May 152017
 

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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.

Apr 132017
 

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By Walter Boomsma

“The question has been asked, ‘How long will the Grange live?” I believe it will live as long as it continues to serve the welfare of agriculture and the nation. Whenever it becomes ingrown and selfish, and the members look on it only as a means of bringing them pleasure, entertainment, or profit, it will fade away.”

Those words for today were actually written and spoken in the 1940’s by then National Master Albert S. Goss.[1]

One of the pointed questions asked during our Piscataquis Pomona town hall meeting with now National Master Betsy Huber was, “Given we are a diverse, grassroots organization, what really unites us?” The question may be as important as the answer because the question drives us back to our roots and fundamental principles and policies.

Ironically, just a few days later, a member of the media asked me, “What is your hope for the Grange?” It was one of the few times I didn’t have a prepared soundbite for a reply. After fumbling a bit, I answered, “that it continues to be a vibrant and energetic organization that contributes to our communities.” Feeling that I hadn’t exactly given a great answer, it was that question which later made me pull down some of my Grange books and do some reading and thinking.

Master Goss’s hope can be found in the second paragraph. “But to those who find pleasure in doing something for the common good, the Grange provides an instrument both effective and satisfying. Through it we can jointly find our entertainment and our pleasure in service, while at the same time we can advance the interests of our neighbors and ourselves in the fields of health, education, business and in almost limitless ways. Through the Grange we have an opportunity to give, and the more we give the more we gain.”

If the reporter who interviewed me had the ability to interview Master Goss, I suspect he would have used a redirect in his reply to the reporter’s question, “What is your hope for the Grange?” I think that the master might have replied that he had a belief, not a hope. There’s an important difference in those two words. Master Goss believed, “…it will still be the motivating center from which unlimited community welfare enterprises originate; and it will continue to build and strengthen the farm home as its ultimate purpose.”

One of the many strengths of our Order is an almost uncanny ability to look to the past as we move to the future. When we talk about our Granges, we too often get focused on today’s challenges like how hard it is to get members or the need to “close” for the winter to avoid a heating bill. Perhaps it is time to explore our traditions and our history of success. In the same book I found Master Goss’s prophecy, I stumbled on to this statement: “The Grange has lived and will live because it is founded on the home, the family, and the farm.”

Is that any less true today, some seventy-five years later? Will we continue to live because we are founded on the home, the family, and the farm? One of the reasons I decided to write this “Exploring Traditions…” column every month is my belief that much of our history, heritage, tradition, and practice has application for today—if we are willing and able to understand and apply it.

There’s a song that will be familiar to many… “He’s an old hippie and he don’t know what to do… should he hang on to the old or grab on to the new?” Perhaps we could change one word and make it our opening song at an occasional meeting. “He’s an old Granger and he don’t know what to do… should he hang on to the old or grab on to new?”

The problem is the question is an absolute implying there’s a required a choice between the old and the new. I don’t know about hippies, but Grangers do not need to make an either-or choice. We need to hang on to the old to the extent it makes sense and to the degree it got us where we are. But we also need to grab on to the new if we are going to “be the motivating center from which unlimited community welfare enterprises originate.”

Do you share Master Goss’s belief? Can you see a sign over the door to your Grange Hall that reads, “Welcome to the motivating center from which unlimited community welfare enterprises originate!” That’s better than “closed for the winter.”


[1] Gardner, C. M. (1949). The Grange — Friend of the Farmer. Washington DC: National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry.

 

 

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.

Mar 162017
 

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By Walter Boomsma

“We are constantly passing blindly along the pathway of life, events occurring that we do not understand, and often encountering difficulties and obstructions in our way; but we should press forward, having Faith that God will ultimately bring us into broad and pleasant fields of paradise.”

The master’s observation to first degree candidates is certainly of interest to an organization steeped in history and tradition. For one hundred fifty years, patrons of husbandry have survived passing along the pathway of life, perhaps not totally blindly, but certainly encountering events we did not often understand. There can be little doubt that we have (and do) encountered difficulties and obstructions along our way. For our organization, the key phrase is “we should press forward.”

Pressing forward does not equal abandoning the past. But it does mean that we must face those difficulties and obstructions while being good stewards without clinging unreasonably to the past and tradition but also without abandoning the basic beliefs and practices that have and will continue to serve us well. We do that as individuals, should be do any less as an organization?

