If you’ve never been to a Board of Directors meeting, you might want to attend one. The ceremonies are very impressive. The directors are carried in, each on his or her own palanquin, to the central meeting table laden with gold plate and jeweled cups, where they are greeted by cheering members of the populace…..
OK, fine. It’s not like that at all. This is a corporate board meeting. The directors and officers wear suits or other formal business attire. The meetings are run according to the Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure by Alice Sturgis. Meetings are held quarterly, and the Saturday session, which is a working meeting, is open to the public.
At the April meeting, the corporation was represented by the directors, the newest director-elect (who gets to watch, but not vote), several corporate officers, and about a dozen members of the populace. The guests get to speak and ask questions at the discretion of the Chair. Everyone is addressed by their modern names.
Dr. Scott Berk, the Chair, opened the meeting by asking all present to introduce themselves, and to tell everyone what their alternate persona would be if they could start over. There were lots of interesting choices, and the majority seemed to be driven by clothing. A new director-elect, Chele Martines (Sabine de Rouen) was announced, and she will be present at the next meeting. Directors serve for 3 ½ years, and typically one is replaced at every other meeting.
Standard business included recognizing new groups, approving group advances in status, approving bank accounts, and approving a new affiliate corporation in the Netherlands (the Shire of Polderslot). The member in charge of Board recruiting noted there were currently 40 nominees out of roughly 35,000 members. That is very nearly an all-time high. Five of these are from Æthelmearc. The Board likes diversity of geography and fields of interest when choosing among new candidates. It requires the approval of all seven members to elect a new member. The Saturday meeting also covers correspondence. There was NO written correspondence this quarter, which I found interesting. Everything (and there was a lot) came in electronically. Each director has to read a lot of correspondence before each meeting. Twenty years ago, this worked out to about a 4-5 inch binder. There is a deadline for consideration, which is generally the first day of the month in which the meeting is held. Anything later may likely not be considered until the next meeting, so plan accordingly.
There was no Old Business this time. There were three New Business items. One was Polderslot which got covered earlier. The second was a resignation from the Peerage (you have to write to the Board, or it doesn’t count). The last one was the proposal for the Omnibus Peerage.
The proposal was presented by Tessa Williams (Duchess Tessa the Huntress). This was the longest single item of the meeting, and discussion took almost two hours. When asked what she would like the Board to do, she asked them to approve the proposal. This was not possible, as it would require a change to Corpora, which must be put out to the membership for comment. Generally, the directors were in favor of the concept, but made it very clear that they were going to take the time to get it right, recognizing that whatever action is taken (or not), there will be some folks who won’t be happy.
Seven other guests spoke about the proposal, and the audience was included in the general discussion that followed. (Editorial note: Folks who consider the Board to be a monolithic hive-mind really need to see one of these discussions. They will be…enlightened). There was discussion of timing and whether it is too much too fast for the Kingdoms to handle? Build on the Order of Defense? Include this in the Order of Defense? Another consideration was that future martial activities be included in this new peerage so that the process would not need to start over yet again. Fairness, inclusion, and paths to mastery for everyone, and the ensuing benefits to the membership were also considered major factors. Opinions both pro and con were aired on the proposal. Eventually, the Board decided to take the following actions: First, a conference call will be held with the Board, certain officers, and the Crowns of each Kingdom, to get their thoughts. Second, a proposal with a variety of alternatives will be put out as a membership survey. Some of these are: 1) The Omnibus proposal as written 2) Similar, but for all martial activities not included in the Orders of Chivalry and Defense (the Omnibus proposal only covers martial activities, present and future, that fall under the purview of the Society Earl Marshal) 3) Inclusion in the Order of Defense 4) Do nothing at this time. There may be other alternatives depending on the feedback from the Crowns. The target for reconsideration of the proposal and its alternatives is the October meeting.
After a lunch break, the meeting reconvened. There was a very nice presentation from the 50-Year Celebration committee. They are expecting attendance in the 3-5000 range. It will be in the Midrealm, in June of 2016, near Indianapolis. There are 19 large buildings, mostly climate controlled, including horse barns, and large outside areas. They believe this will be the largest equestrian event in the history of the Society. There are about 75 merchants and over 200 classes arranged thus far, and these numbers will increase. There will be themed balls for the dancers every night. There will be a period encampment area. The local area is supportive. There will be 5000 gift packets from the local chamber of commerce. The Baroness of Sternfeld sent a letter making it very clear that the RFRA was modified to prevent discrimination by gender identity, and that attendees would find themselves very welcome by the folks in the area. Other accommodations: handicapped and mobility services will be available, as well as docents for non-SCA folk who show up. There will be a display area with the history of each of the kingdoms, including a YouTube presentation for each on a big screen. It is expected that the one from Avacal will be fairly short.
Next were officer reports, and here are a few highlights. The Society Seneschal (Vice-president for Operations) noted that commentary on the Chirurgeonate is open until July 1. The Vice-President for Corporate Operations mentioned that a survey on electronic communications will be pushed to the e-newsletters. Sign in if you want to respond. Also, the SCA, Inc. passed a fairly rigorous audit by the State of California with flying colors. The Minister for A&S had 39 pages of ongoing activities and commended the A&S community for being awesome. The Chair of the Grand Council commended a number of people, including Æthelmearc’s Arianna of Wynthrope!
Officer changes: A new director was elected (Chele Martines) as mentioned above. The new Society Marshall will be Alan Smith (Alan Gravesend). Interestingly, he will be one of the premier Masters of Defense from Atlantia. Applications for Society Chronicler will be accepted until May 15th. There were various tributes to Lisa May, who is stepping down after this meeting, and she was given the traditional privilege of adjourning the meeting.
The October 2015 meeting will be held in Pittsburgh at the Embassy Suites by the airport. I encourage as many as possible to attend, and get a better idea of how the administration behind our hobby/lifestyle is run.