May 152017

Communication Bullets are short but big news!

You’ll definitely want to read a comment made on the May Communications Column.  (Subscribers do not get these–you’ll have to visit the site.) What an interesting outcome from the recent Bangor Daily News article regarding Granges that are making a comeback! By the way, website visitors should feel free to comment on any post–it’s really quite easy to do. Just look for the word “responses” in the upper right corner of the post (just below the headline) and click on it. Note that comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.

There have been several requests posted to the “In Search of” Page… please take a look and see if you can help these folks.

Also, the MSG Bulletin May 2017 has been uploaded to the site… you don’t have to wait for a printed copy!

Keep those cards and letters coming in!

May 152017


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

karen-gagne-webBy Karen Hatch Gagne, Director

The Agricultural Committee has been busy this spring.  Following the Agricultural Legislative Luncheon, the committee has judged Agricultural Scholarship applications and applicants are being notified by June 1, 2017.   We have finalized information and criteria for the Grange Exhibits at the 2017 Agricultural Fairs and letters to our Grange judges is being sent out momentarily.  Criteria for the Grange Educational Exhibits have been completed and will be posted online.  If you need a hardcopy please contact the State Grange Headquarters.

We are now working on arrangements for the Agricultural Luncheon at the State Grange Conference in October.  Once a speaker has been confirmed I will be sharing the information out to all.  Please plan to attend this luncheon we are pleased to have this opportunity to offer an Agricultural Luncheon again in conjunction with the State Grange Conference.

We are looking for donations to use in our silent auction to support our Grange Agricultural scholarship. Anyone who has items to donate please contact me so I can arrange for pick up.  Thank you!

Hope your month of May brings sunshine and warm soil and garden plants!

May 142017

A mug WBBy Walter Boomsma,
Communications Director

Are you ready for some great news? Your Maine State Grange Website hit a new record in May – in terms of visits to the site, the best day ever (since October 2010) was May 6, 2017, when there were 257 site visits! This record day also means that as of this writing, May 2017 is the month with the highest daily average of site visits – 114 per day. Naturally, I could resist a quick look at what might have caused this. (My experience suggests that data often raises more questions than it answers.) So I took a look at which pages/posts were the most popular in the last thirty days. In descending order:

  1. Program Books and Information Page (forms, books, etc. organized by function)
  2. Our History (a short history of the Grange)
  3. 2017 Directory of Granges (a recently published directory/list of active Granges in Maine)
  4. Update on LD 725 and LD 835 (information provided by the Ag Education Committee regarding bills under consideration)
  5. Our Officers (a “who’s who” list of state officers)
  6. Joining the Grange (includes a link to a membership brochure and application)
  7. Bangor Daily News Article About Exciting Granges (article headline: Maine Granges Are Making a Comeback!)
  8. About (a general page with links to other pages)
  9. I’m seeking… (a page where people can post requests for information about Granges and Grangers)
  10. Conferences (a list of state and regional Grange conferences and meetings)

Since the best day record was set the same day the Bangor Daily News Article was posted, there might be a correlation. The tempting conclusion is that folks are hungry for good news about the Grange. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that other highly visited pages and posts are reference pages with officer, membership, and Grange location information.

How do they find it? Well, the data suggests that most of our “referrals” are coming from search engines. In other words, people are searching for information using Google and other search engines and the Maine State Grange website comes up in the results.

While it’s important to stay focused, one undeniable conclusion we can draw from this is that we attract people to the Maine State Grange Website by making information readily available. This is one of the reasons I’ve started the “Resources for Grangers” posts—obviously, those resources are not just for Grangers. They are also for people who should become Grangers!

I’ve recently become interested in a communication phenomena called the “echo effect.” An echo chamber is “a metaphorical description of a situation in which information, ideas, or beliefs are amplified or reinforced by communication and repetition inside a defined system.” In short, repeated messages sometimes take on a life of their own and get reinforced by nature of the fact they are heard often. Another term we can apply is “tunnel vision.” We become so subconsciously focused on something we are hearing constantly we only see what’s at the end of the tunnel.

That’s one reason I believe we need to stop analyzing and discussing why getting members is hard. I do not deny it is challenging. But I also know that the more we talk about how hard it is, the more firmly we will believe it can’t be done.

On May 6, 2017, at least 257 people were interested in the Grange: our programs, our beliefs, our halls, and our events. Did we give them enough information to at least maintain their interest?

