Coronet Selection

For 55 years, the SCA has always chosen its Coronets and Crowns via an armoured combat tournament. The possibility of a different coronet selection process - quite possibly a range of them - is deeply interesting to many NZ SCAdians and has already generated many ideas and discussions.

Ultimately, whether we get to do this while forming a regular Principality is something that only the US BoD can decide.

To help your own consideration of the possibilities, you may appreciate the dialogue below between Katherina (roman text) and Kazimira (italics). You can find this dialog - and much more besides - by joining the NZ Selection mailing list and then reviewing its archives.

See also:

Alternate Selection - Why Us? Why Now? - Bartholomew, April '21

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Choosing a Selection Method

A dialogue between Katherina Weyssin and Kazimira Suchenko

Katherina: What does a 'good selection method' accomplish? ... I previously wrote a bunch about what I want (e.g. inclusivity is really important to me). Here are some things other people have told me are important to them. Feel free to suggest more items!

-- striving The idea that being coronet is something you have to work - strive - to attain. It shouldn't just fall in your lap with little effort, no matter how worthy you are.

Kazimira: I like this notion, though it would seem to rule out some of the quasi-voting permutations. There's also the comparison to be made with the current system -- how do you align competition/striving/earning with fitness to rule?

Or is fitness to rule not actually a criteria? I've heard the argument made that it needn't be -- see below.

-- competition that is exciting to watch Competition, but not just any competition - one that will have us all watching, breathless, able to see progress of contestants moment-by-moment, alive to each change of fate...

-- competition - valuable to participants This is related to "striving", above, but it's not quite the same - a sense that "winning a competition" is different from "being chosen". One is gaining something yourself, the other is being given something.

I see the distinction. Where would you put this, or the others, on your moscow list? (

-- tradition Tradition can be a good of itself - we can be attached to the customs and rituals we've held for a long time.

We can be, but we should also feel empowered to mutate, adapt, or outright discard them if they no longer suit us. I see this sort-of meta discussion as figuring out what *does* suit us.

A quote y'all may have heard already, but which may bear repeating: Tradition is a passing on of flame, not a worship of ashes. Think of flames -- living, ever-changing -- and passion. What about the SCA -- about the parts of it specifically that are touched by ruling monarchs -- are you passionate about? How do we pass those parts forward?

It may be time for a good bonfire.

-- same custom as rest of SCA world Choosing coronets in the same way as the rest of the SCA will neither bring us closer nor drive us further from the rest of the SCA world. Choosing a different method might have other cultural effects - we might find ourselves treated differently, or we might find a big(ger) cultural gap when we travel in other regions.

We may also find ourselves leading a sea-change.

-- promote particular arts/fields within the SCA Quite a few people have mentioned that they like one system or another because they think it would get more people involved in that area, or would increase prowess in that area, or increase the seriousness with which that area is viewed by others. "Area" includes (in different conversations with different people)

- armoured combat, archery, fencing, assorted specific arts, "the arts" generally, "being a well-rounded SCA person who can do many different things", service, custard. i.e. some people want to choose coronets by archery, because they want to see more people doing archery, and archery to be held in greater esteem. Other people feel the same way, but insert something different for "archery".

I don't think this should be a reason to favour any particular system. That's like having kids to try and save your failing marriage. If you feel that your particular kink isn't popular or respected enough, then that is a project to work on for its own sake (non-regretful action). Don't shoehorn it into the Selection in an attempt to force the rest of us to care.

-- selection method that does not relate to reigning Some people strongly prefer that our selection method does NOT relate to the specific skills/roles required of the coronet. (I prefer the reverse, but that's ok - reasonable people may disagree!). The rationale is that having a contest of some sort in a completely unrelated skill (e.g. martial arts) avoids anthing like a popularity contest, or electioneering. (I apologise if I've mis-stated this case. I'm doing my best, but corrections are very welcome!).

Ah, right. Here we go. Yes. Ultimately, the Coronet (or whatever) are figureheads; they're not actually in charge of anything important (I can hear some outraged sputtering, but hear me out :^), and even for the stuff they are in charge of, they aren't operating in a vacuum. Sure, they can maybe make some dumb laws, but if they do, those laws can just be overturned. It's great if we get a set that are really good at the theatre and pomp and being Inspiring and whatnot, but the sky's not gonna fall if we get a pair who isn't. In nine months it'll be somebody else. Yes, they can do some social damage -- but only as much as we, the populace, let them get away with. Plus we've got shedloads of peers who in many cases have literally taken an oath to stop the Crown from breaking stuff too badly.

If we set the criteria to select people with the skills appropriate to a coronet, then that's what we'll get. We won't get the outside-the-box people, the dark horses, the surprise treasures, the learned-it-on-the-job, the totally unqualified goobers who somehow managed to rise to the challenge -- or who didn't, and gave all of the people around them a chance to come to the rescue. We won't have the disasters. We won't have the Oh-God-Do-You-Remember-That-One-Reign. That's a part of the game I'd miss.

Also, yeah, cutting down on electioneering and popularity contests.

Also, also, Pudding Prince/ss. I really like the idea of a Lord/Lady of Misrule every thirteenth reign or something. >:^D

-- do not want selection by people choosing Many people dislike the idea of a "modern" election (i.e. anything like the way we choose governments), but are open to various forms of selection-by-the-people (e.g. approval systems, Venetian style votes... there are many options). Some people have expressed an opposition to any system that involves directly choosing people. This is related to the point just above.

I'm in this camp, FWIW. Open to the idea of weirdo alternate forms, but not entirely convinced.

-- variety => experiment, learn more If we do anything new, it will be a sort of experiment. There might be value in trying out many systems so we get more experience of what works. Maybe we would want to keep changing, forever. Maybe we would experiment for some years, then settle on the one we like best.

-- variety => favour different people Any system favours some people more than others. Changing our system (choosing a new one each time, or having a standard rotation) means different people will be favoured at different times. Note: even the full-franchise options (such as the ones I prefer) favour people who are generally percieved to be good rulers. Not everyone thinks this is a feature (and that's ok).

Both of those, I'm in favour of. I'm aware of the Olympics argument, however. That is, "I peaked this year, and didn't win, and by the time another chance comes around, I'll be old and broken and non-competitive." I guess that means one-trick physical ponies are put at a slight disadvantage.

-- favour people who aren't favoured by the current system Our current system favours people who are good at armoured combat (and armoured combat favours large, strong, agressive people, typically men). Some people argue that we should take corrective action: choose something that favours other groups entirely.

All the above is what memory gives me, from conversations I've had over the last few months. These agendas are not mine, they're things people have said to me. I don't agree with all of them, but I think they're all reasonable things to value, reasonable positions to hold.


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