Oct 252016

State Grange Historian Stanley R. Howe of Bethel was recently honored by the American Historical Association with a certificate commemorating his fifty years of membership in the Association, which is the largest and oldest society of historians and professors in the United States.

Organized at Saratoga, New York in 1884 and incorporated by act of Congress in 1889, the organization publishes its American Historical Review five times annually. Its purpose is “for the promotion of historical studies, the collection and preservation of historical manuscripts and for kindred purposes in the interest of American history and of history in America; reporting annually to Congress through the Smithsonian Institution and depositing its collections in the United States National Museum and the Library of Congress.”  For his fifty year record, the Association granted Howe a free lifetime membership.  During his professional career, Howe who holds graduate degrees in history from the universities of Connecticut and Maine has written and lectured widely on many topics. He is also the author of a history of the Maine State Grange published by that organization in 1994.

For a short history of the Grange in Maine written by Stanley Howe visit Maine An Encyclopedia. Used copies of A Fair Field and No Favor: A Concise History of the Maine State Grange can often be found through Amazon and used book dealers.

Grangers will also find a “special edition” of the Bethel Historical Society Newsletter interesting… the entire issue is about Granges in Maine.

Oct 212016

flag-1070437_1280By Amanda Leigh Brozana
National Lecturer

The Grange is both a highly patriotic organization and one filled with amazingly talented individuals who understand the power and sentiment of handicrafts such as quilts. As part of our Patriot’s Program, started in 2012, we are heavily encouraging all Granges to identify members who are veterans or active duty service members that were deployed during war time and request for them a QUILT OF VALOR.

Quilts of Valor are free, made by volunteers who seek to “cover service members and veterans touched by war with comfort and healing Quilts of Valor.”

Go to: www.qovf.org/  Click on Take Action and REQUEST A QUILT.

Once you have submitted a request, or if you know of a Grange member who has received a Quilt of Valor in the past, please contact me by email at lectureratnationalgrangedotorg  (lectureratnationalgrangedotorg)   or call (202) 628-3507 ext. 102 to inform us of your request/the Quilt of Valor already received, the name of the veteran and your Grange’s name.

Please don’t forget, certificates are available for FREE from the National Grange to recognize veterans of World War II, Korea and Vietnam and the conflicts not classified as wars during the Cold War Era. Certificates will be available in mid-2017 for Gulf War Veterans in 2018 for all those serving in the post-9/11 era conflicts/wars. This program is sponsored by Potomac Grange No. 1 (DC). Informational DVDs are available to explain WWII – what led to the war, the war itself, its toll and its impact on our nation – and the Korean War. DVDs on Vietnam and the Cold War conflicts are expected out in 2017 and Gulf War and Post-9/11 in 2018. These can be used to glean information needed for a great lecturer’s program or can be an introduction for Junior Grangers and Grange Youth to citizenship and patriotism lessons.

Oct 202016
Quick Tip

Quick tips are ideas for making Granges more effective and efficient. Submit yours today!

Wow! While I don’t keep statistics, I’m pretty sure my recent “Exploring Traditions” column generated more email than any other post or column I can recall–at least in recent times. I’m not bragging, but the feedback triggered an idea. Maybe we should change the way we talk?

I’ve written before about how we refer to the ritual and degree work–and I know how difficult it is to change habits. But what would happen if we tried to change the way we refer to both? We currently have a number of different expressions like “We are doing the ritual” and “Have you taken the degrees?”

Should we, could we instead say things like “We are celebrating the ritual!” and “Have you celebrated the degrees?”

Linguists tell us that language often reflects the way we think, but it’s also true that the way we talk affects the way we think. One reason I’ve never particularly liked the question “Have you taken (or received) the degrees?” is that it’s passive and suggests the degrees are something that happen to someone. I believe the degrees are a celebration of agriculture and what it teaches us!

I’m not going to change the title of my column–it’s long enough already. But we really should be “Exploring and celebrating the Grange way of life.” It’s awesome!


