Saturday, July 29, 2006

An Open Source Organization for Reenacting Groups

Part XI - Special Interest Groups (SIGs)

Better late than never, I say!

This is the last stop on the OSORG path, the remaining articles will deal with issues that touch on any group, OSORG or no.

Although the main goal of your group is to portray a particular impression, there will be times that members may want to pursue other Civil War reenacting interests that may have a limited appeal to the organization as a whole. If this is the case, a member can opt to create a Special Interest Group or SIG.

A SIG can be considered an informal mess that includes a SIG coordinator, and has very specific objectives. Unlike a mess coordinator, the SIG coordinator does not have the representative rights that an actual mess coordinator possesses.

For example, the State of North Carolina has built a replica of the CSS Neuse. It is docked at a preservation area for public view. Group member John Doe thinks it would be great to crew the Neuse a couple times a year and present in-depth living history weekends. John makes the appropriate contacts with the State and then puts out the word to the group. He quickly gathers committments from five other members from the organization as a whole. John has successfully created a SIG and is now the SIG coordinator.

SIGs are fairly automatous, and set their own authenticity standards within the general guidelines set by the organization. The group provides overall infrastructure support for the SIG.

When a SIG is created, the SIG Coordinator must complete these activities as quickly as possible:

  • Gather research on the subject,
  • Draw up a mission and standards for the SIG,
  • Create minimum requirements for joining the SIG, (Note: all impression-based SIGs should include the group's basic uniform and equipage requirements)
  • Create a roster of interested members, and
  • Set an event schedule, if possible. (Note: SIG events cannot conflict with established events)

Once all information is written and collected, then it needs to be sent to all the group coordinators for review and approval. This can be done via phone call or email, although email would be the preferred method. The coordinators need only ensure that the SIG fits within the scope of the organization, and it should be judged on these established points:

  • Topical to the American Civil War,
  • Directly related to the reenacting hobby,
  • Does not conflict with the primary group goals,
  • Incorporates group requirements for joining, and
  • Has two or more members.

The mess coordinators have one full week to respond with approvals or objections via phone call or email. SIG approval or rejection uses these guidelines:

  • Only responses that are sent in on time are counted toward approval or rejection,
  • A total no-response will be considered an approval,
  • All rejections must have reasons, and the reasons must be related to the established points.

If a SIG is rejected, then the SIG coordinator can re-adjust the SIG to address the objections and resubmit to the mess coordinators.

Once a SIG is accepted then it can operate freely within the organization, as long as it conforms to its mission and has more than two members.

If a SIG does not conform to its mission, it can either be placed on probation until it conforms to the agreed mission and requirements within a set time frame, or revoked if it fails to do so, or is abandoned by the SIG coordinator.

SIGs should not be confined to the realm of reenacting. Other possible SIGs can include: reading, wargaming, crafts, non-event travel, event planning, and so on.

NEXT: Part XII - Using the Internet to your best advantage

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