(The following is a letter Albreda wrote to introduce the concept behind the Challenge back in July of AS 42.)
Unto all good gentles of the Known World does Lady Albreda Aylese send greetings!
The Society for Creative Anachronism celebrates its 50th year on May 1, 2015, and that will be cause for much celebration. I am starting early, and I hereby invite you to join the party!
Challenges have long been a part of Scadian culture, and I thought that a challenge of 50 things seemed appropriate for our 50th year. Since years in the SCA are counted as Anno Societatis, (year of the Society,) or AS, and Arts and Sciences (the lovely canopy under which so many of my interests rest) is oft abbreviated A&S, the A&S 50 Challenge was born.
The A&S 50 Challenge can take one of two forms; either Depth or Breadth. The Depth Challenge is to create/do 50 of any one thing - make 50 pairs of shoes for your Shire, pen 50 scrolls for your Kingdom signet, cast 50 coins blanks, make 50 pieces of garb, judge 50 competition entries, teach 50 classes, perform 50 songs, or even write a 50 page research paper; if you want to take your current work to a new level, doing 50 of it is bound to carry you a long way towards that goal! The Breadth Challenge can be about either trying new things, (either completely new to you, variations on things you have done before, or even new to your household, local group, or even Kingdom), or about creating a complete persona package (things that your persona would know about, have, and know how to do). Both individuals and groups may enter, and can choose to complete as many Challenges of either type as they please!
The purpose of the Challenge is twofold; to learn and share of our learning, and to create and share of our creation. While we are edifying and beautifying our fair lands, we will also be serving both our populace and The Dream, and helping to make the SCA the very best it can be as it enters its 50th year.
That all sounds very grand, and grand is good, but please allow me to speak plainly...
Most of us in the A&S community struggle to get past the novice/intermediate level; not knowing how to proceed, who to talk to for advice, what the latest research says, what about our work could use improvement or how to make those changes. We lack a clearly marked path upon which to journey towards excellence, and we lack support along the way.
The SCA has a huge resource base that can light our path; our Laurelate and members of Kingdom A&S orders. They are veritable fonts of wisdom, but they aren't mind readers (they don't know who we are, or what we want from them), and have limited time and resources themselves, much of which they need as they continue along roads of their own.
Thus, one of the main purposes of this Challenge is to meet other travellers, and perhaps, to begin to walk together, and show each other the way. Each of us, no matter where we are on our journeys, has something to share with our fellow Challengers; complete novices can share enthusiasm, beginners can share discovery, intermediates the processes by which they solve problems, and experts can share of their experience and resources. Hopefully we can blaze, mark, and illuminate trails, not only for each other, but also for those who have yet to even set their feet upon the path.
Being new at something is an amazing experience; enthusiasm and that sense of discovery are just plain contagious. The second goal of this Challenge is to get everyone feeling this by trying new things. There are SO many Arts and Sciences that were practiced in period that we just don't see much of in the SCA. People DO practice these diciplines, but often in isolation (and, unfortunately, frustrated obscurity) because they think others just aren't interested in them, when, in reality, most people just haven't been *exposed* to them. Trying something, even just once, even if it doesn't give someone a fully working knowledge of a given art or science, CAN give one a better appreciation of the work, and the people who do it, both in an historical context, and within our own Society.
When you put these two goals together, you end up with our motto "to learn and share of our learning, and to create and share of our creation." Our Society is full of passionate, skilled and knowledgable people, all of whom share our Dream. It is my hope that this Challenge can make it just a little bit sweeter, a little bit richer, for all of us.
Yours in Service,
Lady Albreda Aylese,
Shire of the Mountain Freehold,
Kingdom of the East
July 6th, AS 42 (2007)
(last modified July 16, AS 42)