Oct 172016


By Walter Boomsma

Earlier this morning I was at school, conducting a “kick off assembly” for the Valley Grange Bookworm Program. (For those unfamiliar, different Grangers visit the school twice a week to listen to second and third graders read.) We gathered together all the second and third graders to talk about the program. After a brief introduction, I always ask the kids if they have any questions.

One young fellow raised his hand and asked, “How long have you been doing this?” Ironically, since I knew a reporter was going to attend, I’d looked that up—it’s a favorite media question. The kids were quite impressed when I answered, “Ten years.” I suppose ten years is a long time when you consider that meant we started the year most of those third graders were born!

He set me to thinking, though. Grange readers/bookworms have become an important way of life at our school. The third graders visit the Valley Grange Hall every fall for a “Dictionary Day” that includes learning more about the Grange. Some of the kids that we’ve given dictionaries to and heard read are now graduating from high school. We have a number of traditions and many of our programs are seen as “rites of passage” at the school.

I sat with the kids we selected to be interviewed by the newspaper. One third grade girl provided me with an important reminder about tradition. When the reporter asked her what she liked best about the Bookworm Program she replied, “Well I like reading but I also like spending time with the Grangers.” She then looked at me and asked, “Do you remember I read a joke book to you last year? I know you like them!” I didn’t admit that I had no specific memory of it—those few minutes we had spent together were too important to her to dismiss them.

Tradition is defined in many different ways. One I particularly like is given in Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “a way of thinking, behaving, or doing something that has been used by the people in a particular group, family, society, etc., for a long time.”

The reporter and I chatted for a while after the kids left. He’s been covering Valley Grange events for a long time and he admitted that sometimes it’s hard to find a new headline or a new way of presenting the story of Bookworming or Dictionary Day. ”But,” he added,  “it’s always fun to hear the excitement from the kids—it’s so new and important to them.”

I found myself thinking, “Maybe we should let the kids write the story.” But I also found myself realizing how important it is that we don’t get caught in the trap of just going through the motions no matter how many times we’ve done something. Traditions have value but carry with them responsibility and opportunity. I truly can’t guess how many kids I’ve taken from a classroom and listened to read over the last decade. But I do know that they keep track of when it’s their turn and many remember the experience for a long time after.

I also don’t know how many times I’ve been part of the opening or closing ritual in various offices. I’m not sure how many times I’ve been part of a degree day. But I do know that when we follow tradition and ritual it’s easy to miss or forget the magic.

One of the harder questions I entertained from the kids was “Do we have to do this if we don’t want to?” My answer was “No…” but as I was walking away from the questioner I stopped, turned around, and put on the saddest face I could and added, “But I will be really disappointed if you don’t.” Some might say I was being manipulative, but I really meant it. This is a tradition that we don’t do just because it’s a tradition. We do it because it’s fun and it’s meaningful and it makes a difference. It works because the reader and the person being read to both benefit. If we don’t do it, we are cheating each other in the truest sense. And if we do it just for the sake of getting it done, that’s not much better than not doing it at all.

Grange ritual and practice should be no different. The Grange way of life is, I think, about celebration. We celebrate nature and agriculture, but also what they represent and the lessons we can learn from them.

Just as we challenge our “bookworms” to read, I challenge Grangers to engage in tradition and ritual in a new way. No matter how many times you’ve said or done it, next time make a special effort to make it fun and meaningful. Celebrate the ritual! It will make a difference—to you and those around you.

Any degree or ritual quotations are from the forty-sixth edition of the 2013 Subordinate Grange Manual. The views and opinions expressed in “Exploring Traditions” are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official doctrine and policy of the Grange.

Oct 162016

National Grange Lecturer | lectureratnationalgrangedotorg  (lectureratnationalgrangedotorg)  

boloThe National Grange has had several requests in the past year to provide a copy or information from the 1928 pamphlet “Grange Hall Suggestions.” Unfortunately, we have been unable to locate a copy or original edition of the publication at our headquarters or through the interlibrary loan service offered nationally.

We hope our historians within the Grange may have a copy or original that they would be willing to scan or allow us to digitize and return or if there are multiple copies held by an individual, allow us to submit it to the Library of Congress and/or the National Agricultural Library so that it will be available for researchers and grant writers to name a few interested in the publication.

