Recently, there was a Renaissance Faire in my neck of the woods. It was a first time affair, and months before it happened they had reached out to the SCA community for support and thoughts. The responses were... varied.
I went to the event on the one weekend they were open and rather enjoyed myself, as well as saw quite a few SCAdians there.
I was asked my thoughts, asked who I saw, and I responded that it was nice hanging out with three very different sets of people there:
Some were aloof and just checking out the space.
Some had jumped in head first and was ready to show off what they could do.
The other was just happy to be there and be a support without needing to be a major support.
The ones we didn't see were the ones who were flat out against the idea of Renaissance Faires because they were not period and do not fit into the ideals of the SCA. Which I can understand. I have many times wandered a Ren Faire and had to bite my tongue to keep from playing the 'that is so not period' game.
Suddenly it dawned on me: There are four factions to the SCA. I'm going to talk about them in general terms as well as in terms of the new people joining the SCA in hopes that the insight will help us, as a group, to determine how to go about creating safe space or havens of creativity for all the types of new people that will be coming to the SCA just like how the SCA was asked to join the Renaissance Faire.
The first group are those people who are experts in their field. They feel they know best and they are rather knowledgeable. If they do not see things being done to their code, they will not take part. They want things to be a certain way. People may view them as snobs or elite when, in reality, they only see a point in doing the things that are done to their standards and don't find a reason to waste energy when they are not. These traits, when found in newbies, can cause a very hard sell on the SCA. There are always going to be modern laxities that will make the purists uncomfortable. And when they are new to the SCA, they wonder why they bother if it isn't strict enough.
The next group are those who are cautious, trying to decide what is in it for them. They want to see if they can bring a certain type of glory by using things as a tool to get what they need or want out of it. They will do things if it will be a benefit to them, but otherwise they would typically steer clear. They are more cautious and aloof, watching from the sidelines to see what they can get out of things. A lot of newbies can be seen in this genre. Inviting them in to learn or showing them what they can gain is typically the goal in these situations, but it can be difficult because of their stance.
Another group is happy to jump in and very enthusiastic. They love what they do and are happy to show it off anywhere, teaching and talking to everyone they come across. They are the people you will find at every event with their hands into everything, just wanting to do it and try it all. They want to be seen in the sense of showing what they know and learning what they don't. These are a fantastic type of people and finding newbies in the SCA that are like this is a great find! Unfortunately, because of the 'have to do it all' attitude, they can burn out quite easily. These are the SCAdians that want to make and do and have a hard time sitting still. They want to be teaching classes, learning things from everyone they meet, and volunteer for any role the instant that there is a need/desire for filling it.
The last group just wants to be of support to anyone and everyone they come across. They see something that excites them and they don't necessarily -need- to be a part of it, but they are going to support it in a big way. Sometimes this just means going to the event as support for the autocrat or even going to a class they have no interest in just because they want to support their friend that is teaching it. They want to see things flourish and grow, even if they are not the ones that are doing it. Sometimes just being one of the number counts in a big way towards helping things lean in one direction or the other. This is an aspect seen in newer members in the SCA that are not sure where they fit in. They would like to be of help, but they want it to be something small or something where they can show support but can still sit on the sidelines and smile and have a good time without having to be on the field and fighting. They can easily be urged into the service field of helping out at troll or maybe serving tables during feast. I have seen quite a few SCAdians start in this manner.
These are all just different ways to enjoy what we do. I know people who fit into each of the categories and am proud to call them all friends. I have noticed me flipping back and forth between two of the categories and find I am quite happy to be filling both of them. You don't have to be just one of these. Some people hold various different traits depending on what part of their passion you are talking to them about. Some people want to support the arts even though they may not know a thing about it, but they dive into the enthusiastic marshal activities and may be very strict when it comes to heraldry. There is nothing wrong with it at all.
This is merely just to point out that we are all different and suppose we should be looking at all these different things and discussing what the best tactics are for each of the four factions when it comes to demos and trying to recruit new members.
This is also not to say there are only four attitudes in the SCA. These are just the most prominent ones that I have seen.