One subject that came up repeatedly, though (and this is really the main point of this posting) was the little mismatches between implicit Carolingian assumptions and the way the typical college student thinks these days. For example:
-- The Touchy-Feely Thing. A point that was echoed by all of the younger members there was that the "hugginess" of Carolingia can be very offputting to a lot of potential members, especially female ones. On one level this isn't anything new, but it seems to be more striking now than it used to be, and a bigger problem. Many members of the Barony have spent many years internalizing a touch-oriented culture, while the student world has apparently gotten rather more conservative in this respect.
-- Getting Off Campus. When I was in college, it was pretty normal to wander afield -- Fenmere may have done so more than many social circles, but we weren't unusual in feeling that the campus was destitute of worthwhile things to do. Nowadays, though, it seems to be remarkably difficult to get students off-campus for activities like ours. A point repeated several times was that many schools are turning themselves into little arcologies, emphasizing that It's Dangerous Out There and trying to make themselves as self-sufficient as possible.
None of this is really intended to start a big Borough argument; these subtle shifts are simply things we're going to have to adapt to if we want to stay viable, and we had a useful discussion of how they might be addressed. (Hopefully with more success than some prior attempts.) But the examination of how we have to adjust to shifts in mundane culture did remind me of a speculation that's been running through my head for a while.
It would be really interesting to see how the ebbs and flows of mundane politics affect clubs on a mental level. It's hard to separate my own headspace from the larger scene, but I don't seem to be the only one who has observed that Carolingia, and perhaps the East in general, is just a little *crankier* these days than it used to be. And y'know, I'm forced to wonder how much of that is internalizing the external influences.
I mean, we are a fundamentally romantic club. Historical accuracy is a lovely goal, but the SCA was created mainly from a romanticised view of history, and most people who join do so with that sort of view in mind. But we do not live in romantic times. Certainly up here in Central Blueland, there's a certain grim tension underlying everything these days. Does that feed back into the SCA? Is it just a little harder to throw your heart into romantic notions when romanticism feels like an unaffordable luxury in mundane life?
I dunno. This is, as it says, an idle half-formed musing lurking in the back of my head, and there are so many factors in play that it's hard to separate them. But it does rather feel to me like there is some connection there...