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

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.