Aug 152017
 

glasses-1099129_640

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
 

glasses-1099129_640

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.

Jul 132017
 

Secretary CubicleBy Sharon Morton, MSG Secretary

Summertime is upon us and we are busy with gardens, canning, fair exhibits and planning for the upcoming new Grange year.

Reminders:

  • 990Ns- Please disregard any notice you may receive from the IRS advising that your 990N has not been filed. I have just finished up filing for this year.
  • Quarterly Reports– I am receiving them daily and will now begin updating the membership records as well as the Roster Information. Please do not forget or neglect to send in the roster information. The only information I will be using this year will be what I receive from you so if you have not received a copy of this form, please contact me here at headquarters and I will see that you receive one.
  • Donations- I am receiving donations for the Kelley Farm and as stated in a previous Bulletin I requested that donations to the Kelley Farm should be mailed directly to: National Grange, 1616 H Street, Washington DC 20006 with checks made payable to the Grange Foundation earmarked “Kelley Farm Fund” and donations to the CWA Committee should be sent to Karen Flagg whose address is 3 Jeanie Drive, Leeds ME. So please make sure your committee chairperson realizes they should be mailing donations to the correct place as indicated in the request letter. Donations for the Junior, Youth, and Agriculture Departments need to be mailed to State Grange Headquarters as they have been in the past.
  • Resolutions– Due at State Grange Headquarters by August 15, 2017. Don’t miss the deadline!

Summer is the time to get ready for State Session in October. The Sessions are open to every Grange member. You can’t vote unless you are a delegate but you can witness the activities that are there.

Until next time have a safe and productive “Grange” summer.

Jun 262017
 

By Walter Boomsma,
Communications Director

As in the past, I am happy to publish a list of those who are heading up teams that are willing to assist Granges with the installation of officers. If you are heading up a team this year, please let me know! I just need a few lines of information including contact information. Since Rolf was first to let me know, you can use his listing as a model!

  • Rolf Staples is heading up an installation team again this year. They will travel any reasonable distance from the Bangor area. Just call 884-9339 or email Rolf  (swederolfataoldotcom)  .
  • Christine Hebert is also putting together an installation team. Call Chris at 743-5277 or email her  (christineherbertatoutlookdotcom)  .
  • Vicki Huff already has six installations booked even though travel and scheduling is limited because some members of her team work. You can reach her by calling 699-2830 (please leave a message) or by e-mail  (Granger1atmainedotrrdotcom)  . Please note that Vicki’s Team is now completely booked. A schedule is posted. keep reading!

I will also publish information regarding planned officer installations–if you are leading or hosting an installation, send the details for listing here. Very often Pomona Granges will host installation for all their member Granges. It’s a great idea not only because it’s efficient–it’s also a lot of fun! Continue reading for the dates we’ve been told about! Continue reading »

Jun 172017
 

The Sesquicentennial Committee of the National Grange has researched and compiled a packet of interesting information designed to assist Granges in making the most of the opportunity to learn about and to celebrate the rich history of Grange. The packet – which was earlier sent in hard copy to your State Master and Secretary – contains interesting historical facts, short biographies of important Grange leaders as well as suggested ways to celebrate. Lecturers or any other Grange member who is in charge of sesquicentennial events should find the information very helpful.

 

CLICK THIS LINK to get your packet!

 

Webmaster’s Note: Lecturers will love this packet… there are some great suggestions for programs and discussions! But it’s also chock-full of historical information that should be of interest to every Granger. You can read a letter written by Susan B. Anthony to the National Grange in 1895… learn what various presidents have had to say about the Grange… be amazed at the amount of legislation the Grange has promoted over the years… discover some well-known people who were Grangers (I didn’t know Norman Rockwell was a Granger)…

 

Jun 162017
 

glasses-1099129_640

By Walter Boomsma

It recently became my sad privilege (notice I did not say “duty”) to serve once again as the chaplain in a Grange Burial Service. Bill Bemis, master of Garland Grange and Piscataquis Pomona, and I actually make a pretty good team. We’ve had far more practice than we’d like and rehearsals are no longer necessary. Bill always remembers the ribbons and flowers and other than a few quick exchanges before we start, things seem to proceed smoothly At this most recent, the funeral director thanked us profusely for so serving. Since several of our services have been with him, he’s part of the team as well.

