Nov 152017
 

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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.

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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.

PLEASE READ AS THIS IS IMPORTANT!

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
 

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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.

Donate to the CA Fires Support Fund


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!

Sep 182017
 

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Sometimes it feels like the planets align. I recently had a most interesting conversation with an adult student regarding school rules. I explained that as a substitute teacher, I of course support school rules, but my emphasis is on values. My bias is that focusing on values is energy efficient and diminishes the need for acting like a policeman and judge, making sure the kids are following all the rules.

Then, when I sat down to write this column, I realized I was truly pressed for time. I considered offering a couple of quotes about traditions and simply encouraging readers to think—really think—about some of our Grange traditions. I thought it would faster. I should have known better. Several of those quotes set my mind to work.

Perhaps because of my conversation less than twenty-four hours prior, this caught my eye:

… traditions and norms aren’t rules…There’s a difference between a tradition and a law.” (Rick Santelli)

I find myself really thinking about that, particularly as it might apply to the Grange. I find myself wondering if we perhaps are often guilty of confusing tradition with law and rules. I have sat through some painful debates over things like the correct way to turn a corner when doing “floorwork.” When we start using words and phrases like “You have to do it this way…” we are likely making traditions into rules. When a new member walks out of a meeting never to return after he is told he must do something relative to our traditions and rituals, we must plead guilty to thinking traditions are laws.

There is much value to tradition and ritual (those, by the way, might be different) but we should own them; they should not own us.

…traditions counter alienation and confusion. They help us define who we are; they provide something steady, reliable and safe in a confusing world.” (Susan Lieberman)

I don’t expect much argument when I suggest that our current state of society has us longing for some things we can depend on. Kids especially like structure and predictability. One of the challenges of every substitute teacher is consistency—the kids will scrutinize everything we do and quickly point out “That’s not the way we do it when Mrs. Regular Teacher is here!” as if I have committed an unpardonable sin. The younger they are, the less tolerant they are of change. They are simply demonstrating the great comfort found in tradition.

But there is simply no way I’ll get it all “right” and, more importantly, I want them to understand that I won’t be wrong—I’ll just be different.  Perhaps some of those differences will be fun and exciting!

I like to think they are learning to balance comfort with challenge. If we don’t develop that skill the world will become a very stressful place to live. Just consider how much the world has changed in your lifetime and how that is impacted your “traditions.” I’ll bet you’ve seen some changes in those traditions. That’s not a bad thing. It’s just different.

We often talk about valuing our tradition and rituals, but sometimes forget that our traditions should reflect our values. Hopefully, we don’t go to Gramma’s house every Thanksgiving just because it’s a tradition or rule. We go to Gramma’s house every Thanksgiving because we value family time together.

While it’s not exactly a straight line, from our values we develop traditions and, perhaps, rules. In my classroom, you will quickly learn that our top value is learning. When we understand and focus on that, the need for rules diminishes as we each become responsible for considering how what we do (and don’t do) supports that value.

So perhaps this month, we do not explore tradition. We instead explore our values individually as an organization. Are the most vibrant and exciting Granges the ones who are focused on guarding tradition—like the kids who yell, “That’s not the way we do it?!” Would you rather sit in a class where everybody is obsessed with not changing anything or a class where everybody is obsessed with learning?

 


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 142017
 

Several months ago, a “little birdie” sent me a news tip and a copy of a poem written by Wes Ryder of Danville Junction Grange along with the explanation I might be able to use it on the website since it was about the Grange’s 150th Birthday. I read it and decided not to use it. (Wait for it!)

Instead I forwarded it to National Grange for further consideration. Now we need a Grange Cheer for Wes. His poem is featured as a full page of the current issue (Fall 2017) of “Good Day,” the magazine of the National Grange. This issue is hitting mailboxes all over the country as we speak.

When your copy arrives, tear open the plastic cover and turn immediately to page 20 to enjoy Wes’s ability to turn a phrase and rhyme a word. Then congratulate him by commenting on this post. As a writer and publisher, I can attest to the fact that getting poetry published in a National publication is not an easy achievement. Many try, few succeed. Congratulations, Wes–you’re part of a very elite group and our poet laureate!


To comment and congratulate Wes, click the link in the upper right corner of the post. If possible, shake his hand in person! And remember, we love contributions from local Grangers and Granges.

