May 152017
 

Communication Bullets are short but big news!

You’ll definitely want to read a comment made on the May Communications Column.  (Subscribers do not get these–you’ll have to visit the site.) What an interesting outcome from the recent Bangor Daily News article regarding Granges that are making a comeback! By the way, website visitors should feel free to comment on any post–it’s really quite easy to do. Just look for the word “responses” in the upper right corner of the post (just below the headline) and click on it. Note that comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

There have been several requests posted to the “In Search of” Page… please take a look and see if you can help these folks.

Also, the MSG Bulletin May 2017 has been uploaded to the site… you don’t have to wait for a printed copy!

Keep those cards and letters coming in!

May 142017
 

A mug WBBy Walter Boomsma,
Communications Director

Are you ready for some great news? Your Maine State Grange Website hit a new record in May – in terms of visits to the site, the best day ever (since October 2010) was May 6, 2017, when there were 257 site visits! This record day also means that as of this writing, May 2017 is the month with the highest daily average of site visits – 114 per day. Naturally, I could resist a quick look at what might have caused this. (My experience suggests that data often raises more questions than it answers.) So I took a look at which pages/posts were the most popular in the last thirty days. In descending order:

  1. Program Books and Information Page (forms, books, etc. organized by function)
  2. Our History (a short history of the Grange)
  3. 2017 Directory of Granges (a recently published directory/list of active Granges in Maine)
  4. Update on LD 725 and LD 835 (information provided by the Ag Education Committee regarding bills under consideration)
  5. Our Officers (a “who’s who” list of state officers)
  6. Joining the Grange (includes a link to a membership brochure and application)
  7. Bangor Daily News Article About Exciting Granges (article headline: Maine Granges Are Making a Comeback!)
  8. About (a general page with links to other pages)
  9. I’m seeking… (a page where people can post requests for information about Granges and Grangers)
  10. Conferences (a list of state and regional Grange conferences and meetings)

Since the best day record was set the same day the Bangor Daily News Article was posted, there might be a correlation. The tempting conclusion is that folks are hungry for good news about the Grange. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that other highly visited pages and posts are reference pages with officer, membership, and Grange location information.

How do they find it? Well, the data suggests that most of our “referrals” are coming from search engines. In other words, people are searching for information using Google and other search engines and the Maine State Grange website comes up in the results.

While it’s important to stay focused, one undeniable conclusion we can draw from this is that we attract people to the Maine State Grange Website by making information readily available. This is one of the reasons I’ve started the “Resources for Grangers” posts—obviously, those resources are not just for Grangers. They are also for people who should become Grangers!

I’ve recently become interested in a communication phenomena called the “echo effect.” An echo chamber is “a metaphorical description of a situation in which information, ideas, or beliefs are amplified or reinforced by communication and repetition inside a defined system.” In short, repeated messages sometimes take on a life of their own and get reinforced by nature of the fact they are heard often. Another term we can apply is “tunnel vision.” We become so subconsciously focused on something we are hearing constantly we only see what’s at the end of the tunnel.

That’s one reason I believe we need to stop analyzing and discussing why getting members is hard. I do not deny it is challenging. But I also know that the more we talk about how hard it is, the more firmly we will believe it can’t be done.

On May 6, 2017, at least 257 people were interested in the Grange: our programs, our beliefs, our halls, and our events. Did we give them enough information to at least maintain their interest?

After the Bangor Daily News article, one person emailed me and said that she and her husband plan to join the Grange when they retire. What do you think of that? I know several Grangers I told replied, “How old are they? Will I live long enough to see it?” I wish more people had just said, “Wow! That’s great!”

May 062017
 

By Walter Boomsma,
MSG Communications Director

Check out this feature article in the Bangor Daily News Homestead Supplement! Granges featured in the article include Halcyon in Blue Hill, Fairview in Smithfield, and Valley in Guilford. I might be a little biased, but I think it is one of the most positive and well-documented articles we’ve seen recently. How cool is it to see a headline announcing that Maine Granges are making a comeback?

Grangers in the BDN coverage area may want to pick up a copy of the weekend edition, including the Homestead Edition. You can also read the entire article online. Feel free to add a comment to the article, letting folks know what your Grange is doing–several Grangers have already done that! (Make sure to mention the name of your Grange and community!)

 

Apr 272017
 

With thanks to State Secretary Sharon Morton, we’ve recently added two documents to the “Program Books and Information” Page:

  1. The Journal of Proceedings – 2016 Convention is a summary (93 pages) of last year’s convention, including committee reports, budget information, etc.
  2. The Membership Recognition Order Form which has been updated to reflect the recent price increases announced by National Grange.

The Maine State Grange website is your “goto” place for information!

Apr 202017
 

We’ve made some minor updates and changes to the ODD Directory (Officers, Directors, and Deputies) and uploaded it to the website! Please download and print some copies for yourself and your members: ODD-Directory-04-17.

Also, note that we’ve added a new section to the “Program Books and Information Page” for the soon to be officially announced Agricultural Education Committee. There are already a few resources listed under this heading!