After the Bangor Daily News article, one person emailed me and said that she and her husband plan to join the Grange when they retire. What do you think of that? I know several Grangers I told replied, “How old are they? Will I live long enough to see it?” I wish more people had just said, “Wow! That’s great!”

May 142017

Christine Hebert1by Christine Hebert, Junior Director

I am pleased to hear all you juniors are working hard on your projects, and this is the year our juniors are going to shine.

Remember:  I need pictures from adults showing our juniors hard at work, or just having fun. I do have some pictures but need more.

The list of projects that need to be at Family Camp Out on Saturday, July 15, 2017, before 9:00 am for judging are as follows:

  • Bread dough ornament
  • Stick frame with picture
  • Birdseed mobile
  • Your boat that floats.

Many Hands make light work.

Our Boats are “sailing across America”

May 142017

by Rick Grotton, State Master

Hoping that all mothers had a very happy Mother’s Day. Even if the weather wasn’t cooperating, the day should always be a special one.  We should not let outside distractions influence our enthusiasm and positive thoughts. The more we dwell on negative thoughts, the more negativity comes to us. The more positive thoughts we have, the more successful we are in our labors and accomplishments.  If we dwell on negativity then we are using our energies on things that are petty and have no relevance to our Grange work. Thus we accomplish little. Other–members and the public–pick up on such energies. This IS a difference whether you get a new member and why some Granges fold. Who wants to belong to an organization with crabby and disrespectful people? Let the little things go, especially when dealing with our brothers and sisters.  Too many times I have attended meetings where after the meeting, someone will come to me and accuse another of insubordination or tattle on some petty thing that often makes no sense. Most often it is not even true. I have seen others leave a meeting (just recently) during a closing in which one of those who left had a speaking part. They just walked out.  Imagine what the visitors who were non-members were thinking. This is the highest form of disrespect to our Order! Just because we don’t get our way doesn’t mean we have the right to “sabotage” a meeting trying to make a point by leaving during a respective time of a meeting. This is disrespectful to not just the Order but to its members, especially when there are prospective members in attendance. Brothers and Sisters, these are big “don’ts” that harm your Grange and its reputations. The point is, that we all need to get along for the GOTO; things will get done, new members will join and the public will attend our events. Which brings us further onto the topic of membership.

Since the State Membership Committee no longer exists as of May 1, there have been thoughts on the approach to realign the committee into teams in different areas of the State. After attending meetings which have turned into town hall discussions some thoughts come to mind. One thought is to have at least five teams consisting of no more than five (5) members each travel within their respective areas to educate members about membership drives (including recruiting new Pomona members), hold discussions, do training and to encourage and attend any open houses for the public. Anyone interested in forming or being a part of a team let me know so I can hold some training classes for those interested. This is not  “we have always done it that way” but a different approach.

I encourage more Granges to invite other Granges for town hall discussions. Include prospective members and reach out to the public to attend. Invite a State Officer or arrange the meeting when your Deputy is present. It would certainly be a pleasure for me to attend one of these discussions where everyone has a chance to ask questions and gain valuable information. More information how to set up or how to arrange such a meeting can be obtained by contacting me.  Membership should always be a top priority whether your Grange is flourishing or not. Think about the Good of the Order. Think about improvements and what your Grange could be doing. Share ideas, ask questions, make suggestions, develop goals and be successful in your endeavors.

Election time is near which is a very important period in our Grange.  I would encourage members to try different offices as there will be fresh ideas and new leadership. It does not help you to have say the same Master serve for an extended period of time. History proves that having the same leaders year after year does not work for any organization. Fresh ideas and new leadership provide new goals and approaches to reach those goals. Even if you have a small Grange, officer changes are encouraged. The position of Master is NOT one of power but of keeping your Grange running smoothly and effectively. The Master does not run the Grange as a “dictator” or make all decisions for the Grange. The Master does not control any member or other offices. Should this be happening in your Grange, then it is time for a new leader. Consider what is Good for the Order. Do not worry about hurt feelings, do not be afraid of making the change or putting them back in the same office just because you don’t want to be looked upon as a “rebel.” Believe it or not, there are Granges which operate in this manner and many people will not join or members go to meetings or the person becomes upset when replaced. Many of these Granges struggle and end up closing, wondering why they can’t get new members. In the true sense of Grange, if someone (in any office) gets replaced, there should be no hard feelings or resentment toward the Grange or its members. If they threaten to quit because they don’t want to give up an office or when replaced, let them go; they are not true Grangers or have the best interest of the Grange in mind. Your Grange will be better off. History has also proven this to be true. Each officer has their own duties but in an office such as Lecturer, the Master should know what is being planned for the year out of common courtesy in order to have the Grange run smoothly. The Master position is not to be feared but experienced and much can be learned. I have found this to be a true statement having been Master in all levels of the State.

