October Commons Minutes

Minutes from the canton business meeting held October 7, 2021. Called to order at 7:06, and adjourned at 8:58.

Notes taken by Mathghamhain Ua Ruadháin with contributions by Þorfinn Hróðgeirsson. 

Our next meeting is currently scheduled for January 6, subject to revision if needed. 



  • Mathghamhain Ua Ruadháin (Seneschal, Youth Marshal)
  • Ibrahim al-Rashid (Exchequer) 
  • Angelica di Nova Lipa (Chatelaine, Deputy Exchequer)
  • Alasdar Sparhauec (Herald)
  • Þorfinn Hróðgeirsson
  • Alienor Salton (Provincial Seneschal)
  • Lada Monguligin (Provincial Vicereine)
  • Jenna Childslayer

Absent Officers:

  • Berakha bat Mira v’Shlomo (Minister of Arts & Sciences)
  • Simon Talbot (Webminister) 

Officer Reports


  • Mathghamhain: This is the first quarterly meeting since I stepped up this summer.
  • The quarterly seneschal’s report was filed on time.
  • We’ve held one in-person activity this quarter, a very-sparsely-attended casual picnic. 
  • I’m looking for ways we can re-engage people at the canton level, both in some in-person activities and encouraging more people to attend these meetings, which I have on the agenda to discuss after the other officer reports.
  • Our effort to update the signatories on our bank account was delayed because I had failed to notice that my photo ID had expired, but I’ve secured a replacement and filed that with kingdom so hopefully we can resolve this in the coming months.


  • Ibrahim: As I understand it, the process of updating the signatories on the bank account, requires paperwork to be forwarded by kingdom to Corporate for approval; I believe we are currently waiting on that to come back, but haven’t heard anything.
  • No change in our bank account balance since after the Cloisters demo two years ago — nothing in, nothing out.


  • Angelica: No email queries, none seen on FB.    
  • We do have one new paid member, Verenne de Forêt, who attended Barleycorn, and is scheduled to be part of the theatrical reading of Chaucer’s The Knight’s Tale in the Whyt Whey A&S on October 16th.  Currently in the process of choosing a persona name/backstory, and hand sewing garb.    

Minister of Arts & Sciences

  • Jenna: Berakha is currently traveling but is messaging me a summary report.
  • The Solars are doing well, every other week, but it is challenging to find teachers.
  • Would like to hold a winter A&S activity, perhaps including a contest; she will check with Lada on relevant rules.


  • No report. Website is stable.


  • Alasdar: Nothing new to report. 
  • Have been helping a few folks with sketches of possible armory.

Other Business

A Casual In-Person Gathering this Autumn

  • Mathghamhain: We’re not yet ready to host any big events, but I’d like to organize another casual in-person gathering this fall. I’m open to suggestions as to what this would be. 
  • My initial suggestion is a trip to the Cloisters museum, which is lovely, and which I haven’t visited in over a decade.
  • Ibrahim: The Cloisters is currently hosting a special exhibit on Spain.
  • Þorfinn: We could hold a picnic outside the Cloisters before going in. If it rains, skip the picnic.
  • Lada: A few years ago we did a photo shoot outside the Cloisters in winter garb; I would love to do that again.
  • Mathghamhain: What day of the week would people prefer for a Cloisters trip?
    • Þorfinn: Sunday is more open; lots of events are scheduled for Saturdays. 
  • Angelica: Does Museo del Barrio have period art?
    • Alienor: Museo del Barrio does have some pre-Columbian American art.
    • Ibrahim: The Hispanic Society has renaissance art; their museum was closed but should be reopening soon, Broadway and 155th Street.
  • Þorfinn: There are also other things we could do, but they’re mostly outdoors, and we need to be prepared to reschedule if the weather is inclement.
    • Mathghamhain: I’ve been looking for other outdoor covered public spaces in Manhattan and am coming up blank.
    • Þorfinn: We should ask the Parks Department if the peristyles on Riverside are all closed.
    • Mathghamhain: The one near Grant’s Tomb is run by the National Parks Service, but is also closed.
    • Ibrahim: Sometimes even when official bureaucracy is sluggish, talking directly with the folks who maintain spaces lets you get things done.
  • Alienor: how much longer is the Pisa dress at the Met?
    • Ibrahim: I think the Medici exhibit closes in October. [Edit: October 11.]

