Feb 182018
 

Short messages from your Communications Department

The February Bulletin is now available on the website! Get your copy: MSG Bulletin February 2018. While all of the content has also appeared as posts on the site, it’s a great summary and could be printed (legal-size paper) and posted on your Grange Bulletin Board and handed out to members.

While it doesn’t quite qualify as “going viral,” there are some comments posted on this month’s “Exploring Traditions…” column. Check out the discussion by clicking the responses link just under the title on the righthand side of the post. (You can comment on any post this way.) It is especially rewarding to hear that this has helped “explain the Grange’s relevance in this fast-paced society.”

Don’t forget that Grange Month is fast approaching… additional information and some resources are available in this post. If you plan to include a Community Citizen Award, you’ll want to order it soon!

Coming soon! Information on the first quarter results of the Amazon Smiles Program… and some information about how Valley Grange “hired” a bunch of “ad managers.”

What’s happening at your Grange? Inquiring minds want to know… photos are encouraged! (Attach them to an email.) Please understand that I do not have time to search Facebook for posts–as most regular Facebook users know, they have recently changed their algorithms and I may not even see your post. When you post news to Facebook, copy the post and paste it into an email addressed to the webmaster. It only takes a few seconds.  The best way to distribute your Grange news is still through this website, where we don’t use algorithms to decide what others should see. It’s available to all–especially subscribers!

Email the Maine State Grange Webmaster Subscribe to Maine State Grange Website!

 

Feb 152018
 

A mug WB

In a recent blog post, Seth Godin pointed out Newton’s law of thermodynamics postulates that energy is constant and can neither be created or destroyed. Seth goes on to point out the in organizational dynamics, the exact opposite is true, energy is constantly being created and destroyed. He also notes it’s easy to find acceptable reasons/excuses/explanations for being the passive person who takes out more than puts in.

That’s a powerful consideration for Grange members because whether we create or destroy is really is a choice. That’s even true in the conversations we have. If you’ve ever tried to have a conversation with someone who is clearly not interested, you know how quickly energy can be destroyed.

One of the reasons communication is so important in any organization is this “law of organizational dynamics.” What and how we communicate either creates energy or destroys it. In fact, the very absence of communication can be energy-destroying. If we’re not talking about it, how important is it?

This is one reason I’ve been emphasizing photos and news about what local Granges are doing. There have been some great posts on the website recently reporting on “exciting Granges and Grangers.” Because of my interest in kids, I liken it to posting the kids’ school papers on the fridge where the whole family can see them. We are creating energy

And some of that energy spreads literally across the country. The National Grange magazine “Good Day!” recently printed a half page full-color photo of Dave Gowen and his daughter Hannah (Highland Lake Grange). The story behind the photo is that the Gowen’s were recently recognized as a “Grange Legacy Family” – Hannah is the sixth generation of a family in which every generation has been Grange Members.

And that’s not the only reference to Maine Grangers in this and past issues. Last fall Wes Ryder’s Poem (Danville Junction Grange) about the Grange’s Birthday filled a complete page of this National Grange Magazine.

So I’m going to plug Good Day! It’s an energy creator and much of it is relevant to Maine. It’s also very affordable at $14 per year (member price)—a great value. Shouldn’t there be at least one subscriber in every Grange in Maine? (I checked the numbers, we’re not even close.)

Who are the energy creators? How do we support them?

“I’m a great believer that any tool that enhances communication has profound effects in terms of how people can learn from each other, and how they can achieve the kind of freedoms that they’re interested in.”

Bill Gates


2017 National Grange Good Day! Subscription Order Form–information and form for subscribing to the Good Day! Magazine.

Speaking of subscriptions… why not

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Jan 152018
 

A mug WB

“You always get more of what you focus on!

 This fundamental management principle seems to have “popped up” a lot recently. The late Rita Pierson, a well-known educator in her presentation “Every Kid Needs a Champion” tells the story of a young fellow who took a math quiz. Out of twenty questions, he got eighteen wrong. At the top of his paper, she wrote “Plus Two” and drew a smiley face. When he received his paper, he approached her desk, the dialog went something like this:

“Ms. Pierson, is this an ‘F’?”

“Yes.”

“Then why’d you write plus two and draw a smiley face?!”

“Because you got two right! You didn’t miss ‘em all! You are on the way! And won’t you do better next time…”

 He left the conversation encouraged and enthused, focused on the “two right” and the fact that his teacher had confidence in him. She points out that “eighteen wrong sucks the life out of you… plus two says “I ain’t all bad.’”