As I study these words, it occurs to me that this might be meant to describe a process—one that is cyclical and repeats itself—just as do the seasons of the year. There are, in fact, “broad and pleasant fields of paradise” along the pathway that includes “difficulties and obstructions.”

Later, in the same degree, the master uses the analogy of grass to challenge the candidates to consider “man’s transitory state upon earth and also of a brighter and more glorious truth.”

“As the grass awakens to life again at the call of Spring, does not each tiny spear, as it shoots from the ground, preach to you of the resurrection and immortality? Let the modesty and usefulness of the humble grass be to you an object of imitation…”

This lesson of this degree gives us much to consider. While introducing this lesson, the master holds a bundle of dried grasses as a visual aid. “This bouquet as you perceive, is composed wholly of different varieties of grasses, possessing little beauty and less of interest to the careless observer, but full on instruction to the receiving mind.”

As we open our minds to consider the lesson, we must immediately recognize the renewal quality of grass. As the snow melts, here in Maine, we see brown. But soon it will awaken. I liken this to getting past the difficulties and obstructions we face and arriving into broad and pleasant fields.

But for some reason, the words “does not each tiny spear, as it shoots from the ground…” looked different to me when I saw them this time, perhaps because I was for the first time seeing this as it applies not only to us as individuals, but also as an organization. I suddenly saw each member as a “tiny spear” of grass. I also saw those spears shooting from the ground in a way of renewal that would create a broad and pleasant field of paradise.

That brings us to the word “Faith.” We must believe in ourselves and our Order. We will keep celebrating birthdays if we believe we can and follow the lessons our founders gave us.

 


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.

Feb 152017
 

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By Walter Boomsma

Most Grangers I talk with admit that the first time they celebrated the four degrees, the event was a bit of a blur and the instruction they received wasn’t fully appreciated. It is certainly interesting to ask Grangers to recite one or two things they distinctly remember from that experience.

One of my distinct memories happened during the Second Degree when the Master showed us a few kernels of corn in his hand. I remember watching his fingers move as he explained, “We are now to teach you how to plant the seed. Behold these inanimate kernels of corn! But the germ has life—the future plant is there. We loosen the soil—we bury the seed; and in so doing impress upon our minds the truth of the immortality of the soul. 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.

Those words and thoughts can be a great comfort to us in times of sorrow. But the lesson of the seeds has nearly endless application. I have occasionally used an apple to make a similar point. (This might be a short lecturer’s program!) I will hold up an apple and ask, “How many seeds are in this apple?” Most people will not know, so we may actually cut it open and count them. One of those seeds can then be selected and another question poised. “How many apples are in this seed?”

 Anyone can count the number of seeds in an apple… but only God can count the number of apples in a seed.

-Robert Schuller

The lesson of the apple seed is the lesson of the kernel of corn—each contain unlimited potential. “From this little seed we have, first the blade, then the ear, then the full corn in the ear. So with the mind, when duly nourished with Faith and Hope…

Later, in the same degree, the Master instructs, “May the lessons you have received find genial soil in your minds. Cultivate with hope the seed thus planted, that it may yield an hundred fold.

The lessons of the Grange are the lessons of agriculture. Nature can teach us much if we listen and much of our Grange tradition and instruction encourages us to listen and learn those lessons.

Ceres explains, “As we look around and see the beautiful transformation of seeds into attractive plants or majestic trees, we have but another lesson taught us of the wondrous works of God. Changes and transformations are constantly passing before us—the dying grain into the living stalk, the tiny seeds into majestic trees, the bud to blossom, the blossom to fruit. All these preach eloquently of the wonder-working God; and if the beauties of this world, when rightly viewed, offer so much of the magnificence of the Creator to charm us here, what must be the sublime grandeur of that Paradise above, not made with hands, eternal in the heavens?

I recall a news anchor’s comment following a story about Valley Grange’s Words for Thirds Program. He’d observed how excited the kids were about dictionaries and reading and closed his segment by saying, simply, “There is hope.” All of the lessons of the Grange seem to bring us inescapably to that one word–hope.

We are challenged to consider the words we say, the gifts we give, the simple actions we take as seeds. They are the germs of life. The future lies in them, even when we can’t see it. We are planting hope.


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.

Feb 142017
 

Secretary CubicleBy Sharon Morton, MSG Secretary

As I sit here and look out at the snow I am pondering what spring will bring. Grange activities will start anew, as well as, new life on the farm.

