Sep 182017
 

The following article is reprinted with permission from an e-newsletter published by Paul Stearns, State Representative for District 119.

Maine’s Secretary of State has finalized the wording of the two citizens’ initiative questions that will appear on the Tuesday, November 7, 2017 referendum election ballot.  Below is the title of each initiative and the final question that will appear on the ballot.

QUESTION 1:  An Act To Allow Slot Machines or a Casino in York County.  “Do you want to allow a certain company to operate table games and/or slot machines in York County, subject to State and local approval, with part of the profits going to the specific programs described in the initiative?”

QUESTION 2:  An Act To Enhance Access to Affordable Health Care.  “Do you want Maine to expand Medicaid to provide healthcare coverage for qualified adults under age 65 with incomes at or below 138% of the federal poverty level, which in 2017 means $16,643 for a single person and $22,412 for a family of two?”

The full text of each proposed bill is available for viewing on the Bureau of Corporations, Elections, and Commissions’ Upcoming Elections Web page.

The Secretary of State received more than 150 comments on the wording of these initiatives during the 30-day public comment period, which was open Wednesday, August 2, 2017, through Friday, September 1, 2017.  He reviewed and considered these comments, which were submitted from individuals and organizations throughout the State during the drafting of the final ballot question language.

The Bureau of Corporations, Elections, and Commissions will create a Citizens’ Guide to the 2017 Election this fall, which will be available on the Web site and at public libraries across the State.  All voters are encouraged to read it to inform themselves of the details of each bill, including the fiscal impact statements.

In addition to the citizens’ initiative questions, the November referendum election ballot will also include one bond question and one constitutional amendment, both of which will appear below the citizens’ initiative questions on the ballot.  The legislation titles are listed below, along with the questions that will appear on the ballot:

QUESTION 3:  An Act To Authorize a General Fund Bond Issue to Improve Highways, Bridges and Multimodal Facilities and Upgrade Municipal Culverts – Legislation found online here.

“Do you favor a $105,000,000 bond issue for construction, reconstruction, and rehabilitation of highways and bridges and for facilities or equipment related to ports, harbors, marine transportation, freight and passenger railroads, aviation, transit, and bicycle and pedestrian trails to be used to match an estimated $137,000,000 in federal and other funds, and for the upgrade of municipal culverts at stream crossings?”

QUESTION 4:  Resolution, Proposing an Amendment to the Constitution of Maine To Reduce Volatility in State Pension Funding Requirements Caused by the Financial Markets – Legislation found online here.

“Do you favor amending the Constitution of Maine to reduce volatility in State pension funding requirements caused by the financial markets by increasing the length of time over which experience losses are amortized from 10 years to 20 years, in line with pension industry standards?”

For more information about the November 2017 referendum election, click here.  Information on voter registration and locating your polling place is also available on the Corporations, Elections, and Commissions Web site here.

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 162017
 

The September Issue of Patron’s Chain–The official e-newsletter of the National Grange is available now! In this issue:

  • Celebrate Grange Legacy by Facing Your Fear of Change
  • Attorney suggests checking credit after Experian data breach
  • Junior Contest Deadlines Fast Approaching
  • Junior Merit Program Being Revamped
  • Time to Register for the 151st Convention
  • Members Encouraged to Partake in 7th Degree
  • Sail the Seas: Grange 150th Anniversary Cruise
  • Quilt & Handicraft Expo Changes Announced
  • Seeking Communications Fellows
  • How Deep do Your Grange Roots Go?
  • Benefit Spotlight
  • National Grange Foundation Lecturer Fund
  • 2017 Quilt Block Contest
  • 2017 Photography Showcase
  • 2017 Evening of Excellence

View The Patron's Chain E-newsletter

Sep 162017
 

karen-gagne-webBy Karen Hatch Gagne, Director

The summer has flown by; I have been busy in my garden weeding, picking vegetables and canning fruits and vegetables.  Fair season has been in full swing for a couple months and will be winding down soon.

I worked diligently with judges, grange members, and committee members to create guidelines (using the framework from Piscataquis Fair) for Fair Educational Exhibits.  I worked with Sharon at State Headquarters to get information out to fair judges and all Maine Agricultural Fairs in preparation for the Fair Season.  As the Maine State Fairs are moving closer to the end of the season and I will collect data from them to use for making next fair season more productive.

