Jun 29, 2015

IC: BrightStar's Promise

It was good to be back on solid land, if only for a day or two. Zoohen V's morning sun was warm as I walked through profusely blooming gardens toward the kennel. Promise ran ahead to examine and mark every tree, rock, and bush with great enthusiasm. Despite his compact stature, he was athletic and extremely correct. But his most notable feature was the sharply striated tones of black, gold, and russet in his coat. The uncommon coloring appeared to ripple in the bright sunlight as he moved. While more traditional brindle coloring is known in miniature slaver hounds, Promise's coloration appeared to be a unique variant. It was my hope to develop this variant as a dominant feature in the BrightStar Kennel line. I had my fingers crossed that it would breed true in combination with the excellent conformation and temperament for which BrightStar pups were known.

My Kennel Manager waved to me from an exercise yard. I could see a horde of fat little pups bouncing around at her feet--three litters sired by Promise, all about 7 weeks old.

"Hey Lacey!" I called out.

"Hey, Mynx!" she replied, "I'm so glad you could get back here while they're still in the cute stage!"

I grinned, stepped over the low fence, and sat on the grass. Immediately fourteen excited pups bombarded me in an effort to lick my face, chew on my clothes, and bite my fingers. Six of them--four males and two females--looked to have Promise's coloring. Only time would tell if their conformation, temperament, and coat pattern was good enough to qualify them for the breeding program. In the moment, however, they were all adorable! That wouldn't last...in another month or so they would all be horrible hooligans and their training to become good citizens would begin in earnest. Lacey would have her hands full then, but if I knew her, she'd love every minute of that process.

After extracting myself from the puppy pack, Lacey and I retreated into the cool, cozy office to discuss the breeding stock's family lines and outlook breeding plans for the pups. We were both excited by the possibilities but it would be a year or more before any of these plans bore fruit. Meanwhile, we could dream.

"By the way, none of the plain-colored pups in these litters carry the mutated gene. I assume it's okay to sell them after I'm done with their basic training and temperament testing?" Lacey asked.

I nodded and said, "Sure thing...let's DNA-test every pup going forward...I don't want anything with the mutation leaving here intact. I guess we need some more breeding quality bitches--I'll see what's available and bring them home next visit."

"Makes sense...we have room for 8 or 10 more in the kennel...and there's no end of demand for the pet quality pups. Want some lunch?" she asked.

"Sure," I said. We headed for house, Promise at my heels.

"Oh! I almost forgot!" Lacey said as we sat on the veranda later. "The association paperwork is in order and the name registered, so I'm going to go ahead and hire someone to deal with the admin stuff."

"Great...it'll be nice to get a hound registry going here. What'd you call it?" I asked.

"Nothing very brilliant: the New Eden Miniature Slaver Hound Association. I figured we could call it NEMSHA for short." She shrugged.

"Sounds good to me. Thanks for following up on that." Lacey was one of my favorite employees; practical and high-energy, she always got things done and done right.

I finished my lunch and tossed a tidbit to Promise who caught it mid-air as usual.

"Did the lab get his straws done?" I asked, indicating my hopeful little hound. I threw him another tidbit.

"Yeah, we're good to go for ... like ... ever." she replied.

"Okay then, I'm taking him with me this time," I said.

"Thank the gods," Lacey exclaimed. "All he does is mope around when you're not here. Spoiled brat."

"You're fired, Lacey, for calling this darling creature such vile names!"

We laughed...we both knew Promise could be a pain in the ass. (Just ask my Hangar Manager. On second thought, don't. She gets very cranky about "that damn hound underfoot all the time".)

The afternoon was spent drinking a delicious local wine while I described life in Signal Cartel and talked about the Drifter threat and recent dramas concerning Dr. Hilen Tukoss' remains. As a non-capsuleer, Lacey found it all fascinating and at the same time horrifying. She couldn't quite wrap her head around capsuleer immortality, the atrocities and loss of life that so many of my kind were responsible for, and what it all meant for someone who almost never left the planet.