Although some of this discussion has to do with negativity, it is in no way meant to be disparaging or condescending. It is meant to be a wake-up call for all and try to “clean up” within and have our organization primed to accept and RETAIN new members. With these negative circumstances happening in our Granges, it is holding us back as an organization. It is what I have been experiencing in my travels and needs to be communicated to all so we know what NOT to do and for GOTO.


May 122017

By Steven Haycock, Chairman

If you couldn’t attend the Variety Show on April 29th at Topsham Grange, you missed a great show!  We had many wonderful musical acts and hilarious skits, jokes and stories.  During intermission, we all ate delicious pies for refreshments.  This was organized by Ruby Bryant.  Our raffles were a big success and many thanks to the following businesses that donated an item for the raffle:

  • Walmart in Brunswick
  • Fiore Olive Oils and Vinegars in Brunswick
  • Tractor Supply Company in Brunswick
  • Firehouse Subs in Topsham
  • Main Street Sweets in Brunswick
  • Tire Warehouse in Topsham
  • Hannaford in Topsham
  • Day’s Jewelers in Topsham

Thank also go to Ruby and Christine Hebert for bringing additional raffle items.  I’m happy to announce we raised over $600.00 after expenses and of that we’re donating more than $200.00 to the three scholarship funds of the Maine State Grange.  We put out containers for people to donate directly to the scholarship of their choice and people were very generous.  A special thank you to Shirley Hatch who won the 50/50 and then donated it to the scholarship funds!  We had so much fun that night, everyone seemed to have a great time and we’re already looking forward to next year’s show.

The fundraising efforts are always continuing and now we’re focusing on the upcoming Yard Sale on June 24, 2017 from 9 am to 2 pm at State Grange HQ.  I really want to take a moment to thank David and Kathy Gowen of Highland Lake Grange for donating two truckloads of items for the sale!  We are asking members to donate gently used items for us to sell on our white elephant table.  Please, no clothing, TV’s or exercise equipment.  Pick up of items might be able to be arranged.  You can also drop your items off in Augusta, please call ahead to arrange a time.  We will be selling lunch that day as well.

In addition, we are renting tables for $20.00 if you would be interested in selling your stuff at the sale.  For more information or to rent a table please contact me at granger04071ataoldotcom  (granger04071ataoldotcom)   or 998-2586.

Please remember that we still have our Grange car magnets for $3.00 and Agricultural Pride t-shirts for $12.00, I can ship them for a small fee.  Thanks again for supporting the fundraising efforts of the Maine State Grange!

May 122017


May 092017

Communication Bullets are short but big news!

Junior Grange Camp Packet 2017 is now available on the site on the Program Books and Information Page, Junior Section. As has been previously announced, Junior Camp is June 10 – 11, 2017 at Scribner’s Mills Preservation and Homestead in Harrison, Maine. Please note that the deadline for registration is approaching fast: May 20, 2017. For additional information, contact Christine Hebert, Junior Director.

May 092017

margaretBy Margaret Morse,
MSG Lecturer

Do you like meeting new people? The Northeast Lecturer’s Conference may just be the conference for you! It is also a great place to get reenergized and get suggestions for programs that you may not have thought of before. The conference is open to all Grangers, not just lecturers or lecturers-elect.

The 2017 Northeast Grange Lecturers’ Conference will be held July 31, August 1, and August 2 and will be hosted by Vermont at Castleton University in Castleton. The conference cost will be $190 double occupancy. Pricing for single occupancy and individual days is available. All completed registrations must be sent to Linda Sanderson, Vermont State Lecturer, on or before June 30, 2017. Complete information has been sent to all Subordinate and Pomona Secretaries.

The Maine State Lecturer’s Conference will be held on September 30, 2017. The location is yet to be determined. The agenda for that will include awards for contest winners, a talent contest, and program helps. More information will be sent as the date gets closer.