This is the second article in a series about Cultural Pillars and Amtgard. The first article, which you can read HERE, outlines the concept of Cultural Pillars, what it is, who they are and what they do. It is suggested to read the first article before this one, but it is not necessary.
I would also like to take a moment to suggest you read an article which is indirectly relevant, one I wrote near the start of this blog, “You’re a Knight, Now What?“. It details my perspective of knighthood, which could be very useful in helping to better understand aspects of this article. I found it important for me to reread that article before I started writing this one.
Essentially, Cultural Pillars are people who are active, have a longer than average history in the organization, and are able to condense their experiences into sharable experiences to be digested by others in the organization.
This article will explore the concept of Cultural Pillars and how it relates to knighthood in Amtgard. First we’ll look at the three aspects of being a Cultural Pillar, being active, having a history in the organization and ability to share their experience in a constructive fashion, i.e. teaching. Then we’ll discuss the implications to knighthood with the addition of this concept.
I want to get this discussion started by addressing the ability of Cultural Pillars to condense their experiences into sharable experiences to be digested by others in the organization. This ties in very well with the idea that a key aspect of knighthood is teaching.
It’s very important that Cultural Pillars are able to share their experiences in such a way as to be useful to the organization. Teaching is a very good way to do that. There are, of course, other ways to disseminate information in a useable way. You don’t have to teach to be a Cultural Pillar, but I’d consider it the easiest to identify.
I’d consider this first of three boxes ticked.
History In Amtgard
Another of the three aspects of Cultural Pillars is having a longer than average history in the game. This is of course subjective and any average will vary from region to region, but I think it’s safe to say that if you’ve been around a few years you probably meet this criteria to some degree.
Just by happenstance, knights generally meet this requirement. It just takes time and if knighthood takes one thing, it’s time. Seriously though, knights really have an edge in this aspect of being a Cultural Pillar. They have the benefit of having not only been around, but in most instances, they are or have been, heavily active. They will probably experience more aspects of Amtgard, in greater depth, than people who are not actively pushing for a knighthood.
The last aspect of being a Cultural Aspect, being active, is probably the most contentious of the three aspects, at least for knights. Unlike teaching and having a longer than average time in the game, which are somewhat innate when it comes to knighthood, activity is not, Not every knight is active. It’s as simple as that. An inactive knight isn’t a Cultural Pillar.
Of course, there is no standard definition of active, unless you relate it to your organization’s definition. For Blackspire, that time frame is x amount of credits over a period of six months. If I recall correct, you can be considered active if you’ve only gone to Amtgard once a month. However on an individual level it really comes down to an individual’s perspective.
My version of active is skewed by my amount of activity. When I said I’m active in Amtgard in the past I was meaning I was coming out nearly every week. That is an unrealistic standard and isn’t how often I go to the park anymore. I go about twice a month now and still consider myself active. I think the idea of attending several times over a stretch of 6 months is a good qualifier for being considered active. Keep in mind that the length of their absence between segments of activity can really affect the usefulness of some of their information.
What Does This Mean For Knights?
For Knights, this doesn’t change anything, but I believe it does help recontextualize their place in Amtgard. There are already enough expectations of knights which can be difficult to uphold at times, I don’t intend to add yet another expectation.
As discussed, you can be a knight and not be a Cultural Pillar, this likely comes about through inactivity of the knight, so I don’t consider it an expectation. Being a Cultural Pillar when you are living up to the expectations of knighthood, teaching, being active, and innovating, to name a few I consider main expectations, is just a byproduct of doing what you’re doing.
Knights are important for the cultural consistency of our organization. They have a unique experience in the game and often have been active in the game for longer than the average period of time. I think this makes them an ideal and the probably the more influential type of Cultural Pillar we have in Amtgard.
The knighthood path is accidentally a prebuilt path for creating Cultural Pillars in our game. Typically a person who strives to become a knight will be more active than the average person. They will go to Amtgard more consistently and be active in their chosen field a lot more than the average Amtgarder. This means they naturally have more experience to draw from.
Additionally they will most likely have a more in-depth knowledge of the organization. They will have gone through the whole awards process from a 1st order to knighthood and learned a lot more along the way than than the average person. They will probably have also more closely dealt with the political system of their Amtgard Kingdom (for better or worse, no moral judgment here).
Naturally, as teaching is generally thought of as an essential aspect of gaining knighthood, by the time they get the belt, they will more than likely have some experience teaching.
In the first article we discussed what Cultural Pillars are and in this article we identified knights as natural Cultural Pillars. It’s an interesting concept. It makes sense, right? But what’s the point? Why are we talking about Cultural Pillars in Amtgard. What’s the point? Glad you asked.
The better you understand how culture is expressed the better you can help direct an organization’s cultural trajectory. Even if a Cultural Pillar doesn’t have an agenda, their actions still affect the organization.
The next article will explore this idea. How do Cultural Pillars function, and what power do they wield, consciously or unconsciously?