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First Word

It was asked on the House Corvus e-list recently whether or not the household was becoming too large. This is certainly a topic that comes up periodically, and I welcome it. While I posted these thoughts to the list, I wanted to have them here as well for lengthier meditation. It also allows me to expound and clarify my sentiments while affording you the opportunity to read them in a manner probably more comfortable than on your computer screen.

When I first embarked upon the creation of House Corvus, I hadnít ever thought about an upper size limit to the household. At first, we were so few that it never really crossed my mind. And, as we grew, the balance between active people coming in to the Household and former members becoming inactive was fairly even. In the past few years, weíve averaged about four new members per year. Despite this, however, our active membership has remained surprisingly constant. I guess I havenít really addressed the size limit issue because I still feel that we havenít even remotely reached the point where itís become an issue.

Yet, we all see House Corvus slightly differently. And what might not seem an issue for me, may well be one for someone else. That alone makes it worthy of consideration.

On the surface, to the casual observer, we might appear quite large. House Corvus currently has forty-three members, after all. That perception of size is one that I definitely encourage. It works for us on a variety of levels. I use it to leverage influence on various Crowns, Coronets, and even in Orders. As a purely political tool, size does matter. No one cares about a lobby of one.

That is not to say that House Corvus exists solely as a political entity. But politics are a matter of course in the SCA and one would have to be naive not to know that. What's more, as the head of this Household, I would be irresponsible not to use that lobby to the betterment of both the Society at large and the advancement of our own membership whenever and wherever possible.

The truth, as we all know it, however, is that the active core of House Corvus is, like any grouping, only comprised of about half our actual membership. Some of our members are children, while still others drift in and out of the SCA at their leisure. Some, don't play in the SCA much any more at all.

I donít consider that a bad thing, however. Itís just the way things work. But, every member of House Corvus is here because we want them here. More specifically, I want them to be here. And I'd never ever consider removing people from our Roster just because they have chosen to go inactive - whether it be for a few months, or forever. So long as they still feel they're a part of House Corvus, then they are.

House Corvus requires no specific level of participation in the SCA from its membership after a personís induction. It is important to note, however, that what brought you to our attention in the first place was your SCA activities. Itís well known that we try to only look at SCA members whoíve already earned their Awards of Arms on their own merits. We want to know that youíve already decided to make a difference all on your own. It is hoped that being invited to join House Corvus will only help to enhance that self-evident sense of service. Still, while it's true that I prefer people to be active contributors to both the Household and their local branch of the SCA, I also understand that situations change and might develop to prevent this.

Certainly, if there is ever anyone that wishes to resign from House Corvus, youíre free to do so. As was the case recently with one of our members, they decided that they simply had no more interest in the SCA and that was that. The decision included House Corvus and thatís fine. No one is a prisoner here. A simple e-mail is all it takes.

The question then becomes, in the interests of keeping our House to a certain size, should I disallow the induction of new people whom we feel would fit in to the Corvus milieu? My answer is an unequivocal, of course not.

When it comes to culling our numbers, Iíve sometimes wondered if I should remove people who no longer fulfill my expectations or the Households service ideal. Ultimately, though, I reject that notion as well. My goal may be to establish a bar in the SCA, but not compel people to then meet it. Hopefully though, through their membership in House Corvus, theyíll inspired to try.

And, as for asking people to step away from House Corvus or summarily remove them from the Roster because of their inactivity - well, thatís just not going to happen.

One of the best benefits of being in House Corvus is knowing that you have a place you belong. Irregardless of how long personal circumstances may force you to be inactive, you can return to the SCA and know that there are people there to love and support you. What makes this something of a phenomenon is that the people donít necessarily have to even know you on a personal level. We have a shared background through House Corvus; a shared identity which helps guide and support our present efforts; and the reassurance that there will be people here in the future to guarantee that continuity for both new and returning members down the road.

So, what happens when you see someone from House Corvus at an event that youíve never met before? That happens since members from distant locales may come and visit or else someone whoís been inactive for a time returns after new people have been inducted. Fortunately, no one member of House Corvus should ever be too much of a surprise to any other. There are a variety of tools in place to always make everyone in House Corvus feel at home and familiar with every other member.

We talk about possible candidates for House Corvus for a long time before we induct them. When someone is recommended to us by a current member and theyíre placed on the For Your Consideration list, it then becomes your obligation and responsibility to seek them out, get to know them, and form an opinion for when I ask the inevitable question: do we induct?

