Feb 182018

Short messages from your Communications Department

The February Bulletin is now available on the website! Get your copy: MSG Bulletin February 2018. While all of the content has also appeared as posts on the site, it’s a great summary and could be printed (legal-size paper) and posted on your Grange Bulletin Board and handed out to members.

While it doesn’t quite qualify as “going viral,” there are some comments posted on this month’s “Exploring Traditions…” column. Check out the discussion by clicking the responses link just under the title on the righthand side of the post. (You can comment on any post this way.) It is especially rewarding to hear that this has helped “explain the Grange’s relevance in this fast-paced society.”

Don’t forget that Grange Month is fast approaching… additional information and some resources are available in this post. If you plan to include a Community Citizen Award, you’ll want to order it soon!

Coming soon! Information on the first quarter results of the Amazon Smiles Program… and some information about how Valley Grange “hired” a bunch of “ad managers.”

What’s happening at your Grange? Inquiring minds want to know… photos are encouraged! (Attach them to an email.) Please understand that I do not have time to search Facebook for posts–as most regular Facebook users know, they have recently changed their algorithms and I may not even see your post. When you post news to Facebook, copy the post and paste it into an email addressed to the webmaster. It only takes a few seconds.  The best way to distribute your Grange news is still through this website, where we don’t use algorithms to decide what others should see. It’s available to all–especially subscribers!

Email the Maine State Grange Webmaster Subscribe to Maine State Grange Website!


Feb 162018


I’m in the process of reading a very interesting book, Josiah for President. It raises the question, “Can a plain man of faith… become the leader of America?” I’m at the point where a former congressman has given up his campaign for president and by happenstance meets Josiah, an Old-order Amishman. Clearly, the question suggests that tradition and today are going to collide and our former congressman is going to consider Josiah running for president. (If I’ve raised your curiosity, the book is written by Martha Bolton and published Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI in 2012.)

One of the reasons this book has been on my list for a while is my interest in the Amish. Another is the Grange’s ongoing challenge or reconciling tradition and today. That challenge is not limited to the Grange, certainly. Our entire political system faces it, along with us and other organizations. (I am now encouraged to purchase Girl School cookies online.) Consider how many current political debates have their roots in today versus tradition. Should we abandon the electoral college? Does the thinking of our forefathers when they included the “right to bear arms” still apply in the different world we live in?

There’s no doubt a keen value of the Grange over our history has been its role in promoting the interests of agriculture, defending the welfare of rural people, and supporting good government. Many presidents have expressed support for the Grange throughout its history. Franklin D. Roosevelt was a Granger and explained, “For many years I have been a member of the Grange. I have felt at home in it because it embodies the fine flavor of rural living, which I myself have known and loved. Beyond this, it has been an instrument for expressing in useful activity the highest sentiments and deepest loyalties of Americans.” (President Roosevelt received his Silver Star certificate in 1939-he had been invested with the honor of the Seventh Degree in 1930.)

I think Roosevelt’s explanation of his membership raises an interesting question for all members: “What is it about the Grange that makes us ‘feel at home?’” One of the reasons that might be an interesting and important question is that it requires us to learn more about the Grange and ourselves.

When my brother (who was unfamiliar with the Grange) visited several years ago, I dragged him along on a trip to the Grange Hall where I needed to perform some maintenance-related task. He and I share a love of antiques and old things, so I was pretty sure he’d appreciate the building and some of its furnishings—I left him to explore while I performed my task. When it was time to leave, I found him sitting in the foyer looking transfixed. He said, “Can’t you just picture some old bearded farmers sitting her, gathered around the stove, talking?” I could. They looked very much “at home.” The Grange was the place to meet with like-minded people-not just for the sake of meeting, but for the social opportunity to be with like-minded people in a supportive and sharing way.

