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RE: a new idea

Poster: E L Wimett <SILVERDRAGON@Charleston.Net>

>> Poster: Logan & Arielle <sirlogan@mail.clt.bellsouth.net>

>> First, when all of the letters come from the same zip code it raises
>> flags.  Second, when neither of us had ever heard of the individual (believe me
>> when I tell you that is next to impossible for someone getting a Peerage
>> recommendation) it also raises flags.  Third, when we called people who sent in
>> recommendations on "Lord Bob, who should be counted amongst Atlantia's
>> Laurels/Knights/whatever"  and asked them questions that they could not answer
>> (i.e. "Why"?) ...........well you get the idea.  The main point that I would like
>> to make is simply this;  if you see something that you feel is inspiring, and you
>> think that it is not a fluke or spur of the moment action on a person's part,
>> think about writing a letter.  If the action in question is something that you
>> find to be an asset to the society and the game then think about why.  Put those
>> ideas into a letter of recommendation and mail it to those that can
>> reward/recognize that work.  It really is a simple process.  What you don't need
>> to do is talk about things like "Well I think Lord Bob is a nice guy, and when he
>> asked me to be part of his household at my second SCA meeting I was so overwhelmed
>> by his generosity that I.......get it?".  That's it

Hear! Hear!

I was hoping that someone else would note these problems, preferably someone --- as is here the case --- who had been intimately involved with the awards process.

While not as authoritative in one sense, my comments are based on many years of interactivity with the royalty of several kingdoms (mainly East, Middle and Atlantia, though I had constant contact with most of the others during my tenure as Laurel), as a precedence officer (4 1/2 years in the East, 5+ years in Atlantia) and as a member of several polling orders, including two peerage orders (Pelican since 1983, Laurel since 1989).  I also served as secretary of the Order of the Pelican in the East for several years, during that time doing the polling and occasionally the response collation for the royalty.  As such I closely observed the award granting process in the beginning, middle and end, you might say.

And, when I heard the idea of the "new idea", I had the same reaction that I have had in the past to "petition drives".  For all the reasons Duke Logan has cited, this is a poor idea.  More than half the royalty I have dealt with have almost automatically discarded any nomination made solely through a petition or by "form letters".  (And your royalty are NOT stupid, no matter what some people --- including some members of the peerage --- think: they can spot when the verbiage, including all the reasons for giving an award are in exactly the same words even if in different handwriting!!!)

Cliques are part of it.  Group pressure is often a contributing factor too.  If someone brings a petition to a group meeting (household, shire, Barony, it matters not) or a sample letter that they want people to copy, it often puts folk on the spot.  Even if they do not really feel the individual has earned an award, they may feel pressure to "go along", especially if the individual is personally popular --- or if they themselves like the individual.  

Have I actually seen this happen?  Yes.  Have I seen this happen in verbal discussions in peerage meetings and other meetings of polling orders? Yes.  That is one of several reasons why the requirement for written pollings that the East (and until recently Atlantia) had was put in place.

The advice I have always given to people asking me how to get someone an award is this:

1.  If you really feel that a person deserves an award, write a letter to the Crown (with a copy to the principal of a polling order if you wish, though it is not required).

2.  If you cannot think of at least two or three reasons why an award should be given (not counting "he is a really nice person"), you probably should not write that letter.

3. You should give at least as much time to considering and writing the letter as the ruling noble (baron, prince, king) will spend in bestowing the award in court. 

4. If you do not feel strongly enough about a person's worthiness for an award to spend the time and trouble to write a letter ***in your own words***, then you obviously do not think the person REALLY deserves the award.  (Note this does not mean you cannot ask a friend or a significant other to proof the letter for spelling and grammar.)

Extra Credit Rule #1: If the person in question is your significant other or best friend, think three times about writing the letter or bringing their name before your order.  If nobody else thinks highly enough of your love to write that letter, then it is probably not time for the award.  

I personally feel that running "petition drives" for higher level awards is tacky, although I know of several efforts in that direction in this kingdom and others currently and in the past.  Most have ended up in hurting the chances of the individual being "boosted" for shorter or longer periods and, in a couple of cases I am aware of in other kingdoms, even though the award was eventually bestowed in later reigns, cast a permanent shadow over the award, even though it was well justified when it was given.

One other thing should be stressed that is often misunderstood by those outside polling orders --- and some inside:

The royalty must take advice of their peers and such polling orders as kingdom law requires.  They do not have to listen.  Even if the entire order  unanimously recommended an award be given, it is the right and privilege of the Crown to refuse to bestow it.  Even if the entire order unanimously opposes an award, it is the right and privilege of the Crown to bestow it.  We may not be happy about it.  We may question the Crown's wisdom (and indeed it is an imprudent Crown that routinely ignores the views of those who are polled).  But the Crown has the full right and power to be a Fool.

Alisoun (Bambi Classic)
Trying hard not to sound like an "Old Fart"

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