by Walter Boomsma
New members are fun! Degree Days are fun! And the recent Degree Day conducted by Bangor Grange was no exception. After taking a group photo for our website I asked for volunteers who would be willing to talk about why they joined the grange and what the day meant to them. A lot of hands shot up! When I mentioned I’d also be photographing them individually a few hands went down… but most were anxious to share. Here are three folks who are very excited and enthusiastic about their grange membership.
“The whole thing was… WOW,” according to Rebecca Wentworth, a newly degreed member of Halcyon Grange following the Day at Bangor Grange. “There was this sense of unity… age didn’t matter, what community we were from didn’t matter… we just came together for a common purpose.” Rebecca also explained that her interest in joining the grange was based on her ongoing interest in agriculture. (Halcyon Grange has been very active in farming issues at the local level.) She’s also been involved with the 4-H program and sees grange membership as a way of bringing small farmers together and creating a sense of community.
Devin Kent was part of a group of six initiates who travelled all the way from Benton Grange to receive their degree instruction. The nineteen year old said that he expected the day to be meaningful, but he “enjoyed it even more than he expected.” For him, an important part of the day’s experience was meeting new friends and how the activities brought people together. Devin is a self-admitted technology geek who said one of the reasons he decided to join the grange is he wants “different views and outlooks.”
Representing Bangor Grange, Denise Sears admitted that her introduction to the grange was a result of her managing an organic farm and selling products at the Bangor Grange Farmers’ Market. Like many of the candidates, Denise was obligated some time ago and actually holds the office of Lady Assistant Steward.
For her, the degree day was helpful because it “broke everything down” and taught the meaning of the offices and activities. As a farmer, she noted that she especially enjoyed the “meaning and beauty” of the lessons of the four degrees. Denise loves “growing things” and we won’t be surprised if she grows the grange with her enthusiasm.
Bangor Master Rolf Staples eavesdropped on the interviews and summarized with an important point. “If you were to talk to all of these candidates, I’ll bet you’d discover they most of them joined the grange for exactly the same reason—somebody asked them!”
For these twenty people, there were probably at least that many reasons for their interest in joining. And while people join the grange for their own very distinct (and interesting!) reasons, ultimately they join simply because someone asks them.