Order of Valiance

It’s been a busy week ’round these parts. And that’s why it took until late Friday afternoon for me to get a chance to sit down to write my letter to the BOD in support of the creation of the Order of Valiance. So here it is…

Dear members of the Board of Directors,

I am writing to you today to voice my support for the creation of the Order of Valiance to recognize activities within the society that do not fit neatly into the categories of Chivalry, Service, Arts & Sciences, and Defence. I am Alianor de Ravenglas (mka Sarah Michele Ford), Mistress of the Laurel and Companion of the Maunche (East). I have been a participant in the SCA for twenty years and in three Kingdoms (the Midrealm (and Northshield during the very early days of its principality) then the East, and now in Aethelmearc). I have been an officer of every local group I have ever been a member of, and in January I stepped down after four years in the office of Kingdom Minister of Arts and Sciences in Aethelmearc.

The way the Society currently operates with regard to the Peerages, is, for lack of a better metaphor, separate and unequal. Some activities in the Society – armored combat, service, arts and sciences, and now unarmored combat – are treated as “better” or “more legitimate” than archery, thrown weapons, equine activities, or siege activities. Participants in those activities are told that they should be satisfied with recognition at the Kingdom level. By denying them access to the Peerage, the Society is telling them that these activities – that their PASSIONS – are second-rate.

I can’t speak for the rest of the members of the Society, but one of the things that I love most about our game, one of the things that has kept me coming back for over half of my life, is the spirit of acceptance. The Society takes the people who might not fit in elsewhere and gives them a place to be themselves. It takes people whose interests might be looked at as weird elsewhere and nurtures those passions. But, right now, it only nurtures those passions to a point. If your passion doesn’t fit into one of five tidy boxes, you will have a much harder road to the Peerage.

And the people who inhabit those boxes are protective of them. The Laurels ask, “Are they doing masterwork-level research?” I assume that the Chivalry and the Pelicans ask equivalent questions. And yes – there are equestrians, and archers, and weapons-throwers who are doing Laurel-level research and Pelican-level service. (I feel less comfortable making that assertion on behalf of the Chivalry.) But getting a clear “yes” to that question is going to be harder for individuals in these disciplines than it was for me as a costumer, or than it is for the individual who heralds Kingdom court, or for the fighter who spends hours training and competing in tournaments and melees.

Is the archer who spends hours shooting with a reproduction bow and arrows contributing any less to our society? Is the equestrian who trains not only their own bodies and mind, but those of their mounts, contributing any less to our society? To both of these questions and myriad others, I say no. These people deserve better than separate-and-unequal from the Society that has nurtured those passions. They deserve access to the Peerage.

In service to the Society, I remain,
Alianor de Ravenglas
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