Greetings from THL Eliane, the Kingdom Chatelaine!
By the time you read this, the snow will be gone (I promise!) and SCA activities will be starting to move outdoors again. Many of you will hold fight practices and other activities in parks, yards, or other public places. How are you going to call attention to passersby? (I mean, besides hitting each other over the head with sticks.) Half the people I know in the SCA found out about it by walking or driving past a practice one day. To keep recruiting people this way, we must a) foster a welcoming attitude towards passersby, and b) give them something to take away from their chance encounter with the Middle Ages
You can do these things, without a lot of effort. For the first, consider putting up a sign or banner with the name of your group and “Society for Creative Anachronism” on it. Even if there’s no room for a welcoming message, just the fact that you’ve put a sign up will make people feel more comfortable approaching. A place to sit down with someone and talk (picnic table, chairs) will help keep the person there and listening, as will some kind of beverage (you keep water on hand for your fighters anyway, right?).
But the main thing that will make people feel like they can approach the gathering is the simplest: there has to be a person there to make eye contact with them, meet them as they approach, and say hello. This need not be the group Chatelaine, but it should be someone welcoming and knowledgeable about the SCA. At least during the glory days of spring, when it seems like everyone wants to be outdoors, make sure you have someone like this at your outdoor practices—and that (s)he is not embroiled in the fight practice and unavailable for conversation.
As for giving people something to take away, why not an SCA business card? If you did not have the foresight to buy some SCA cards from Friedrich last year, you can make your own—your local office supply store has inkjet-printable postcards and business cards that you can design on an average, everyday computer using Microsoft Word or other design programs. There’s no need to create thousands of these; you can print up a few pages at a time (in case contact info changes) and hand them out sparingly, one to each individual or family that expresses real interest.
If you need space for more information than you can fit on a card, flyers are even easier to design on the computer, or in case your local computer geek is unavailable, they can be hand-designed, typed, or pasted-up using clip art.
Minimum information that should be included on cards or flyers: Name of the local group, name of the organization, mundane and SCA name of the Chatelaine (or Seneschal if there isn’t a Chatelaine), the geographical area your group covers, whatever contact information this person deems appropriate, the group’s webpage address if there is one, the Northshield web address, and a short blurb or sentence describing what the group does. Optional information might include times/dates/locations of upcoming meetings, a short list of activities to pique someone’s interest, a catchphrase of some sort, and the group’s heraldry or other illustration that brings medieval-ness to mind.
If you’re stuck for text/design ideas for these publicity items, contact me. I have a binder of paper examples that I can easily scan or mail a copy, and some electronic examples. Also, I’m a bard; one of the things I do is write stuff...! My contact information is under “Deputies and Lesser Officers of State” in the back of this issue.
Remember, be friendly to prospective newbies, because someday they may be King (or Queen)!
Yours in song and service,