Monday, March 1, 2010

Recognition well deserved.

The ORS was founded for many reasons; for the delights of dance and the elegance of costume, for the genteel activities and for the sake of history. However, the thing that draws me, the founder, and many others to this period is the society and manners of the period. The kindness and consideration of the discourse, the politeness of society. The Miss and the Mr.; the careful choice of words, the politeness that transcended all walks of life, from pauper to lord. It’s what makes the ORS so unbelievable. We are all drawn to it for different reasons, but what we all have in common is that we all resonate to this polite society. That is why people of such different backgrounds and belief systems, people of such wide ranges of political and social differences in the real world can sit down at a ball, and have a wonderful time. I personally think that this makes our group incredibly powerful in many ways. It doesn’t matter who you are, or what you do, or what your convictions are; we all agree that manners are good, that kindness and goodness is important, that poise and elegance are important—and we all manage to find common ground in that.

That doesn’t mean everyone is the perfect creature. I for instance, often think of myself a as a boisterous, merry Mrs. Jennings. I am not very good at adopting a persona so I don’t even bother, I just cannot help but be me… laughing, sometimes too loud, too forward to ever behave like a true Regency lady. But I always strive to be kind, and gracious and thoughtful to the best of my ability in the spirit of the time period I adore so.

I’m very proud of this group. I think about where it began, and all the hours I’ve spent building, building, building. From the website to the outreach—my incessant searching and recruiting, the search for venues, the negotiations, the fruition of the planning, the discovery of people like Thea from ORS Central Valley, who are as driven about the vision as I am. Yes, I believe over the past year, I’ve stumbled a bit. I’ve let the ORS take the back seat to some personal issues I’ve had to deal with and continue to struggle with. I believe that sooner or later this heaviness that seems to be over me will fade and I will find that freedom again for the ORS, and to find passion again for what it stands for—and the ORS will have vibrant events with all my energy poured into their quality and grandness.

As it grows, I am happy to see the wonderful people who are starting to take the reins in each chapter, and I am proud of what they are accomplishing. We’ve found some really great people to lead the way… wonderful people whose passion for the period is insurmountable. I’ve always pressed the importance of inclusivity and openness and I stress that they should always maintain these qualities with them as they go along as ORS leadership.

So I would like to begin my campaign of recognition to the ORS leadership by recognizing them individually. I will be holding a special event for them as well, but I will begin by posting my personal appreciation to the following incredible souls who have become the heart and soul of the Oregon Regency Society.

ORS Central Valley Chapter

Thea Peck
Thea called me the first time, with her voice bursting with emotion and joy. She could not believe that the ORS existed. The website had been up for a few months and she’d just found it. I had arranged the first event at the Ainsworth House and she was ALL OVER IT. She was pushy and full of ideas and I felt at first like she was going to steamroll me. She showed up to the event and got her hands dirty right away. Thea and I are so alike; we had to lock horns a few times before we finally appreciated how great our friendship could be. She has an incredible vision, a drive that is unmatched by anyone and she is one of the first people to ever truly step up. Thea is the essence of the ORS leader. Pushy, strong in her vision, a control freak and underneath it all, one of the best people I know. From the beginning, she and Lisa have been the strongest support I have had in the group—hands-down. Thea is head honcho of ORS Central Valley, but she is also second in command when it comes to ORS in general. I could not do this without her.

Lisa and Robert Emond.
Lisa and Robert came along with Thea. I cannot praise Thea without mentioning these two; but trust me, they are as crucial as can be. Lisa has acted as Thea’s rock and support and has been at Thea’s side for the duration. Lisa is a soul of incredible kindness; she often pulls Thea back and grounds her—and trust me, that girl needs grounding (tee hee! Like me!). When I was down, it was Lisa & Thea that circled the wagons for me, and continue to be the most supportive people I know. I love them. Truly. The above are the heart and soul of ORS Central Valley and the ORS as a whole.

ORS Northwest

Lauren and Aaron Marks
Lauren appeared on the scene as a quiet little thing. But don’t be fooled by that pretty, innocent little face, she is to be reckoned with, this one. Nimble and smart, this little creature spins hurricanes while looking as serene as a summer day. Who knew what a costume-goddess she would be? Not to mention that voice… This little powerhouse has a very popular costume blog where she has detailed her beautiful late Georgian, early Regency masterpieces. She is like a poster-girl for the group; always stunning at every event. She and her husband Aaron have really gotten into the mire of organization of events this past year or so, and have been really crucial to keeping the momentum going for events while I was floundering with my personal crises. I don’t know what the ORS would be right now if it wasn’t for their efforts. She was also a friend to me when I needed her. I am always gratified to hear her mischievous little laugh and to see her sailing about the room in her permanent state of grace—Adore! Aaron, he is the ORS’s unofficial historian. His photos, which are growing increasingly artful with each passing event, have become the mainstay for me, since I tend to forget to take pictures most of the time. He chronicles as much of each event as he can—and does beautiful work of it. As evidence, see his photos from the Twelfth Night... they’re AMAZING.