Many of the traditions surrounding death and burial are shifting and in some cases being forgotten. We can debate whether or not this is a good thing, but my experience has been that most people find many of the “old” practices comforting and respectful.

The Grange Burial Service can, of course, be found in the Subordinate Grange Manual. There is no need for memorization—even ministers and other professionals who perform services frequently tend to use their manuals—if only for support during what is surely a difficult time when it can be easy to lose one’s place and thoughts. We are driven by a desire to support the family and friends. That, above all, determines what is correct.

There are, by the way, some significant differences between the service found in older manuals when compared to the “new” manual issued in 2013. In all honestly, I greatly prefer the older version for several reasons.

The 2013 version is significantly shorter than the previous. While burials should be relatively brief, the brevity of the 2013 version is achieved by omitting much. I suspect the 2013 version would, even at a slow pace, only last several minutes! More importantly, the 2013 version seems to omit or shorten many of the “lessons” offered in the older version—lessons that offer important comfort and reflection.

Another difference is that the 2013 version omits the hymns and singing—and that is supported by generally accepted practice. I cannot remember the last time I was at burial service of any type where attendees were asked to sing. When conducting the Grange service, I will often recite the words to the suggested songs as poetry.

The most important considerations are the family’s preferences and what the acting Chaplain and Master are comfortable with. Both manuals make it clear the service is optional. Given the fluidity in today’s practices, there is some room for “customizing.” While I do not think it is appropriate to conduct long eulogies as part of a burial service, I will offer a few brief comments or a pleasant memory of the deceased to ensure that the service is delivered in a way that is truly about him or her.

To that point, many people (Grangers included) are not aware or will forget during times of trouble that there is such a thing as a Grange Burial Service. The Subordinate Grange Manual also includes a “Grange Service for Private Home or Funeral Home.” There is certainly no requirement that these be conducted for a deceased Granger, those who remain would perhaps like to know that the Grange can support and help. There is a requirement for draping the charter, also included in the Subordinate Grange Manual. It is entirely appropriate to remind our brothers and sisters of these services and other support the Grange may provide such as hosting family and friends after a service.

This column is certainly not mean to be morbid—it is offered as a reminder that our traditions demonstrate how there is a Grange way of life (and in this case, death). While traditions change and society develops, the Grange remains relevant and viable.

I would challenge chaplains to fully explore your duties and opportunities. If you are re-elected or newly elected this month, listen carefully to the charge you are given during installation “…to be faithful to your calling… may the spiritual seed you shall sow fall on good soil, and bring forth an hundredfold. Cast thy bread upon the waters, and thou shalt gather it after many days…”

In the alternate installation, chaplains are instructed more specifically, “When it becomes necessary, you will conduct a memorial service to honor members who have gone on before us. Your loving touch will add to the ceremony…”

The chaplain should be assisted by every member as we labor together to support each other in times of sadness and in times of joy.  We should bring a “loving touch” to all our work together. When we conduct the “altar circle” during the installation of new members, the master promises, “…we pledge to you our friendship… a pure friendship, enduring through life, to shield you from harm…” That’s a great way of life.

 


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.

May 152017
 

glasses-1099129_640

By Walter Boomsma

 

The Order of Patrons of Husbandry is the only association whose teachings accompany its members in their daily pursuits. They form part of the farmer’s life. They do not call him from his work to put his mind upon any other subject, but furnish recreation in his daily duties, and by cheerful instruction, lighten and elevate his labor.

We will be hearing those words again soon during the installation of officers. What a wonderful reminder of an important aspect of our Order—it is meant to be part of our daily lives—not something reserved for meetings at the Grange Hall.

I suspect one of the reasons our founders included this observation in the installation ceremony was to remind leaders of the importance of not interfering with members’ daily labor but to furnish recreation and by cheerful instruction, lighten and elevate his daily labor.

While we tend to think of labor as “work,” at least one dictionary defines it as “productive activity.” I think it’s interesting how our view of that has changed over the years. I’m currently reading a book about a farmer who labored in the mid-late 1800’s. I’m impressed with all the things he did, but never get the sense he considered himself busy. He worked with the seasons, doing the things that need to be done. The author, his grandson, explains his grandfather’s explanation often was, “it’s just something I do.” His work was his life and his life was his work. I think farmers today would agree it’s still not an “eight to five” job.