So how does this apply to communication? I think in two ways: what we talk about and how we talk about it? Eleanor Roosevelt said, “”Great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people.” Obviously, there are times when each of those things bears conversation—but what is our focus? To apply this to our Grange, what are we discussing during our potluck suppers and meetings? I was at a supper once where two or three people dominated the conversation with their personal misfortunes and everything that was wrong with the organization, including the fact they weren’t getting new members. “Nobody has time… people aren’t interested in… it’s the Internet!” With that focus, will they? “Eighteen wrong sucks the life out of you.”

Some years ago when I was doing organizational consulting, I led a project team challenged to increase employee retention at a client company. People would work one day and quit. The company was actually having trouble maintaining production because they were worried about how many employees wouldn’t show up. They proudly displayed and shared all of the steps they had taken to resolve the problem including “exit interviews” with employees who quit. “Why are you leaving?” It was interesting data, but “You get more of what you focus on!” So we turned things upside down. One of our first recommendations was that we interview employees who had been with the company and ask what kept them there. We did some things that at first seemed crazy, but we knew we had to change the focus. We outlawed talking about absenteeism and posted the number present in the cafeteria every morning–not the number absent. We required supervisors to stand by the door at the end of the day and say goodnight to their employees and “see you tomorrow.” These are just a few examples. It worked.

Much like Ms. Pierson, if we’re going to talk about that quiz (the what), let’s focus on what was right (the how). There’s a big difference between trying to get less wrong and trying to get more right. If we’re going to talk about attendance, let’s focus on how many are present. If we’re going to talk about our Grange, let’s talk about the good stuff.

I’m challenging members to get behind a “Plus Two” drive which means we focus on what we’re doing right – no matter how insignificant it might seem to us—and submit reports and photos to the website. We have a few members (Granges) who do so dependably – our “Plus Two.” (I haven’t counted, but it’s more than two!) If you have a well-attended public supper, get somebody to snap a photo and submit it to the site. If your Grange does a community service project, tell us about it. If you get a repair done to your hall, share the news! When you take in new members, take a photo of them and send their names. If you need some help with ideas or writing, let me know!

The codfish lays ten thousand eggs,
The homely hen lays one.
The codfish never cackles
To tell you what she’s done.
And so we scorn the codfish,
While the humble hen we prize,
Which only goes to show you
That it pays to advertise.


Rita Pierson’s presentation is a TED Talk … I consider it a “must see” for teachers, parents–anyone who works with children! But it has application in all of life. You can watch the entire presentation on my website. It’s potentially life-changing and takes less than eight minutes!

Dec 152017
 

A mug WB

Several years ago, I posted a “Merry Christmas” message on our website for Christmas. I was gently and graciously taken to task by a member who noted not all members celebrated Christmas—he himself was Jewish. I truly appreciated his thoughts and am happy to report that we enjoyed a rather pleasant email dialog for a while, discussing some of the membership challenges Granges face and how “open” our organization truly is to different persuasions and perspectives.

The following year I remembered that discussion and posted a more generic “Seasons Greetings” message on the website. I was less gently taken to task for not acknowledging the Christmas Season. I was tempted to conclude that I can’t win—except for the fact I did have the pleasant experience the year prior. As I recall, after agonizing and soliciting ideas, I didn’t post anything next year. (The “Charlie Brown” problem-solving bias is, “There is no problem so big it can’t be run away from!”) That didn’t seem quite right either, but either no one noticed, or no one was upset by it. Phew!

Communication is an art and science. Effective communication also isn’t easy. We should choose our words carefully. But we are still a bit at the mercy of the listener’s perspective. Two young friends of ours demonstrated that while on a road trip. They decided to sing songs to us and took turns choosing what to sing.

At one point, the younger objected to her sister’s song choice. “We can’t sing that song—it has inappropriate words in it.” A thoughtful silence followed until the older girl replied, “It’s okay to sing that song because we don’t know what the inappropriate words mean.” The younger didn’t buy the rationalization, in part because she suspected we adults in the front seat (who were stifling laughter) would know what they meant and find them objectionable. When you think about it, there were some genuine insights into the art and science of communication discovered that day.

The older girl was focused on intent—her intent was to entertain us, not to upset us. The younger at some level understood Marshall McLuhan’s observation that the medium influences how the message is received. While we most often think of the “medium” as the delivery vehicle (television, social media, etc.) the medium certainly includes the language and words used.

