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What to know before we go to our first SCA (Society for Creative Anachronism) event?

 
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There is a big SCA event in town this summer and I'm tempted to go.  But it's daunting for newcomers because the organization has been around for years.  There is a code of conduct, and you have to wear special clothes and... ug.  So scary.  I might not go.  But there are also going to be vendors there and I would love to get some tools and supplies for a historybounding project I'm working on.   They usually have really high-quality stuff for sale at bigger SCA events, so it's worth going just for that.

As I'm making these decisions and researching more about this event, I got to thinking that 1) this is totally relevant to permaculture and 2) I might not be the only one asking these questions.  So I start this thread as a way to get to know what the SCA is, why it's relevant to permaculture, and what do we need to know before we go to the first event?  

And before we get started, my confession: it's not my first event.  I have dabbled but haven't been for 10+ years, so I expect lots has changed (I know the research material available for garb certainly has) and a lot hasn't changed.  But I thought it would be fun to go over it as if it was my first event for future readers.

What is it?

The Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) is a great way to learn about the Middle Ages, mostly European history, but also globally.  

The SCA is a non-profit worldwide organization with over 60,000 people who re-create the Middle Ages from 600 to 1600 AD through songs, dance, clothing, weaving, combat, archery, metalworking and much more. Honour, chivalry and courtly love are valued highly in our society. We bring our knowledge, skills and love of history together in a safe and fun environment for all to enjoy.  


from here

and here you can find more about the history of the SCA

What's the SCA got to do with Permaculture?


Why is this interesting to permaculture?  Well, the skills and techniques used in SCA events are sustainable versions of what we do today.  Want to learn about sustainable clothing?  There's a class on how to spin yarn and classes on how to weave and sew.  Want to learn how to cook without modern gas or electricity?  Heck, there are even combat courses if that's your thing (the local group is so good at this, they have helped train local law enforcement in riot control).  Want to know how to make a waterproof tent out of 100% natural materials, build a house without nails, blacksmithing, brew your own mead, or figuring out the impossible requirements for making hard sole shoes without modern glues for your  PEP badge (spoiler: it's entirely possible)?  

What I find most interesting about the SCA is that it's not so much about recreating history, but about learning from history by experiencing aspects of it in a safe space.  




What if I want to go to a thing?

One of the neat things about the SCA is that each group has a person or committee that is dedicated to helping new people find their way.  It's suggested that you reach out to them before the event.   But even that is a bit scary.  What I found worked best is to casually mention in my circle that "hey, I learned about this neat thing called SCA ..." and it turns out that a whole bunch of my friends used to 'play'.  I can usually talk one (or many) into going to an event so I can just tag along with their circle.  But even if there aren't any friends going, the people at these events are hugely wonderful towards new people.

I have noticed that my local barony's website is woefully abandoned in favour of facebook.  We have events that have come and gone that still have a TBA page on the website.  That's one of the big reasons why I fell away from the local SCA - I don't facebook.  So if you aren't big into the Meta-verse, then keeping in touch with your local chatelaine (person who helps new people find their feet) is a big help.  

There's also a book called the Known World Handbook which is a great introduction to all things SCA (and also a great resource for someone wanting to learn about the skills and techniques without actually going to a thing).  Everything you need is there to learn how to make your own garb.

What to wear

And this is the really important thing it turns out.  The thing that EVERYONE feels necessary to go on and on about when they find out you are new.  The story of the person that showed up in inappropriate clothing.

We don't have to wear 100% historically accurate clothing, but we need to make some sort of effort to fit in to the ambience.  They call it Garb and if you don't have any, you can often buy or rent clothing at an event.  This is different from a costume in that it's practical clothing, just from a different time period.  

It's basically about not killing the vibe.  A bit like Larping, a bit like cosplay, but with a longer tradition and more, um... I don't even know how to describe it.

If you enjoy the event and want to start going to more, you might build a persona.  Choose a time period (it could be one year or it could be a range) and start to build clothes and gear based on that.  But it's easy to start with the really basic generic 'middle ages' garb and build on that slowly.   After the basic kirtle or t-tunic, the next thing to get is a belt and a wool blanket.  It's incredibly versatile and since many events happen outdoors, having a giant blanket that can be a skirt or a cloak or a shelter or something to sit on, or whatever you need helps make the events more enjoyable.  