Increasing Engagement with Commons Meetings

  • Mathghamhain: I’d love to get more people involved in our business meetings, both to get their input in our activities and because it seems the most effective way of engaging people as volunteers and future officer candidates. 
  • Þorfinn: We should individually reach out to specific people and invite them. In theory we could make a list and target it, but even just having each of us casually asking people would be a step in the right direction. 
    • Lada: Yes, reaching out one-on-one is the best way to engage people.
    • Mathghamhain: I can look back through old commons minutes and membership rosters to look for people who were active but have dropped out of circulation who we could invite back in.
  • Mathghamhain: Before the pandemic we benefited from the collocation of our business meetings and A&S classes, as people who were coming for the classes were exposed to the meetings and could be drawn in. I wonder if we should consider doing something like that again. On the other hand, that’s less effective in an all-online video era, as people can just tune in or out for specific parts.
    • Ibrahim: Scheduling the meeting as a prelude to the A&S sessions is appealing — but on the other hand, I’ve yet to attend any of the online Saturday A&S sessions, despite several of them seeming very interesting. 
    • Angelica: Many people have their weekends very tightly scheduled and can’t attend the Solars.
    • Alienor: Maybe talk to Berakha about doing one of the Solars on a Thursday?

Other Ideas for Driving Engagement

  • Mathghamhain: Any other ideas for increasing engagement?
    • Angelica: We could try press releases and listings in community listings, or Meetup groups.
    • Lada: I looked at Meetup and am interested in giving it a try. We need two people to become paid Meetup members, but I would be glad to do that.
    • Mathghamhain: Perhaps Meetup is a project for the provincial level rather than the canton.
  • Angelica: We could do something with YouTube videos.
    • Mathghamhain: What are you picturing? Filming clips is easy, but turning them into engaging videos is a lot of work.
    • Angelica: We could find interesting videos online and post a collection of them to our website.
  • Angelica: Does anyone have PR connections that would give us access to a database of press outlets?
  • Lada: I work in media at a company that publishes numerous local papers.
  • Mathghamhain: It seems hard to take advantage of that kind of publicity in the Covid online era.
  • Angelica: It would be useful to have ideas worked out for when we’re ready to pick it up again.
  • Angelica: Also there are local online newsletters, like Patch.com. 
  • Þorfinn: I wonder if we could get an event on TheSkint.com.
  • Angelica: Did the Province’s efforts to pay for event ads or listings pay off?
    • Lada: We did some paid Facebook ads for in-person events before Covid but it wasn’t clear whether or not they generated newcomers.

Other Ideas for Future Events

  • Þorfinn: I want to mention the idea of an event which I am explicitly not volunteering to run. There’s a marble bandshell in Central Park with a big plaza in front of it. It would be fantastic if we could get musicians to play for dances, and dancers to teach it to folks. Maybe in the spring as the weather improves. I would be willing to play music and can think of others who might be interested. It’s more challenging to find dance teachers.
    • Lada: I can think of at least three other people who could teach dancing.
  • Angelica: We’ve also discussed the possibility of doing very small demos, like three people in a popup at a public event. It’s an opportunity to educate the public and it might draw in new members.
    • Lada: Maybe at street fairs.
  • Mathghamhain: There are other interesting sites that we should research as possible future event venues. 
    • Mathghamhain: I’d love to get into the beautiful space of Church of the Intercession on 155th. 
    • Ibrahim: That church also has a gym that might be suitable for fighting.
    • Angelica: At one point we had a spreadsheet of venues that we’d either used or were considering for the future.
    • Mathghamhain: Yes, I’ll circulate it.
  • Jenna: What geographic area does the canton cover?
    • Mathghamhain: Manhattan and Marble Hill.  
    • Þorfinn: And Roosevelt Island, Randall’s Island, Governor’s Island.
    • Angelica: Governor’s island is an interesting location.
    • Þorfinn: Governor’s island would be a potential site for winter events.
    • Ibrahim: Perhaps something with a very-late-period Dutch theme.

