View Full Version : Suggestions needed, please
11-22-2009, 07:43 PM
Good Citizens, the military event planners need our help!
I have recently been attending the organizational meetings for the 150th Anniversary of the Civil War "mega events". As you might expect most of the organizing is being done by the military umbrella organizations. They have heard the cry from the citizenry for value added activities whenever they can be incorporated. They would gladly add such events if someone would be kind enough to tell them what such events are and how to get them organized. (I have this strait from the mouth of one of the most well known event organizers we have in the hobby today... if Chris does it, others will follow). They see the organization of these mega-events as an excellent opportunity to notate the collective wisdom on how to organize events. I have offered to collect and organize suggestions on value added activities for civilians to be included in an informational packet they hope to make public on how to organize events. ...this is where I need your help, please. I need suggestions on what value added activities you would like to see, what you have seen tried, what worked, what didn't work, what really irked you, how to "get the ball rolling"... and anything else you think pertinent to add. I will, of course, search through the archives of this and other fora for suggestions and A.A.R.s where we have previously discussed such and will link them here as I find them.
This is our opportunity, while they appear to be open to such, to make some new traditions that will carry the civilian side of The Hobby into the future. It is often made point of that the gents currently re-enacting military are not getting any younger and many may soon need to retire from military life. This is our chance to make that retirement not only palatable but even a viable and attractive way to remain in a hobby they love and are dedicated to. It is an opportunity to establish ways of filling the gaps in the history education of the young people of our country by making history come alive for them through demonstrations, living history, and interaction with researched individuals. It is an opportunity to bridge the gap between military and civilian sides of the hobby by working together to create value added scenarios for all. It is an opportunity to bring our side of the hobby into the national spotlight and tell the stories of how the momentous events we are marking the anniversary of affected the every day lives of the civilians who had war brought right to their doorsteps.
I hope to present not only ways of making "traditional" activities more meaningful, as Miz Liz has detailed in her helpful article here: http://www.elizabethstewartclark.com/GAMC/LS/PDF/Value-Added%20Events.pdf but encouraging organizers to look for ways to incorporate civilian participation in events they hadn't thought likely, such as our participation in small tacticals like the most recent Hope's Campaign ( http://www.cwreenactors.com/forum/showthread.php?t=15032&highlight=hopes+campaign ). I hope to present some ways for making the Tent City more palatable, as Miz Stephanie attempted at the recent Cedar Creek ( http://thesewingacademy.org/index.php?topic=4964.0 ) and Miz Bevin attempted at Old Bedford Village ( http://thesewingacademy.org/index.php?topic=4993.0 ), as well as making the most out of available period buildings and structures, as we often are able to do at the Bushong Farm at New Market ( http://thesewingacademy.org/index.php?topic=4013.0 ) and the Georgia town used for "Westville" ( http://thesewingacademy.org/index.php?topic=4707.0 ).
Please folks, let's seize this opportunity to have a voice.. be heard.
11-22-2009, 09:42 PM
Moderator hat on...
Please keep the discussion centered and focused along the lines of continuing to push the envelope of offering experience enhancements such as Westville/Bummers type events.
Rather than looking to take the discussion to the Mainstream Civilian community.
While there is merit in those ideas, it is not the provenance of the AC, and there are other boards other than the AC Forum where they should be best explored and pursued.
11-22-2009, 11:21 PM
In Texas, since there were few battles, we are concentrating on events focusing on the home front. You can find more information at http://www.txcwcivilian.org/henkel.html.
I think one of the big issues with civilian centered activities is to get them out of the military setting and for them to be their own catalyst. We need to see more "how is this really effecting me" and less "my only activity is to search the battlefield after, serve as a nurse, sew, cook or present [enter whatever]". In every state the citizens were going about life whether they were near military actions or not. That side of the conflict is not interpreted enough.
11-23-2009, 09:55 AM
When one has read any of the threads on this forum about the 150th cycle, you will see a very concerted effort being made to bring the various styles of this hobby together for the mega-events, rather than factionalize them... to give a little something for everyone. I am attempting to do this for the civilians. There are many who would be perfectly happy staying in camp, doing their traditional mainstreamer activities, waiting for their boys to come home. I never expected the folks on here to have much truck with them.