A non-Granger once provided me with an interesting example. She said that her sense was Grange Meetings were for members, but Grange Programs were for anyone. I hadn’t thought about it before, but that actually makes some sense. The medium is the message!

On another occasion, we had a bunch of third graders at the Grange Hall for Dictionary Day. I’m careful with vocabulary but somehow accidentally used the term “deputy” when answering a question about how the Grange works. The very sincere follow-up question to my answer was “Do the deputies have badges and do they have to carry a gun?”

We certainly would do well to consider what is appropriate and what is inappropriate, remembering that the answers are not always black and white. In some communication circles it’s said, “Words do not have meaning, people give meaning to the words.”

There are people who would be happy to come to a Grange program, but they would not feel welcome at a meeting. The dictionary tells us that a “deputy” is someone “appointed as a substitute with the power to act.” (Merriam Webster) But a lot of people think of a deputy sheriff—an enforcer—instead of a deputy director. Conversely, while I’m happy to be a substitute teacher, I am not a deputy teacher.

We just need to think when we communicate, remembering that communication is giving and getting. Sometimes that means going beneath the words to get to the meaning. As a speaker, I’ll try to describe what’s going on at the Grange Hall as a program. But if I forget and call it a meeting, please know that I don’t mean you aren’t invited. Let’s not listen to reply; let’s listen to understand. Let’s not speak to be heard; let’s speak to be understood.

“You can talk with someone for years, every day, and still, it won’t mean as much as what you can have when you sit in front of someone, not saying a word, yet you feel that person with your heart, you feel like you have known the person for forever…. connections are made with the heart, not the tongue.”

― C. JoyBell C.


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Nov 152017
 

A mug WB

In my very little spare time, I’ve been reading an excellent book about writing. One sentence I encountered recently kept me awake for a while. “Your readers don’t know anything.” That’s very good advice to those of us who are trying to communicate. And it is excellent advice to those of us who are involved in organizations that have their own language and vocabulary.

I think this goes beyond the five w’s that should be included in every press release to include making sure we explain things that may seem commonplace to us, but not to our readers who “don’t know anything.” What does it mean, for example, when we describe the Grange as a ‘fraternal’ organization?” Our readers might not know. (Fraternal comes from the word “fraternus” meaning brother. One dictionary defines it as “of or being a society associated in brotherly union, as for mutual aid or benefit.”)

We shouldn’t be condescending, certainly. But in our communication, it does make sense to consider the real possibility our reader or listener doesn’t know much.

I’m pleased to announce that much of the Grange year-end activity required of your Communications Department is nearing completion. We have updated the officer list on the Bulletin sidebar and website, revised the ODD Directory (listing all current officers, directors, and deputies), and posted all program books that have been made available. There’s still some “under the hood” stuff to do, but most people won’t notice it—and don’t need to anyway!

Let me remind folks that for the most part, I don’t generate what’s communicated, I am very dependent on others. I cannot share what I don’t know or don’t have. I wish every Granger in Maine would consider him/herself a reporter. A goal for this year is to increase the number of posts (stories) about Granges that are succeeding either with membership increases or events that are successful. No story is too small for our website. You don’t have to be an award-winning writer—we can use a photo and tell the story in a caption of a few sentences—that’s called a “cutline” in the media business.

While no story is too small for the website another reality is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to capture the attention of traditional media. Even my local reporters are telling me they are covering fewer and fewer events in person. I received some criticism during State Convention for “not having the television people there.” Please understand, media presence at events is getting more and more difficult to achieve. I attempted to explain to my critic that simply holding a convention isn’t newsworthy. I’m not sure I succeeded, so let me remind everyone that it is much easier and effective to make news than it is to write press releases.

The media business is changing in many ways and it’s truly a mixed bag. While the Internet makes sharing information and news relatively easy, traditional media is struggling to find its role in a digital world. I can attest that some reporters subscribe to the Maine State Grange website as a source of news tips and leads. If you want to attract the media, telling your story on it might be a great way to start!

 


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Oct 152017
 

A mug WB

Here are a few excerpts from my Annual Report—you can read the entire report online or, if you are attending State Convention, in your information packet. As always, if you have any questions or suggestions, please let me know!

During the past year, I published twelve monthly Bulletins without missing a deadline. I am grateful to those directors and officers who regularly submit articles and support improving our internal communication.

