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How to Explain the RAVEN to everybody else

©02 The Media Desk
For the USS RAVEN (IFT) Newsletter

        Some organizations claim to be a 'brotherhood' (the Desk is many things, none of them politically correct, brotherhood and its derivatives will stand in for all variations thereof). Others strive to be quasi-military in their structure with ranks assigned and a definite chain of command. Others, either by default or by design, become more ad hoc, with everybody sort of doing everything and answering to one person who claims to know what's going on.
        There are those that work to change the world, others exist simply for fun. Some have a single purpose, others are a group whose interests change with the tide. There are political outfits, special interest groups, service organizations, and clubs of every stripe imaginable.
        There are clubs within organizations within even larger groups, such as a ladies circle within a church which itself belongs to a national, and even international outfit.
        Some of them can be bewildering with their ties and organizational structure. Others have played a major role in history and some pass like a summer storm and are forgotten the next day...

        In or about 1717 four small groups of craftsmen met to discuss their trade and organize their individual guilds into a larger society. So was born the Grand Lodge of Freemasonry in London. It went on to become the largest fraternal organization in the world. The Masonic Order is now also the most famous and, some would say, influential Secret Society as well. With those mysterious symbols on cars, and rings, and a certain way of standing (on the square) to let others know without letting outsiders know you practice The Craft.
        Many books have been written about their history. They celebrate their many notables in museums scattered around the world. The Masons have counted Presidents and Nobel Prize Winners and even a few of the FBI's Most Wanted among their ranks.
        Today their work includes children's hospitals, research into mental illness, and programs to train animals to assist the handicapped as well as their more traditional networks in the business and political realms where a certain handshake can still open a door.

        Well.... The RAVEN doesn't have that grand of a history to tell.
        Indeed, the International Federation of Trekkers has a long way to go to even be considered in the same league as the Masons.
        But then again... there is really no other similarity with the Order than the fact that both do a lot of community service work. And both have something to offer if that is where your interests lie.
        The RAVEN does not require its members, and indeed its officers, to wear a special outfit, to give secret handshakes, and if the Desk tried to stand with its feet at ninety degrees it would need a chiropractor. There is no esoteric texts to learn, nobody takes their costumes nearly as seriously as some outfits do symbol-laden aprons or vests. And although the Captain of the RAVEN gets called many things, none of them are 'Worshipful Master', at least from the Desk.
        So we might as well end that entire comparison right there.

        The RAVEN just simply isn't a Brotherhood. Really, it's not a Fraternal Organization. For one, there are Sisters in it. And Daughters. And a Mother or three. And so far, after three years or so, nobody has called the Desk 'Brother'... although that above-mentioned Captain has called it several other things under his breath.

        And now you are saying, "OK, now we know what it isn't. So. What is it?"
        Well. It's almost everything else.

        You can work through degrees taking classes and memorizing arcane knowledge if you want to. Except the IFT calls them ranks and the Academy is entirely voluntary. And at least as far as the Desk is concerned, that Admiral insignia just means you pay for the first round. So... it is kinda like a Fraternal Organization.
        You can party hardy, make Romulin Ale from scratch and spend all night playing cards with people of like mindset. So... it is kinda like a Social Club.
        You can get all into the Science side and do High Energy Physics on anti-matter reactions to generate warp drive plasma if your calculator will stand it. And there are some around that will challenge your figures based on the Einstein-Rosen Bridge. So it is kinda like a science club.
        You can do the Sci-Fi and Fandom thing with some others and stand in line to get somebody's autograph if you want to. Others exchange pictures and bid on line for a copy of one of the Original Series actors albums. So it is kinda like a Sci-Fi club.
        You can paint a homeless shelter, and walk against cancer, and raise money for sick kids, and sell cookies for ... So it is kinda like a Community Service Club.
        You can worry about Parliamentary Procedure and buy a pocket guide to Robert's Rules of Order if you are so inclined. Then you can be your own cheerleader to get yourself elected to some office or other and become the Vice Chancellor of Something Important. So it is kinda like most other organizations and clubs too.
        You can do as little as possible, volunteer only when drafted, make fun of the Captain's haircut, and go into long rambling dissertations about the meaning of chicken wing sauce... oh, no, you can't, that's the Desk's job. Sorry.

        So exactly what IS the RAVEN?

        Well. It's a loose organization of people who more or less share a few common interests and assemble according to a rather loose configuration and chain of command with short term goals and long range projects and... According to one member... It's kinda like a large strange family. Dirty laundry and all.
        And just like a family, once the temper tantrums are over, they all work together once again toward those goals.

        It is. The USS RAVEN of the International Federation of Trekkers.

- Selah -

[NOTE: The MEDIA DESK and the USS RAVEN (IFT) is NOT affiliated in any known way with the Masonic Order or its subsidiaries or any other Community Service Group such as the Rotary, Lions & Etc. No Defamation of any group is intended. Thank you.]

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