National Craft Month

CraftMonth

 

In 1994, the Craft & Hobby Association designated March as National Craft Month in order to help people “rediscover and learn about the benefits of crafting.”[1] As with many other organizations, the Association rebranded in 2017, as The Association for Creative Industries. This organization bills itself as the “premier trade association for the global creative arts products industries. AFCI is committed to its vision of a healthy, vibrant and innovative community that enriches people’s lives through crafting and other creative activities.” [2]
 

What is a “craft” though? Some may equate it with a particular skilled trade such as being a carpenter, while others may think of it as “The Craft,” the 1996 movie featuring Neve Campbell. There are many, many different perspectives on crafting, but according to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the first definition is: “skill in planning, making, or executing;” while the second entry is “an occupation or trade requiring manual dexterity or artistic skill.”[3] This definition covers quite a wide array of activities, and so can be an indication that crafting communities are very inclusive.
 

In the community of TarValon.Net, we are holding a year-long project named The Great Charity Hunt, in which members are encouraged to contribute in some fashion to particular charities or causes. Each month there is a challenge, and it so happens that the challenge for March synchronizes with National Craft Month. March’s challenge is to “use your crafting skills in order to create as many cage liners/cuddle pads as possible for your local animal shelter before March 31, 2021.”[4] So, not only is March’s challenge a way to utilize one’s skills, it is also used as a way to help out local animal shelters.
 

At the Tar Valon Times, we would like to encourage those who enjoy crafting to show off your skills and your progress to the world. Of course, at TarValon.Net we have two forums in which to do so. First we have the “Hand Crafts” forum, in which there are discussions about “crafty pursuits;”[5] and secondly, we also have the “Costume/Cosplay” forum,” a place to discuss the making and wearing of costumes!”
 

Whether you pursue crafting as more of a hobby or whether you have your own business, the marking of National Craft Month is important: crafting brings with it benefits. So, craft away!
 

[1] National Day Calendar – Craft Month
[2] Creative Industries
[3] Craft in the Dictionary
[4] Heroes of the Horn – March Challenge
[5] TarValon.Net Hand Crafts Discussion Forum

No Comments

TVTT Novice/Recruit Edition – Heart Health Month

TVTT Novice Recruit

 

Throughout the year, there are months that are dedicated — both in the United States and throughout the world — to advocacy for many different causes. Here at the Tar Valon Times, we would like to highlight some of these months. Many that we will be focusing on will center around health, while others may center around societal advocacy. As we close out February, we bring you one of the month’s focuses in the United States and in Britain, which is Heart Health. (This article has several footnotes for your reference and more information.)
 

Personally, being mindful of the health of my own heart is important to me; my paternal grandmother, one of my father’s sisters, and my father himself have had a condition called atrial fibrillation. Atrial fibrillation is an irregular and often rapid heart rate, which can increase risk of strokes, heart failure, and other cardiac conditions. Sometimes medicine can help treat symptoms, but in other situations pacemakers or other medical procedures are necessary.[1] Also, six months ago one of my good friends, age 37, had a severe heart attack. One hundred percent of his Left Anterior Descending artery was blocked, one which is typically called a widowmaker.[2] Thankfully, he survived, but there are mental consequences as well: depression and anxiety among them. So, those are my experiences that center around heart issues, and I would suspect that other members of the site have similar stories.
 

The two organizations that I am getting the information in this article are the American Heart Association (AHA) and the British Heart Foundation (BHF). Both of these organizations are advocacy groups: they provide public relations campaigns, particularly during the month of February. Another way they provide knowledge is through the collection and release of statistics about cardiovascular and circulatory diseases. Perhaps the most substantial way the American Heart Association and the British Heart Foundation contribute is through the funding they provide to researchers. What has the AHA done with their funding? The AHA “has funded 14 Nobel Prize winners and several important medical breakthroughs, including techniques and standards for CPR, the first artificial heart valve, implantable pacemakers, cholesterol inhibitors, microsurgery and drug-coated stents.” [3] The BHF has conducted research in the areas of Congenital Heart Problems, Heart Rhythm Problems, Heart Failure, Heart Attacks, Heart Valve Disease, and Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy. [4]
 

What does heart disease look like, “by the numbers?” Well, in the UK, there are 7.6 million people living with heart and circulatory diseases; 450 people die each day from a heart or circulatory heart disease; there are more than 100,000 people admitted to hospital each year due to heart attacks; and on average, there is one stroke each minute.[5] In the USA, in 2017, Cardiovascular Disease accounted for 868,662 deaths; while in 2018, Strokes accounted for about one of every 19 deaths; while any-mention cardiac arrest mortality was 393,872.[6]
 