Happy Grange Month! If your Grange did something special, send us a report for featuring on the website! Photos are great–just attach them to an email to the webmaster. (Smaller file sizes are really helpful. If you are using a photo program that allows you reduce resolution and file size, please consider doing so before sending!)

Communication Consideration:

Talking and eloquence are not the same: to speak and to speak well are two things. A fool may talk, but a wise man speaks.

Heinrich Heine

Apr 192017
 

Webmaster’s Note:  The following article is reprinted with permission from an e-newsletter published by Paul Stearns, State Representative for District 119, reprinted with permission. 


Business Answers, a program of the Maine Department of Economic and Community Development, exists to assist new and prevailing businesses with start-up and expansion.  In conjunction with the online service, there is also a toll-free 800-line which you can call and get answers to all of your questions, including:

  • starting and operating a business;
  • State licensing requirements;
  • your business name;
  • becoming an employer;
  • being self-employed; and
  • so much more!

If the answer to your business question is immediately unknown, you will be referred to someone who can better help.  Through Business Answer’s One-Stop Business Licensing Center, information is available with respect to all of the State licenses your business is required to have.  Governor’s Account Executives are available to help with problems and concerns that arise as you work with other State agencies.

Questions about this service?  Please contact Business Answers toll-free telephone system at 1-800-872-3838 in Maine or 1-800-541-5872 outside Maine.  You also have the option of communicating via e-mail at businessdotanswersatmainedotgov  (businessdotanswersatmainedotgov)  .

Apr 152017
 

A mug WBBy Walter Boomsma,
Communications Director

During National Grange Master Betsy Huber’s visit, it was my distinct honor to facilitate the “town hall” discussion during the Piscataquis Pomona Meeting. There were nearly a dozen Granges represented and over thirty Grangers and guests. The conversations were spirited and encouraging throughout the entire evening starting with our supper. This was a rare opportunity for Grangers at all levels of the Order to communicate: National, State, Pomona, and local.

When the evening ended, one of the comments made was how helpful it was for so many different Granges to talk about their accomplishments and challenges. “We thought we were the only ones who…” While not all challenges were resolved, a sense of reassurance developed, in part because if we all have similar challenges, the odds of overcoming them increases. Chances are, someone solved that problem or challenge you are having. This became obvious as Granges reported their successes. The meeting truly was one of sharing with an eye towards solving problems and growing our Granges.

I later found myself thinking we had perhaps witnessed a meeting the way Pomona meetings are meant to be. While surely Pomona meetings were social events in the early days, I suspect those meetings including a lot of discussion—both formal and informal—on topics ranging from the best time to plant to what is working in your Grange.

While I’m admittedly biased by my position as communication director, I think the purpose of every meeting is communication in some way, shape, or form. A little thought and structure should go into why we are meeting and what we are communicating. Let me share two examples.

The Pomona Meeting includes a roll call of Granges that often means a brief report from those Granges attending. Many times these reports begin, “We are meeting regularly…” which I suppose is an accomplishment. (In some cases, it’s “We are trying to meet regularly…”) Why not make an effort to find at least one exciting thing about your Grange to report? Or, for that matter, why not report on a challenge your Grange is facing and ask your fellow Grangers for help and ideas? One of the points of Pomona Grange is communication and sharing resources. We should structure our meetings to do just that.

My second example is committee reports during meetings. If we see an important purpose of meetings as communication, we should be sad when it’s announced, “Nothing to report.” Yes, the original purpose of committee reports was to share what the committee is doing—but if it’s doing nothing, there still could something to report. A couple of sentences regarding what is happening in the world we live in will at least suggest we aren’t totally disconnected and out of business! Even a brief reminder of something important could qualify as a report.

I’ve attended Grange meetings where it seems like the purpose of the meeting is to get it over as quickly as possible! I’m not suggesting we turn meetings into long, drawn out affairs. I am suggesting that the purpose of every Grange meeting is not simply to have a meeting. When attendance at our meetings is poor, we might allow ourselves to wonder why. If the only reason we’re meeting is because it’s scheduled, that’s not much incentive for people to make the effort.

When I am responsible for leading a meeting, I always create an agenda with time estimates and outcomes. If at all possible, I share it with participants so we share the responsibility for getting “the labors of the day” completed in a timely and effective manner. Why not do the same for a Grange meeting? Let’s communicate with purpose and energy!

Apr 112017
 

Please provide proper attribution when using material.

Elder Abuse is of growing concern throughout the U.S. today, especially here in Maine since we’re one of the oldest states in the country.  Statistics show that tens of thousands of older adults in Maine are abused each year, so it’s important that communities understand the issue and the resources available.  Betty Balderston is the Elder Abuse Prevention Advocate for Legal Services and is currently scheduling presentations between now and September to civic and community organizations throughout Maine.  Her 15-20 minute presentation includes information on what Elder Abuse looks like, the Red Flags that everyone should be aware of, and the Maine resources that are available to provide assistance.  Perhaps your Grange would be interested in scheduling such a presentation?  Betty can be reached at (207) 620-3104 or at bbalderstonatmainelsedotorg  (bbalderstonatmainelsedotorg)  .  Please consider contacting Betty to schedule a presentation for your members.