The Ag Committee is now working on the Maine AG in the Classroom Annual meeting to be held November 2, 2017 as we will be prepping and serving the food to all MAITC participants.  We will be looking for pies to serve that night and people to serve the meal.  More information will be sent out on this.

Reminder there will be an Ag Luncheon on Thursday during State Grange.  Roast pork and the fixings for lunch and the speaker is Amber Lambke of Maine Grains located at the Somerset Grist Mill.  Get your reservations in as the reservation deadline is early October so don’t procrastinate too long.

Sep 162017
 

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Just a brief note to clear up any confusion on next years contests: first you can submit a whole pie instead of half as it will be less messy and easier to judge as to looks, color, etc. second in Class G, we DO NOT include sewing in this category as we are the only state that still has the Sewing Contest. Ann Burns has graciously agreed to be a drop-off point for Linus Quilts, but you will need to contact her as to when she is available: her phone number is 787-2489 and her address is PO Box 86, Sebago, ME 04029. I will be listing all of the winners from the State Grange Contests in my end of year report along with the Big E Needlework winners.Please call if there are any more questions.

Sep 152017
 

Congratulations, East Sangerville Grange! A recent post on the Maine State Grange Website about the adventures of the “Fighting 177th” was picked up by the National Grange and printed in the current issue of Good Day! the magazine published by National Grange. We can debate whether or not programs like this are traditional but there’s no question they generate excitement in the Grange and the community. So let’s hear a Grange Cheer for this exciting Grange and these exciting Grangers!

East Sangerville’s Fighting 177th

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Sep 152017
 

A mug WB

Every year at this time, I go through a major cleanup of the website, starting with the Program Books and Information Page. One reason for starting there is that the Program Books and Information Page gets over twice the number of visits as any other page on the website. Our Granges want and need information. I encourage and remind state leaders (especially directors and committee chairs) to make certain the information there is current. As we move into a new Grange Year, it’s my hope that each section will have, at a minimum:

  • 2016-2017 Annual Report (due by September 28, 2017) – a summary of committee activities and accomplishments for the Grange that Grange Year.
  • 2017-2018 Information – obviously this will vary by committee but should include any contest information and resources for Subordinate and Pomona Granges, including a program book if appropriate.

I recently have had some interesting discussions with some colleagues in the field of education. A respected company involved in real estate education completed an “in-depth” study that showed (among many other things) over 60% of real estate educators say “decreasing attention spans” is a significant “challenge” for instructors. One colleague and I have concluded that data may be missing the boat.* (Stay with me because this is about communication.)

Look at that “fact.” It is really saying that there is something wrong with the students. When we dig below the obvious, here’s what my colleague and I think is actually happening. (I have the advantage of experience teaching five-year-olds as well as seniors.) Today’s adult students grew up learning very differently than previous generations. There is nothing “wrong” with them—they are just different. The real problem may be that instructors haven’t figured out how to adapt to their new learning habits and experience.

Well, ditto that when it comes to communication. I used to be a prolific letter writer. I now can count on one hand the number of letters I write every year. I am dealing with companies on the internet for whom I only have a phone number and email address; no readily apparent “snail mail” address.

But beyond that, I’m constantly learning that younger people are used to getting information differently—just like they are used to learning differently. There are a lot of people who no longer read newspapers and, as a result, there are many newspapers struggling to survive. Media moguls are increasingly turning to “sound bites” of information that can be digested in a relatively short period of time. When I coach people to prepare for interviews, I encourage them to think in “bites” that are only two or three sentences. I recently worked with some sixth graders at school who were being interviewed by a reporter. They were nervous, but I couldn’t help but notice when the reporter asked a question, they rarely rambled. The responded directly—sometimes bluntly—and succinctly. They have learned to communicate differently. (For example, a text message can only include 140 letters and spaces.) Conversely, I’ve watched reporters interview older folks for the same story. The reporter stops writing notes and I can tell he or she is thinking, “Will you please get to the point?”

As I work with the media, I find they are far more interested in the “hook” than a few years ago. While I don’t have hard data, it also seems to me that articles are generally shorter and tend to include less detail. The pattern is very parallel to what’s happening in the educational environment. People are learning differently; people are digesting information differently and people are communicating differently.

