What is a Member of Cynnabar? - A Personal Opinion by Midair MacCormaic

This question has occupied my mind for sometime: What do I think it means to be an active member of Cynnabar. That is, what does one have to do to consider themselves a member? When I started attending SCA meetings six years ago, I was told right away that I was a member of Cynnabar, that I had a vote in Privy (what we today call Council), and that I could be active in all aspects of Cynnabar right away.

But is that really true?

The following is my opinion of what a member of Cynnabar is. This is only what I think, not any sort of official policy statement that others must follow - it holds no weight at all. So why read this? Well, aside from my humble and modest opinion that my writing is always interesting and exciting, this article might make newer and not so new members think about what it means to be active in Cynnabar and how our group can grow and prosper.

I'd like to mention first that you do *not* have to be a paying card-carrying member of the Society for Creative Anachronisms to be a member of Cynnabar. You can still do anything you want in our group except hold and office and authorize for fighting (although you can still go to fighting practice). However, I do urge people to join the SCA. Our national organization helps us by providing insurance coverage for events, and for this alone I would support it. And as an added bonus, members get a nifty quarterly magazine and a monthly Kingdom newsletter that lists all the SCA activities in our area.
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You also don't have to attend Council (the monthly business meetings) to be a member of Cynnabar. Again, I strongly urge you to attend. This is where the decisions of Cynnabar get made: what events to run, how much money to spend and on what items, who our next officers should be, plus a variety of other issues. Everyone who shows up has a say in how these decisions are made, whether it is just agreeing that a particular decision is fine or by bringing up issues or problems that are important so the group can come to a consensus on what to do.

Attending the Monday night meetings is also not a prerequisite for being a member. Monday meetings are used for information exchange. It *is* a great way to meet other Cynnabar people, and to find out what is going on, but attending does not make you a member.

To me, being a member of Cynnabar is to be active in the SCA. Being active can take on many forms, but the main aspect of this is to not be isolated from others. For example, someone who is doing research on period footwear, and making said boots, but never showing anyone her work is, to me, not an active member of Cynnabar. She is doing great medieval research, and that is wonderful. But until the work is shared with others, this does not enable Cynnabar nor the SCA to grow and expand.

So to be a member is to be involved. If you do some research, share it with others in conversation, or better yet, in a workshop. Write up a nice article for the Citadel. Help out with the various projects that are going on in Cynnabar. Start one of your own projects for others to join in. Become active in one of the many diverse artist or marshal groups. If we are planning an event, volunteer to help (don't wait to be asked!). If you are at an event with some free time, ask if there is anything you can do (just wander in the kitchen, they will surely put you to work...). Join the Bedlam players, or the Madrigal group, and help to entertain all the good folk of the Known World. Come to a dance practice and learn not only some very courtly dances, but also the fine art of flirting. And then, take those dances with you and teach them at an event. Learn to make armor. Come to an archery practice or a fighting practice and spend some time outdoors while polishing a craft. The list of activities goes on and on, and they are usually announced every Monday night.

Getting involved in Cynnabar is easy, even when you first join. When I started here, I knew nothing about Cynnabar: how it works, what to do, and when to do it. So for my first couple of years I did not involve myself in the decision making process. But I helped where I could. At events I helped to set up and clean up. I brought food (inexpensive simple foods) to our small revels. I learned how to dance, and performed some of those dances at demonstrations. In this manner I met many wonderful people who are now my friends, and in the process I learned all about Cynnabar. After those first few years I broadened my involvement. I started to moderate Council meetings and organized specific portions of events. I even organized local revels.

It isn't hard to feel like a member of Cynnabar. Don't be put off if you don't know how to run a feast or organize a demo. Give it time, volunteer to help out, share your knowledge of aspects of the middle ages that you *do* know or have researched, and the rest will follow.


Last Updated: 28 June 98
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