What I do expect of my fellow civilians on *this* forum is to give suggestions for how to help the 150th cycle event planners to incorporate civilians into every event where they are appropriate to the event. When I go to the militia muster, I want to see the women around me take over the men's town jobs (just like the first Westville). When I go to First Manassas, I want to be a civilian right on the battlefield who picks up her picnic basket and flees for her naive life. When you military folks see a huge field that is about to be a battlefield in a few hours, I see an opportunity to have farm work interupted, just like it happened for the Original Cast. With a bit of pre-planning you can not only tell a spectator where a cavalry gent got his horse, the spectator can see him appropriate his horse from a farmer. (it did happen, read a diary.. any of them) You learn to march around "dead" bodies and scattered kit, you can learn to stop and send the civilians on their way to safety just as easily.
Ignoring the civilian presence at the major battles and small campaigns is as contrary to the historical record as our civilians trying to pretend that the military didn't affect the every day working of their lives. I live in Hagerstown, Maryland. My town had a military presence from 1859 through the duration. I can't ignore the military presence, the cemeteries are too close, the battlefields are in my backyard, and the hospitals were in my town's houses. The women of my town had no choice but to hide from the military, nurse the wounded, and keep the farms and businesses running... the historical record shows that's what they actually did. Our children are the ones who went out into our back yard and collected the artillery shells... or so the diaries tell us.
I need the suggestions on how, in the national events we, the authentic civilians, would like to make our presence known.
If some would prefer not to make their presence known at events local to them... well... that is very unfortunate... but it is also their choice and their right to do so. I encourage them to place their events in the event cycle folders so the events can become known and advertised.
11-23-2009, 10:38 AM
Here's the puzzle, as I see it.
It's easy to come up with "scenarios": picnicing and leaving; nursing the wounded; having farm work interrupted; offering water or directions or food to passing troops.
But that's still looking at events from a military-focussed way. What is the picnicker doing 12 hours before or 12 hours after, that resembles what they might have actually been doing?
The beauty of Bummers was that it looked at the event from two directions equally: the bummers marching through the countryside, and the civilians living in the countryside. As near as I could tell--and I was somewhere in between civilian and military, so I saw a lot of both--both were given an equal opportunity to reenact what their lives might have been like. That, to me, is good civilian involvement.
I just can't see the typical mainstream mega-event moving beyond the point of offering scenarios to civilians, in much the same way they offer scenarios to the military. You won't see a significant number of soldiers still wounded or fleeing back to Washington 12 or 24 hours after the battle of Manassas any more than you'll see a significant number of civilians doing what they would have been doing 12 or 24 hours later.
So how can the mega events compete with what's offered here on the AC forum, for those into the history-heavy end of the hobby? I just don't think they can, except by carpe eventums, adjuncts, and so forth, that fly so low under the organizers' radar for civilians that they're barely noticeable.
Beyond the classic one- or two-hour mainstream scenarios, for both military and civilians, what are you picturing?
11-23-2009, 11:23 AM
This seems like a helpful discussion to me. I'm glad this has come up, for several reasons:
1) Elaine, we're going to try to do something like this at the 150th anniversary of Camp Jackson in St. Louis. We have to address a wide range of reenacting styles while still making it worth while for authentic civilians to come to the event. Granted, our situation is a little easier in that there is historic precedent for townsfolk to come to the encampment bringing food, segars, etc., and later to be involved in the civilian massacre that occurred after the "battle." So we already have a scenaio in place; we just have to figure out how to make it work on the ground.
2) I've been thinking for some time that civilian reenacting on the authentic side of the hobby has changed a great deal over the past 3-5 years. Elaine's question raises very important issues that I'd love to see us discuss some time. I.e., there are more and better opportunities for civis than ever before; Westville, Henkel Square, Boonesfield. Also, to me, Bummers was a gigantic leap forward in this direction: a great military event that foregrounded the real, lived experiences of the home front. Wouldn't you all agree that the civi side of the hobby has progressed mightily in the past few years? So Elaine's question brings home the fact that auth civis want greater involvement in the hobby as a whole.
3) One thing we always accepted in the past (that now thankfully seems to be disappearing) is the make-believe aspects, i.e., pretending that tents are houses and trying to ignore modern intrusions. Elaine isn't asking us to continue that tired old tradition -- I think she's trying to get us to think of ways to incorporate civilian activities that seem and feel realistic, historically accurate, but without the need for the suspension of our rational faculties. I like this new trend and am really happy to see that it's coming up for discussion.
