folks can work out paperworky stuff, meetings, exhibitions, etc as they like, and as would fit their communitiesand their needs, but the Philosophy behind the project; THAT I feel called to keep tabs on, even at a distance.

I don't want to manage, but I think that I need to guide. Now the question is HOW...

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July 18, 2007

Tally update and site results

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GNE this last weekend was LOVELY. I got to camp with localish folks that I didn't know well and now do, and, ta da! I got to watch a new lovely friend be inducted into the order of the Maunche (Kingdom level A&S) - vivat Robert of Stonemarche, calligrapher, embroiderer, and new voice herald of the East! Hurray!

I also added to my Challenge tallies - I taught pre-1300 weave structures again, ran a Challenge session, and learned how to Viking wire weave!

The new website is doing well too, in large part thanks to the constructive critiques of those on the Apprentice List. If you haven't looked at it since today (7/18) go take a fresh peek, especially at the first page; I've clarified the details of the Challenge itself and have even added a new twist to the Breadth Challenge - the "complete persona package" - 50 different things that one's persona would know, have, or know how to do. I got the idea tangentally from my friend Ardenia, (who was, incidentally, the only person to complete Master Henry McQueen's Challenge at Northern Lights a few years ago) since she had basically entered a megapent with things that all went with her ME dancing (garb, food, performance, make-up, you name it).

I thought this new addition might help give folks some focus in their search for new things, and might provide a more satisfying collection when completed than 50 unrelated things might do. No requirement to do this, just an idea. ;)

Anyway, the new site has had going on 140 hits just in the last few days, which is just amazing! I'm not really sure though, how to get folks to participate in the forums. So far Angelique and Ysemay are the only folks who have, as Ysemay put it 'joined me out on [my] limb.' I have posted 'starter' threads on most of the topics, but folks just don't seem to be taking the bait... Ideas, as usual, are MOST welcome.

Most interesting thing about the project today? I've been asked if I am available to meet with Challengers at *ESTRELLA*! My complete lack of understanding of the geography of the Known World is decidedly period - I didn't know that meant ARIZONA, and I certainly didn't know that was in the Kingdom of Atenveldt! (if I even spelled that correctly!)

I hopes that this Challenge was going to take me places, but I didn't anticipate foreign lands! :)

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July 07, 2007

Announcing our Website!

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I've been quiet, but I've been busy - we now have a Challenge website! It's still raw (like it needs original art!), but at least it is up, and, even better - it has forums! So... go check it out already! http://ArtsAndSciences50.org

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July 04, 2007

Tally update

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As of this last weekend, and EK Northern Region War Camp, in the lovely Shire of Glenn Linn, I can add another class (I taught Keyhole Necklines again), another A&S 50 session (well attended!), another new thing (Lady Moreta showed me how to make Monk's Cord, but typing in such in google brings me anything BUT what I learned how to make), and another new piece of garb (a lovely green linen tunic for my girls that doesn't fit them - ack!- and so has been given to Lady Skya's lovely and as-yet-to-be-born Gwen).

I am *seriously* needing to find time in my day (after grading!) to do some garb sewing for the girls for war, and I'm scheduled to teach pre-1300 weave structures and run an A&S 50 session at Great North-Eastern War in Malagentia in less than two weeks (go Stonemarche!). I hope you'll join me there!

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Critical Mass

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Folks are starting to notice this! People are telling me that they are taking the Challenge, folks are saying 'oh - you're the one doing that A&S 50 thing, right?', and there have been over 500 hits to this blog, and more than a handful of good gentles are showing up for my sessions, and others who can't make it are asking me about it at other times! Hurray!

My obsessive collecting of data (who knows what and wants to learn what, and where they live and how to contact them) is even starting to get people together, and is even encouraging some class planning! Hurray!

Sorry to blather, but I'm just really excited that A&S 50 is starting to move under its own power!

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