TVTT Red Ajah Edition – Traditions

 
Our Red Ajah Takeover continues today with a look at one of the group’s newer traditions.
 

Our site Reds have developed several Ajah traditions over the years, many of which they are famous (or infamous?) for. Things like the Red Wall or Baby Reds are well-documented. And several others can be found on their Community Page.
 

One newer tradition they have adopted is that of a gifted charm necklace or bracelet. When a member is raised to Aes Sedai, they receive a chain, a red bead, and an acorn. The red bead is obvious, but what about the acorn? Head of Ajah Katherine Avery explains, “The acorn is our symbol. It stands for the ability to learn and grow at any time, even if we look dormant.”
 


 

There are beads for serving in Ajah leadership positions and in special ways for the group and community, symbols that the Ajah uses to represent characteristics and ideals — rose, crane, cat, chair, heart, to name a few.
 

And then there are beads that represent each member of the Ajah, which are gifted in exchange to each other upon meeting in person. Each bead is unique to a member of the Ajah, and is something the person has selected that represents them.
 

What a “charming” tradition, thank you Red Ajah for sharing with us this week!

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TVT Takeover – Red Ajah Edition

 
Welcome dear readers to August! Y’all know what that means — it’s time for our latest in the TVT Takeover series, this month featuring the Red Ajah! One of my favorite things about serving as Editor is working with our Membership groups on their takeover submissions. Each month has been as unique as the members themselves. Many thanks to the Head of Ajah Katherine Avery for helping to round up her fellow Reds for this TVTT!
 

A peek at the Red Ajah’s Community Page reveals a lot about their members, thoughts about Book Reds vs. Site Reds, and some of their traditions (we will share more about one of them later in the week).
 

There are fun quotes like this one: “The Red Ajah is like a frozen Snickers bar – in one word, Awesome. Kind of tough to chew through, might break your teeth, but it leaves you thinking, ‘Whoa, that was Amazing.'”
 

My inbox has been flooded all week with some really great photos from the Red Ajah members, I put them first in the takeover because I couldn’t wait to share them with all of you!
 

First up, a couple of pics from in-person gatherings — what a good-looking bunch of people; and y’all look at these gorgeous shawls!
 

 

Bonus shawl photo, how pretty is this?!

 

 

The Red Ajah members also have some adorable pets:

 

 

  

 

And this last one from one of the Red’s Aes Sedai, a compilation of all the bunnies she’s had, dressed up in red (of course):

 

 

 I found another quote about our site Reds in their Library section, from “Reds on Red.” I really liked it and so I’ll end today’s piece here:

 

 

Stay tuned this week as we bring you more from the Red Ajah –including a poetry reading, more about one of their newer Ajah traditions, and a throw-back social media highlight!

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Merit Badges – July 2021

 

Welcome back readers to our series that will run each quarter, highlighting our TarValon.Net Merit Badges!
 

What are Merit Badges? First introduced in 2011, Merit Badges (i.e. “Merits”) are a way to acknowledge the time and effort that our members put into the Community. The program has expanded over the years, and we have Merits for a variety of categories. From time spent as an active Member, volunteering at an official event, mentoring Junior Members, taking or teaching classes, or serving in a staff position. These are just a few of our Merit Badge categories. Merits are listed in each member’s profile in the Library, and some of them will earn you “perks” like discounts for Official Events.
 

Here are the Merit Badges awarded this quarter with a little explanation of what they are for:
 

Membership Merit

This Merit is awarded for “time served” as a community member. Members earn a Gold Merit for every five years of membership, and a Silver Merit for 2.5 years.
 

Staff Merit

Many of our staff positions qualify for the Staff Merit, which again is awarded for a certain amount of time served. These are cumulative across departments, not just time spent in one position. Five years earns a Gold Merit, while 2.5 years earns a Silver Merit.
 

Pro Bono Merit

Members earn a gold merit after providing HR, graphical, legal or IT expertise to the Tower free of charge for 3 years. A silver is earned after 1.5 years.
 

Mentoring Merit

This Merit Badge falls under the “Raising the Next Generation” category and is a silver merit. The silver is awarded after mentoring at least five Junior Members that rise at least one rank. The gold is awarded after mentoring at least ten Junior Members that have risen at least one rank.
 