Yearly Dues

As I write this column I hope that you have sent your first request for your Grange’s yearly dues.  If you need to obtain first dues notices they are available here at the office.  It is now time to send your second notices.  Both notices are available here at headquarters for .25 cents each.

April is Grange Month

The Maine State Grange has memorial flags and grave markers for sale.  This is a great way to honor our deceased members.   We have two styles of memorial flags black emblem ($7) and colored emblem ($8) and grave marker $30.  You can purchase a memorial flag with a grave marker for $35.  I have a limited number of grave markers so if you would like one please get your request in early.

You will also be receiving in a mailing shortly the Grange Month information from National Grange.  It is also available on our website:  mainestategrange.org.  You will be receiving the 2017 Proclamation, Letter from our National Master and a poster to use for inviting the public to a grange meeting.

National Grange Convention 2018 – Unique as a Snowflake

As I have been chosen the Coordinator for the State of Maine I have been given the task of obtaining funds for the convention.  I have short sleeved and long sleeved t-shirts.  I have a variety of sizes in both styles.  The prices are short-sleeved $10 and the long-sleeved $15.

Membership Recognition Form

I will be updating the Membership Recognition Form as National Grange has made a change in the shipping cost0 Effective March 1, 2017.  Golden Sheaf is $10 plus $4.00 for shipping and handling and the 75 Year Diamond Certificates with folder is $10 plus $4.00 for shipping and handling.  I believe that if you forget to add the shipping and handling National Grange will bill you.

Until next month have a safe winter and a great beginning of spring.

Jan 142017
 

Secretary CubicleBy Sharon Morton, MSG Secretary

A new year is upon us and with that the hope of spring.

The Roster for 2017 has been mailed.  We, at State Headquarters, hope that you find the Roster helpful.  Roster updates and additions are available and will be published in the Bulletin or through the State Secretary.

You will be receiving requests for donations from the various directors and/or committee chairs in the near future.  I am requesting that all donations from your Grange be sent directly to the director unless their request states otherwise.  Donations to the Kelley Farm should be mailed directly to: National Grange, 1616 H St., Washington DC 20006 with checks made payable to the Grange Foundation earmarked “Kelley Farm Fund.”

Worthy Secretary, “The duties of your office are the most arduous of all.” During the past 149 years Grange Secretaries have realized that their tasks have been somewhat demanding, requiring that they be present at all meetings, that they be alert in recording the minutes, that they be accurate in their accounts, and that they be courteous to all at all times.

Materials for Grange Secretaries

In an effort to aid the Grange Secretary and Treasurer in their labors the following are available from State Headquarters: Secretary’s Receipts, $8.00; Improved Order Book, $6.50; Treasurer’s Receipt Book, $6.00.

The Secretary’s Receipt Books are used to record the yearly dues received from your members.

Treasurer’s Receipt Books are used to record monies received from the Secretary.  All money goes through the Secretary to be recorded in the record book and then turned over to the Treasurer.  The Treasurer will then complete a receipt listing what the monies received from the Secretary was for and gives the receipt to the Secretary to have for her records.

The Improved Order Book is used at each meeting.  The Secretary will fill out the Order form and have the Master sign the form and it should have the grange seal embossed on it.  This is a record that provides the Treasurer with information to pay what bills.  Some bills are automatic as they may come due before a meeting is held but these should be included in the next Order to the Treasurer with a notation that the bill was paid and the date of payment.  This gives you as the Secretary a check and balance with the Treasurer of what bills may be outstanding.

It is to the advantage of every Grange Secretary and Treasurer to have the Grange Accounts audited at least once a year, and also whenever one of these Officers changes.  Using the above record keeping forms will help greatly in your audits.

Bonding

It is to the advantage of every Grange Secretary and Treasurer to be bonded.  This is not that we expect a Grange Secretary or Treasurer to embezzle funds; it is for their protection in case of theft, loss, or being mislaid.

The Maine State Grange does offer coverage for $5000.00 and administrative cost will be $25.00 for three years.  This is an administrative cost, not a premium, as the State Grange cannot sell insurance.  We are only making an agreement with your Grange that if you have a loss caused by mishandling of Grange money by a covered individual, the State Grange will cover that loss and prosecute the offender.  An application must be filed and the administrative cost paid prior to coverage.  An audit must be taken of all Grange accounts covered by the Maine State Grange prior to filing and each year henceforth.  These audits must be available for inspection any time during the term of the bond.

