Monday, April 18, 2016

Battle Road -- Beyond the Rope Line

Ladies – Its time to get off the sidelines!
Along the rope line at Tower Park
(thanks to my friends in this picture for agreeing to share this image)

2016’s MMNHP’s Battle Road Saturday’s Events are over.  A sunny, yet cool and breezy day brought out hundreds of visitors.  For the Hivesters at Hartwell it meant a steady stream of guests that started to arrive in droves even before we had officially set up for the day.  There was other activity on the road, specifically the Tough Ruckers who were pushing though their individual marathons in fatigues and combat boots laden with backpacks not to mention the memories that 26.2 miles of walking would give them time to honor, savor, try to forget or all of the above.  I meant to ask them if during their journey they ever heard the ghosts of April 19th  urging them forward.

Since the “tactical demonstrations” have moved up to Parker’s Revenge, Hartwell has become an oasis of living history without the pressure and highly orchestrated activities of a battle reenactment.  The quilting frame was set-up for those who needed some meditative stitch therapy. No matter how many stitches per inch you achieve, in a half an hour your blood pressure is lowered by 10 points.  There were lots of sewing projects that were seeing steady progress without the distractions that happen at home – like cats sitting on your project or the Internet beckoning.  Lunch was a cornucopia of amazing period foods, some of which were the successful results of the Preserving the Harvest event of the previous season.  The less than successful outcomes also had their place - but as teaching moments. 

Things quieted down when many of the tourists were attracted by the clarion call of musket fire.  It is at this time when some of the best tourist interactions occur. Often these are the visitors who truly come to learn and linger to hear their thoughtful questions answered.

So after a good night’s sleep and now that the rest of the props and clothing from Saturday’s event have been put away, I’ve had time to do my AAR, which generally is just batted around between a few close friends.  But this time I’m going public because I’m kind of frustrated.  Because once again, the majority of women participating at this event are on the sidelines or in this case the rope lines.

Been there done that.  Yes, you are doing a valuable service as guide and interpreter and the Park Service and the Tower Park organizers rely on the help. And believe me, I'm not disparaging the role of guide and interpreter. But the actual battle is less an hour – what about the rest of the day? Ladies, once again, like every other event of the season, the guys are the show and you are taking a supporting role when you could be spending your day as the main event!

Battle Road is unique as it is really a collection of event and venues.  There is something for everyone.  But the more I think about it, the ladies (and the guys who don’t want to spend their day burning powder) could do some amazing living history but are once again are focusing their day around an hour on the rope line.  But here's the thing - organizers are going to keep doing what they are doing unless you ask for change. The guys make sure their battle happens - maybe it's time to make sure you have other options - and there are other options.

So I challenge you ladies to elevate your participation at Battle Road.  Let’s plan something really worthy of your great clothes, research, and hard work.  It’s time to get off the sidelines and get in the game! Why not:

·      Set up a first person zone and practice scenarios focused on either domestic life or the events that would become the start of the Revolution.
·      Bring out the spinning wheels and teach each other to spin – or use a tape loom.
·      See if it is possible to quilt a petticoat in a weekend
·      Make a seasonal meal
·      Teach someone a new skill
     Learn a new skill
·      Do Laundry
·      Finish a project
·      Spend the day visiting and learning
·      Do a fashion show for the public
·      The possibilities are endless

Who’s in????

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