As I sometimes tell my adult learners when they react negatively to a concept, “You don’t have to like it, but you do have to learn and understand it.” I remember fondly picking up the two pound Sunday edition of the local newspaper and engaging in the ritual of a coffee and a leisurely read, sorting sections while nibbling on toast. I can’t, however, remember the last time I did that. I haven’t given up the coffee and toast, but I’m now reading the news on my iPad and completing the process in a lot less time.

As newspapers, educators and other communicators are learning “resistance is futile.” We need to adapt if we expect to be viable in the world as it exists.


*For those with additional interest, Stop Teaching Me is an article I wrote on the topic of how today’s learners differ and what it means to real estate educators.

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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.

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Sep 132017
 

Heather

This week has marked much transition, gently lit by September’s slanting shadows and dappling light.  Carolyn returned to the fall soccer and cross-country field, Ben began high school for the first time, Zander continues ‘adulting’ into another season, the droughty spell has so stunted the grass growth and required an early start to the hay-feeding season; but, oh, this is cow weather!  The ladies do well in September air.  An unexpected transition back into heightened time and attention spent working on protecting food sovereignty meant many hours this week on phone and computer while making what sense there is to be made of the rapid developments in Augusta.

Early in the week, legislative leaders met with the agriculture commissioner and members of the governor’s staff to hear their reports of the status of the USDA threats to take over Maine’s meat and poultry inspection programs.  Much reading and thinking, phone calls and discussing, followed.  There is truly little, if any, wiggle room to be found…yet.  Later in the week, the attorney general’s office looked over the materials and met with the legislative delegation to determine how to move forward. Tomorrow may hold a meeting with the governor.  It weighs heavy, even as the light of September lifts and the abundance of the farm in the fall, restores.  Yet, still, little wiggle room to be found.

This week, it was the pears that called for our attention, and, one sunny day, while I stayed indoors, computer-side, working on wiggle room, Carolyn and Phil put on the fruit-picking hardware aprons and headed out with a basket to the orchard.  The branches are laden with small, round pears.  They’re knobbly things, and a little knotted, too, but sweet and small, and a gift of the farmers from generations past down through the decades right to us, this fall, brows furrowed with legal conundrums and shifting fall gears.  Pears, it turns out, have a fairly magical quality to un-furrow brows and bring past pleasures into the present day.  Who knows–one of those pears may just hold an inspiration for wiggle just in the nick of time.  With the sound of crickets rising and falling all around, sucking juice from a pear, untended for so long, is a September gift not to be missed for all the legislative battles in the capitol.

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Heather and Phil Retberg together with their three children run Quill’s End Farm, a 105-acre property in Penobscot that they bought in 2004. They use rotational grazing on their fifteen open acres and are renovating thirty more acres from woods to pasture to increase grazing for their pigs, grass-fed cattle, lambs, laying hens, and goats. Heather is Master of Halcyon Grange #345 and writes a newsletter for their farm’s buying clubs for farmers in her area and has generously given us permission to share some of her columns with Grangers throughout the state.


Grange members are invited to submit guest columns to Views from the Farm for consideration by emailing the webmaster. Please note that the views and opinions expressed in contributed articles are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy of the Grange.

Sep 132017
 

The Fundraising Committee has some exciting things planned for State Grange Session this year.  I’m happy and a bit relieved to say that two out of three cookbooks have been sent to the printers and will be available for sale.  Desserts and Pickles & Preserving are going to be $5.00 each or two or more for $4.00 each.  The third book Main Dishes will be available at a later date.

We are also happy to announce the return of Grange Jewelry from Monroe Classic including Membership, Past Master, Secretary, Lecturer, & Degree Pins.  Earrings, necklaces, novelties and more!  These items will only be available at State Grange so don’t miss out on this opportunity to save some money on shipping and handling.

This year we have designed a convention pin that commemorates the 150th Birthday of the Grange.  We will be having a basket raffle on our table with baskets donated by Pomona Granges.

In addition, we will be selling Maine State Grange pens, our Agricultural Pride T-shirts, candy bars, and car magnets.  This will be a great opportunity to get in some early Christmas presents and support the Maine State Grange at the same time.