Seneschal Spotlight: 2019 In Review

It’s the end of the year and the end of the decade and the usual thing to do is to write about the things that have happened in the last year. This is a view on the positives, negatives, and everything in between.

This is not going to be comprehensive and if I missed anyone, it is completely accidental.


  • The Baronial Position of Steward was held by Michelina for 16 years (2003-2019) and this year she chose to hand off the responsibility of storing/maintaining/etc. the Baronial Larder and Master Alaric MacConnell was selected to take on that role.
  • The Baronial Sewing Guild was generously hosted by Ts’vee’a for many years and was handed off to Hara, who has already been doing a wonderful job of filling some very difficult to fill shoes.
  • We created a new Newcomer’s Guild to help our new members find their way in the Barony and get more information about what it is that we do. Lord Ronan, Lady Svava, and THL Libby have been doing a great job running the meetings and getting things rolling. I can’t wait to see how this grows in 2020.
  • Elss of Augsburg stepped down as A&S Minister to focus more time on the Culinary Guild, which has been wonderfully active and a true pleasure to watch bloom over the last year.
  • Baroness Isabel Fleuritan became our new A&S Minister, her first time ever serving as an Officer of our Barony.
  • Lord Ronan took on the Archery Marshal position from THL Kathryn Tantzel after many years of service from her to the Barony in that job.
  • The Agincourt Event was passed on to me by Baroness Constance and Baron Liam. There are some awesome things in store for the 2020 event and I am humbled by their trust in me to carry this event forward.
  • Baronial Twelfth Night passed from the capable hands of THL Elss to THL Kathryn. Elss was the autocrat for this event for about five years.


  • We were in THREE parades this year, the most notable of which was the WPXI Thanksgiving Parade. We were invited because of our presence at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and Heritage Days in Lawrenceville. People loved seeing us and it was a heck of a lot of fun. We were even on television! Lord Yingurz and Lord Ronan were the masterminds behind making the parades as successful as they are.
  • Speaking of parades, Lady Kat Fixis, known as Vixxie, who has been instrumental with coordinating things on the back end with Yingurz is expecting a child!
  • The Woodworker’s Guild was activated by Master Ishiyama and has been a fantastic addition to the activities in our Barony.
  • The fencing community now has a monthly practice with the folks at Broken Plow. The ability to share knowledge between combat organizations only makes the martial community stronger.
  • Thanks to a robust training program built by Mistress Anna and Baroness Soteria, there were more MoLs trained in 2019 than previously. It’s always a pleasure to see more people finding something that makes them happy and feel like part of the Barony.

We lost some good people this year:

  • Alan and Fran Lefkowitz
  • Richard Berlin.

Thank yous

Thank you to the officers of the Barony, who donate their time and energy to helping make the Barony run as smoothly as possible: Baron Brandubh, Baroness Hilda, Maighster Kieran, THL Robert , Lady Arthes, Skjoldrbjorn, Baroness Isabel, Baroness Anna, THL Libby, Don Joundr, Lord Ronan, Lord Kuma, Lady Jasmine, Lady Gesa, and Baron Kameshima. Also, thank you to all of our Deputies who make our lives easier and ensure that we don’t have to learn the skill of cloning or bi-location. Your time and energy is deeply appreciated by all of us.

Happy New Year, Debatable Lands!

On a personal note: Thank you to Maighster Kieran, Lady Alethea, Baron Liam, Baroness Constance, Baroness Anna, Baroness Hilda, THL Murigheal, Lord Eamonn, Mistress Ts’vee’a, and my household Huis Witschoof for all of your support, love, advice, and guidance for the last four years while I have been Seneschal. I literally could not have done it without you.

Seneschal’s Spotlight: Business Meetings

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

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.

This is a copy of the attendance record for a recent Business Meeting. As you can see, we have run remote sessions in the past, but we have not done that for a while. Look for an announcement about that coming up soon.

Approve Minutes
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.

Officer’s Reports
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.

Close Meeting
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.