Since his visit, the wood stove has been removed by order of the insurance company. But when we have a meeting or community program, people still gather on the porch in the summer or under the heating ducts in the winter. I have always been fascinated how nearly everyone wants to help when we start cleaning up after a potluck supper. There’s a warmth that doesn’t come from the sun or the furnace. It might be the “fine flavor of rural living” in action.

I don’t know if Josiah will become president—would there be an armored buggy? But I do know that the Grange needs to be a place where people feel at home. When we look to our traditions and our heritage, we have much to help us encourage that. We just have to figure out how to marry tradition and today instead of forcing them to collide.

The Grange Way: in essentials, unity; in non-essentials, freedom; in all things charity.

Information regarding Roosevelt’s Grange membership and his explanation was garnered from the book, “The Grange – Friend of the Farmer” by Charles M. Gardner, published by the National Grange in 1949.

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.

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Jan 212018

The revised National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry Digest of Laws, 2018 Edition, that applies to all Granges of the Order, including Junior, Subordinate, State and Pomona’s, is available for free download on the National Grange website. Click below to save or print the PDF.

You may also order a printed copy of the Digest through the Grange Supply Store for $20 plus shipping.  It includes all 112 pages with cover hole-punched and bound in a three-ring binder that allows you to quickly slip in updated pages as they become available each year.

There were few changes in 2018, mainly regarding language about trusts, now referred to as custodial accounts. Please do take time to familiarize yourself with the Digest.

Download the 2018 National Digest


Jan 152018


Regular followers will remember that last month’s column reflected on the truth, “We get the Christmas we deserve.” As I paged through the manual for inspiration for this month’s, it was perhaps fate that directed me to the Fourth Degree where the secretary addresses the candidates. After reminding them of the importance of punctuality, the secretary points out “there is work for all,” and adds “those reap the most abundant harvest of Grange benefits [are those] who contribute most liberally of their own time and talent.”

We might well wonder if our secretary is suggesting “We get the Grange we deserve.” The challenge is reminiscent of the analogy of sowing and reaping. If we sow our time and talent liberally in our Grange, we shall harvest abundantly. That could be a sobering thought for anyone who is questioning or unhappy with what the or she is “getting out” of membership. That unhappy member may be getting the Grange he or she deserves.

However, in fairness, we should also consider the accuracy of the statement, “There is work for all.” Is there? There’s got to be more going on than just meetings in order for there to be work for all.

Assuming there is work to do, it’s commonly accepted that one good membership retention technique is to get and keep new members involved. I’d like to go one further.

There’s an old joke about the pig and the hen walking down the road together. The topic of breakfast (bacon and eggs) comes up. The pig points out that all that’s required of the hen is involvement. For the pig, commitment is required.

The founders of the Grange recognized the importance of purpose and demonstrated insight into how to build an effective organization. It’s hard to get people involved in purposelessness. It’s impossible to gain commitment without purpose. With clear purpose, it should become equally clear that there is work for everyone. If there is no purpose, then there is no work.  It would be like asking people to show up to weed a garden where nothing has been planted!

Another insight of our founders was building a “grassroots” organization. While the umbrella is important, each Subordinate/Community Grange gets to create their own image–an opportunity that does encourage commitment. Personally, I believe the diversity in our Order is one of our biggest strengths. We can say with confidence, “There is work for all,” because our organization is built to accommodate different passions. We’re not just for farmers. Just look at a committee list and consider the opportunities ranging from community service, healthy living, women’s activities… to children/juniors… legislative matters… and we’re not really limited to those. There are several Granges in Maine that have theatre companies. There can be engaging and rewarding work for all in any Grange.

The Grange Way: in essentials, unity; in non-essentials, freedom; in all things charity.


Subscribe to Maine State Grange Website!

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.

Dec 142017


This month’s offering may at first appear a bit “off track,” but it is about tradition… it’s actually a column I wrote for my “Brain Leaks” website. I decided to adapt and share it here partly because I learned this lesson at a Grange Pomona Meeting and partly because I think when we look at the Grange and its rituals and traditions, it’s similarly true: We get the Grange we deserve.