Group Service Merit

This is a newer Merit, introduced in 2017. It falls under the “Administrative Service” category and is a silver merit. It is awarded annually to one person in each community group as chosen by their group leader. It can be awarded once per year for each group.
 

Camp Nurse Merit

This merit is part of Event Leadership. Members earn a gold merit after acting as a Camp Nurse three times for Official Events. A silver is earned after acting as a Camp Nurse once for an Official Event.
 

Spirit Merit

It falls under the “Online Spirit” category and is a silver merit. It can be earned after receiving two “Spirit of _____” awards, given out for each of our online freeweeks. It can be earned more than once.
 

Climbing the Ladder Merit

This is a gold only merit. Members can earn this merit after serving as Staff, Administrator and Executive for at least three months.
 

Reporter Merit

These Merits are earned by submitting content to the Tar Valon Times. A Silver Merit is earned after publishing 20 pieces, while a Gold Merit is earned for 50 pieces.
 

You can see the list of the July 2021 Merit awardees here. Want to know more about Merits you can earn? Our Library is a great source of information (used as reference material for this article), as is this post at the Head Librarian’s Desk. Thanks to everyone for your membership and service to the TarValon.Net community!

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Member Spotlight – Maibella ni Rhoiden t’al’Varrak

 
Welcome to our next Member Spotlight, all about Maibella ni Rhoiden t’al’Varrak! Maibella is an Aes Sedai of the Gray Ajah, and currently serving as the Head of Ajah, or Head Clerk. It’s a coincidence that her spotlight came up in the rotation this week – when we’ve been highlighting relationships in our Community – because Maibella is married to Vendri al’Varrak, Gaidin of Dai M’Hael. They are a “Tower couple,” having met through our site and married in 2018. There were several Tower members who were able to attend their wedding, something which Maibella speaks of fondly.
 

Maibella is a native of the state of Maryland, and claims to have a lot of state pride. She is the proud mom of her son, a 2020 graduation who is now 19 years old and lives in California. She and Vendri have three fur children – dogs Copper, Penny and Bella (yes, they are all Disney names).
 

 

 

Professionally, Maibella is an Operations Manager for a “design/build firm that specializes in stream, wetland, and shoreline restoration projects.” Her volunteer work involves serving with an international student exchange program, helping match up incoming students to host families.

 

“I absolutely love it! I get to plan fun activities for the kids and learn about their cultures and languages. It’s an absolute blast. And even better is when we get to host a student ourselves. So far we’ve hosted two students and we’d be doing it again this year except that our local school isn’t accepting students due to the pandemic. I’m hopeful that one day I can take a trip across Europe and Asia staying only with my former exchange students and Tower people the entire way!”
 

Additionally, she loves hosting Tower parties, and is making plans to do more. (I’m ready for a trip to Maryland, who’s with me?! Or Tennessee is fine too… the couple is planning a move in 2022.)
 

I love asking interviewees how they find TarValon.Net, the answers are always varied and interesting! Here was Maibella’s response:
 

“I was an active book blogger when The Gathering Storm was being released. I applied for a position as a “Storm Leader” for the book signing at my local bookstore. The idea was that local bloggers and social media influencers would be selected to assist with the logistics at each book signing event and have an opportunity to meet Brandon Sanderson and Harriet McDougal, in return for promoting the event and the book. I was selected as a Storm Leader for my local event and got to have dinner with Brandon and Harriet and help out with the book signing. It was a ton of fun! I met Adolla Sedai because she was another of the Storm Leaders, and she invited me to join TarValon.Net… I didn’t check it out at the time. When Towers of Midnight was released I attended the book signing and ran into Adolla again, and she introduced me to several other Tower members who had come to town specifically for the signing. They convinced me to give the Tower a chance, and I’ve been here ever since.”
 

Once Maibella joined TarValon.Net, she started connecting with several of the Junior Members. (Including yours truly!) Some of them started an unofficial group called The Brandsworn, which involved things like riding weird animals and lots of spamming. She said what really connected everything for her was her first live event, JordanCon 2014. Being able to meet people in person really was important to her, and something she is looking forward to again.
 