Dues

First of all, it is very necessary that they be collected in a businesslike manner, and that every effort is made to collect them.  Most people pay their indebtedness when they are billed.

A notice should be sent 60 days prior to the first of the year as to the amount of the dues which states that they are payable in advance.

Second, on February 1 send a follow-up notice to each member who has overlooked paying their dues the first of the year.

Final, on April 1 send a final notice and at the next Grange meeting announce to the Grange that you have “X” number of members who have not paid their dues. You may use phone, personal contact, special delivery mail with return receipt, or any other method you see fit.  But every effort should be made to collect these dues and maintain these Patrons on the rolls.

Under no conditions does the Secretary have the right to drop anyone from the books for nonpayment of dues without the action of the Grange.

Quarterly Reports

Quarterly reports are the official membership and dues reporting of Grange Secretaries.   These reports are due on March 31st—June 30th—September 30th and December 31st.  I make available to Subordinate and Pomona Granges who are expected to report, the proper and necessary forms upon which to file these reports. These reports are requested to be mailed no later than the 10th of the month following each quarter.

When mailing your quarterly reports, you should mail the top (white copy) to me at headquarters, middle copy (yellow) is mailed to your POMONA SECRETARY (not State Headquarters) and the last page kept for your records.

As I have been reminded that we must provide our Ganges with the proper paperwork and information I will be adding forms to the Secretary Help Page.  I am sure that those of you who are working more with the internet will find these helpful.  I have not forgotten the fact that some secretaries still need mailings so these will not stop.

Be safe and enjoy the New Year.

Jan 132017
 

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By Walter Boomsma

“Nothing more rapidly inclines a person to go into a monastery than reading a book on etiquette. There are so many trivial ways in which it is possible to commit some social sin.”

Quentin Crisp

Isn’t that an interesting thought? Some years ago I was contacted by a major pharmaceutical company who requested “etiquette” training for their sales force. They were concerned about this very point and wanted to be certain sales people knew which fork to use at formal dinners for fear of committing a social sin that would alienate prospective customers (mostly doctors).

The story of that program is interesting. A short version brings us to the point that choosing the fork wasn’t the real issue. There were some far more basic “etiquette” issues (like not listening to and respecting those potential customers) that needed to be addressed.

Most people will forgive us for using the wrong utensil at a dinner. (The principles of etiquette are behaving properly communicates respect.) It falls under the heading of a trivial way of committing some social sin. Most would agree, there’s a difference between failing to hold a door open because we didn’t notice someone behind us versus slamming the door in his or her face.

In previous columns, I have written about the importance of celebrating our traditions and ritual along with the importance of keeping them in perspective and balance. Ritual is also about communication and, I think, very analogous to etiquette because both our words and actions form our language.

I think the author’s point is similar to the one I have tried to make. While I’m not an expert on etiquette, I know that he’s right. If you thoroughly read a book on etiquette you might be frightened at the number of often trivial ways one can commit a social sin.

How different is that with our own Grange “etiquette?” Ours is complicated by the fact that much of it is not “written down” or readily available from a dependable source. I once sat in a meeting that included a twenty-minute debate among self-appointed experts on which foot to lead with during some floorwork. I have attended meetings and degree work when memorized parts were rattled off so fast and with so little feeling they were unintelligible. We might well consider what actions like this communicate.

Obsessive attention to detail in ritual will sometimes send people running from our Granges. Would you want to sit next to someone at a formal dinner who kept pointing out your errors in selection of utensils and how to place them to signal the server your intentions? Just this week I heard yet another story of the Grange equivalent of that happening. A member arrived at a meeting late and either didn’t know or couldn’t remember the “correct” procedure for “working in” to a meeting. The way he was treated sent him, almost literally, running from the Grange. No, he didn’t enter a monastery, but In spite of the fact his family was deeply involved in Grange, he has never attended another meeting since.

So perhaps instead of focusing on the “trivial ways” we have, we might look at the values of the Grange. At the beginning of the third degree, the steward explains to the candidates (my emphasis), “…should possess your minds that you may enjoy your advancement and feel as well as hear the attendant lessons. We must reap for the mind as well as for the body, and from the abundance of our harvest, in good deeds and kind words dispense charity.”


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.