Apr 132017
 

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By Walter Boomsma

“The question has been asked, ‘How long will the Grange live?” I believe it will live as long as it continues to serve the welfare of agriculture and the nation. Whenever it becomes ingrown and selfish, and the members look on it only as a means of bringing them pleasure, entertainment, or profit, it will fade away.”

Those words for today were actually written and spoken in the 1940’s by then National Master Albert S. Goss.[1]

One of the pointed questions asked during our Piscataquis Pomona town hall meeting with now National Master Betsy Huber was, “Given we are a diverse, grassroots organization, what really unites us?” The question may be as important as the answer because the question drives us back to our roots and fundamental principles and policies.

Ironically, just a few days later, a member of the media asked me, “What is your hope for the Grange?” It was one of the few times I didn’t have a prepared soundbite for a reply. After fumbling a bit, I answered, “that it continues to be a vibrant and energetic organization that contributes to our communities.” Feeling that I hadn’t exactly given a great answer, it was that question which later made me pull down some of my Grange books and do some reading and thinking.

Master Goss’s hope can be found in the second paragraph. “But to those who find pleasure in doing something for the common good, the Grange provides an instrument both effective and satisfying. Through it we can jointly find our entertainment and our pleasure in service, while at the same time we can advance the interests of our neighbors and ourselves in the fields of health, education, business and in almost limitless ways. Through the Grange we have an opportunity to give, and the more we give the more we gain.”

If the reporter who interviewed me had the ability to interview Master Goss, I suspect he would have used a redirect in his reply to the reporter’s question, “What is your hope for the Grange?” I think that the master might have replied that he had a belief, not a hope. There’s an important difference in those two words. Master Goss believed, “…it will still be the motivating center from which unlimited community welfare enterprises originate; and it will continue to build and strengthen the farm home as its ultimate purpose.”

One of the many strengths of our Order is an almost uncanny ability to look to the past as we move to the future. When we talk about our Granges, we too often get focused on today’s challenges like how hard it is to get members or the need to “close” for the winter to avoid a heating bill. Perhaps it is time to explore our traditions and our history of success. In the same book I found Master Goss’s prophecy, I stumbled on to this statement: “The Grange has lived and will live because it is founded on the home, the family, and the farm.”

Is that any less true today, some seventy-five years later? Will we continue to live because we are founded on the home, the family, and the farm? One of the reasons I decided to write this “Exploring Traditions…” column every month is my belief that much of our history, heritage, tradition, and practice has application for today—if we are willing and able to understand and apply it.

There’s a song that will be familiar to many… “He’s an old hippie and he don’t know what to do… should he hang on to the old or grab on to the new?” Perhaps we could change one word and make it our opening song at an occasional meeting. “He’s an old Granger and he don’t know what to do… should he hang on to the old or grab on to new?”

The problem is the question is an absolute implying there’s a required a choice between the old and the new. I don’t know about hippies, but Grangers do not need to make an either-or choice. We need to hang on to the old to the extent it makes sense and to the degree it got us where we are. But we also need to grab on to the new if we are going to “be the motivating center from which unlimited community welfare enterprises originate.”

Do you share Master Goss’s belief? Can you see a sign over the door to your Grange Hall that reads, “Welcome to the motivating center from which unlimited community welfare enterprises originate!” That’s better than “closed for the winter.”


[1] Gardner, C. M. (1949). The Grange — Friend of the Farmer. Washington DC: National Grange of the Patrons of Husbandry.

 

 

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.

Apr 132017
 

by Rick Grotton, State Master

I want to thank all of you that helped in any way to make the visit from our National Master, Betsy Huber, an enjoyable one. It was a pleasure to have her come to Maine to visit. She arrived on April 5 to attend our Legislative Luncheon and that evening we went to Androscoggin Pomona where we had some good laughs and enjoyed a program on Laughter: How it Affects your Health.

Thursday, she visited the State Capitol and was able to see the House and Senate in action with a trip to the Maine State Museum following. We had a wet trip to Piscataquis Pomona that evening where a town hall was held for the program. There were some great questions asked and some great discussions. Participants from area Pomonas and Granges attended.