At our elementary school’s Holiday Concert, one kindergartener was completely dressed in a Santa Suit! I couldn’t resist looking totally shocked and saying to him, “Omigosh, I didn’t realize Santa was going to be here!”

He smiled at me, placed his hands on his little padded belly and said quite seriously, “Mr. Boomsma, what would you like for Christmas?” A few hours later I realized how important his question was.

Following the concert, I attended our Piscataquis Pomona Meeting where Pomona Lecturer Dave Pearson introduced us to a Christmas Song I’d never heard before. I’m not sure how I missed this song–it was written in 1974 by Greg Lake as a protest against the commercialization of Christmas. The song has an interesting history, but it has an even more interesting closing line:

“We get the Christmas we deserve…”

That’s something to think about. We are, unfortunately, a culture of fault-finders and that makes us often feel victimized. We complain about how commercial Christmas has become… object to the costs and the endless attempts at political correctness. We remember fondly the Christmases of yesteryear and whine, “It’s not like it used to be.”

Lake wrote the song in part because, as he described it, “Christmas was a time of family warmth and love. There was a feeling of forgiveness, acceptance.  And I do believe in Father Christmas.”

So maybe we need to focus on what we believe in and then ask ourselves “What am I contributing to the season and what do I want from it?” Once we’ve wrapped our heads (and hearts) around that we can create the activities that contribute to that meaning and focus on those. What do you want for Christmas? How are you going to get it?

Christmas isn’t something that happens to us.  We get the Christmas we deserve.

The Grange Way: in essentials, unity; in non-essentials, freedom; in all things charity.


Subscribe to Maine State Grange Website!

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.

Nov 152017


As part of my work with our school, I recently chaperoned a group of honor music students on a bit of a “field trip.” They took part in a long day that culminated with a truly amazing concert. There were some twenty schools represented—middle school age kids. My job was basically to keep the kids safe and make sure they had a good time. For various reasons, I was in contact with our school principal several times throughout the day, most often by text message.

How does this relate to the Grange Way of Life? The experience demonstrated that as we adopt the “Grange Way” it can, in fact, become a way of life. We follow it and it follows us. I realized it after the concert was over and each student had, as instructed, “checked out” with me by bringing a parent to meet me before leaving. After the last one left, I texted to the principal, “All is secure. Every student has checked out with a parent.” At least I didn’t call her “Worthy Master.”

I think it’s interesting that National Grange has adopted “The Grange Way” as a theme for a theme and I am anxious to see how that theme translates into practice, partly because of the challenges we face as a collection of individuals, trying to live the Grange Way. A strength of the Grange is also a weakness. As a grassroots organization, we take on many different forms and interests. Do we have an identity crisis?

What is the Grange Way? I confess I’m tempted to set up a survey on the website and ask that question. I suspect we’d get some interesting answers!

National Communications Director Amanda Brozana Rios revealed her new tattoo at the Maine State Grange Convention. On the inside of her forearm you ‘ll find the familiar, “In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, freedom, In all things, charity.” I think that bit of ink represents a strong commitment to the Grange Way of life and I congratulate Amanda for quite literally making it part of her.

While it makes sense to adopt new themes, and occasionally change our focus, for an organization such as ours, we do well when we consider what has worked for 150 years.

I think it’s funny that I ended my school assignment with an automatic announcement, “All is secure.” I think it would be great if we found ourselves reciting the Grange slogan more often. When we find ourselves disagreeing regarding a course of action during a Grange Meeting, someone needs to stand up and remind us, “In essentials, unity… in non-essentials, freedom… in all things charity.” Is it necessary (essential) that we agree on everything? Can we allow individuality? How do we demonstrate charity (love) as we go about being Granges and Grangers?

You can bet you’ll be hearing more from me on this topic… but for now, “All is secure.”

