By Walter Boomsma,
Every fall we manage to have around one hundred third graders visit the Valley Grange Hall as part of our Words for Thirds Program. As part of their field trip, we include some historical information as well as a few basic things about the Grange. One year I was answering a question and without thinking used the word “deputies.” That generated some follow-up questions about whether or not our deputies have badges and “Do they carry guns?”
The experience was a stark reminder that as an organization steeped in history, ritual, and tradition we do have our own unique language. And in a broader sense we have a communications challenge that includes making certain we are communicating effectively and that our words are conveying accurate meaning.
That challenge isn’t limited to communication outside the organization. Thanks to Rebecca Wentworth of Halcyon Grange for a request that makes so much sense, it’s actually a bit amazing no one has thought of it before. She thought, as elections are taking place, it might be good to have a short paragraph describing the responsibilities and obligations of the various leadership positions in the Grange.
There are two resources available that might answer that question. First, we now have a list available on the Maine State Grange Website that lists both elected and appointed positions at the Subordinate and Pomona level with a short description for each. While it might be too late this year, these could be read by the master during elections before names are presented for each office.
Second, the Subordinate Grange Manual (blue book) includes the officer installation ceremony, an excellent resource in general terms of the expectations of elected and installed officers. While not written in the language of “job descriptions” as we think of them today, the charges and challenges can be very helpful in determining the activities of each office.
A third resource is the National Digest—however, you’ll find only a few offices specified. (The National Digest is available for downloading on the National Grange Website and may be purchased through the National Grange Store.)
Because we are an organization valuing tradition and ritual, there are any number of variations—for example, I’ve heard it said that Ceres is responsible for coordinating potluck and managing the kitchen. I can find no “rule” or documentation requiring that of Ceres, (At Valley Grange we rotate this responsibility on a volunteer basis with different members becoming “Grange Bees” who are responsible for each meeting. We actually have developed a “job description” for the Grange Bees.)
Value tradition, honor the rules, but remember that it’s most important to “get things done” and to make sure we all understand what is being done by whom. And that requires communication more than a title (or a badge).
“Let’s make some news, take some photos of it, and share it!”