Friday was a laid back day, however, during the evening, beginning at 5 pm we had a potluck dinner with Betsy addressing us on what is happening at National and by answering pertinent questions by the attendees. Independent media coverage was present for the evening, taping the session and interviewing Betsy. Saturday was the Junior Contests and the obligation ceremony performed on two new Junior members. Thank you, Christine. her Committee, and Sherry for their work.

In the afternoon, three teams participated in the Assistant’s Contest.  Christopher Heath, New Hampshire State Master attended as a judge. Sister Betsy and I served as judges. Thank you, Brother Chris! The winners were Jim Meserve and Laurie McBurnie. Henry and Sharon Morton and Adrian Griffin and Marilyn Stinson were the other participants. That evening we enjoyed a fun visit to Lincoln Pomona witha program on Maine Trivia. She enjoyed visiting with Maine Grangers and I thank all who came out during the week to meet her.  She left early Sunday morning to head back to Pennsylvania.

One thing I do want to share concerns ritual. Since we are no longer considered a “secret society,” it is customary to allow non-members (prospective members) to sit in our Grange meetings and the strictness used in the past concerning ritual has been lessened. The opening and closing ceremonies are to be used, however, in the newer manuals, the alternative ceremonies that are included can be used. It is an option for any Grange to take up the password. This is a big change for us as New England is the only region that strictly adheres to the ritual. If there are any questions, please let me know.

I think we should be organizing some more town hall discussions in various areas. If your area would like one, please let me know and also your Pomona. These discussions will help all to understand in what direction the Grange is heading, will provide you with answers and information vital to all areas of Grange.

There have been some people interested in leadership positions and I will refer them to the appropriate committees. It is exciting to learn how Grange is understood in different areas of our state. Many dwell more on the agricultural side where others are more into the community service side, however, it appears that all areas are being covered no matter which aspect is favored in any area. The trend seems to be that there are younger farmers appearing and a need to learn how to be self-sufficient on growing food whether you live in an urban or rural area. Thus, many Granges are developing programs based on this trend and are encouraged to do so. Ask those where milk and bread come from. Some will answer ‘from a store.” The Grange has ample opportunities to spread this information to communities and also to create resolutions to favor the small farms. An Agricultural Education Committee is being formed for this purpose and to create programs for agricultural education. I will keep all updated on its progress. In the meantime, keep providing resolutions on agricultural needs. I urge all Grangers to put their thoughts on paper, vote on the resolutions at your Subordinate Granges and filter them through your Pomona. GOTO your deputies, your directors and committee members for help if needed. There are many resources on the Internet how to write resolutions and there have been some resolution writing days at some Granges. Keep up on agricultural issues and trends in your newspapers and from television. Anyone can have their thoughts converted to a resolution. Let’s have some good, agricultural resolutions submitted for discussion at State Session in October.

Grange month activities are in full swing throughout the State. There are many community service nights, birthday celebrations and degree days being held. Check the website calendar for various activities in your areas.

I am sure most have heard the National Grange talk about doers? Are you a doer? What happens when the doers are gone? As our members get older, the ones we depend upon to get things done are becoming fewer and fewer. What happens from there?  We need doers, we need active membership, we need new leaders. Who are the doers in your Grange?

Webmaster’s note: There are resolution writing resources available on the Program Books and Information Page.

Apr 122017
 

Christine Hebert1by Christine Hebert, Junior Director

On April 8, 2017, we had our junior grange meeting, with special guest Betsy Huber—National Grange Master. During our meeting, we obligated two new members. Welcome to our family, Jillian and Reagan.

Judging for our sign-the-alphabet and the public speaking contest has been postponed until Saturday, June 10, 2017, during junior camp so Jillian, one of newest junior members, can participate.

The Assistant and Lady Assistant Contest was held later that same day. The Judges were all special guests: Betsy Huber—National Grange Master, Rick Grotton—Maine State Grange Master, Chris Heath—New Hampshire State Grange Master. Many thanks to all our guests. Winners were Jim Meserve and Laurie McBurnie, followed by Sharon and Henry Morton, and Mike Griffin.

The dates of Junior Camp have changed to June 10-11, 2017. The schedule has been finalized. Information will be mailed to all who have not already received it.

