The Future Past That Never Was – Airship Isabella part 1

We have started filming on a documentary, and I was tasked with updating our written history.  In sitting down to write, I realized that while we have touched on a few of our life and company events, we haven’t logged anything since December of 2011 and that only chronicled until December of 2010.  You can find our early history here:  https://airshipisabella.wordpress.com/2011/12/29/airship-isabella-the-real-life-origins-of-cedric-and-amelia-whittaker/

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Cedric and John Strangeway at Steampunk World’s Faire 2011.

We’ve come a long way from that Dickens on the Strand in December of 2010.  It was our first big show, and so many of the newly burgeoning community showed up to support and promote the idea that steampunk belonged in both the spotlight and the everyday lives of the main stream communities.  It was filled with hope and energy and excitement.  The chant of “Steam….punk….Steam….PUNK….” haunts my dreams to this day.  We came off the high of that event into what would become our first extended convention run in the spring of 2011.  Six weeks in a row traveling between Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Arizona.  We started reaching out towider audiences and seriously ramped up our online presence.  It was in this time that SCARS was created.  It started as an idea that had been discussed between us and Ben Hamby of the Skydogs.  A statewide internet community group to promote discussion of the ideas, philosophies, build techniques and events that related to steampunk in Texas.  But with the rapid expansion of territory we had been reaching, limiting it to Texas seemed to be excluding some our most avid followers.  So we expanded it to the idea of the south central United States, hence the South Central Armada of Renegade Steampunks.  It took off like a weed and took on a life of it’s own almost instantly.  In March of 2011, we started our very first real internet campaign.  We decided, sitting in our run down Ike shack, between conventions, that there wasn’t enough representation from the South Central region in the awards ceremonies that were being held in some of the bigger events in the Northeast and West coast.  Steampunk World’s Faire had just announced nomination openings for a Knighting ceremony that May, and our first officer decided that this would be our chance to bring ourcommunity to the attention of the guys outside of our area.  We nominated our illustrious leader for knighthood, and campaigned vigorously for SCARS representation in the event.  The response was explosive.  Literally overnight, Cedric had outpaced every other nominee in the running.  John Strangeway, otherwise known as Steampunk Boba Fett, one of the other contestants, contacted us for the first time and his first words to Cedric were literally, “Who the hell ARE you?!”

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The photo we used for the Knighting campaign in 2011

Cedric flew through the nomination process and then the voting started.  Their systems crashed repeatedly with the traffic that was going to their site.  It was fantastic.  In the end, three men were granted knighthood, among them were Cedric and Strangeway.  So we pooled every penny we had, and bought tickets to Steampunk World’s Faire, a hotel room, and round trip greyhound bus tickets for Cedric and Javert.  And we sent them to New Jersey.  If you ever want a funny story, or just to see either Javert or Cedric turn beat red and angry, just ask them what it was like riding a greyhound bus for 40 hours.  It was our first experience with an established steampunk community and we were really surprised by the differences between there and home.  They had the same problems that we were facing, butthe sides were literally reversed.  It was bizarre, but comforting all at the same time.  We had begun having “purist” backlash in the SCARS world while in the Northeast it was the “purists” who were being givena hard time.  It just proved to us that the message of inclusivity in steampunk was important REGARDLESS of your affiliation.

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Del circa 2010 before we met in September

Local community forums had also started popping up all over the SCARS region.  One, Steampunk Americans, headed by Del Zarpafolus in New Orleans, contacted us and set up a meeting after Louisianime.  We met him and one of his members, Donald Tennant, at Cafe Du Monde the Monday after the con.  We spent all day touring the French Quarter, discussing the ups and downs that we had faced in Texas, the pitfalls of community building and the challenges of running a subculture based business.  Del wanted to see the New Orleans community become more active and united.  We made plans to attend Mardi Gras with them the next year.  We left the meeting loving New Orleans even more than we had, excited to see where these guys would take the New Orleans community, and energized in seeing the love of the genre spread.

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