To 50 and BEYOND!

Did you think that AS 50 and our 50th anniversary having come and gone that the A&S 50 Challenge would be over and done? You, gentle reader, would be WRONG.

In creating the A&S 50 Challenge, I only used the ‘50’ part as a goal, and somewhat as a gimmick, to get people thinking and creating together as an ongoing community. Folks agree with me that is still a worthy goal, so we are moving into the next phase of our evolution.

The biggest issues that I (Albreda) thought we had during our pre-50 era were that the number of people interested in joining my little Challenge were orders of magnitude larger than I had anticipated, and technological issues around how I could make it so all Challengers could best communicate with each other. Now that I have a better idea of just how many people heard the chord I struck about our needing a non-competitive artistic community, I have planned better for our next era, and have also (finally!) lined up talented web development help to make the technology better meet our needs this time around!

So, what now?

Well, first of all, we are gearing up for the big exhibition celebrating our original A&S 50 Challenge at Pennsic! See our ‘Present’ page for more information on the exhibition and how to register to display!

Then, we are going to ditch the Yahoo group in favor of new forums here on our site. Wahoo!

Second, this website will house a collection of Challenger Portfolios, including photographs, performance recordings, and pdfs of research and class handouts. We are endeavoring to make these Portfolios both searchable to the public, and for each Challenger to be able to update their own Portfolio as they wish.

Lastly, and at the real heart of the A&S 50 Challenge as we head into our new era are what I’m calling Challenge Teams. These will ‘meet’ on the forums, and be divided up into whatever sort of affinity groups appeal to Challengers, whether they are focused on calligraphy or clock making, for Laurels who are looking to keep stuff fresh or folks brand new to the SCA, or for gentles from all over the Knowne World wanting to explore Japanese ikat weaving together or the Midrealm’s Pentamere region planning in-person workshops. Why on earth would we need these in the modern world of Facebook groups? Couple of reasons: even with group search, those FB groups can be hard to find, and aren’t always that supportive when you DO find them and get allowed to join. Also, they include members from outside the SCA, and while that is wonderful (looking at you, Historic Fabric Weaving), actually meeting up with those folks is exceptionally unlikely, and those groups likely won’t share our philosophical underpinnings, namely that we are mutually supportive, non-competitive, and welcoming. Also, by hosting all of these discussions *here*, we can drop in and ‘listen’ to see what is going on with the broader Challenge Community, and share the fun of discovery!

I am so excited to see what we get working on next, but, first, Pennsic! I hope to see you there!



Key elements of the new Challenge Teams format include:

We will keep the overarching general Challenge Community forum, akin to what we’ve had on Yahoo, for general chat and ‘yay you’ moments, for those who are happy with that format, and not looking for anything else. Challengers are not required to participate in any Challenge Teams at all.

Challengers can join, lurk, leave, or join again any group at any time. This is supposed to be FUN, not an obligation!

We are welcoming: every single Challenge Team will be open to any Challenger who wishes to join it. If Laurels just want to talk to Laurels, they have places to do that, as do regional groups. I find that the enthusiasm and unexpected questions of the total novice or curious bystander often open up my own thinking in new and exciting ways, and being a fly on the wall is a wonderful way to learn or mentor or just be curious.

Challenge Teams will set their own goals, but members of the Team are welcome to follow along without participating in that goal or timeframe. This allows Teams to motivate and support one another while still including those who simply don’t have the ability or inclination to jump into a specific Team Challenge. That way they can still enjoy being in and contributing to a community of people who are tackling projects and discussions that interest them.

The timeframes for these new Challenge Goals do NOT all converge on a set date, like the 50th birthday of the SCA, but can be set to meet the goals of our Challengers as Teams see fit. For some, a long timeline is necessary, like if one is taking on a *huge* project, or for example if they are raising small children, or taking on more responsibilities at work, but still want to feel like they are moving forward in their A&S projects in a mindful and meaningful way that may involve more planning while stuck in traffic than it does hours in the workshop. On the other hand, Challenge Teams may choose to have very short and focused timelines, say to get a new cotehardie done for Pennsic, or to write up documentation prior Kingdom A&S Championship season. Whatever works for the Team is fine by me!

Challengers will continue to determine their own success on their own terms. If the Team decides to take on the Challenge of making a new cotehardie before Pennsic and the Challenger successfully creates a block so they have a pattern to work from, and feels good about that, they win. The role of Teammate is to be supportive of all members of their Team regardless of what they do or do not accomplish towards what the Team chooses as a goal.