Mar 162017
 

A mug WBBy Walter Boomsma,
Communications Director

“I’m bored.” We were lined up waiting for the dismissal announcement when my fifth-grade friend made the announcement. I replied, “I’m happy” and added, “So let’s do some math facts to pass the time.” She did not groan so I quickly asked, “What’s 492 times 33?” She disappeared back into the classroom. (I should probably explain that “math facts” are basic calculations that a student can do almost automatically—one example is what we used to call the “times tables.” My question was actually a math problem, not a math fact.)

I wasn’t too surprised when she returned quickly with a sheet of paper showing the process she used and the answer. She was smiling while I checked her work. It was correct and I could point out that she’d used quite a few math facts to solve the problem.

She’s going to help me demonstrate an important point about communication. What we often think are statements are really questions. When she said that she was bored, I took it to mean she wondered how I felt and, more importantly, whether I could relieve her boredom.

Too often, communication tends away from exchanging information to verbal fencing, particularly if what we’re hearing doesn’t set well or fall in line with our beliefs. We could have done battle if I’d asked her, “How can you be bored?” I’m also reminded of that horrible parent warning, “I’ll give you something to cry about.” The bored version could have been, “Oh yeah? If you think you’re bored now, wait until tomorrow when we study…”

We don’t often think enough about what we hope to accomplish when we communicate.  In conversation, we often tend instead to decide if we agree with what’s being said. Many times, we don’t fully hear what’s being said because we start preparing our response. I’ll confess that when I’m busy I find I more often misunderstand what’s being said simply because I’m mentally hurrying.

Years ago, I taught an “Interpersonal Skills Program” designed by Xerox Learning Systems. One of the concepts taught hard early on was “when your initial reaction is to reject or ignore, clarify and confirm.” The goal of clarifying and confirming to make certain you understand what the other person is saying and why he or she is saying it. In practice, students often found that there was less disagreement than it seemed originally.

I will confess that I took a shortcut with my fifth-grade friend at school. She said “I’m bored,” but I decided she meant “I need something to do.” In an ideal world, I would have asked some questions and clarified what she was saying. Once it became clear that she needed something to do, that’s an easy problem to solve. I can’t fix bored. I can find something for her to do.

Please do not let an important fact escape you—communication is also about focus. I could have sympathized with my bored friend. “Me too, I hate just standing around…” Commiseration can be rewarding because we feel connection and get empathy. But it doesn’t change things.

I’ve had several incidents recently where people have explained at great length how busy they are and apologized for not getting something done. I find it hard not to point out that they could have done it in the time they spent explaining (often more than once) why they hadn’t.

“Let’s do…” does change things. Notice in my example, I didn’t try to change this young lady’s personality or her view of the world. I just found something relatively simple we could do. Think about that the next time you find yourself talking about how nobody comes to Grange anymore and people don’t have time to… Are we really saying (let’s clarify and confirm) we just haven’t found the energy and ideas for some things to do that might change what happens?

 

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

Mar 082017
 

Betsy Huber, National Grange Master

by Rick Grotton
Maine State Grange Master

Our National Master, Betsy Huber, will be visiting Maine April 5, 2017, through April 8, 2017. She will be attending our Legislative Luncheon on April 5 and wishes to meet with as many Maine Grangers as possible during her visit to answer questions and listen to your ideas. We will be attending Grange meetings on Thursday and Friday (April 6 and 7). Please come to State Headquarters at 146 State Street in Augusta on Saturday, April 8 to visit. She will be attending the Junior sponsored contests that day beginning at 11:00 a.m. for the Public Speaking and Alphabet Signing (Juniors only) followed by the Assistant and Lady Assistant contest (for all Grangers). This will be a perfect opportunity to come support our Junior Program and to meet our first woman National Master! She has some great ideas and has been very busy but she is trying to visit all Grange states. If you want to come down on Thursday or Friday during the day to visit please let me know ahead of time. Let’s be Doers and show our National Master how proud we are as Grangers!

Mar 072017
 

Communication Bullets are short but important news!

by Walter Boomsma
Communications Director

Two additions to the website this morning:

Hope you are counting down to Grange Month–just a few weeks to go! Remember to send us photos and stories of your programs. Be a DO-er!

Mar 052017
 

by Walter Boomsma,
Communications Director

I’ve recently learned (and confirmed with several sources) that federal legislation was passed last December which will increase the cost of a Senior Lifetime National Park Pass from $10 to $80. The current advice is that if you’re 62 or older, buy it now before the price increases. There is no definite date the increase will go into effect, but it appears likely to happen “before the end of 2017.”

Since many of our members are eligible for this senior pass, I thought I’d share the news! According to the NPS website, “A pass is your ticket to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites. Each pass covers entrance fees at national parks and national wildlife refuges as well as standard amenity fees (day use fees) at national forests and grasslands, and at lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A pass covers entrance, standard amenity fees, and day use fees for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle at per vehicle fee areas (or up to four adults at sites that charge per person). Children age 15 or under are admitted free.”

