Saturday, March 29, 2008

Monster Interview: Gwen On Fandoms

Studies of fandoms have always interested me so, a while back, I asked Gwen of Jericho-Kansas if she would be willing to be interviewed about fandoms. Gwen, being the gracious lady she is, agreed. It's my fault I haven't published this sooner. The waiting to learn Jericho's fate zapped all my energy.

I present this interview in two parts so look for Part II tomorrow. Also, be sure to visit the Jericho-Kansas forum.

Thank you, Gwen.

1. Fandoms are usually thought of in terms of movies or television shows but you would include historical groups in a definition of fandoms. Why is that?

One of the definitions of fandom is “all the fans of a sport, an activity, or a famous person”. This takes into account fans of TV shows, fans of literature and fans of historical eras.

Science Fiction fandom and my historical group, Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA), are alike for a few reasons:

There is a lot of crossover between the Science Fiction fandom and the SCA. The SCA grew and spread in it’s first ten years, due to holding demonstrations at Science Fiction conventions.

A lot of science fiction and fantasy authors have been active in the SCA and influenced the organization. Robert Asprin, Raymond Feist, DC Fontana, Katherine Kurtz, Diana Paxson (who held the first SCA event), Marion Zimmer Bradley, and Paul Edwin Zimmer to name a few.

The crossover between the groups has contributed to a common culture. For example: filking, putting new words to a common song, is an activity common at both the Sci Fi Conventions and SCA events.

The fandom elements that have incorporated as non-profits are primarily public benefit non-profits run mostly by volunteers, as is the SCA. These types of non-profits are unique in the non-profit sector.

2. The Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) is an "international organization dedicated to researching and re-creating the arts, skills, and traditions of pre-17th-century Europe." You've been a member for 30 years. What led you to become involved?

I saw a local theater production of “Camelot” and began to read lots of books on King Arthur and the legends from that era. A few years later, I saw a demonstration from the local SCA members, so I went to their next meeting and got involved with the SCA. After my first event, I was hooked for life. It turned out that the gentleman who took me to my first SCA event, was in the production of “Camelot” that I had seen a few years earlier!

3. Are the activities you engage in with the SCA helpful to you in real life? In what ways?

Yes, I’ve learned many different skills in the SCA that are applicable to everyday life.

Having to interact with any large group of people will teach social skills. I was extremely shy before I joined the SCA, and being active in the organization has helped me overcome my introvert tendencies.

I know a lot more about sewing, since I’ve sewed both costumes and pavilions (cloth tents). I learned to make cordials and mead, I’m more proficient at archery, and I’m still learning about the medicinal uses of herbs and essential oils. Any kind of daily skill that was used in the Middle Ages and Renaissance, you will find in the SCA and you can usually find teachers for those skills.

During my battlefield tenure (I helped found the guild responsible for bringing water out to the warriors on the field), I learned what worked to hydrate and cool overheated people, the signs of heat prostration and heat stroke, a little bit about tactics since I had to predict where the warriors would go, how to coordinate a workforce, and that water is very heavy when you have to haul it ½ mile. I’m proud to say that that the Waterbearer’s Guild is now over twenty years old and spread from my local SCA region to being present in a majority of the SCA regions world-wide.

About one-half of the software I use on a regular basis, I learned from working on SCA related projects. The map of the Allied States on the Jericho-Kansas website is done via a mapping program that I use for an SCA related project.

I learned about non-profits, from being the Secretary to the non-profit that was trying to buy land to hold SCA events on. I worked with the lawyer on the incorporation, and I worked with the real estate lawyer about the various properties we looked at. The non-profit knowledge I can use elsewhere, but I’m not sure I’ll ever find a use for the California water rights education.

Part II tomorrow.

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