The Grange Way: in essentials, unity; in non-essentials, freedom; in all things charity.


Subscribe to Maine State Grange Website!

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.

Nov 112017

Secretary Cubicle
It has been a busy here at State Grange Headquarters as we are transitioning to new officers.  I would like to welcome, Sherry Harriman, Master; Adrian (Mike) Griffin, Overseer;  Steven Haycock, Steward; Richard (Rick) Grotton, Assistant Steward; Gladys Chapman, Chaplain; Victoria (Vicki) Huff, Treasurer; Henry Morton, Gatekeeper; Christine Hebert, Ceres;  and Steven Verrill and James Owens, Executive Committee Members of the Maine State Grange.


Roster time is right around the corner and I have some Roster Information that I need to receive to make the information complete. I am listing the following Pomona Granges and Subordinate Granges that I have not received. You may email the following information to me at mainestategrangeatmyfairpointdotnet  (mainestategrangeatmyfairpointdotnet)  .  This year I am asking for our Subordinate Grange’s physical address; contact person and number; meeting day and time;  whether or not you have early refreshments or a supper (potluck or paid); the name, address, telephone number and email address of the following:  Master, Lecturer, Secretary and CWA Chairperson.

Here are the names of the Pomona and Subordinate Granges:

  • Androscoggin Pomona 1
  • Turner 23
  • West Minot 42
  • Deering 535
  • Cumberland & Oxford Union Pomona 21
  • Paugus 540
  • Porter 569
  • Excelsior Pomona 5
  • North Jay 10
  • Wilson 321
  • Greenwood 363
  • Schoodic 420
  • Hancock Pomona 13
  • Castine 250
  • Rumford115
  • Ashland 247
  • Cambridge 582
  • East Sangerville 177
  • Garland 76
  • St. Albans 114
  • Wayside 590
  • Merriconeag 425
  • West Bath Seaside 592
  • Kennebec Valley 128
  • Mt. Philip 545
  • Waldo Pomona 12
  • Branch Mills 336
  • Seven Star 73
  • Alexander 304
  • Arlington 528
  • York Pomona 14.

I am looking forward to receiving this information as information from last year’s Roster could be incorrect.

Membership lists are being updated and being forwarded to Secretaries for updating.  I thank you all for your cooperation in getting this dauntless task completed.

I, with the State Master, will be planning Secretary Workshops in the coming year.  We plan to have these workshops around the State so all secretaries have the opportunity to attend.  More to come once plans are final.

I wish you all a happy Thanksgiving.


Oct 162017


In a recent column, I wrote about the significance of traditions and ritual being based on values unless they become mechanical and meaningless. The longer traditions are maintained, the more important the “why” becomes.

Just this morning I posted some news about the fires in Northern California and their impact on Grangers and Granges. I was especially moved by the announcement that Redwood Valley Grange is providing support and services in spite of the personal struggles many members are having. They are serving their community in conjunction with the Mendocino Sheriff’s Department and North Coast Opportunities and Animal Control. Among services being provided:

  • The Hall will be open 10-6 every day until not needed and are providing Free Child Care
  • Free Professional Crisis Counseling and referrals are available
  • Lunch at 12:30 every while there is a community need.
  • All day refreshments are available
  • Town Meeting will be at the Grange – date TBD
  • The hall is a place to come, share, play music, and game tables are available.”

While I am especially moved, I am not especially surprised. I do not know the folks in Redwood Valley, but they are Grangers. It should be no surprise to anyone that these folks are finding ways and resources to support their community in what might be considered overwhelming ways. That’s tradition. That’s the Grange Way of Life.

Download the 2018 National Digest

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.

Sep 252017

We’re posting this link with thanks to the California State Grange for sharing… it’s a digitized recording from 1907 entitled, “Uncle Josh Joins the Grangers.” Uncle Josh sure has an interesting experience… There’s a good chance this will have you chuckling!