We will be camping at Scribner’s Mills Preservation in Harrison, Maine where a guided tour is planned and much, much, more. I am very excited and honored to be staying at the homestead. If you would like more information about this place I encourage you to check out their website at  www.scribnersmill.org or email: infoatscribnersmilldotorg  (infoatscribnersmilldotorg)  .

 

Apr 112017
 

This past Saturday, April 8, a benefit spaghetti supper was held at Somerset Grange #18 in Norridgewock. We had a great turnout, people from many towns around came. Was so good to see the dining hall full and folks milling all about visiting. this was a benefit for a long time Norridgewock resident who is now living in Madison. The apartment she had was totally destroyed in a fire a few weeks ago. Somerset Grange was happy to be of some help.

Sallie Wilder Master, Somerset Grange #18

Apr 102017
 

Corliss

By Christine Corliss, Community Service/FHH Director

Community Service Corner

Each month I write reminders from the committee on contests, suggestions, and helpful hints.  This month I am going to just ask a few questions and leave you to ponder the answers.

  1. What do you want for your Grange?
  2. What direction do you want your Grange to take?
  3. How well known do you want your Grange to be in your community, state or nation?
  4. How important is increased membership and bringing attention to your Grange?
  5. How can every member work their magic to be the best we can be?
  6. What is your place in Grange and how can you bring your A-Game to the Grange?

Once you have found out your true answers to these questions put them into action and what your Grange grow in all aspects of Grange.  Community Service, Membership, Agriculture, Family, Comradery, and Fun.  Sit back, smile and have fun.

Family, Health & Hearing

June Awareness Items – Men’s Health Month, World Ocean Awareness Month, National Safety Month, International Picnic Day is June 18, 2017.

Maine State Grange Community Service making a difference “ONE” project at a time!

Apr 102017
 

Glenys Ryder, Community Service Chair
Danville Junction Grange # 65

Throughout the year, Danville Junction Grange carries out many community service projects.  However, none are more satisfying or enjoyable than the Words for Thirds program!  It is so much fun each year to enter classrooms, bursting with enthusiasm, as students anticipate receiving their new dictionaries!!!  Once they are distributed, the room is alive with excited conversation about the “longest word”, the planets, sign language, and much more that the students find in their dictionaries!  Notice the intent look on the students’ faces in the photo as they study them!!

This year we were able to distribute dictionaries to over three hundred third graders at three schools in the area.  We are already planning for next year!

 

Apr 032017
 

Maine State Grange Lecturer Margaret Morse has prepared a list of program helps for lecturers–thoughts, poems, skits, etc. It is posted to the Program Books and Information Page in the Lecturer’s Section or directly available from this post: April 2017 Lecturer’s Program Helps.  Check it out!

Mar 272017
 

By Rick Watson, Master of Fairview Grange

Hello, friends of the Fairview Grange. Thanks for keeping an eye on what is going on at your local Grange, #342, in Smithfield Maine.

This week we celebrated 119 years of continuous operation with a great dinner on Thursday evening. We were especially pleased to have Grange members from other Granges join us. They came from at least Abbot, Bingham, Norridgewock, Madison, and we also had visitors from the State Grange level. Former Master of the Maine State Grange, Vicki Huff, Communications Director Walter Boomsma with his lovely wife Janice, and three from The Maine Grange Agricultural Committee (I think Mr. And Mrs. Rance Pooler and Mrs. Barker represented that committee). Also attending to help us celebrate were Terry and Harriet Spencer, local to us in Smithfield, but also involved in various capacities with the State and Pomona. Special thanks to Walter Boomsma for sharing some stories about what he sees and hears successful Granges doing. We thank all of them for helping us celebrate 119 years.

Noteworthy speakers in addition to Walter were Secretary Sharon Wood and Lecturer Kerry Cubas. Sharon read a Grange history her mother had written in 1971 about the early days of the Grange. Kerry has started a “living history, or spoken history” of our local Grange working with Shelby Watson, and gave us a taste of the project by telling us what her first two interviewees had to say. Fittingly for this event, the recollections of Marilyn and David were told. Kerry hopes to interview all our members so we may keep our history alive. Working in a similar vein to document and to preserve our history, Karie Watson has started reframing the pictures in the Grange and is working to get the people, our people from the community through the years, identified and noted.