"You seem so different from all that when you're here...so...normal," she observed.

I sipped my wine. "I guess I've learned that in order to stay human, one must do basic human things. Like walk in sunshine, breathe fresh air, and pet dogs. It would be easy to never leave my pod but...I fear that way lies madness. You know?" She nodded, but she couldn't ever really know.

In my quarters the next day at the Theology Council Station, I stroked the small dog asleep on my lap as I worked through several days' worth of emails and whispered, "You keep me human, Promise. You keep me human."

Jun 27, 2015

Curating a Corp Culture

It is an interesting thing to establish a vision for a "counter-culture" corp, lay the groundwork, and watch it manifest the way it has been doing in Signal Cartel.

As we continue to grow at the surprisingly consistent rate of about 100 new members per month, the central pillar of our corp culture--the Credo--is subject to interpretation by more people every day. More questions are raised about meaning, intent, and scope. More guidance is sought regarding practical applications in specific circumstances. More boundaries are tested and more debate is generated. This has led to some heated discussions as different interpretations of the Credo and different temperaments or outlooks collide. While sometimes challenging to moderate in a way that fosters free expression yet maintains civility, all such discussions are welcomed and encouraged by leadership.

In an effort to better understand what parts of the Credo our pilots struggle with and how they personally embrace its tenets, I recently put out a call to our membership for Credo feedback. To give you some idea of just how strongly our pilots feel about the matter, I got back about 10,000 words of opinions, suggestions, and questions within a couple of days. In addition to which, there have been extended conversations about it in our Alliance chat and on comms. In all these communications, I find myself constantly amazed at the intelligence, maturity, wisdom, and insightfulness of our members. The really neat thing is hearing from so many how much it means to them to be a part of the vision for Signal Cartel. It is a humbling responsibility to curate a corp culture that has such high value to such a large number of people.

And so Signal Cartel leadership (myself, Johnny Splunk, G8keeper, and Helios Anduath) is currently reviewing all of the feedback received and considering how best to answer questions and provide guidance to our members. As our Credo-inspired culture becomes ever more deeply entrenched, we are less interested in being "Credo Cops" than in sharing our vision of Credo intent and "best practices" application in ways that encourage others to internalize those things and let their actions and decisions be informed appropriately. It is particularly challenging to find the right balance between policing Credo compliance and evolving a self-policing culture but that is an organic thing which can only happen over time and we are beginning to see desirable trends in that regard. As someone who finds the social interaction in New Eden to be its most compelling aspect, I am fascinated by how far things have come already and how Credo challenges play out among our members.

"But spaceships, what about those?!" Oh yeah...well, we don't just sit around ship-spinning, drinking fine Gallente wine, and droning on about corp culture all day. We *are* out there in space all the time, everywhere, doing things:

From crazy-ass Party Probers fleets to in-space research to wormhole ops to getting lost on expeditions to impromptu mentoring roams, we are fearless about undocking and embracing the unknown. We encourage and provide lots of resources to aid in savvy piloting but losing ships is simply the price we sometimes pay for going in search of enlightenment and valuable loot in dangerous places. I sometimes joke that we are solely responsible for keeping the Astero market afloat. The truth is that killboard ISK efficiency is of very little interest to me. What I care about is that Signaleers accept losses gracefully, show opponents respect regardless of circumstances, and undock their next ship with the same enthusiasm as they did the previous ones. We do this amazingly consistently, thanks to the mindset fostered by the Credo and the generosity of our members with each other both in sharing expertise and helping each other with more tangible support. The lack of tears and whinging due to losses might well be one of the most delightful things about our corp culture. We know how to laugh at ourselves, have fun, and roll with the punches.

And so we go, and so we grow. It is indeed a fine thing to behold. You can be part of it, if you're so inclined. We welcome everyone with whom our corp culture resonates. If you'd like to learn more about our culture or about joining, drop by the EvE-Scout public channel in-game and listen to our recent interviews on The Neocom and Hydrostatic podcasts.