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Kind to the odd

Re: “Every day is Halloween” (Metro Times, Oct. 26), thank you for covering live-action role playing (LARP). I belly dance and I buy a lot of gypsy type stuff that also works for Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) stuff. I have friends in the SCA and have considered joining myself — but I had no idea what LARP meant. I travel in some pretty odd circles, so I figured if I hadn’t heard of it, it must be really out there.

I liked your story because it brought up the fact that a lot of people think SCAers, RPGers, Renfaire enthusiasts are nutso — without being offensive and unkind to the story’s subjects. —Rachel Webb, Columbia, Mo.

 

History lesson

I’m an active SCA member in the metro Detroit area, currently living in Windsor. While I understand that your article didn’t focus on the SCA, I’d like to point out that your summary of us as an organization was somewhat incorrect. From our corporate Web site: “The SCA is an international organization dedicated to researching and re-creating the arts and skills of pre-17th-century Europe. Our ‘Known World’ consists of 18 kingdoms, with over 30,000 members residing in countries around the world. Members, dressed in clothing of the Middle Ages and Renaissance, attend events which may feature tournaments, arts exhibits, classes, workshops, dancing, feasts, and more. Our ‘royalty’ hold courts at which they recognize and honor members for their contributions to the group.”

While that may sound like painstaking re-enactment, it’s really not. We strive for accuracy, but welcome anyone making an attempt. If you’re trying, you’re doing fine, even if that means your best attempt is black sweats and a purchased tunic. We create our own battles, not re-create those that already occurred. One of our common phrases is “We re-create the Middle Ages as they should have been,” and I’ve said myself to many new folks, “If there’s something that was done between 600 and 1600, short of dying of the plague, there’s someone in the SCA who knows about it and is willing to teach it.” That to me is the best thing about the SCA — education and encouraging others to learn new things about the time period we focus on. We also focus a great deal on safety when we fight. Fighters have to train and prove that they are safe before being allowed to fight at demos and events.

One other slight nitpick is an inference that the SCA descended from Dungeons & Dragons or other role-playing games. The SCA was begun in 1966 by a group of humanities students in Berkeley, Calif. It predates D&D, and does not descend from it. In fact, Marion Zimmer Bradley was an early SCA member, as well as Diana Paxson. You can read about the early history of the SCA at history.westkingdom.org/index.htm.

We’ve evolved a long way from our backyard party beginnings, and I think the evolution has gone toward education and authenticity, while retaining our open and welcoming nature. — Amy Cooper, known in the SCA as Lady Ilsebet Jeghersche, member of the Canton of Brackendelve, in the Barony of Roaring Wastes, Windsor, Ontario

 

Going vegan

Re: “Speaking for the voiceless” (Metro Times, Oct. 26), it’s wonderful to hear that Jefferson is doing so well. Everyone who cheered when the steer broke out of Al Badr Slaughter House and bolted for freedom can do something simple to help other animals escape slaughter: Go vegetarian.

There is no reason for people to kill animals for food. Animals’ lives are just as precious to them as yours or mine are to you or me. They are individuals with feelings, families and friendships. They desire freedom and long to see the sun, breathe fresh air and feel grass under their feet. But as long as people view animals as commodities, widespread institutionalized abuse is destined to continue. Readers can help animals just like Jefferson by visiting goveg.com or calling 1-888-VEG-FOOD to order a free vegetarian starter kit. —Heather Moore, senior writer, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, Norfolk, Va.

 

The larger crisis looms

Re: “Farewell to all that” (Metro Times Oct. 19), I wonder if Jack Lessenberry knows how very right he is. He exhorts us to “pay attention.” Well and good, but attention must be paid to points far beyond the immediate crisis of Delphi and the auto industry, or even the midterm crisis of the entire region and state.

The crisis period that we are entering threatens a drastic scaling-back or even breakdown of urban industrialism as oil peaks out, as global warming intensifies, as water resources are stressed beyond sustainable limits, as desertification destroys ever-vaster tracts of formerly arable land, as Green Revolution agricultural techniques run out of gas, as high-grade mineral ores are depleted, as the oceans are acidified, and as accumulated environmental contaminants have their slow but disastrous effects on ecosystems and organisms. We are headed for what will likely be a slowly unfolding civilizational crisis, over the next several decades.

This stuff is all coming home to roost, folks. Things are starting to fall apart now, and it will get worse in the coming decades. It will be the end of the world as we have known it.

“What we need is some sort of huge crash program,” says Lessenberry. And he is right. Only it must be a crash program informed by the realities that we are facing, which go far beyond mere breakdown of the auto industry — which, frankly, in the large scheme of things, is a blessing. This is not the time for a crash program to make Michigan attractive to fossil fuel-dependent or high-tech industry, or to build glittery new office parks. This is not the time for a crash program to save capitalism’s ass, in other words.

This is the time for a crash program to dramatically reduce our energy consumption and ecological footprint. This is the time for a crash program to re-localize food production and develop sustainable communities with low or no reliance on internal combustion engines and conventional heating and cooling.

This is the way to save not only Detroit and Michigan, but the entire country, and indeed the world.

The difficulties are numerous, but the stakes couldn’t be higher. —Alan E. Lewis, Ann Arbor

 

Site for sore eyes

While I’d be hard-pressed to argue against your assertion about detroityes.com and the preponderance of “moronic slander and drivel” on many of the threads of that forum, I think you do a great disservice to the creator of the site, Lowell Boileau.

There are many great virtual tours of the “Forgotten Ruins of Detroit” that Mr. Boileau has placed on his Web site. If you go beyond the three main Detroit-related forums, you will find “Soulful Detroit,” an international forum co-founded by Mr. Boileau that talks about classic Motown and soul music in general. Many producers, writers and musicians who played major roles in the creation of classic American soul music are active participants on Soulful Detroit.

DetroitYes is so much more than a simple blog. It is a rich resource that Mr. Boileau has created and continues to host, moronic slanderers be damned! —Dave McRoberts, Farmington Hills

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