Webmaster’s Note: I had a long chat with Betty that was quite eye-opening. Elder abuse can come in many forms and from many different sources. There’s not charge for her presentation — this is a great opportunity to “get the facts” and learn about the resources available!

Mar 272017
 

By Rick Watson, Master of Fairview Grange

Hello, friends of the Fairview Grange. Thanks for keeping an eye on what is going on at your local Grange, #342, in Smithfield Maine.

This week we celebrated 119 years of continuous operation with a great dinner on Thursday evening. We were especially pleased to have Grange members from other Granges join us. They came from at least Abbot, Bingham, Norridgewock, Madison, and we also had visitors from the State Grange level. Former Master of the Maine State Grange, Vicki Huff, Communications Director Walter Boomsma with his lovely wife Janice, and three from The Maine Grange Agricultural Committee (I think Mr. And Mrs. Rance Pooler and Mrs. Barker represented that committee). Also attending to help us celebrate were Terry and Harriet Spencer, local to us in Smithfield, but also involved in various capacities with the State and Pomona. Special thanks to Walter Boomsma for sharing some stories about what he sees and hears successful Granges doing. We thank all of them for helping us celebrate 119 years.

Noteworthy speakers in addition to Walter were Secretary Sharon Wood and Lecturer Kerry Cubas. Sharon read a Grange history her mother had written in 1971 about the early days of the Grange. Kerry has started a “living history, or spoken history” of our local Grange working with Shelby Watson, and gave us a taste of the project by telling us what her first two interviewees had to say. Fittingly for this event, the recollections of Marilyn and David were told. Kerry hopes to interview all our members so we may keep our history alive. Working in a similar vein to document and to preserve our history, Karie Watson has started reframing the pictures in the Grange and is working to get the people, our people from the community through the years, identified and noted.

Making the night extra special was being able to recognize Marilyn Giroux for her 75 years of membership in the Grange. Marilyn is one of our favorite “Grange Gal’s” and we were pleased to celebrate this milestone with her. She was surrounded by several generations of family and friends Thursday and many from the community took a minute to share a story about their interactions with her through the years. David Hartford, another long time member presented her with certificates of appreciation and recognition from the National and State Granges. He also read her a poem he had written, and shared a couple stories from their youth. A nice tribute. Special thanks to David.

We had plenty of great food, great company, and it truly felt like an evening spent with family. The Hall looked great and I would be negligent to not recognize Karie Watson for her efforts putting on the meal and also to her and to Sharon for making the Hall look so fresh, Springlike and inviting for our celebration.

Thanks to all who cooked, cleaned, lugged and tugged, decorated, hauled trash, washed dishes, spoke, made the trip to join us or in any other way helped make it a fitting tribute to 119 years in Smithfield.

Mar 192017
 

Betsy Huber, National Grange Master

Wednesday, April 5, 2017
Master Betsy will arrive from Massachusetts.

  • Event: Legislative Luncheon at 12:00 p.m. at Maine State Grange Headquarters. Legislators are invited.
  • Event: Androscoggin Pomona Meeting.  There will be a 6:30 p.m. $5.00 supper with a 7:30 p.m. meeting.  Members of Oxford and Cumberland Pomona have been invited to attend as well.  The meeting will be held at Danville Junction Grange.

Thursday, April 6, 2017
Master Betsy will travel north and be available for media interviews in the Bangor area.

  • Event: Piscataquis Pomona Potluck Supper at 6:00 p.m. and Meeting at 7:00 p.m. Meeting is being hosted by Valley Grange, 172 Guilford Center Road, Guilford. The public is invited. Click for more information about this event.

Friday, April 7, 2017
Master Betsy will be available for media interviews in the Augusta area.

  • Event: Potluck supper will be held at 5:00 p.m. at Maine State Grange Headquarters. A Grange “town hall forum” will be held from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. and include questions and answers as well as discussion of ideas and challenges facing the Grange at the national and local levels. The public is invited.

Saturday, April 8, 2017
Master Betsy spends the day at Maine State Grange Headquarters

  • Event: Morning reception from 9:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. at Maine State Grange Headquarters. Officers, Deputies, and Directors are invited.
  • Event: Junior Grange sponsored contests from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.
  • Event: Lincoln Pomona Potluck Supper at 6:30 p.m. and Meeting at 7:30 p.m. Meeting is being hosted by Meenahga Grange, 860 Main Street, Waldoboro. The public is invited.

Maine State Grange Headquarters is located at
146 State Street
Augusta, Maine

Media Inquiries should be directed to

Walter Boomsma  (webmasteratmainestategrangedotorg)  , Maine State Grange Communications Director
207 343-1842

Amanda Leigh Brozana  (communicationsatnationalgrangedotorg)  , National Grange Communications Director
(202) 628-3507 • ext 102