So, how about some facts and myths about heart health? Fact: A Broken Heart is a legitimate medical condition (It’s also called Takotsubo Cardiomyopathy). Fact: Poor Oral Health increases heart disease risk. Myth: Exercise and Diet are my only solution to better heart health. In fact, lowering stress levels and increasing sleep quality greatly impact cardiovascular health and wellness.[7]
 

Taking care of one’s heart is important, and can impact our health overall; of course, we also know that other health conditions can affect heart health. Here at the Tar Valon Times, we want to advocate for being mindful of the health of our members. As a community, as a family, we want the best for one another. One of the ways we can care for the heart, and one of my favorite pastimes, is listening to music.[8] So, as Roxette sang, and DHT reminded us, “Listen to Your Heart.”
 

[1] Cleveland Clinic
[2] Healthline
[3] Heart Fact Sheet
[4] BHF
[5] HBF Statistics
[6] Heart.Org
[7] Active Beat
[8] Health at Harvard

No Comments

Member Spotlight: Aintza Bisera

Member Spotlight Aintza

 

Atane cautiously walks into the darkened offices of one of his mentors, Aintza Bisera Sedai; the message he had received from her mentioned that he should bring his writing materials. “Aintza Sedai? I’m here…with my quill, ink, and parchment as you ordered…” As he begins to look around, he starts in surprise as his mentor sits mounted on her flaming horse.
 

[​IMG]
 

“Mistress? Your horse? How? Your offices? The stables…” Atane’s voice trails off.
 

“Oh, Atane, Atane,” Aintza Sedai laughs. “You know Poot, right? My trusty steed.”
 

Atane knew Poot alright, as the horse had made a habit of trying to bite him when given the task of feeding it treats.
 

“Anyway, I wanted to see if anyone would notice if Poot were in my offices; and if they did, what they would say,” stated his mentor.
 

Atane mentally rolled his eyes; Aintza Sedai was a bit quirky and had an odd sense of humor, but she was a good mentor.
 

“You may be wondering why I summoned you, with your writing materials for that matter. Yes, yes. Well, I thought it would be fitting for me to be interviewed for the Tar Valon Times. I mentioned it to Aleita Sedai, and she thought it was a grand idea. So you, my dear boy, will be the one interviewing me. Shall we begin?”
 

As one may expect, this month’s Member Spotlight is Aintza Sedai — Aes Sedai of the Brown Ajah, Mayor, Moderator, and Game Master. She graciously made time to answer the questions posed to her. Aintza lives in Texas with her husband, Ael, and their cats (including the kitten, Poot). She is a Health Insurance Benefits Agent, which means she tells people what their insurance policies do or do not cover. As with many occupations with an emphasis on explaining services, she encounters many people who take their frustrations out on the person trying to help them. She would ask those reading this to remember that the representative of the company is a person and does not take joy in the suffering of others.
 

Aintza1

(Aintza and Ael)

 

When asked about her multiple roles in the community, Aintza explained them in this manner: “As Mayor I am membership admin for Citizens and Resident Citizens. When a new person joins, I am their first contact for questions and anything they need! We have some really fun things coming up, so keep an eye out!
 

Game Master encompasses Mafia Admin, Frivolous Fun Mod, and now Online Events/games. So basically, I run and mod Mafia games, make sure things are moving smoothly in the games forum, and help run games in the Tar Valon Discord. For example, every first Sunday I hold a movie watch party – March is Hamilton! And my roles are definitely complimentary, my main goal as an Admin is to make sure everyone is having fun!”
 

Aintza2

(Stubbz having fun)

 

She is also, as previously mentioned, an Aes Sedai of the Brown Ajah. She chose Brown because, in short, the Browns are her home. Ultimately, her and her Brown siblings share a very similar sense of humor; not only that, but they have also supported her the times when she has needed their support. She values their honesty, the skill with GIFs, the fact that one can count on them to be passionate and curious about their interests, and that they will tell a person, or group of people, how they feel.
 

Aintza 3

(Poot informing you of thoughts)

 

Aintza’s favorite memory from the Tower also involves the Browns. As she described it, “My favorite memory was actually a pretty low-key Sunday morning at my second Anni talking about Star Wars with Stasia and Ashlyn, two of my Brown Sisters. It was nice and comfy. But I have a lot of great ones.”
 