There are several ways to purchase the pass. (We purchased ours in person at Acadia National Park several years ago–it really is a good deal.) The current cost is $10 if you purchase in person, $20 to purchase online or by mail. For more information and instructions, visit the National Parks Website. There is also a detailed explanation of the legislation on the National Parks Traveler Website.

Schedule for Acadia National Park

Mar 022017
 

by Walter Boomsma, 
Communications Director

What an exciting Granger and Grange! Barbara Bailey of Victor Grange in Fairfield called me recently to share her enthusiasm for a program her Grange and Community does and asked if I “could put something on the website.”

She admitted she was a bit skeptical when she first learned about the program, but you only have to talk with her for a few minutes to discover that she’s now more than sold, she’s a passionate advocate of the program. And she thinks it’s a perfect program for Granges to consider because everybody wins!

The program is briefly described on the Window Dressers website: “WindowDressers is a volunteer-driven non-profit organization dedicated to helping Maine residents reduce heating costs, fossil fuel consumption, and CO-2 emissions by lowering the amount of heat loss through windows.

“We have developed a community-based volunteer model that taps into individual and collective interest in saving on fuel costs, helping fellow citizens and sparing the environment from unnecessary CO2 pollution. We call this the Community Build program.  We’ve augmented that effort with specialized equipment and computerization to insure the efforts of our volunteers are boosted to the highest degree possible.

“Our target is leaky windows in Maine’s housing stock, the oldest in the nation.  Inserts offer an inexpensive alternative to window replacement.  Our customers save, on average, ten to twenty percent on their fuel consumption which translates in most cases to payback within the first heating season. We donate twenty-five percent of our inserts to low-income families whose only cost is a $10 service charge for insert installation…”

Barbara was particularly impressed by the training and support WindowDressers provides. (The program for next fall is already gearing up with Training Sessions.) “WindowDressers needs space to make the inserts,” she said, “and Grange Halls often have it! This is a perfect program for Granges because it’s engaging and hands on. We ended up with a lot of folks in our Grange Hall for the first time in their lives.”

Maine State Grange Community Service Director Chris Corliss plans to talk with Barbara soon and learn more, but Barbara said she’d be happy if folks call her (207 453-9476)—she loves talking about the program and the benefits of it. She’s a pretty busy Granger, so leave a message if she’s not there–she’ll call you back. You can also visit the WindowDressers website.

In addition to her passion for WindowDressers, Barbara is the lecturer for Victor Grange and a big fan and promoter of the Maine State Grange website. She is constantly encouraging people to subscribe because she says, “they’ll love the little bits of information that are always interesting, entertaining, and helpful”–one reason she wanted us to post information about WindowDressers. Thanks, Barbara, for your energy and support of your community, your Grange, and our website!


The contact at WindowDressers is:

Laura Seaton
Director of Community Builds and Business Development
WindowDressers.org
207-230-9902 (direct line)

directoratwindowdressersdotorg  (directoratwindowdressersdotorg)  

Mar 012017
 

It’s finally here… an updated directory of Granges in Maine, based on the 2017 Roster! We’ve sorted the list of Granges so you can sort by Grange name, Town Name, or Zip Code. You’ll find it on the Program Books and Information Page or you can open the file 2017 Directory of Granges directly for downloading and printing.

Speaking of finding a Grange, one observation I would make as a result of working with this data: Many Granges do not have an actual 911 compliant street address. By my estimation, over 40% of the listings could be considered non-compliant or incomplete from this perspective. This raises several important concerns.

More than ever, people are using GPS systems to locate places. (A long term project for the website may one day include adding a locator option with mapping options.) When we invite people to our Grange, we should be making it easy to find. (I could tell an embarrassing story on myself back in my early Grange member days. I actually drove to Lincoln Maine looking for a Lincoln Pomona Meeting!)

Perhaps even more important than visits, this is a potential safety concern. There are documented instances of emergency services not arriving in a timely fashion due to the lack of an adequate EMS address. If you have an emergency at your Grange Hall, calling 911 and saying “We’re next door to where the school house used to be…” is not likely going to be very effective. Many times the 911 dispatcher is located miles away and unfamiliar with the area where the emergency is taking place. Cell phones will often report the location automatically, but it just makes sense to take this precaution.

Usually all that’s required to get a street address is a visit to the town/municipal office.  Once you have it, another important step would be to display the street number prominently on the building or a post where it is visible from the street.

Feb 252017
 

Communication Bullets are short but important news!

Ag Day at the legislature is Wednesday, April 5, 2017.  Once again, the Grange will have a booth at the State House and fudge is needed–our legislators look forward to this every year. Please consider making some fudge and getting it delivered to Maine State Grange Headquarters before 8:00 a.m. April 5, 2017. If you’d like to drop it off before that day, call to make sure someone will be at the office. Thanks!