I understand that some people in House Corvus simply donít have the opportunity to meet every FYC candidate personally. Thatís one of the main reasons we watch them in the first place and why the commentary from other House Corvus members is so invaluable. A photo for the FYC section of the Corvus e-group has also become essential. Please make every effort to obtain a photo so we can add it.

Our mutual respect for each otherís opinions has also become an integral factor in inducting new members. I've always been grateful that the more distant Corvites trust in my judgment when it comes time to make that final decision. And, obviously, Iíve inducted people whom even I did not know well ahead of time based on House member recommendations.

While anyone can veto an induction, and people have, it's never been due to their own ignorance of a candidate. It's always been for very solid reasons. When some House Corvus member doesn't know a candidate all that well, they usually concede to the ones who do know them best. For me, this has been an obvious sign that House Corvus is working. And very well, in fact. We trust each otherís judgments. And, for many of us, getting to know someone really well only comes after someone has been inducted. I think that's cool, actually. But I equally appreciate the caution and careful consideration that some members advocate. I can think of several people who have been put forth for Corvus membership in the past that, in the fullness of time, revealed themselves to be nothing short of horrific ideas. Weíve dodged more than one bullet in that regard.

Another tool in knowing your Household and being comfortable with its membership is our Household website. Everyone in House Corvus has a web page online. I do that for you, you know?

The Corvus website isn't to show off our Household to the outside world. It is for our membership, plain and simple. Member profiles only scratch the surface, sure. But between the photo, heraldry, interests, backgrounds, awards, and offices; a connection can be established in addition to a personís joining the Household. Itís your chance to get to know them in absentia, as it were. At the same time, the information you share helps keep your Housemates familiar with you and your accomplishments. Itís why I think theyíre so very important. And, yes, they also have the added benefit of helping me to promote you to the SCA at large.

Obviously, I know everyone in House Corvus. Yet, I still find myself clicking through those pages almost weekly. Iím thinking a lot of different things as I scroll through our membership Roster and your individual pages. But, mainly, I just like seeing your faces. If you donít already do this yourselves, I suggest you start. It might also inspire you to keep your own page more up to date with links, interests, etc. We can only know what you choose to share with us, after all.

There are definitely a few members in House Corvus that I donít know on a deep, personal level. There are, in fact, members of House Corvus whom Iíve never even met. But that Corvus belt (literal or figurative) already tells me that these people are special. These people make a difference. And, most importantly, these people are my family.

My biological family on my motherís side holds periodic reunions of the whole, extended clan. I've never been to one of these huge, extended family reunions and not met some ďcousinĒ whom I've never seen before. Or, as is more often the case, whom I haven't seen in years. Whatís fascinating to me, though, is that it doesn't diminish my love for them. Not one bit. And Iíve certainly never been fearful or nervous about speaking to them. I simply walk up and say, "I'm your cousin Scot." And then I get to know them.

Imagine how much simpler that would be if I had a big family website with everyone's pics and personal details to help guide me. We have that. It then falls to our own efforts to know, or not know, some member of our Corvus family. But one thing is for sure. When you see that medallion or that belt, you know thatís family. Those accoutrements show both you and the world at large that you already have the single most important trait in common: good character. The personal details are just gravy. Enjoy getting to know your Corvus fraternity. That discovery can be fantastic!

A supposition may well be that some people in House Corvus simply do not want to know the other, more distant members of the Household. Or older members donít have as keen an interest in newer members. Or that like interests create a stronger bond between some members of the Household than others. I call bullshit on all of these.

Were any of these things true on anything other than the most surface level, it would probably be time for those members to move on and form newer households with different interests or agendas than House Corvus.

Personally though, I donít feel this to be the case at all. Sure, similar interests may make for telltale cliquing on occasion. Itís only natural for the Householdís spinners to get all excited when they share some new technique. We sport a number of heralds in Corvus who probably bore the crap out of non-heralds when they gaggle together and chat. House Corvus is blessed with a pundit for almost every aspect of Society involvement. Therein lies or strength.