When discussing guests, and new citizens, she wants to tell them that this community is like no other. She’s met some of her favorite people and best friends on this site; it’s worth sticking around for the people alone. And as Mayor, she’s committed to helping people get acclimated to the Site and the community as a whole.
 

What other interests may she have? Well, if she could have other pets, one would be a Vulptex (from Crait); and the other would be a Porg (from Ahch-To). Both of these creatures are from Star Wars. Aintza also enjoys reading, recently having read all the Bridgerton novels; but she has a particular affinity for Neil Gaiman, especially his work “American Gods.” For her, it stems from the fact that she has always been interested in mythology; with American Gods touching on many different Pantheons and the concept of Old Gods vs. New Gods being of particular interest.
 

Aintza also has some show recommendations: “The Boys” and “American Gods,” but cautions that both of these shows can be very graphic. She would also recommend Battlestar Galactica. However, she states that her preferences in movies cannot be trusted; on the list of movies she enjoys are: the Mummy movies, Beerfest, the original Dune, and anything/everything Star Wars. She demands that you watch The Clone Wars tv show. Now. She’s not brooking any argument.
 

If she were to live in another setting, it would be the Mass Effect world, for it is familiar, yet space can be explored. Also, she is Commander Shepard. Ael will tell you, just ask him.
Thank you for joining us for another installment of the Tar Valon Times Member Spotlight. See you next time!

No Comments

Feast of Lights 2020 | VC & Yellow Ajah GCH Causes

GCHYellowVCBanner

 

The Great Charity Hunt is an exciting venture undertaken by the members of TarValon.Net, and an undertaking to be proud of. Aleita Taviah kicked off our coverage of The Great Charity Hunt with an explanation of what this project is in the Tar Valon Times. In her words, “a new and exciting approach to philanthropy at TarValon.Net for the coming year”, a “year-long philanthropic challenge, and friendly competition between the membership groups at TarValon.Net”. So, not only can we as members of TarValon.Net contribute to some of our favorite causes, we can also brag when our particular membership group wins.

 

Val’Cueran Cause – Nature and Wildlife Conservation & Adopt a Wolf

 

Val’Cueran’s overarching focus is conservation of the planet, ecosystems, and the life within. One of the focuses of the Heart Guard is the “Adopt-a-Wolf” project. The goal of this project is to continue to foster the introduction of Red Wolves into the wild. The goal for Val’Cueran is to adopt at least one wolf at the highest level (US Dollars $500), in order to facilitate bringing Red Wolves back from the brink of extinction. There are also rewards for contributing at the highest level: a printed photograph of your wolf, an adoption certificate, an American Red Wolf fact sheet, Acknowledgement on the adoption page online, and a behind the scenes tour for you and your family (up to 6 individuals). Already, USD $250 has been pledged and $200 has been paid in this exciting project. Alora Sionn is also planting American Chestnut trees on her property in order to help bring this particular species of tree back from the brink of extinction. Another suggestion from the Company is to use the Ecosia search engine, the usage of which contributes to the planting of trees, worldwide.

 

The Yellow Ajah Cause – Mental Health Advocacy for LGBTQ+ Youth

 

The members of the Yellow Ajah are focusing on Mental Health Advocacy, particularly among LGBTQ+ Youth. There are troubling statistics concerning Mental Health in the LGBTQ+ community, as well as discrimination against LGBTQ+ persons, according to ThriveWorks, LGBTQ+ individuals are more than twice as likely as heterosexuals to have mental illness; Transgender individuals have higher rates of unemployment and poverty than non-transgender individuals. Also, many LGBTQ+ persons have reported feeling stigmatized or discriminated against when seeking health services. One of the organizations that the members of the Yellow Ajah are looking towards supporting is the Trevor Project. They are also looking for suggestions for other communities or organizations to support, so suggestions are always welcome.

 

While the Great Charity Hunt is a competition, it’s one that we would like to be friendly and supportive of each and every community group. So, if a particular member group looks for assistance and/or suggestions, or one feels drawn to another member group’s cause, let’s support one another and work to help each group.