We’ve recently added some important documents to the “Program Books and Information Page.” Among many other resources you’ll now find:


Don’t forget the clock is ticking down to Grange Month! There are many promotional resources available on the website… you should have your celebration fairly well planned and be starting a publicity program that includes press releases, posters in local businesses, churches, etc., and personal invitations to local dignitaries. You could have a Grange Birthday Party–just be careful lighting 150 candles!

Feb 182017
 

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. 


MARVEL! Maine’s Virtual Library provides every resident of Maine with access to a collection of full-text articles and abstracts from magazines, newspapers, journals, and reference books that are credible, reputable resources.  MARVEL! also offers students, business people, public library patrons, and higher-education students and educators the ability to search a number of resources at one time for information.

Funding comes from the Maine State Legislature and the joint efforts of the Maine State Library, University of Maine, Colby, Bates, Bowdoin College, the Public Utilities Commission, and MTEAF (Maine Telecommunications Educational Access Fund), commonly known as State E-rate.  This collaboration makes statewide licensing of MARVEL! resources extremely cost effective and provides these resources for every school, library, and resident of Maine.

Feb 162017
 

by Walter Boomsma, Communications Director

April is Grange Month! For those Granges who use the Community Citizen of the Year Award or Pomona Grange Award for Public Service, you should order soon. Most of the other documents you might need are available on the Maine State Grange Website:

  • 2017 Grange Month Awards Order Form--Use this form to order your Grange Month (Community Citizen) Awards. Since you should allow four weeks for delivery, this would be a good time!
  • 2017 Grange Month Poster–This can be a poster or flyer… just fill in specific information about your Grange!
  • 2017 Grange Month Letter–The letter from National Master Betsy Huber announcing Grange Month 2017.
  • 2017 Grange Month Proclamation–The National Grange Resolution proclaiming April as Grange Month… should be posted and could be sent to local media outlets.
  • How to use hashtags–For those who wonder what those #’s you’re seeing all over the Internet mean. (Hint, they are not Grange numbers!)
  • I’m a DO-er Program Description–This is a complete description of the “DO-er” Program announced in conjunction with Grange Month, but running all year long.

Download and print what you need–and share with other Granges in your area! Why not share your plans at your next Pomona Meeting? (You can find all these documents in the National Grange Section of the Program Books and Information Page.

Read the February 2017 Issue of The Patrons Chain National Grange Newsletter. Print a copy to share with others!

Feb 142017
 

A mug WBBy Walter Boomsma,
Communications Director

It’s time for a “potpourri” column—a collection of communication-related thoughts and updates. Some of these have been published on the website as “Communication Bullets” and may sound familiar to website subscribers and visitors.

I believe one of the responsibilities of the Communications Department (of one) is to explore, discover, and transmit resources that will help our Granges and Grangers. In keeping with that, I’ve created a “Resources for Grangers” theme for this year.

Resources can come in many forms, but will fall into two categories. The first will be somewhat general in nature. The second will be more specific about the “business” of the Grange.

As an example of the latter, I’ve recently researched and posted some potential sources of insurance for Grange Halls in response to several questions and requests for help finding coverage. The options are certainly limited, but there are some possibilities. (The information is also included in this Bulletin.) We continue to post information about conferences, etc. as it is received. Remember that the Communications Department maintains an ODD (Officers, Directors, and Deputies) directory of contact information that is available for download and you can find copies of recent Bulletins on the site.

At least year’s state session, a resolution was passed directing Maine State Grange to develop a strategy for policy, education, and resources for small community-based farms and agriculture in general. I’ve been watching for and reposting articles that would seem to support that. Recent examples include information on invasive plants and the Browntail Moth threat.

But I’m not limiting this to agriculture. With thanks to the VA, we are now posting a Veterans’ Department Wish List of opportunities and needs. The list is updated monthly and includes facilities throughout the state.

I’d like to extend a special thank-you to our MSG Historian, Stanley Howe and his committee. The “In Search of…” feature has brought a number of inquiries regarding closed Granges and membership. Stan and his committee are always quick to respond and generous with knowledge and information. The “In Search of…” feature also recently made possible a connection between some volunteers and Rick Watson, Master of Fairview Grange. Working together Fairview Grange, the volunteers, and the community raised about $4,000 for a young family facing a serious medical issue for their soon to be born child. New bonds and friendships were also formed.

From a practical perspective, the Communications Department is not a department of one—it includes every Granger (and some non-Grangers!) who are committed to communication and the development of our organization. When you discover information that you believe would be of interest to other Grangers, share it! My job is to facilitate that process and make the channels of communication available and effective. If you have or need information, please let me know.

On a slightly personal note, I’m honored to be the “featured speaker,” at Bangor Grange’s Community Connection on March 28, 2017. The topic will be “Finding Dead Rainbows—where you stand makes a difference.” Bangor Grange Master Brenda Gammon describes Community Connections as an ongoing part of the Grange’s efforts to “provide information and resources and a way for our community’s citizens to connect with each other and those resources.” It’s an interesting idea—if your Grange is looking for a new idea and way to make a difference in your community, contact Brenda and ask her about it. Even better, come to the program!

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