Email the Maine State Grange Webmaster

Sep 132017
 

Secretary Cubicle
Summer is almost over and fall is fast approaching and I am making this column a reminder column.

Email
Email is great. I appreciate those who use email. Please email me at mainestategrangeatmyfairpointdotnet  (mainestategrangeatmyfairpointdotnet)   and cc grangenutatnetscapedotnet  (grangenutatnetscapedotnet)  .

Annual Session

Delegates are your Master and spouse and if they are unable to attend your grange will then have the opportunity to appoint two delegates. East grange is allowed two delegates so please make sure that you take advantage of this opportunity to serve your grange.

Quarterly and Yearly Dues
Subordinate Granges your quarterly dues must be paid in full for the quarter ending September 30, 2019. You may have up to the 10th day to have your quarterly reports postmarked to avoid $5.00 assessment to defray collection costs. I will be leaving for State Grange Session Wednesday, October 18, 2017, so please have them in before that date to avoid confusion at State Session. ALL DUES MUST BE PAID THROUGH SEPTEMBER 30, 2017 IN ORDER FOR YOUR DELEGATES TO HAVE THE OPPORTUNITY TO VOTE.

Pomona Granges your yearly dues must be paid in full for the year ending June 30, 2017.  As I write this column I have three Pomona’s who have not filed the yearly report.  I will be forwarding to those Pomona’s the paperwork to be completed and filed with me before State Session in order for the delegates from these Pomona’s to take advantage of the voting privileges at State Session.

Until I see you at State Session be safe.

Aug 232017
 

This “spot on” commercial has aired on PBS… great explanation of what the Grange has been and is about!

Aug 152017
 

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Seth Godin recently wrote that it is not so much science and DNA that determines who or what we become, but culture does. He notes that our DNA is basically the same as a Cro-Magnon’s and, “The reason you don’t act the way they did is completely the result of culture, not genes.” It’s an interesting thought, yes? It becomes even more interesting when we consider the relationship of culture and tradition. It becomes powerful when we realize we may not be able to change our DNA, but we can change our culture.

Our recent vacation to Canada included a significant amount of drive time enabling us to consider what we were seeing and experiencing. One of our goals for the trip was to experience as much Celtic Music as was practical. We accomplished that by attending a number of Ceilidhs—the one Gaelic word we mastered during our stay. It’s pronounced “Kay-lee” and we were truly amazed by what seemed an endless number of possible ones to attend. Wikipedia defines a Ceilidh as “a traditional Scottish or Irish social gathering. In its most basic form, it simply means a social visit. In contemporary usage, it usually involves playing Gaelic folk music and dancing, either at a house party or a larger concert at a social hall or other community gathering place.” We found that the best Ceilidhs including some story telling and jokes.

These Ceilidhs come in all sizes and shapes with enough diversity to keep one’s interest for a long time. They are held in various venues including restaurants, pubs, barns, and even street corners. Nova Scotia is also dotted with Parish Halls that might be best described as usually small “community centers.” But “center” is certainly relative. We were warned that one of the best Ceilidhs in the area is almost impossible to find. The best way for a non-local to go is to attend an earlier Ceilidh at a local restaurant, then follow the crowd when they leave and head towards Glencoe.

We couldn’t help making some comparisons to Grange Halls in the United States—at least the Grange Halls of days past where “social gatherings” included suppers, music, and dancing. Their purposes actually are historically quite similar.

I came to the conclusion our Granges should consider having some events resembling Ceilidhs while attending one at a small restaurant called “The Red Shoe.” I feared it would be a tourist trap. The line outside the door reinforced my fears but in short order I found myself having fun, visiting with other people in line. We could hear the music. We could smell the food. The anticipation was almost over-powering. Inside, it got even better. It might be a stretch to suggest that we were “one big happy family” but we were a community immersed in a culture and tradition.

When the lead musician asked each table to tell where they were from it was apparent we were a global community with more folks coming from far than near. We were sitting at a table with a couple from Montreal, but at the table next to us were some “locals” with a toddler who could barely walk, but when the music played, he did his best to “step dance.”