The sharing of those ideas, our ability to freely move from one circle to another depending on our mood or interest this week, our access to that wealth of knowledge is one of House Corvusís assets. In fact, your individual interests are still one more factor in our original consideration towards your induction. And, regardless of your SCA activity level, itís our ability to draw on your expertise and your continued willingness to share it that keeps each you a valuable member of this Household. Indeed, itís that melding of new and old ideas and interests, new and old Corvus members that keeps our Household interesting and dynamic. Itís why we seek out young, fresh members and why we cherish our more seasoned members. Our membership must continue to evolve even though our ideals remain firm.

Members of House Corvus fall in to three basic categories: the active SCA participant, the casual SCA participant, and the inactive SCA participant. Itís very rare, however, that anyone is firmly planted in any of these three types. instead, we drift from one to the other. Sometimes itís a conscious decision to step back. Sometimes, we just find ourselves distracted by real-life affairs. And sometimes, we just wake-up and find weíve drifted and want to get involved again.

I cherish every member of House Corvus. From an induction numbers standpoint, however, I only count up the current, active SCA participants. These are the people most likely to attend an event, enter a competition, hold an office, etc. They are the public face of House Corvus and the people who most visibly promote our Household work ethic in the SCA at large. They are also the people by which most other sin the SCA will judge House Corvus. Needless to say, itís an important role. And, while the SCA-active members of House Corvus may shift in its overall make-up, their responsibility does not.

When you look at House Corvus from that standpoint, as I have to, our overall size is not that large at all. Moreover, it is spread out over the Known World. Of our forty-three members, we have active participants in Caid, Trimaris, and Atlantia. We have either partial or inactive members in all of those plus An Tir, Ansteorra, and the Middle. Obviously, the bulk of our numbers are in Atlantia. But that number is only fifteen. Hardly excessive and certainly not unwieldy or unknowable. When one considers the inordinate amount of responsibility those members carry, through their various offices held, I actually consider the number too small. As previously active SCA participants drift into either of the remaining two categories, they need to be supplemented by new, active members.

That is what guarantees the efficacy of our Household in the SCA. It's also what keeps House Corvus a strong and enduring entity. Itís only through this continual replenishing of members that allows House Corvus the durability that allows the ether the casual or inactive participant to return to the Society when, or if, circumstances permit.

House Corvus isnít becoming too big. It simply keeps moving forward. As it should. This is what healthy entities do. To be perfectly honest, I'm really very proud of how House Corvus has retained it's overall health. In an era of households that are experiencing various states of decay, our luster is still quite bright. I judge this not only by the number of people who still feel compelled to lie about us and backstab or undermine our membership (sadly, leaders only ever have their backs as targets), but also by the achievements of our members and affiliates.

There are a large number of people in the SCA who look up to you. Donít get distracted by the odd SCA viper struggling to poison your own Household confidence. Instead, focus on your own resolve to always strive to be better. And through that dedication, inspire others to work towards their own goals. Not through political greed or avarice, but through hard work, and steady effort. Those are the qualities that define House Corvus and still the reasons youíre a part of it.

I honestly do not feel that our "one big, happy family feel" will ever be lost due to size - but apathy is the silent cancer that threatens all human achievement, both within and outside the Society. And House Corvus is no exception. It is our constant enemy. Still another benefit of being in House Corvus though is that you are surrounded by people watching out for you. If you see someone in House Corvus succumbing to SCA ennui, go kick them in the ass. Well, at least drop them an encouraging e-mail.

House Corvus has a website which always contains our full membership Roster with continually updated contact info. There are pictures of our full membership, along with their SCA info, personal info, and more. It's all there 24/7 for you to look at and get to know your extended Corvus family. Thereís never any harm in finding people within Corvus with whom you might forge a special, personal bond. But, never forget that everyone in House Corvus is special and worthy of your time, consideration, and love.

We have a newsletter which gives you monthly updates on various Corvus topics and goings on and includes a four month calendar so you always know what's coming up that your fellow Corvus members might be attending. I try to also make sure that all of our individual achievements are also chronicled there. Sharing a common household also means sharing in the accomplishments of your housemates.

We have an active e-list to which every adult member of Corvus belongs. It provides daily updates on our lives both in and outside of the SCA. Weíre even moving to a new server that will allow expanded photo sections from events and even individual House Corvus e-mail addresses.

The fact is, there is simply no other group of people, be they family, recreational, or professional that gives you so many ways to be in touch and feel a part of our extended Corvus family. Geographical isolation is the hardest thing to overcome, but through all of the above, you can always know that youíre a part. And never, ever forgotten. --BRAN


Last modified on Wednesday, November 26, 2008
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