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Lady Gianina The Wanderer, for Seneschal, June 2018

Greetings to all who come by these words!

This is to serve as my letter of intent to serve as Seneschal for this fine shire of Nahrun Kabirun in the southern Outlands. I do not do this lightly as I understand the weight of this office and the importance of handling it well. I understand that it is more than reading a book and sitting (or standing) at the head of the table for meetings. For a shire, it also involves knowing the will of the people within and assisting in guiding the course of the group.

I am a seasoned participant of the SCA. Recognitions that I have received from the Crown in addition to my own AoA include trefoil for fighting, Stag’s Heart, Stag’s Blood, and Argent Heart. I have served as event steward for various events. I have also helped other event stewards gain their footing in that role as well. I served for two years as knight marshal after serving as deputy knight marshal. I also served for a few years as deputy seneschal and have traveled the kingdom to Stag’s Con. I also have provided advice on numerous occasions to help others achieve success in their own Society-related endeavors.

I have no real political goals outside of building upon the work of my predecessors to ensure that we will have a healthy group for years to come. If selected, I will proceed in the following manner:

1) Provide a supportive platform for officers, autocrats, and instigators of fun and/or scholarly things.  

a) We are blessed with a strong officer base, but there is something to be said with simply checking in with them on a regular basis to make sure that needs are met and systems are put into place to ensure the support of those that fill those positions. Perhaps one might need an extra deputy or two with specific tasks that would make an office less draining or give it more momentum towards a certain goal of the officer.

b) We have some seasoned autocrats as well as others willing to learn. For those that are new or would like to learn, I want to make sure that systems are in place to ensure their success. If an autocrat is struggling with something, we need to be able to look at the causes and in addition to working together toward a solution for the situation at hand. Rather than scrutinizing individuals, we should look at the bigger picture to see where we can prevent future struggles by others when undergoing the occasionally daunting prospect of becoming an event steward.

c) Instigators… of these we have plenty and they have brought about wonderful things within our group. Sometimes these ideas take flight with no issue. Sometimes they need some structure and guidance from others to increase their chance of success. Essentially I want to provide an environment where those with more scholarly pursuits can feel free to flourish while those that live on the sillier side of the SCA can have fun. All while ensuring that these variants respect each other’s activities. Not that these activities must be mutually exclusive. Sometimes they overlap and compliment each other. It’s important that these sides recognize each other and support each other where needed to ensure our continued success. I honestly want people to feel that if they want to see more of a certain thing within our group (or within the Society for that matter) that it’s perfectly okay to step up and help that thing come to pass.

2) Provide for the growth and stability for the shire. Some may argue that this falls strictly under the purview of the chatelaine’s office, but I would argue that every member of the shire bears some form of this responsibility.

a) Provide a “Bonnie” deputy to work under the chatelaine – Some of our more seasoned members might remember the role that a beloved, departed, member of the shire filled for us when we were regaining our footing as a group. Bonnie kept tabs on our newer folks (myself included) and gently kneaded them back into the fold when they started showing signs of “wandering off” from playing with the group. I would like to continue that gentle support for some of our newer member to help them find places where they can be useful or connected with others that share their interests. As we are getting bigger, this is getting to be a bit more of a challenge for us and I would like to provide a way for us to help the newer folks feel included.

b) Provide another deputy under the chatelaine in conjunction with the seneschal to work as an “alumni liaison” – Some of you may have noticed that some of our more seasoned members are starting to float away here and there. Reasons do vary for departure, but we want someone to check in with them, say hello, help provide avenues for their increased participation (without being needy or demanding), as well as communicating back on un-addressed issues or missed opportunities to improve retention of our SCA friends.

c) Uphold our “don’t be a jerk” policy – those of you who remember when Sheikh Omar was seneschal will remember a policy that he initiated: “If you are having fun, tell everyone. If you are not having fun, tell me.” This policy predated the BOD’s anti-harassment policy, and now it is reinforced by it. Having the group’s buy-in to communicate issues up the “chain of command” as they happen rather than let things simmer and affect the morale of the group will continue to be crucial not to just our group’s stability, but the stability of our Society as a whole. We have been wonderful role models as a group, and I would love to see us continue in that aspect.

Anybody can work to help these things come about, but the real question is: “Why Gianina?” The answer is that I have had time to gain necessary experiences in both the SCA and in my mundane life with what works in moving something towards a long-term goal. I have traveled the Kingdom and seen groups have challenges and successes. I have seen approaches that work as well as others that needed some modification. Most importantly, I know that I do not know the best answer for each challenge that we may face going forward, but I do have resources I can call upon when uncertainty arises. I understand the mindset of the current kingdom seneschal with regards to maintaining communication and encouraging others to do the same. In addition to understanding the kingdom seneschal handbook, she has requested that each group to start building its own local handbook for seneschals. This book is to include local customs and traditions that this group holds dear. This will include but is not limited to the rationale behind why we do things the way that we do them.

In closing, my goal for this group is simple: build a strong, thriving, happy group that I can return to year after year. It won’t matter to me in the future if the group pursues baronial status or not. What will matter to me is that my chosen family is doing well. I doubt anyone can disagree on this point. 

So please consider me. Let me continue the work that others have begun in making this group great. Most importantly, let me assist the group in laying and reinforcing the strong foundation on which it can build anything that it chooses. This is my family and I want to see it thrive.

Yours in Service,

Gianina the Wanderer
mka Jennifer McConnell