The words rang true. “we act the way we do as a result of culture.” While I haven’t had a DNA test, I’m reasonably certain there’s not much Irish or Scottish blood in my heritage. But that night it felt like there was! Just about everyone’s toes were tapping—there was much laughter and shouted conversation. (Two of the pub rules are “Don’t ask for the wifi password,” and “Drink lots of beer.”) But it’s not just the music and it’s certainly not just the beer—several of the Ceilidhs we attended served only tea and biscuits. It’s simply hard not to enjoy the Celtic Way of Life when you are sitting at a Ceilidh.

So there might be a question in all this for us. Remember: we can’t change our DNA, but we can change our culture. What is the Grange Way of Life? Why aren’t we dancing (literally and figuratively) more? Shouldn’t we at least be tapping our toes? It should be hard not to enjoy the Grange Way of Life when you’re sitting in a Grange Hall.


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.

Jul 162017
 

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By Walter Boomsma

“…The springing seed teaches us to increase in goodness, and the growing trees to aspire after higher and broader knowledge.” These are words spoken by the Chaplain during the celebration and instruction of the Second Degree.

Later in the degree, the master explains, “There is no object in which, to appearance, life and death border so closely together as in the grains of seed buried in the earth; but when life seems extinct a fuller and richer existence begins anew.” Near the close of this degree, the master reminds us that “The salutation of this degree ‘places faith in God and nurtures Hope.’”

Grange ritual and teachings take great advantage of the lessons of nature and those lessons are many. “The tools used by us in this degree are the hoe and the pruning knife. The hoe, with which we cut up weeds and stir the soil, is emblematic of that cultivation of the mind which destroys error and keeps our thoughts quickened and ready to receive new facts as they appear, thus promoting the growth of knowledge and wisdom.”

“The pruning knife, used to remove useless and injurious growths from our trees, plants and vines, should remind you to prune idle thoughts and sinful suggestions… Bear in mind that moral and metal worth rank before worldly wealth or honors…”

I wish I could remember where I recently read the observation that “in order to become a butterfly, you have to be willing to give up being a caterpillar.” The words are not exactly Grange teaching, but the thought surely is. “When life seems extinct a fuller and richer existence begins anew.”

If you have some remaining seeds from planting your garden (the second degree uses corn) I’d encourage you to find one and hold it in your palm and hear the master’s words, “Behold these inanimate kernels of corn! But the germ has life—the future plant is there…” In a workshop I’ve presented, I point out that all of the life potential and a complete set of instructions to create it are within that small seed. That’s H-O-P-E and a powerful lesson nature teaches.

The lesson is certainly about individual potential, but I think it can apply to our Granges which, after all, are a collection of individuals. If each of us has that much promise and potential, does not our Grange? When we consider our heritage, our principles, and our teachings… do we not have within us the potential for a “fuller and richer existence…” are not all the instructions there that will allow us to grow into something wonderful? Is our order placing faith in God and nurturing hope? Are we collectively increasing in goodness and aspiring after higher and broader knowledge?

I wonder what a caterpillar thinks—or for that matter, if it does. Does it know what its future is going to be? Nature clearly has programmed it to wrap itself up in a mummy-like state without questioning whether or not it’s a good idea. The caterpillar doesn’t have to decide to give up its existence and become a butterfly. That’s a grand plan because if caterpillars were like people, the situation would be a lot different. Many caterpillars would be quite content to remain caterpillars. Some would fear becoming a butterfly and needing to fly. They would be quite content to crawl about munching leaves. But some would look forward to the adventure and the freedom that comes with flying. They would be willing to go through the metamorphosis required. Those who remain caterpillars would cling to their existence and perhaps even complain that there aren’t enough caterpillars left because everyone is too busy being a butterfly.

The Grange way of life, like nature, is meant to be filled with hope, promise, and potential. We just have to decide to give up being caterpillars and commit to becoming a butterfly—to becoming something that is different and beautiful. The challenge we face is accepting that who and what we are may not be who and what we become. But let us let nature remind us that while the butterfly is found in the caterpillar, it is equally true that the caterpillar is found in the butterfly. Nature does not resist change, it depends on it, understanding that a seed is not meant to stay a seed and a caterpillar is not meant to remain a caterpillar. Life is about becoming and when we think things are dying what is really  happening is. “a fuller and richer existence begins anew.”

 


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.