The West Kingdom Welcome Committee
- Who and Why -
(by Frederick of Holland)
Who is the WKWC?
We are a group of subjects of the Crown of the West who are opposed to the Board-mandated Non-Member Surcharge (NMS). (The WKWC is the brain-child of Duke Frederick of Holland, but he has been joined in this enterprise by a number of other folk, almost all of them paid members.) We feel that the NMS is contrary to the ancient traditions of the Kingdom, and are pledged to fight it. We are offering to pay the NMS for anyone at those events in the West for which the Board has said the NMS must be collected. We have pledged to do this for at least the entire year of 2003.
Why are we doing this?
The Board of Directors of the SCA, Inc. has instituted a Non-Member Surcharge on all regular events. Such a surcharge goes against the ancient customs and traditions of the West. The West has never had a differential pricing policy for events with respect to membership/non-membership. We have never required membership for any activity not mandated by the Board of Directors. This is, in our opinion, A Good Thing. It is welcoming to new people, who may be hesitant about becoming active in a group as obviously different as ours. It allows people who cannot afford membership to continue to participate and to contribute to our unique collaboration in building an unusual society. It encourages volunteer activity, even in those who have come to their first event. It recognizes that the SCA is built both on money and on work. (In the recent past our Kings and Princes have taken to calling up those people who are at their first event, and recognizing them: I think it is wonderful that so many of them have had to be called out of the kitchen or from other areas where they were helping make the event a success.)
(I would also note that the West Kingdom non-policy seems to result in our having more paid members than many other Kingdoms which have a regular policy of "membership discounts" at events. While the current ratio (at large events) is on the order of 30% of the attendees being "non-members", this number is well below the 60% to 80% reported by some other Kingdoms.)
The SCA started out as a group of people working together to make something new. Even though it has grown tremendously over the years that is still how it operates at a local level (and by "local" I mean Kingdom and below). Without the work of many, many people at all levels of commitment we would not have any events, ever. This is even more true for inter-Kingdom events. The SCA, Inc. does not provide funds or labor to run events; its job is a different one - providing a consistent super-structure, a convenient central purchasing agent for insurance, and a court of last resort for problems which cannot be solved at the local level. These functions are valuable, but they are not over-riding.
The SCA as a whole needs both work at the local level and money at the corporate and local level -- one is not "better" than the other. The SCA, Inc., in the form of the Board, has never recognized this in any fashion. In fact, the Board has imposed ever-increasing "membership" requirements on the SCA as a whole, starting shortly after the incorporation of the SCA, despite the fact that there is no legal standing to what we call membership. (There are no legal members of the SCA, Inc., not even the Board of Directors.) All "membership benefits" of the SCA, Inc. are artificial and restrictive, designed to coerce membership in the group and increase income to the central SCA, Inc. The Board has never once in its long history of ever-increasing membership requirements and periodic "financial crises" asked for money. It has always been demanded.
When the Board tried an NMS the last time, in 1994, the West said "No." The West paid the demanded money in advance, counted "members" and "non-members" (as was required) and begged extra money from the populace (and built a little into site fees). This was in response to a reported financial crisis. I was proud of our Kingdom; we helped the SCA, Inc., but we did it our way - we kept our tradition. When the "financial crisis" was over, the NMS was dropped.
This time the Board, through its Corporate officers, won't allow us to do it that way. Further, this NMS is not a temporary imposition to clear a financial crisis - it is intended to be a permanent addition to the income stream of the SCA, Inc. It is clear that this NMS is meant to penalize "non-members", no matter how much they may be giving in labor at the local level. These people are valued by me and by those who have gathered with me in the WKWC. So we are offering to pay their ransom - because that's what it is. We are doing this because we oppose the idea that contribution to the SCA is only monetary, because we defend the traditions of the West and because we are romantic fools who believe that the SCA is able to be truly different and not just another "club I sometimes do things with on weekends." (The SCA already is different - why should we not glory in it?)
We believe that coercion is worth fighting against. We believe that freedom of choice (whether to become a member or not) is worth defending. We believe that being different is good. We are not opposed to people supporting the SCA, Inc.; most of us are members. We are opposed to such support being forced on people. We are dismayed by the lack of trust and faith in people displayed by the Board of Directors, especially in the light of the emphasis on honor and chivalry in the group as a whole.
The WKWC is accepting donations and offers of help from any who wish to give. Please send donations to Frederick of Holland, Flieg Hollander, 3334 California Street, Berkeley, CA 94703, or see me at any event. (Checks may be made payable to "Frederick Hollander-WKWC".) The WKWC is a private concern, so donations to the WKWC are NOT tax-deductible. Web presence at http://xray.cchem.berkeley.edu/flieg2/wkwc.
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