If you have a copy or original that you would be willing to digitize or allow us to digitize, please contact Communications Director Amanda Leigh Brozana at communicationsatnationalgrangedotorg  (communicationsatnationalgrangedotorg)   or by phone at (202) 628-3507 ext. 102, and thank you in advance.

(Reposted from The Patrons Chain–the official newsletter of the National Grange.)

Oct 162016

National Grange Communications Director | communicationsatnationalgrangedotorg  (communicationsatnationalgrangedotorg)  

grangeinactionAs we prepare to enter our 150th Year, it is more important than ever to show the amazing things Granges are doing across the nation.  Pictures with lengthy captions are a great way to illustrate Granges in action, and we hope you’ll consider submitting them by email to communicationsatnationalgrangedotorg  (communicationsatnationalgrangedotorg)   in a timely fashion so they can be used to encourage Grange growth and solidify the relevance of Grange in the 21st century to those outside our Order.

Remember, everyone in the picture must provide their permission for the photo to be used by you in any public way (including for the picture to be used on your bulletin boards in your Halls or your social media). CLICK HERE FOR PHOTO PERMISSION FORMS

When submitting your photos and short story or long caption, please note who took the photo if you can and declare permission by the photographer and all those in the photo for its distribution. You can simply write: The photographer and subjects all provided permission for photo use by (YOUR) Grange and the National Grange.

Here’s a great example of a brief.

(Article reposted from The Patrons Chain–the official newsletter of the National Grange.)

Oct 152016

fundraisingBy Steven Haycock, Chairman

There was a lot of laughing and clapping happening at Topsham Grange on Saturday, September 24.  This is when the successful Variety Show Fundraiser was held.  We had a great variety of acts including:

  • Piano Selections by Mitch Thomas
  • “How Great Thou Art” sung by Phil Steadman
  • Holy Bones / The Fair Slide Trombone Quartet
  • “Mopsicord” by Sherry Harriman
  • Story by Ruby Bryant
  • Guitar Selections by Jeff Huard
  • Jokes by The DeVitos
  • Musical Selections by Merton Ricker and RoJean Taulk
  • Lip Sync by Rick Grotton
  • The Grange Singers conducted by Vicki Huff
  • Leaping Lizards by Josh Richards

Between these acts, there were numerous skits that were performed with the assistance of some of the audience members.  (Who didn’t know they were going to be in the show until they got there.) One of the acts that got the most reaction, before he even went on was Josh Richards and Leaping Lizards.  Josh runs a company that goes around and educates people about snakes, lizards etc.  He called me one day and asked if he could be in the show.  He brought several of live examples with him in totes and spoke about each one.  More than one audience member was surprised when they realized they were sitting across the row from a line of totes that had snakes and other creatures in it.  Many thanks go to Mitch Thomas for being the anchor of our show, Mitch is a member of Danville Jct. Grange and is involved with the theater etc. in the Lewiston-Auburn area.  Mitch can play a piano like no one I’ve seen before and is a sure crowd pleaser.  For refreshments, we sold slices of pie and it was a big hit.  Many thanks to Ruby Bryant for coordinating this.  As a side note, she makes a pumpkin mousse pie to die for!  Before the show and during refreshments we did a 50/50 raffle and held a silent auction for gift cards donated by Pomona Granges.  Thanks also go to Maynard and Gladys Chapman who created a basket of lottery tickets and chocolate and donating a gift card for the silent auction.  This evening wouldn’t have been a success with our Merton Ricker, he worked hard at soliciting acts to perform in the show, I can’t thank him enough.  The show raised more than $500, and we’re already starting to plan for next year’s performance, with a target date of April 29, 2017!