I don't fit in my old garb anymore and my kirtle certainly won't be done in time.  So I'll go for Historically Adequate rather than historically accurate.  

What to do

As much or as little as you like.  I'm an introvert and I find it helps to have a bit of handcrafting on the go while at an event.  Something portable like hand sewing.  But nothing too modern like knitting.

Something I noticed is a big thing, at least in our local group, is that people are always ready to offer help.  But they OFFER help.  You can say yes, and then get help.  Or, you can also say no, and they don't help.  It's not like most social settings where people 'help' without asking (and their help usually involves quickly undoing the thing I just took ages to do and then get huffy when I ask them to undo their help)


Anyway, that's a n00b's first impression of the SCA.   I'm sure I missed loads and hopefully, people can chime in with questions and if there is anyone here in the SCA, maybe you can share your experience.  
 
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I absolutley loved the SCA events I have been to.  My experience is that everyone was very welcoming and encouraging.  There were few folks who made me feel out of place.  The most important thing I have found is to have fun and let yourself get into it as much as you want to!

I have been wanting to find an event in my area - or something similar.  The closest thing we have to SCA or traditional skills is a recreation of the civil war.  =(  While there are a lot of great skills to learn there, I find it to not suit me.
 
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It looks like you might be in the same SCA kingdom as Raven and I: An Tir. I went to their website and put in a random Yakima zip code, and it brought up the Vulcanfeldt barony.

From what I understand (and I've never been part of the SCA), a "Kingdom" is a large portion of the world. There's 20 of them right now:

all the regions of Society of Creative Anachronism
SCA world map


Here's a handy-dandy place to find out what kingdom encompasses where you live: Kindgom Lookup Tool

And then, within each kingdom, there's more local groups, called  Cantons, Shires, or Baronies.

It looks like your Barony of Vulcanfeldt has weekly fight practices/gatherings? I'm not sure what happens at a fight practice. Raven, do you know if people just fight, or if other things happen at those type of events?

Looking at their facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/Vulcanfeldt/), it looks like their Wars (like the Baroness War and Oasis War) are pretty big events. Raven, are random people welcome at those?
 
Nicole Alderman
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My family and I recently went to an SCA event, but it was one that was open to the public, called the Ursulmas. Apparently it's one of the bigger events for the An Tir kingdom, and hosted by its Aquaterra barony.

Thankfully, I still had my medieval gown that I'm made back in high school (when SCA members actually came to our school and taught us about medieval times). They actually showed us all a easy way to make medieval garb using simple rectangles and triangles and our own measurements. Here's a few websites that show how to do that: 'T-tunic' - the period way Introduction to Garb: A Seminar. For those with kids, here's a great resource for making Medieval (or medieval-ish) garb for your kids Dressing Children in the SCA

Since I had a dress, I didn't need to worry about me, but I did want medieval garb for my kids and husband, especially since my kids had been learning about the medieval era at school that year. So, I used this tutorial: TUNICS FOR EVERYONE!. (here's the thread about making their garb Child's medieval dress--do I put in gores?)

My kids when they tried on their medieval garb at home. I just put plain sweat pants under their tunics to look historical-ish


The pattern is REALLY simple, and I just used sheets and curtains that I found at the thrift store. If you can get natural fibres, it's a lot nicer, and if you can curtains with nice visible weave, it looks more historical (and more comfortable). But honestly, it doesn't need to be perfect!

You can get all the pieces out of a single curtain or twin-sized sheet!