The website is now in its seventh full year of operation in its current form. The objectives of the redesign in November 2010 were simple. Some of the more important included:

  • To encourage prompt posting and maintenance of information and resources,
  • To control that posting process with some level of moderation and quality control,
  • To allows users to find basic information and resources (such as applications, manuals, etc.) readily, and
  • To allow users to subscribe to the site and receive email versions of posts.

We continue to achieve those objectives. Site visits are slightly less for the most recent year but are trending up again for the last six months. There have been just over 26,000 site visits from September 1, 2016, through August 13, 2017—an average of over 2,150 per month and over 70 per day…

Looking ahead, there are several areas I recommend for focus next year. One is the “Exciting Granges and Grangers” category. The feedback I receive from you suggests that learning about other Granges and their successes is both motivating and helpful. This past year, some Granges decided to send representatives to other Granges who are reporting success to see first-hand “how they are doing it.” A priority for next year will be to encourage more success stories and contributions. As if to further support this, we’ve had several cases where the media has picked up those success stories from our website. I’ve also been contacted by media representatives in search of successes to report.

A second priority is expanding the “Resources for Grangers” feature of the website. While we don’t want to “clutter” the site, the goal of this feature is to provide Granges and Grangers with resources that may have value personally, provide programming and event ideas, or just be of general value. There are several challenges associated with this, but it does seem to be worthy of pursuit!

Obviously, these are both areas where your help is needed. Don’t underestimate the value of the things your Grange does. What may seem commonplace to you may be an exciting, brand new idea needed by another Grange. I admit that I get really excited when I receive an email from someone whose name I don’t recognize because I can’t wait to see what you’ve done. Photos are also great—and a photo or two with what we call a “cutline” can tell a story. (A cutline is media talk for the caption explaining the photo—usually a sentence or two.)

I believe the primary role of any state position or function is to support Subordinate and Pomona Granges. But communication is not a “one-person job.” Individuals, Community/Subordinate and Pomona Granges can best support our communications efforts by providing positive news and information.

I will also continue to encourage more open communication throughout our Order. We must generate interest and excitement among our communities, prospective members, and ourselves.

With that background, our greatest accomplishment in 2016-17 is also our greatest need for the coming year. We must continue to increase participation and information, working to build the Maine State Grange website as a “go to” place for members and friends who wish to learn more about our Order.

If there is anything I can do to help you and your Grange, please let me know.

Thank you for your continued confidence and support.


*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 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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Aug 152017
 

A mug WB

I recently encountered two of my little friends from school at the supermarket. They said they were having a great summer but assured me they are ready to return to school. I did not admit I am not so much so… this has been an incredibly short summer! We recently returned from an extended vacation to Canada and I find myself feeling that there is way too much to do before the season’s change. That includes back to school, certainly, but “Grange-wise” we are also in transition with a new Grange year starting soon. That means it’s time to look back at the previous year’s accomplishments and write an annual director’s report. And it means looking ahead to next year and thinking about priorities and objectives for the Communication Department.

The mission doesn’t change—my intention has always been to support Pomona and local Granges with information (communication) that will help you grow your Granges in the ways you deem best. That growth certainly means membership, but it also means programming and the way you “operate” your Grange.

I would dearly love some input from Granges and Grangers—how can I best serve you as Communications Director? What do you like about the website? What would you like see more of…? My current thinking is that I’d like to expand two areas.

One is the “Exciting Granges and Grangers” category. The feedback I receive from you suggests that learning about other Granges and their successes is both motivating and helpful. This past year, some Granges have actually decided to send representatives to other Granges who are reporting success to see first hand “how they are doing it.” That’s pretty cool and it really makes sense. So a priority for next year will be to encourage more success stories and contributions. As if to further support this, we’ve had several cases where the media has picked up those success stories from our website. I’ve also been contacted by media representatives in search of successes to report. As the old saying goes, “Talk is cheap.” And as I have often said, “It really is easier to make news than it is to write press releases.”

A second priority I am considering is expanding the “Resources for Grangers” feature of the website. While we don’t want to “clutter” the site, the goal is to provide Granges and Grangers with resources that may have value personally, provide programming and event ideas, or just be of general value. There are several challenges associated with this, but it does seem to be worthy of pursuit!

Obviously, these are both areas where your help is needed. Don’t underestimate the value of the things your Grange does. Share them! What may seem commonplace to you may be an exciting, brand new idea needed by another Grange. I admit that I get really excited when I receive an email from someone whose name I don’t recognize because I can’t wait to see what you’ve done. Photos are also great—and a photo or two with what we call a “cutline” can tell a story. (A cutline is media talk for the caption explaining the photo—usually a sentence or two.)