No Comments

Member Spotlight: Qamra Daielin

QamraMS

 

Qamra Daielin, Gaidin of the Dai M’Hael Company, Mistress of Novices and Recruits, Tech Documentation Orderly, and Tower Gatekeeper is our guest for this month’s Tar Valon Times Member Spotlight. She graciously made time between her cryptid documenting schedule*, her professional life as an airplane broker/appraiser, and her “spare time” being married with a 7 year old. Qamra Gaidin and her family also have two Havanese puppers: Denver (17 months) and Keeper (8 months); Keeper is an aspiring show dog, so one may see Keeper as the winner of the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show one day. In Qamra Gaidin’s spare time, she is a gamer who enjoys playing “anything from WoW, to Animal Crossing, to Stardew Valley, to Sims. I play on both PC and consoles.” In her spare, spare time, she uses her musical talents to play in her Community Band and is getting more involved in the Reddit Symphony Orchestra. The instruments that she plays are the flute and piccolo, so one could say that she’s familiar with the woodwind family.

Picture of the two good puppers.

 

Why did she join Dai M’Hael? Well, according to her, it was the inclusive nature of the Company. She came to the Company after she demoted, as a female (a year after integration), and felt welcome and accepted for who she was. And that is one of the things she loves about the Company, that the Company accepts guests (Accepted/Soldier), Bonded, and Aspirants and desires and works to help them feel like they belong there.

 

Qamra Gaidin, as listed, is one of the Tower Gatekeepers; but what does the Tower Gatekeeper do? Well, along with her fellow Gatekeepers, she is in charge in of a lot of the access members get. As she explained, “If you are a Citizen and are summoned to the Tower, we are the ones that set you up with access. If you’re a new member on the site, we are the ones that activate the account to try to keep the spam bots out. As Accepted/Soldiers guest, we are the ones that move people around to the different groups”. As you may surmise, this is an important and busy position.

 

This position is not connected to her position as the Mistress of Novices and Recruits, or the MoNsteR, as she likes to be referred to. So, what does she do as the MoNsteR? First, she is open and available for answering questions, concerns or needs with absolutely no judgment. She is available via email, discord, or site pm, and will get to it as soon as possible. She says she’s around 90 percent of the time, the rest of the time she’s sleeping or documenting cryptids*. And then, even when she should be sleeping, she’s an insomniac, so…she may still be around. Another one of her goals is to find ways for novices and recruits to interact with Senior Members, so that when the Junior Members begin guesting as Accepted/Soldiers, they have good relationships with which they can start and see faces they recognize within each Ajah and company. Qamra Gaidin is also always looking for more ways that Junior Members and Senior Members can interact. She’s also planning a Virtual Field Trip, and so she’s requesting the Heads of Ajah and Company Commanders to check their emails soon.

 

Why the fondness for the term MoNsteR though? Well, it all started when she was a novice, and in her own mind, she called the MoN that, because it amused her, not because that MoN was mean. So, when Qamra Gaidin received the position of MoNR, she thought MoNsteR fit even more. She’s also a fan of monsters in general, with Sully (from Monsters, Inc.) as her favorite.

 

Her role as Mistress of Novices and Recruits connects with one of the changes that has been made over the years. Much is covered about Voluntary Demotion and Integration, but there have been more changes that have been very substantial. One of these changes was the decision to eliminate the ability to send a Junior Member to the Mistress of Novices and Recruits Office. Sometimes Junior Members would pull little pranks or jokes or forget to use honourifics, so they’d be sent to the MoN’s office for penance. “Usually, it was silly things like writing a haiku or I remember one JM who was rather spammy having to go a WEEK posting without using the letter “e”. However, in time, it was felt that it was overstepping bounds on the site and it was made aware that it was intimidating, some JMs felt nervous about “what if” and we didn’t want that kind of negativity on the site so the rules around that were changed. We hope that it is a much more positive environment now.”

 

Another change has been the change from essentially life-long terms. “If you were a Head of Ajah/Company Commander/Mayor/Mistress or Master of Novices/etc. it was basically until you decided to step down. So, it was not unusual to have a HoA for 2 to 4 years+. Same with a lot of the director/administration positions.” As Qamra Gaidin stated, this allows more people to get involved with the Tower in a different way and brings fresh ideas and growth to the site.

 

So, what does Qamra Gaidin want citizens and guests who eventually want to apply to the Tower to know? “That we would absolutely love to have you! Each person shapes the Tower, and the site as a whole and we really DO like meeting new people and learning more about them through the journey through the Tower.”

 

Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed getting to know our very own Qamra Gaidin.

 

 

*Qamra Gaidin has been silent on the existence of cryptids and the existence of an observation society within the Tower.

No Comments