Tara Ryan and Christian Stephenson.
The first time I met Tara, she’d come with her husband to meet me at our doomed ‘washed out’ Pride & Prejudice 1995 viewing at Holy Names Heritage Center. It was during December of 2007, when record rains were washing out coastal towns. I drove down for the event, and only a smattering other people stayed for the whole five-hour odyssey of Colin Firth while the rain pummeled the countryside outdoors. Tara had swung by to make my acquaintance. She’d been arranging her own Regency-period style wedding and was so delighted by the ORS. Her husband Christian is a wonderful chef, and they were the ones upon whose efforts the ORS’s 2008 Winter Ball and Masquerade Ball’s amazing dinners should be credited. The couple has a ton of costuming experience spanning many time periods, and they participate in a variety of other costume-related events throughout the year. Christian is a skilled swordsman and fencer, and brings important testosterone-friendly options to the ORS membership. Tara and Christian have teamed up with Lauren and Aaron to become event organizers—creating a series of wonderful events that include tea parties and botanical garden tours. I cannot fail to mention also that Tara is the one who orchestrated the wonderful ORS Masquerade’s theatrical performance of an excerpt of ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’; which was one of the highlight events of 2008. Tara is also the spearhead behind a new division of the ORS that will cater to the serious costume/reenactor.

Stephanie Robertson
Stephanie is a sort of newcomer when it comes to the ORS leadership. She is also, I believe, the youngest one—though I’m not entirely sure. She graduated from the Culinary Arts Institute only very recently, and has a tremendous skill for both savoury cooking and pastry. Stephanie, from the moment she arrived, was itching to do an event. Stephanie is a pure romantic, and a very sweet, dreamy sort of soul. I spend a lot of time with her, and she has put up with my tears and frustrations to such an extent that I cannot avoid calling her a dearest friend. She spends many an hour at my home, either sewing, or just happily browsing the web on my sofa. Stephanie is the person behind the food from the Ainsworth House Ball and Winter Ball 2009—and the incredible, and I repeat INCREDIBLE meal she made for the Feast of the Twelfth Night. She also made me the most beautiful birthday cake I’ve ever had in all my life. I realized, as I glanced at my wedding photos, that it was bigger than my own wedding cake.

ORS Cascades East

Bill Armstrong
I have had only a little time to get to know one of our newest leaders; and what I know so far is based on this: One of the first things Bill did was to express concern about my situation and my ability to keep things afloat when my own life was (and still is to some measure) a mess. He wanted to rally the leadership to take some of the reins. That alone spoke volumes about Mr. Armstrong. I knew at once we had found ourselves a true gentleman. ORS Cascades is still very small in its membership; however it hasn’t stopped Mr. Armstrong from expressing a desire to help with our own regional events. He has a tremendous knowledge of history, an acumen for costuming and is quite the dandy. He and his beautiful Lady Stacey have some lovely things in store for not only those east of the Cascades, but also for those of us here in the Northwest. I’m so excited for the wonderful things he will bring the ORS; among them, some activities that will engage the men of the ORS.

ORS Puget Sound

Melanie Mayo
Melanie is the very newest of the bunch and I hardly know her. I know she is excited about the new chapter, and is trying very hard to wrangle her first event. As I get to know her better, I will be able to sing you her praise. However I must credit her, like Bill and Thea… starting a chapter is NOT easy. It’s a risk. You dish out your own funds and resources in hopes that people will support your vision, and it sometimes works, and it sometimes doesn’t. So no matter what, we already know that Melanie is a special kind of person to do what she’s doing.

I think perhaps that because of my personal issues this past year, I haven’t taken the time to give each of these people the proper appreciation for all the things they’ve done… not only for the ORS, but for me. SO I would like to extend my deepest gratitude to them as leaders and as friends.

Stephanie Johanesen
Founder and President
Oregon Regency Society

1 comment:

Charlotte said...

I heartily agree! I do not have the tenacity to lead, but am eternally grateful to you dear souls who do. My life has improved tenfold since joining this wonderful society and know I have you to thank, both for holding events and for the growing confidence I have each time I attend. My cup overfloweth and I thank you all.