In a similar way, you can help with “Resources for Grangers.” If you come across something that you think could be helpful, just submit it! I could be something as simple as a website link. Or it could be an article (I’ll handle the copyright issues) you found beneficial. With our diversity as an organization, there are lots of opportunities! Lecturers–if you conducted a particularly good Lecturer’s Program, share it! Community Service Chairs–if you found a particularly good cause or initiative, pass it on. I could go through the entire list. For example, I recently found a simple checking account program that I am testing and will report on soon—treasurers might be interested! Given the number of Granges and Grangers we have, we have lots of potential for helping each other! I’ll do my best to make that happen!

Another project under consideration is a major revision of the “Communications Handbook.” Some changes are required based on changes made to the website, but it may also be time for a major review and overhaul. If you have some ideas regarding what would be helpful in the handbook, please let me know. I’d like to have it ready for distribution at State Session. I also hope to have a “table” at State Session on Thursday and Friday where you can stop by and chat, subscribe to the website, get help with how to use the website, etc. But you don’t have to wait until then! My preferred method of contact is email, but you can also call or write—just remember that I am still working a “day job,” teaching courses and substituting at school so those methods may be a little slower.

We had some great experiences during our Canadian Vacation. I was impressed by the fact that we were not often asked, “May I help you?” Well, I was really impressed by the fact that most of the people we encountered were genuinely interested in us and knew how to communicate that. There was no doubt they wanted to help us. When I had a semi-technical difficulty with tickets to a special event, I decided to simply appear at the location in person (a performance center on a small college campus). As I stumbled about looking dazed, I was asked: “How can I help you!” My explanation brought up a pointed finger with the explanation “There’s our summer student who can help you with just about anything.” During our conversation, he asked a ton of questions about things like: where I was from, how I was enjoying the area, etc. Yes, he solved my problem quickly and efficiently, but he also made it clear that he was interested, genuinely interested in not only getting me my tickets by making sure I was enjoying my visit to the area. I ended up with a great dinner recommendation… when I thanked him before the performance and told him how great the entertainment at the restauranthe’d recommended was, he realized I was talking about his cousin. Small world, isn’t it.

Now there’s a resource for us as Grangers—a clear demonstration that our Grange world needs to be about being genuinely interested—in each other for sure, but also in others. When we are tempted to whine that folks aren’t interested in the Grange, that might be a good time to ask ourselves how interested we are in those people.

How may I help you? Please share your thoughts and ideas for how the Communications Department can serve and help you.

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Aug 152017
 

Short messages from your Communications Department

If your Grange participates in the Dictionary Project, you or your Grange Secretary should have recently received their recent newsletter… I believe it is mailed to all supporters and contributors. It’s a great piece because it can be a poster and even doubles as an order form. Well, this issue is of particular interest because it features Danville Junction Grange! You can read the original post here… and notice the fact that the Dictionary Project folks are subscribers to the Maine State Grange website. If you aren’t… what might you be missing!?

Congratulations to Danville Grange and thanks to Glenys Ryder for submitting the article!

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Jul 122017
 

by Walter Boomsma
MSG Communications Director

After Ann’s most recent email, I had to create an award. Ann wrote, in part, “Did you intentionally report that the State Session opens in the 7th degree to see how many of us really read the articles in the monthly Bulletin? If it does I’ve consistently slept through it for years. Just wondering how many more readers noticed the boo boo…”

The answer to the first question is, “No, it was not intentional.” I know in the past I’ve joked that one way to get attention is to make a mistake, but that wasn’t the case this time. My excuse is that I was hurrying to meet my deadline to finish the Bulletin, although that’s really not much of an explanation.

The answer to the second question is, “None!” Or if any others did notice, they didn’t report it.

Ann’s referring to the article in the June Issue introducing the graphic I created for State Session. I erroneously wrote, “Want to help promote State Session? I’ve created the graphic to the right… and can email it to you if you’d like to include it in your local Grange communications. Let’s see if we can increase participation and attendance this year! Remember, you do not have to be a delegate to attend—and you certainly do not have to hold a fifth or sixth degree. While session opens in the seventh, it lowers to fourth almost immediately so any Grange can be part of the convention!” Obviously, that should have read, “While session opens in the sixth,…”

Sorry for the error… although it did demonstrate that at least one person reads the Bulletin closely and it provides an opportunity to have a little fun!