Small wonder the Grange is such a great organization for farmers. Being a Grange member is not about attending a meeting or two every month. Much like farming, being a Granger is an around-the-clock activity. Or at least it’s meant to be! The Master’s entire opening comments emphasize that Grange is not supposed to interfere with our lives; it is truly meant to enhance and enrich our lives. And the task of those who lead the Order is to make sure that happens.

One of the reasons our Order is about to celebrate 150 years of existence is, I believe, the fact that it remains relevant and does enhance and enrich members’ lives. When the Bangor Daily News Reporter asked me what my hope was for the Grange of the future, I replied: “that every Grange finds a way to be a viable, energetic resource for their community, however that community is defined.” When we look at those Granges experiencing membership growth they have done that, but their growth and success is not solely about the programs they are doing.

In that same interview, I suggested that growing Granges always have two common qualities: good leadership and lots of passion. In growing Granges, members aren’t putting their lives on hold to “go to Grange” because Grange is part of their life. Their membership does furnish recreation, but it also means that by cheerful instruction (which includes networking) they are finding their labor (lives) lightened and elevated.

Simple things are not always easy. The installing Master also observes, “Thus our Order binds us together in fraternity…” I think it’s important to note that he or she does not say, “Our fraternity binds us together in our Order…” What really binds us together is shared vision and purpose. In the absence of that, there is no reason to trudge to the Grange Hall for a meeting—particularly on a cold or rainy night.

While it may be tempting to think life was simpler 150 years ago, let’s remember that those early Grangers didn’t hop in a car and turn the key while checking in with others in the family on a smartphone. Consider the effort it must have taken—chores had to completed, the horse and wagon readied… but that effort was done without complaint. Going to Grange was as much a part of their lives as doing those chores. They came from far and wide because it mattered.


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.

May 152017
 

Secretary CubicleBy Sharon Morton, MSG Secretary

 

Spring has arrived on the farm and in our Grange lives.  New growth is everywhere from the budding trees to the planted seedlings.

The following Continuous Membership Certificates have been issued and will have been or are already presented to our members.  Androscoggin Grange #8:  Janice Brewer for 25 years; Joanne Boyington for 25 years; Carol Buzzell for 25 years and Merton Buzzell for 25 years; Danville Junction Grange #65:  Beverly Lashua for 75 years; Mildred Brainerd for 70 years; Glenys Ryder for 65 years; Neil Peaco for 60 years; Gleason Sturtevant for 55 years; and Ken Brewer for 40 years; Norway Grange #45:  Timothy Pike for 55 years; Willow Grange #366:  Hazel Kleinschmidt for 70 years; Farmington Grange #12:  Robert Smith for 50 years; Stephen Scharoun for 25 years; Marion Scharoun for 25 years; L. Herbert York for 65 years and Andrew Milliken for 55 years; Pioneer Grange 219:  Joel Morse for 60 years; Margaret Morse for 60 years and Bruce Stimpson for 55 years and Jacksonville Grange #358: Nathan Pennell for 25 years.

If you are printing your Continuous Membership Certificate Application from the website you will note the change that National Grange is now charging shipping and handling using the chart below:

*Please use the following Shipping & Handling Chart

  • Orders: Up to $10.00 = $4.00
  • Orders: $10.0l – $19.99 = $5.00
  • Orders: $20.00 – $49.99 = $7.00
  • Orders: $50.00 – $74.99 = $9.00
  • Orders: $75.00 – $99.99 = $10.00
  • Orders: $100.00 – $124.99 = $12.00
  • Orders: $125.00 – $249.99 = $15.00
  • Orders: $250 and above = $20.00

Example:             Three Golden Sheaf Certificates at $10.00 each  =  $30.00
One 75 Year Diamond Certificate & Folder at $10.00 =   $10.00
Sub Total: $40.00

You will then use the chart and find the correct shipping and handling for your $40.00 order which is $7.00.  You would then make your check payable to National Grange in the amount of $47.00 and mail your application form to me for processing.  If you have the old form please feel free to use them but use the shipping and handling chart above to correctly pay for your certificates being issued from the National Grange.  If you would like your certificate by a certain date please note that on the application form. I will advise National of your request.

