Feb 162018


I’m in the process of reading a very interesting book, Josiah for President. It raises the question, “Can a plain man of faith… become the leader of America?” I’m at the point where a former congressman has given up his campaign for president and by happenstance meets Josiah, an Old-order Amishman. Clearly, the question suggests that tradition and today are going to collide and our former congressman is going to consider Josiah running for president. (If I’ve raised your curiosity, the book is written by Martha Bolton and published Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI in 2012.)

One of the reasons this book has been on my list for a while is my interest in the Amish. Another is the Grange’s ongoing challenge or reconciling tradition and today. That challenge is not limited to the Grange, certainly. Our entire political system faces it, along with us and other organizations. (I am now encouraged to purchase Girl School cookies online.) Consider how many current political debates have their roots in today versus tradition. Should we abandon the electoral college? Does the thinking of our forefathers when they included the “right to bear arms” still apply in the different world we live in?

There’s no doubt a keen value of the Grange over our history has been its role in promoting the interests of agriculture, defending the welfare of rural people, and supporting good government. Many presidents have expressed support for the Grange throughout its history. Franklin D. Roosevelt was a Granger and explained, “For many years I have been a member of the Grange. I have felt at home in it because it embodies the fine flavor of rural living, which I myself have known and loved. Beyond this, it has been an instrument for expressing in useful activity the highest sentiments and deepest loyalties of Americans.” (President Roosevelt received his Silver Star certificate in 1939-he had been invested with the honor of the Seventh Degree in 1930.)

I think Roosevelt’s explanation of his membership raises an interesting question for all members: “What is it about the Grange that makes us ‘feel at home?’” One of the reasons that might be an interesting and important question is that it requires us to learn more about the Grange and ourselves.

When my brother (who was unfamiliar with the Grange) visited several years ago, I dragged him along on a trip to the Grange Hall where I needed to perform some maintenance-related task. He and I share a love of antiques and old things, so I was pretty sure he’d appreciate the building and some of its furnishings—I left him to explore while I performed my task. When it was time to leave, I found him sitting in the foyer looking transfixed. He said, “Can’t you just picture some old bearded farmers sitting her, gathered around the stove, talking?” I could. They looked very much “at home.” The Grange was the place to meet with like-minded people-not just for the sake of meeting, but for the social opportunity to be with like-minded people in a supportive and sharing way.

Since his visit, the wood stove has been removed by order of the insurance company. But when we have a meeting or community program, people still gather on the porch in the summer or under the heating ducts in the winter. I have always been fascinated how nearly everyone wants to help when we start cleaning up after a potluck supper. There’s a warmth that doesn’t come from the sun or the furnace. It might be the “fine flavor of rural living” in action.

I don’t know if Josiah will become president—would there be an armored buggy? But I do know that the Grange needs to be a place where people feel at home. When we look to our traditions and our heritage, we have much to help us encourage that. We just have to figure out how to marry tradition and today instead of forcing them to collide.

The Grange Way: in essentials, unity; in non-essentials, freedom; in all things charity.

Information regarding Roosevelt’s Grange membership and his explanation was garnered from the book, “The Grange – Friend of the Farmer” by Charles M. Gardner, published by the National Grange in 1949.

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.

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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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Feb 112018

The most recent issue of Good Day! National Grange magazine includes a half-page photo of David Gowen and his daughter Hannah. That, of itself, is exciting, but even more exciting is the reason and the story behind the photo. During the awards reception of the 151st Annual National Grange Convention, the Gowen family was one of seventy families across the nation who were honored with Legacy certificates. The certificates recognize the decades of service running through some Grange Families. For the Gowen Family, that includes six generations of membership in the Grange, starting in 1875 when James and Clarinda Gowen (first generation) and James and Ida Gowen (second generation) were all members of Westbrook Grange #87 (now Highland Lake Grange #87). That’s a lot of Grangers and a lot of Grange Service! Congratulations to the Gowens–the only family from Maine to receive this honor!

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Your family may qualify for recognition as a Grange Legacy Family if you can provide information about five or more generations of your family that have been part of the Grange.  Learn more about the program here. Awards are presented annually at the National Grange Convention. Deadline for applications for this year is August 6, 2018.

Jan 302018

“For our business interests we desire to bring producer and consumer into the most direct and friendly relations possible, remembering that, ‘individual happiness depends upon general prosperity.” 

–Declaration of Purposes of the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry

Grangers are connecting the dots to support small farms, access to farm-raised food and growing the zone of food sovereignty across the state of Maine. Madison Granger, Sonia Acevedo of Hide and Go Peep Farm invited fellow farmer, food sovereignty advocate, and Halcyon Grange Master, Heather Retberg to be on a panel at an informational potluck and music night at the Kennebec Valley Grange.  Halcyon member Bonnie Preston, also instrumental in working toward food sovereignty at the local and state levels, will participate in the panel informational session as well.