Making the night extra special was being able to recognize Marilyn Giroux for her 75 years of membership in the Grange. Marilyn is one of our favorite “Grange Gal’s” and we were pleased to celebrate this milestone with her. She was surrounded by several generations of family and friends Thursday and many from the community took a minute to share a story about their interactions with her through the years. David Hartford, another long time member presented her with certificates of appreciation and recognition from the National and State Granges. He also read her a poem he had written, and shared a couple stories from their youth. A nice tribute. Special thanks to David.

We had plenty of great food, great company, and it truly felt like an evening spent with family. The Hall looked great and I would be negligent to not recognize Karie Watson for her efforts putting on the meal and also to her and to Sharon for making the Hall look so fresh, Springlike and inviting for our celebration.

Thanks to all who cooked, cleaned, lugged and tugged, decorated, hauled trash, washed dishes, spoke, made the trip to join us or in any other way helped make it a fitting tribute to 119 years in Smithfield.

Mar 252017
 

We shook it and it’s changing to butter!

In something of a perfect storm, Valley Grangers are experiencing a bit of March Madness with two major community service projects involving local students and community volunteers. First up was their annual GrowME Collaboration–a joint effort with Piscataquis County UMaine Extension and Piscataquis County Soil and Water Conservation District. By pooling resources and volunteers, the three organizations are visiting with nearly 750 students from Kindergarten through Third Grade in Piscataquis County. With a mission of “increasing agricultural literacy and making it fun,” volunteers help kindergartners build an animal graph, first graders taste and sort apples, second graders make their own butter, and third graders construct their very own “dirt babies.”

Walter Boomsma, program director for Valley Grange is especially proud of the fact that “we have no budget and not much structure–just a bunch of people who love working with kids and providing positive experiences around agriculture.” His specialty is making butter with second graders. “We have fun and the kids almost don’t realize they are learning–some have even asked for instructions and then made butter at home as a family activity.” He notes that teachers are often integrating the activities into their regular curriculum by using the experience as a writing prompt or a math lesson. But he maintains that the best part is everyone has fun. “Every year there are new stories to tell,” he notes.

Third graders make dirt babies that grow sprout and grow “hair” (grass). The babies include a birth certificate that tracks important events such as “first haircut.” In one classroom this year, as the babies were being collected and placed on a windowsill, one new “parent” exclaimed, “Uh oh! My Dirt Baby had an accident! She pooped and peed on my desk!” (There was some water and soil on the desk after the assembly was completed.) Perhaps in addition to “agricultural literacy” the GrowME program is teaching the joys of parenthood!

Boomsma notes that one school has requested an activity for their Pre-Kindergarten classes this year. “Finding activities that are grade level appropriate can be a challenge because we also have to make certain our volunteers are comfortable with it. This year I’ve agreed to be the guinea pig volunteer for this new activity and we’re trying a project involving sprouting bean seeds so the kids not only help with the planting, they get to watch the sprouting take place.”

Another initiative Valley Grange has supported long enough that it’s a school tradition is a contest among third and fourth graders to design two advertisements for the Grange in the Piscataquis Observer’s Annual Newspapers in Education Supplement. The program is a favorite of Piscataquis Community Elementary School Art Teacher Jane Daniels because it “gives the kids a practical side of art.” Valley Grange Master Jim Annis notes that “We have strong ties to kids…” with Grange members involved regularly at the local schools. “We’ve actually built a series of programs that range from Bookworming and Words for Thirds to our blistered finger knitters making hats and mittens for the kids who need them. The kids know us and we know them.”

Valley Grange Community Service Chair Mary Annis is quick to note that this is not a one-way street. “In addition to the fun we have, the kids help us. We collect  ‘Coups for Troops’ most of which came from collection boxes placed in local schools. We like the feeling that we are redefining community and good ways of working together.”

Additional information about all of the Valley Grange Programs can be found on their website, http://valleygrange.com. The GrowME Collaboration maintains a basic information and resource site at http://growmehelp.wordpress.com. If any other Granges are interested in starting similar programs, Valley Grange will be happy to help!

Ad created by Fourth Grader Kaelyn Bussell