Airship Insiders & Airship Outsiders

Many steampunk collectives choose to organize themselves as an airship with a clear hierarchy of commanding officers under the leadership of a benevolent captain. Incidentally, I am under the firm conviction that the steampunk persona title “captain” should be reserved for those who actually lead a group . . . but that’s just my opinion. While there are many benefits to organizing the group as an airship, such as camaraderie, a group with whom to coordinate events, and a sense of having a tribe with a collective identity, there comes a downside if you are a steampunk who finds themselves outside the group.


Many Airships and Steampunk groups are extremely welcoming and supportive to newcomers, but there are often circumstances in which newcomers can get overlooked and left with the initial impression that the Airship is a closed group with no immediately apparent way to get inside. Despite often having recruitment tables at other conventions, when it comes to an actual steampunk convention groups and Airships seem far less concerned about finding new members. At a steampunk convention you might see Airship banners hanging off of hotel balconies, and groups in matching uniforms or airship colors parading around the conference space . . . a sight truly awesome to see, but potentially overwhelming and confusing for those newcomers who thought that it would be neat to go to a steampunk convention for the first time. When you show up at a party and everyone already seems to be friends, it is very tempting to just turn around and go home . . . how many times has the Steampunk Community lost new members because they came to an event and felt invisible and ignored?

Sky Pirates

Of course there are also many steampunks who do not feel the need to be part of a formal airship, the Steampunk Ronin. Should one feel obligated to “sign up” or “pledge” to an airship? Will one miss out on invitations to events if you’re not a member of various social media pages? Where do these ladies and gentlemen fit if a convention’s events, such as the Symposium Games at the International Steampunk Symposium, are designed for pre-established groups?

So what is the solution to this problem? Unlike many posts, I do not have definitive answers for you, but it is important that the conversation be had. How can steampunk groups, events, and airships continue to be welcoming to new attendees even after the group has successfully grown?

One potential answer might be an airship position of the Recruiter, a sort of HR person whose role it is to reach out to new people and find out details about them and welcome them into the group, or based on geography recommend another airship closer to where they live, and then introduce the new person(s) to the Recruiter of a closer airship. At the same time, it is important that airships do not get too close knit and cut themselves off from other groups; at some events a collection of airships can appear to be cliques not interacting with each other in some scene reminiscent of high school society.

The main thing to remember is that we are all steampunks, united by a common interest and aesthetic, and while organizing a group as an airship has many advantages, be careful not to isolate the group from others, and certainly not from new steampunks cautiously entering the Community.


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