Sleepy Hollow Fall Ball in 2019, including Maibella’s son and their exchange student.

 

Maibella was raised Aes Sedai of the Gray Ajah in 2015. She is very “Gray” in real life, being someone who values seeing all sides of an issue, helping others do the same, and seeking balance. She has served in several leadership positions, including four years as Editor of our very own Tar Valon Times!
 

This spring, she took on the mantle of Head Clerk (Head of Ajah). It’s a position that she has had her eye on, but saw that this is a good time in her personal life to take it on. One of her main goals as Head Clerk is for people to know the Gray Ajah better. The Classroom recently held The Ajahs of TarValon.Net with Ajah Representatives, featuring a different Ajah each week. (It was fantastic!!) Maibella helped to lead the Gray Ajah’s week, and really enjoyed the opportunity to talk about Gray, and interact with not only the Junior Member students, but also other Senior Members who were participating.
 

Maibella also would like to see more JM’s guesting in Gray. There has been a lot of activity already this year, with as many as 8-9 guests at once! “I’d also like Gray to have a consistent schedule of game days. In the past we’ve sporadically gotten together (virtually) to play Cards Against Humanity or GeoGuessr and I’d love to see us be more consistent about that. We are spread very thin, with a large number of our members in Europe, so virtual events are a great way to bring us together.”
 

Personal connections with people is a very important ideal that comes across clearly when talking to Maibella. She said that the friendships she’s made in our community helped her work through difficult times, led her to meeting and marrying Vendri, gave her the opportunity to get out of her comfort zone by attending live events, and a place she enjoys to volunteer her time.
 

“I want this community to thrive both for the things it has given to me and for the opportunities it may give to others in the future. It is a special place and I want to do what I can to keep it that way.”

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The Ties That Bind

 

The ties that bind us are sometimes impossible to explain.
Some bonds defy distance and time and logic.
Because some ties are simply…meant to be.

~ Grey’s Anatomy

This article contains minor spoilers.

 

As part of our Social Media Team’s focus on bonding this week, we take a look at some of the different types of relationships and bonds which join together members of our community.

 

Arguably one of the most appealing benefits of our TarValon.Net community is the relationships we form with one another. It’s woven in our site’s DNA — we are encouraged to get to know each other by participating in activities and getting to know each other in a variety of ways to find common ground. We become Resident Citizens or join the Tower to connect with a Senior Membership group. We host official in-person gatherings, and celebrate unofficial ones. We connect with each other on our forums, in Discord, over video chats, and (when possible) in person. Many of us make friends who become family, members from around the world who we share our journeys with. And in some cases, we acknowledge these relationships through official ceremonies.

 

These ceremonies are based on events we read about in the Wheel of Time series. We read about the first-sister ceremony between Elayne and Aviendha while among the Aiel. Our members can celebrate relationships akin to this as part of our community. Here at TarValon.Net we recognize this bond between members with the First-Sibling ceremony. Some members also recognize Near-Siblings as a version of this bond.

 

Then we have The Bond. We see the bond in The Wheel of Time between Aes Sedai and their Warders. Many of our members have entered Aes Sedai/Warder bonds on our site, the oldest current bond according to our Library dating back to July 2001. TarValon.Net currently has around 140 bonded pairs. Originally, The Bond could only be held between an Aes Sedai (female members of Ajahs) and Gaidin (male members of Companies). The process of Integration in 2014 opened this up significantly — this allowed site members to choose any of our 11 Senior Membership groups as their home. At the time of Integration the Bond was still only formalized between an Ajah member and a Company member.

 

This year saw an important change for TarValon.Net by officially recognizing Same Path Bonds. This means that Senior Members (regardless of path) may now choose to bond another Senior Member. On June 1st, our first four same path pairs were Bonded in the Light. We wish these new bond mates all the best!

 

 

Thank you to Ne’Mireth and Tree for sharing this beautiful moment from their Bonding Ceremony.

 

By the Light and my hope of salvation and rebirth.

 

Please note that our Library is being updated and does not yet reflect the inclusive language TarValon.Net now utilizes.

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