I know there's a folder for event coordination on the military side of this forum & wonder whether it might be possible to start something for the civi side as well?
4) I think the authentic side of the hobby came to realize the importance, even the centrality, of the civilian participation long before the mainstream side (and please realize I am not trying to do an us vs them here -- I'm just pointing out what I believe to be a very helpful & positive trend!) We have an excellent contribution to make here to educate the public in general. I'm not talking about missionary work toward other folks in the hobby, I'm specifically referring to the spectators. They need to see that this was a civil war.
5) How about a camp of convenience, well out of the sightlines of the public (this is what we did at Athens in2008), with towns people going about their daily business? Civilians were never very far from battle fields; I don't see why civilian reenactors couldn't be given a part of the site where they would do chores or live their lives -- this might take a bit of ingenuity & creativity, but there is plenty of that on this forum. Of course the stand-bys of USSC or Christian Commission tents are always good, but I'm talking about more of a common, every-day sort of experience.
I love the fact that the civi side of the hobby is growing and improving so much. I also get the sense that many 0f my sojer friends are more and more interested in working up a civi impression. I think this is all to the good and Elaine's question could be productive of some very useful discussion.
11-23-2009, 12:14 PM
As most of you know, I can't go into the field. However, I'm working on some ideas from here. I'd like to discuss:
1. Period-correct small buildings that can be transported intact to a site and set up without leaving trailers or wheels in evidence. Modern yard sheds, shops and playhouses are regularly delivered on rollbacks in our area. They sit on 4x4s which are greased to allow easier winching on and dropping off. Is this also routine at reenactments? It certainly seems a good alternative to tents. For that matter, a Habitat for Humanity crew at Ohio State built a two-story Victorian on a lowboy and hauled it to its lot several years ago. I doubt even the largest events could afford a lowboy and crane, which is too bad.
2. I did a "Christmas 1860" presentation a year ago and plan to expand it so it's ready for 2010. Mine is Wheeling-centric because I had better access to the newspapers and artifacts here. Holidays during wartime proved to be really interesting. I think the Fourth of July bears some investigation too.
3. In re the small buildings earlier: there are now several building materials which would allow the construction of panelized buildings that would be very strong and light, but still appear to be period-correct. I'm not saying "Well hey, it beats pretending a tent is the post office". I am asking whether it would matter to you if you *knew* the post office building had correct siding and interior finish, but carbon foam actually holding it up. The same thing goes for outdoor ovens where it isn't possible to use the native stone to build them. I'm 90 percent sure we can build one that would look and function in a period-correct way, but would be light enough to haul in a pickup truck with other gear. At the very least, it should be possible to make a bottom slab that would hold hauled-in stone but not deface the ground under it--no digging, no burnt earth underneath.
4. In areas with a large enough Amish population, it's possible to get some ingredients that are apparently difficult to find in more urban places. I recall finding buckets of lard in Wal-Mart for Charles Heath's pies. For that matter, some parts of the country have heritage livestock breeders not everyone knows about. Anybody have a use for a kabuki of sorts who can locate oddities for you? If I have to be a keyboard campaigner, I might as well be useful.
11-23-2009, 06:04 PM
There are some good comments here!
A few things that come to mind, in fairly random order:
It takes more than one civi coordinator to pull this stuff off. Is the military structure prepared to have a whole set of able coordinators working alongside them, with equal consideration and weight? To set up and carry out multiple small "carpe eventum" situations within a national-scale event will need multiple "mini-staff" sets of people, not just one.
In conjunction with that, are event planners willing to strictly limit some scenario participation? While a handful of picnickers would be accurate observing the battle, 200 would not be, for instance. :)
I could see creating some unique, self-contained event options within the larger event structure, with their own planning groups and limited enrollment for some. To be easiest on the staff, participation would be best done as a pre-registration required thing, with the participant signing on to a good set of basic material culture and research guidelines, and really good pre-event communication regarding the scenario's needs and how to fulfill them.
Hank's question about how to maintain the timeline is a good one, and one that I, as a participant, would love to know about well in advance.
Powered by vBulletin® Version 4.1.7 Copyright © 2013 vBulletin Solutions, Inc. All rights reserved.