Oct 152016

A mug WBBy Walter Boomsma,
Communications Director

This month, let’s talk about websites. Every so often (not often enough!) I get an inquiry from a Grange member regarding starting a website for his or her Grange. Since I recently answered one, let’s look briefly at the options:

  1. You can “claim” the website that has been set up for your Grange by National Grange. The advantages include the fact it’s “already there,” formatted, etc. One disadvantage is that it’s not totally under your control and, for those who are technically savvy, you may feel limited. An obvious advantage of working under that umbrella is that it becomes possible for others to access it should that become necessary. There’s a YouTube® video explaining the basics: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DvMAZK7-EYE. When this service was first introduced, I “fixed” several of these sites in our area (locations were wrong) but really haven’t had much experience with them. These sites do use the popular WordPress platform. It’s user-friendly and is, in fact, the same platform used by the Maine State Grange website.
  2. You can set up a “free” WordPress site through WordPress.com. I did this for Valley Grange long before the National Program was set up… The obvious advantage is it’s free—a minor disadvantage is unless you “buy” a URL (I think it costs about $20 per year) you have a rather unwieldy URL that must include the WordPress designation (yourgrange.wordpress.com for example). I’ve taught a three-hour course that has even “non-techy” people working their own site by the end of the class, so it’s very doable. Visit http://WordPress.com for more information or to start a site.
  3. You can set up a “hosted” site using WordPress (or any other software/platform). This is the method used for the Maine State Grange website. Advantages include ownership and lots of “plugins” that allow features you might not have in a free site. The disadvantages are costs (at a minimum you’ll probably spend $100 per year) and complexity.

Personally, I think option one or two would be more than adequate for the average Grange. One approach I might suggest is that you “claim” your site from National Grange first because it’s probably not accurate. After playing with it some, you can decide whether or not to set up something different, then redirect the National Grange site to it! (That’s what we did with the Valley Grange website.)

In terms of best practices, you might want to look at the MSG Website Handbook I’ve published for the MSG site. I think it’s important to remember that a site is the Grange’s public face and will be seen by people who are not familiar with our organization. I like to avoid posting “inside” information that gives the appearance we are anything other than an open organization who will welcome like-minded folks. I’ve also created a MSG Communications Handbook – it’s more about media relations, but you might find some of the suggestions helpful. Both of these handbooks were updated just a few weeks ago and are very current. At the risk of self-promotion, you’ll find a few publishing resources on one of my websites: http://abbotvillagepress.com.

One common error I see with sites (and have made myself, frankly) is to approach it with lots of initial enthusiasm and “over build” it. Web sites must remain current and up-to-date to have value. Like it or not, we live in an era of instant gratification and users will quickly leave a site that looks and is out of date. Make your first attempt simple and manageable. To use another analogy, don’t bite off more than you can chew. Remember this is a Grange project, not a personal one. Before allowing a “geek” to develop a complex site, consider what will happen if that geek loses interest.

On a related note, I recently visited several Grange Facebook pages. I found one that hasn’t been updated for over a year and the last post is “someone needs to take this over.” Another hasn’t been updated in a year and a half.  Several came up as “unavailable.” As soon as time permits, I will be removing links to these pages from the Maine State Grange Website. The last thing we need to do is “advertise” the appearance that we’re inactive. (Facebook and Social media are a similar but different topic from websites. One important difference is that it’s possible to have a static, informational website that doesn’t require constant updating. With social media, you have to be constantly in the game or your page will “disappear” from current news feeds.)

Let’s make some news, take some photos of it, and share it!”

Oct 142016
Communication Bullets are short but big news!

Communication Bullets are short but big news!

For those who haven’t noticed, Master Rick’s recent column was featured in the National Grange E-newsletter The Patrons Chain which is delivered to Grangers all around the country! Remember, you read it here first!

Also, we now have the following Annual Reports available on our site — see the program books and information page:

  • Communications/website Report
  • Community Service/Family Health and Hearing Report
  • Fundraising Committee Report
  • State Historian’s Report
  • Junior Grange Report

and new program books and information from the following committees:

  • Communications and Website Handbooks
  • Community Service Committee Forms and Information
  • Family Health and Hearing Forms and Information
  • Junior Department Program Book

Officers and directors are reminded to send both for posting!

And don’t forget non-delegates can register for State Convention right on the site. (On-line registration will close early next week.)