I wanted to cast a spotlight on our Business Meetings because there are some misconceptions as to their purpose and who is “allowed” to attend. In order to address some of this, I had started including the following paragraph at the end of the information about the next Business Meeting:
The Officers of the Debatable Lands are elected by the membership and is made up of members of the populace, just like you. The Officers are responsible for ensuring that the policies of the Kingdom and Barony are followed and are accountable to the populace of the Debatable Lands. The Business meeting is open to everyone in the Barony and attendance by the populace is encouraged. Have a thought you’d like to share with the Officers? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is absolutely true. Everyone is invited to attend Business Meetings and everyone is encouraged to do so. Attending gives you the opportunity to understand more about the non-profit business side of the organization and an opportunity for the populace to hold us accountable as Officers.
To give you an idea of what happens at an Officer’s Meeting, here is an annotated version of the general Agenda that we follow for each meeting:
Meeting opens at 8:00 p.m
The Seneschal announces that we are going to get started. This is done as close to 8:00 p.m. as possible. Prior to the Seneschal starting the meeting, they will have already checked off who is in attendance and listed who else is attending the meeting. This is to create a record of which officers have attended, if there are any proxies (which I will explain in a moment), who those proxies are, and to ensure that the record of who attended the meeting is as accurate as possible.
Proxies are someone that is representing the officer for the purpose of the meeting. They would also carry the vote of that officer and cast it appropriately for any known business.
The Officers of the Barony are responsible for reading the minutes of the previous meeting prior to the next meeting. The minutes are made available prior to the following meeting, at least three days before the meeting. They are posted again the day of the meeting. Anyone attending the Business Meeting should also take the time to review the minutes. This will help give you a sense of context to some of the discussion and will also allow you the ability to ask any specific questions that you may have about what was done in the previous meeting.
Each officer of the Barony then gives a report that is recorded into the minutes. Often when an officer is unable to attend, they will send a pre-written report that is then either read into the minutes or included in the minutes as a cut/paste of what was sent by the officer. This is where we talk about what we’re doing, what plans are coming up, events that have just happened or may be coming up. Anything that pertains to the officer’s area of responsibility.
What about Guilds?
Guilds are defined in Corpora as:
E. Unofficial Entities
In many kingdoms, there are groups in which many people participate but which are not formally recognized by the Society. These can range from highly structured guilds to loosely associated camping groups. Entities that fall into this category can have many names, including but not limited to households, guilds, ships, and clans. Although these entities are not recognized by the Society in any formal way, some kingdoms have awards that can be given to these groups. Because they are not official Society groups, unofficial entities cannot sponsor Society events.
This does not mean that guilds are not important, because they are. This means that guilds are free to structure themselves in any way and are free to engage the populace in whatever way that they believe best serves the populace. It also means that guilds can dissolve or create themselves as needed without paperwork or any official intervention. People who are not members of a guild are in no way restricted from doing any art or science for which there may or may not be a guild for. It’s a learning opportunity like so many things in the SCA. We encourage guilds to report at the Business Meeting, but they must contact the Seneschal prior to the meeting to be placed on the Agenda.
What about Baronial Positions?
These positions include Gold Key, Iron Key, Steward, Signet, Dark Pages Editor, Historian, and Minister of Youth. These are also unofficial positions, some of whom report into the Exchequer because they have Baronial property that must be accounted for and reported on yearly. We also encourage Baronial Positions to report at Business Meeting, but also must contact the Seneschal prior to the meeting to be placed on the Agenda
After Officer’s Reports a number of things may be on the Agenda:
Reports from Guilds and/or Positions
Event Reports – Income generated (or not generated) by any events held since the last Business Meeting. Given by the Exchequer.
Letters of Intent – We choose our Officers by vote. The way to get on the ballot is to send in a letter of intent to the Office you wish to volunteer for, copying the Seneschal. The Seneschal’s office requires a letter to the Seneschal with a copy sent to the Baronage. ANYONE may vote in an election for any position as long as an officer does not call for an Officers Only vote.
Event Bids – Any event bids that you have to bring before the Officers. It is preferred to have event bids at least two weeks prior to the Business meeting so everyone has time to review it and include a link to it in the published agenda. Only members of the Financial committee may vote on the final approval of funding for any event.
Budget Meeting – We hold our annual budget meeting in April of each year and everyone is invited to come and discuss how we are planning to spend money in the barony in the upcoming year. This is also a great place to discuss what kind of fundraisers can be done for the Barony prior to clearing it with the Kingdom Exchequer. Only members of the Financial committee may vote on the final passage (or not) of the budget. BUT everyone may put in a funding request and may engage in the discussion about how Baronial funds are to be spent to ensure that their opinions are heard.
How to know what to vote on?
Our Baronial Policy states:
Unless otherwise stated, decisions of the officers are by consensus of the people attending a scheduled officers meeting at which a majority of the Officers are present. An individual may cast only one vote. Officers may be represented by proxy. Only the members of the Financial Committee may vote on financial decisions. Any Officer may call for an Officer Only vote, in which case each Office gets one vote, with a simple majority of the votes cast deciding the issue.
To close the meeting, someone must move that we vote on closing the meeting, then second it. Then a vote of simple majority is taken and the meeting is adjourned if the majority agrees to it.
So, while this is very long and digs a lot into how we as an organization structure things down to the Baronial level, I hope that I have answered most questions that people may have about attending the Business Meeting. It is a completely open meeting that anyone may attend and you are encouraged to participate in this part of the organization just as you are welcome to participate in any other aspect of the organization.
If you have any questions, or need more information, please contact me, Odriana vander Brugghe at seneschal (at) debatablelands (dot) org.