Switching from the overly volatile current SCA zeitgeist, I received from questions from folks interested in my porter idea. Here goes.
A few weeks ago on FB, I posted this:
“Accessibility porters need to be a more common thing at SCA events.
While there are always good gentles that will help folks carry things, having it as a regular fixture for those that need assistance setting up/tearing down would really help make in-person events more appealing to members of the populace that have mobility constraints, age-related or otherwise. A lot of folks, me included, like to pretend like we’re still young and spry and not full of some form of degenerative joint disease and fibromyalgia, so we won’t ask for help. Instead of asking, it should just be offered at gate. Create a corps of porters that volunteer for shifts much like any other gate position.
I think the way Trimaris has the drive-up sign-in gate at some events is super beneficial here, because then that eliminates the need for the individual needing assistance to have to get out of their vehicle to request aid.
When you talk about inclusion, including the disabled shouldn’t be last on the list.”
I do know that some kingdoms have an actual “accessibility porter” office wherein their job is to help make events more accessible, so this is not to be confused by that. Names can always be changed, and “porter” sounds better than “event bell boy”.
The gist of this would to have a corps of volunteers that sign up to do this like any other shift job at an event. You show up and put in your hour or two. The general idea would be to assist folks that need an extra hand lugging their SCA lives with them into events. Be it camping, A&S display, armor, etc. I can be for mothers will small children, elderly with mobility needs, etc. It does not have to be just “the disabled”, of course. Sometimes having that one extra hand to carry a chair makes a world of difference for somebody like me when I go solo. It would be request-based, with gate offering porter assistance at check-in. This would make sure the volunteers don’t get overworked and spread too thin, especially since not everybody likes strangers touching their belongings. Set up and breakdown help can also be requested in advance based on availability of porters, but to avoid a queue or shorthanded staff, it cannot be accommodated day-of.
I figure for smaller events, having 2-4 per shift would be good. Larger would command 4 or 6 or even 8. (Even numbers allows for better tagteaming.) Wagons and dollies can be made available if there’s the budget for it. I have a folding wagon I purchased at Walmart a few years ago that has helped immensely, and porters can also bring their own supplies. Breakdown would have a similar request system. “Roving” porters can also be a thing during peak setup/breakdown times as well.
1. Folks who are currently on the fence about coming to events because of a shortage of hands or mobility issues will have one less thing to worry about.
2: This is an excellent way for newcomers and teens who don’t mind doing some work to meet some established members and build connections.
3: It’s an easy way to give back and help others.
1: Impatient members being rude to porters, or abusing and bogarting the service from people who actually need it. Which supervisors need to make sure doesn’t happen. Honor system still stands: If you REALLY don’t need the help, you don’t ask for it. Likewise, they aren’t caregivers, just schleppers. Individuals who need more specific care will have to bring their own caregivers. It’s just too much of a liability otherwise.
2: Porters potentially missing key event moments like court and feast.
3: Weather hazards need to be taken into account. Porter safety is as important as everybody else’s. If the weather is too inclement, the service will be suspended until the weather passes.
Nothing is without issues, of course, but I think that I want to give this a shot organizing it at an upcoming SCA event I can actually go to, maybe. Or see if I can coordinate it here in Trimaris even if I cannot go. I definitely think this is a good kingdom to start in, as a lot of our population is aging (Save your Florida jokes for another time.)
This is obviously too much for a HUGE event like a war. I also need to figure out a way to keep tabs on folks that need aid without labeling them in a way that creates stigma, such as having those that requested aid to bring in their gear send a text message to the supervisor porter when they are broken down and ready to go back to their vehicles, or more likely, send somebody to the gate.
The important thing is to keep this simple. This is not abled bodies for hire to do any bidding, this is “I am physically incapable of bringing in all that I require and I need a hand.”