I love how simple the pattern is. It's just a bunch of rectangles and triangles. I actually sewed tunics for my whole family by hand, because my sewing machine is broken. Since most everything is nice straight seams, it actually sews pretty quickly, even by hand! No one seemed to care too much about pants or shoes--my kids and husband just had natural-colored pants and normal shoes, and no one seemed to notice.
20210619_153309.jpg
I made the garb for a different medieval event a few years back. It's not perfect, but it worked!
I made the garb for a different medieval event a few years back. It's not perfect, but it worked!
 
r ranson
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A Canadian perspective

 
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Howdy,
https://kobi5.com/news/local-news/the-society-for-creative-anachronism-hosts-principality-coronet-tournament-205520/
 
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Wow! I didn't know there were so many people here who knew about SCA! I went to my first event in the kingdom of Atlantia last year. King's Assessment. Making the garb was really fun and pretty simple, I had no unfriendly comment on material choices (which were not historically accurate). The few complaints I might have is that my Barony is not terribly organized or good at communicating and the Bard Circle was not kept at a PG 13 level for some of the songs. But we were welcomed with open arms and treated with respect and we had a blast! If you do not have garb, there is always someone who has something you can borrow or buy some from (We had like three different people offer to lend us some, and we already had garb in the works XD). I am so looking forward to going again this year!
 
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Hey All!  

The SCA, being an educational nonprofit organization, is always open to the public!  That said, some events may have pre-registation requirements for a number of reasons, so you might not be able to just walk on to the event.   It depends on the event.

That being said, GO! Have fun! Geek out on HISTORY!   If you make an attempt, like just throwing a tunic over your jeans, it is OK!   If you don't, it is OK AS WELL!   People will help you! Especially if you tell them it's your first time! :)  We were ALL first timers in the beginning!

If you like, shoot me an IM and I will get you in touch with some locals.

Sandy
 
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r ranson wrote:
What to do

As much or as little as you like.  I'm an introvert and I find it helps to have a bit of handcrafting on the go while at an event.  Something portable like hand sewing.  But nothing too modern like knitting.




OOo but you COULD do something totally **LIKE** knitting but not! NAALBINDING!

or Lucet cord making!  Kumihimo! Embroidery! Blackwork!  Couching gold thread to make shiny pretties! Don't get me started on the myriad of small hand held projects you can keep in your basket and pull out when needed to keep your hands busy...  Oh dear. I've already started. Now to go see what is in my basket...

Sandy
 
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I was a SCAdian practically back in Medieval times... I'm the reason Montana became part of West instead of Middle (at the time I was the one and only member in the entire several-state region, and MT was assigned to Middle, and I said, uh, 2000 miles is farther than 1000 miles...) Yes, at the time my nearest groups were Chicago and Sacramento, and there were far fewer kingdoms (this was even before Caid). My goodness, it sure has grown since then. Still no group local to me, tho I was a bit croggled to see one in... Shelby??!

 
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My husband and I were members of SCA decades ago in university. We never attended any of the really big gatherings due to other commitments and lack if time, but there were weekly things going on in Guelph ON where we were at the time. We both went to archery every week and some competitions, he learned leatherworking, and I continued to develop an interest I’d already had in stained glass and also sewed garb (with non historical materials on an electric machine but hand embroidered; no one was critical of these choices though). We attended quite a few feasts and events throughout southern Ontario. It was a lot of fun and we met some great people.

When we moved to the Maritimes things sort of lapsed, there were no groups nearby at the time, and we never got back to it.

It’s been quite a while but my recollection is that people were very generous with their time and not judgemental of newbies. Especially those who clearly were interested in learning. There was a wide range of authenticity. Lots of knowledge holders on topics from pre-industrial times and opportunities to learn, or to adapt to modern materials. Recall the word ‘creative’ in the organization’s name!
 
r ranson
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Looks like the shopping is going to be extra good this year.

https://www.victoriabuzz.com/2023/04/theres-a-medieval-market-coming-to-the-saanich-peninsula-next-month/
 
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Greetings,

I was petrified with social anxiety at my first event. Boyfriend at the time said it would be fun. I went in my everyday clothes, brought my typical picnic/camping food, and went with low expectations. Folks gave me the space I needed to relax. By the end of the weekend I was welcomed into my new home, was fed lots of yummy foods, listened to lovely music, and had offers of garb.  Oh, and the mead, get mead!

Go, make merry, make memories!

I became a merchant of handpainted, historically accurate games for the next 20 years. Huzzah!

~ Bryanna of Bryanna's Treasure Box, House of Redstone, Barrony of Aqua Terra, Kingdom of An Tir
 
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