Recording the minutes of your Grange is one of your most important duties.  They should be exact, concise, detailed, yet comprehensive history of your records maintained in a permanent record book.

A membership record book of all members should be kept with the complete address, degree affiliations, dates, dues records and any other necessary information which should be kept available and up to date.

Grange Secretaries are constantly required to fill out all kinds of forms.  It is imperative that all directions on each form be read and carefully understood before proceeding.    Be sure all questions are properly answered in full, that names, addresses, including Zip Codes are correct and complete and all information legible.

“Let us not forget the precepts of our Order. Let us add dignity to labor and in our dealings with our fellow men, be honest, be just and fear not… The record of your Grange will be held as a memento of your labors long after the recording hand has crumbled into dust.  Let them be exact that they may redound to your honor an exhibit a faithful history of the work of your Grange to all who come after us.”

Until next month!

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 142017
 

Secretary CubicleBy Sharon Morton, MSG Secretary

April is a busy month here at State Headquarters as well as in our Subordinate Granges. My time has been busy with the finishing of the 2016 Journal of Proceedings, which will be published on the website. April is a month to celebrate our grange heritage and what a great way to do so is to have an open house, invite all to enjoy a great meal and program.

I have had the opportunity to issue these Continuous Membership Certificates which have been or will be presented to our members.  Somerset Grange #18, Gwendolyn Knight for 65 years; Farrilyn Chase for 70 years; Bernice Chase for 55 years; Norman Chase for 55 years; Elizabeth Wilder for 25 years; Alice Jones for 70 years; and Marjorie Farrand for 50 years; Manchester Grange #172, Mark L. Johnston 50 years; Brenda L. Lake for 50 years; and Edward Lincoln III for 50 years; Mousam Lake Grange #467, Sylvia Young for 70 years and Clayton Chute for 65 years; Bingham Grange #237, Terry Spencer for 40 years; Bear Mt. Grange #62, Linda Davis for 50 years; Clara Hamlin for 60 years; Prentiss Kimball for 60 years; and Glenn Chute for 60 years; Huntoon Hill #398, Sharon Leeman for 55 and 60 years; Fairview Grange #342, Marilyn Giroux for 75 years; Ellie Zarcone for 40 years and George Merry for 75 years; Hollis Grange #132, Valerie Joy for 50 years; Maple Grove Grange #148, Carol R. Brown for 50 years and Esther L. Kilborn for 80 years; Topsham Grange #37, Julia Wallace for 50 years and Merton Ricker for 70 years; Valley Grange #144, Elizabeth Herring for 70 years; Roderick Lander for 50 years and Harriet Mitchell for 70 years and White Rock Grange #380, Gloria McBee for 55 years.

Quarterly Reports:  Please remember the quarterly reports are due March 31st; June 30th; September 30th and December 31st and are due at headquarters postmarked on or before the 10th of the month following each quarter.

KEEPING MINUTES – As Secretary, your first priority is keeping a record of the meetings of your Grange.  Accuracy should be the goal, for your minutes are your Grange’s permanent record.  Remember that “Robert’s Rules of Order” advises, “They (the minutes) should contain mainly a record of what was done at a meeting, not what was said by the members unless in the form of a motion… Minutes should never reflect the Secretary’s opinion on anything said or done.”

Resolutions and motions should be included in the minutes word for word, as well as the action taken on them.  Detailed accounts of receipts and expenses should be included.  Communications read need not be included word for word, only that they were read and their general subject.  You can refer members to the communication if they wish details.

An exception might be the description of the lecturer’s programs.  If a member says something particularly worthy, or a discussion is important, including it in the minutes should be approved by the Grange.

Next time I will touch on the Secretary’s responsibility on maintaining records.

I will be updating the Roster Information Form that will be sent with your June Quarterly Report. This form will include the name and number of your Grange; physical location of your Grange Hall; contact name and phone number; name, address, phone number, and email address of your elected Master, Lecturer, Secretary and CWA Chairman.

Please contact me immediately with any address changes or any changes to the officers listed above so that our records will be correct and updated.

Happy Spring, and enjoy the nice weather.