Branch Name

  • Mathghamhain: There have been a couple of incidents over the last year in which someone heard the name of the canton and leapt to the conclusion that we were a white-supremacist group, which prompted a number of folks to begin informal  discussions about possibly changing the name of the branch.
    • We’re not going to decide anything final today, but I’d like to open it up for discussion. 
  • Over the last couple of months folks have brainstormed some possible names which we can review tonight, but the goal here is to discuss the idea not to pick a specific name.
    • Most of the names that were proposed either contain some tangential reference to apples or islands, or one of the historical names for our region, or our status as a great city at the center of the world.
    • Names were suggested in modern English, Old English, Old Norse, Latin, Greek, French, Spanish, Dutch, Lenape, and Chinese.
  • Lada: You could reference local landmarks, like “Canton of Liberty Tower.”
  • Mathghamhain: An advantage of names in languages like Norse / Old English / Latin is that they immediately read as historical, as opposed to languages like French and Spanish which suggest an association with the modern residents of the city who speak those languages today.
    • Þorfinn: Given the concerns about white supremacy, should we rule out Norse / Early English entirely?
    • Ibrahim: Given the name of the province, a Norse name makes sense. 
  • Jenna: From a promotional standpoint, it would be a good idea to avoid non-Latin letters.
    • Mathghamhain: I know the non-Latin letters are difficult for people to type, but I enjoy them, and learning about them is educational. 
  • Jenna: Dutch would be a fun link to the city’s history.
    • Mathghamhain: There are relatively few Dutch-speaking New Yorkers.  
  • Jenna: What about Lenape names?
    • Mathghamhain: I’m worried about perceptions of cultural appropriation.
    • Ibrahim: It’s tricky to use names from a living language used by other people.
    • Mathghamhain: I did some research a few years ago as part of our initiative to start doing land acknowledgements at Provincial events. There are a bunch of Lenape people in the area today, including some that do educational events about their cultural and material heritage, although without our exclusive focus on life before 1600.
    • Þorfinn: It would be great to take a trip to one of these events. 
  • Þorfinn: The Chinese name Taiping is problematic; it’s reminiscent of the nineteenth-century Taiping Heavenly Kingdom and might offend some people.
  • Ibrahim: We should expand the group of people who’re involved with the discussion. It would be good to get the input of a diverse section of our populace.
  • Ibrahim: What are the logistics of changing the branch name? Would it be difficult? 
    • Mathghamhain: The heraldic side of this is pretty simple; we need signatures of a majority of the group’s officers then we mail it off and wait nine months. 
    • However, before that we’d obviously want to get buy-in from the populace, and I would want to make sure we informed relevant kingdom officers before we started the process.
    • Ibrahim: Would we have to change the name on the bank account?
    • Mathghamhain: That’s a great question and I don’t know the answer.
  • Ibrahim: First step is to determine whether there’s a consensus in favor of change.
    • Mathghamhain: Well, as a quick sample, how do the folks on the call feel?
    • Þorfinn: I think we should change it. I like the Norse names, but I’m biased.
    • Ibrahim: I’m not opposed. The rationale is a good one. If we’ve heard of people who got the impression that it was a nod to white supermaicst groups, it’s likely there were a bunch of others we never heard from. But if a majority of people are attached to the name, I’m not sufficiently motivated to force a schism.
    • Angelica: I’ve always thought the name was ridiculous. But I am also sentimentally fond of it because of Sir Edward’s legacy.
    • Alienor: The name has always made me uncomfortable. 
  • Mathghamhain: Okay, the next step will be to open this up for discussion by the populace; I’ll get that process started in the coming weeks.
  • Ibrahim: Should we run a poll of canton members?
  • Mathghamhain: Not just paid members, because a lot of people let their memberships lapse during the Covid era, but we should still listen to them.
  • Mathghamhain: We can discuss this on Facebook and the mailing list, but let’s remember that we might get a lot of feedback from a few vocal members, and we need to make sure to weight it to also reflect the opinions of other people who are less vocal.
  • Lada: It would be good to push people to have this discussion on the canton mailing list rather than Facebook.
  • Þorfinn: You can’t stop people from talking about it on Facebook.
  • Angelica: We could set up a poll using Google Forms.
  • Ibrahim: When people fill out the poll, ask them for their zip code so we can separate residents from those who live elsewhere.
  • Alienor: Yes, encourage discussion everywhere, but then ask people to weigh in via Google Form.

Other Topics

  • Angelica: In my experience, it’s important to have project-tracking tools in place to ensure that projects continue moving forward and that we don’t bounce from one project to another.
    • Mathghamhain: Let’s see whether we can keep track of things via email to the officer mailing list and a bunch of shared Google documents.
    • Alienor: I’m not on the officer’s mailing list.
    • Mathghamhain: Okay, I’ll include you or send to the populace mailing list.
  • Jenna: The Lions End canton meeting is tomorrow.