This is a great example of Grange grassroots advocacy at its finest. The Maine State Grange passed a resolution called Community-Based Food Production in 2015 which resolved that: “The Maine State Grange will use its influence to urge the passage of legislation recognizing municipalities’ authority to regulate by ordinance the direct producer-to-customer exchange of all food grown, harvested, prepared, processed or produced in the municipality.”

In 2016, the Maine State Grange drew on its roots laid out in our Declaration of Purposes and our Constitution to adopt a further resolution to grow the Grange as a relevant farming organization for this century and to support our small-scale, ecological farms in Maine. We resolved then that: “The Maine State Grange shall work proactively with elected local, state, and federal officials to further the shared interests of small-scale, ecological farms and their communities; and… shall work in concert with Subordinate/Community Granges to educate the general public about ecological farming principles and the relation of soil health to community wealth;…”

Just last year, the Maine State Grange followed up on our resolves and supported a bill that was signed into law first in June of 2017, and later amended and signed into law again by Governor LePage in October of 2017. This bill has now become Chaptered Law 314 known as the Maine Food Sovereignty Act. It recognizes municipal authority to adopt local food ordinances regarding “direct producer-to-consumer” sales and requires the State to recognize those ordinances. In other words, the law requires the state to honor community-based food production systems just as we outlined in our 2015 resolution!

The law moved the power out of the bureaucracies and back into our town governments, that is to say, back to us at our own town meetings! This has the potential to be a monumental shift that can lay the groundwork for stronger local economies in our towns based on farming and food production once again.

But we have to get involved in town government. We have to work to adopt the Local Food and Community Self-Governance Ordinance (LFCSG), passed in 21 towns and one city across Maine, on which the Maine Food Sovereignty Act is based.  An ordinance template can be found here:http://localfoodrules.org/ordinance-template/

Now, it’s time to act on our resolve from 2016 and work with our local Granges to educate the general public about ecological farming principles and how we can “work proactively with elected local, state and federal officials to further the interests of small-scale ecological farms in Maine.”

Hide and Go Peep Farm’s Sonia Acevedo in Madison, Maine is showing us how to do just that. She’s working with her local Grange to bring townspeople together over food and music to talk about food sovereignty and food freedom.  The Grange becomes again the center of spreading information and education on the efforts the Maine State Grange has been supporting since 2015.  Halcyon Grange in Blue Hill gained new members when they supported food sovereignty efforts in 2011. Since then, farmer Heather Retberg and farm patron Bonnie Preston, both Halcyon Grangers, have been traveling around the state meeting people in Grange halls, church fellowship halls, school gyms and town halls to share their experience with local government and adopting the LFCSG Ordinance and helping other towns do just that.  They can come to your Grange, too.

Since the state of Maine recognized local control of food in 2017, the time is ripe to use local Granges across the state for informational potlucks like this upcoming one at Kennebec Valley Grange!

You can contact Heather by email  (quillsendfarmatgmaildotcom)   or contact Bonnie by email  (bonnieprestonatearthlinkdotnet)   to invite them to your Grange hall.

Town meeting time is high time for potluckin’ and politickin’. Music helps keep it all merry. Let’s get back to our roots and go forward into a farming future!

“The soil is the source from whence we derive all that constitutes wealth; without it, we would have no agriculture, no manufacturers, no commerce. Of all the material gifts of the Creator, the various productions of the vegetable world are of the first importance. The art of agriculture is the parent and precursor of all arts, and its products, the foundation of all wealth.”

–Preamble of the Constitution of the National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry

Jan 292018

Click to enlarge image

I know we do not usually feature local Grange events as posts to the website, but I’m making an exception with this one. because it may well represent an exciting future of “local” Grange events on several points!

First, at least three Granges are involved in this Community Discussion being held on February 2, 2018. It’s obvious from the flyer that Kennebec Valley Grange is hosting and East Madison Grange is sponsoring. What’s not as obvious is that Halcyon Grange is also involved–Master Heather Retberg and Bonnie Preston will be sharing their experience and expertise as part of the discussion.

Second, there’s some creative scheduling involved with a potluck before and music following. That’s three different incentives and opportunities at Kennebec Valley Grange right in a row–and each truly does follow the “community” theme.

Along those same lines, Highland Lake Grange recently shared information about the Beekeeping Program they offered before their “regular” meeting. As an exciting epilogue, Master Dave McGowen reports that two folks who attended the Beekeeping Program “stuck around” after and expressed interest in information about joining the Grange!

These are great examples of “everybody wins” ideas and programming! We often talk about our “grassroots” and how there can be and are differences in Granges and their focus. But the opportunities for collaboration, cooperation, and creativity abound!

Certainly, our structure suggests this could happen at the Pomona Level–one of the purposes of the Pomona Grange is to provide an opportunity to share and support. If there’s diversity in our Pomona, would it make sense to do a Pomona Event that features every Grange? A piece of the event might be to set up tables for each subordinate/community Grange and invite the public to come and learn about all the Granges in the area. (The host Grange would best be the most geographically central.

But informal arrangements can also work extremely well based on shared interests or physical location. There’s an old example explaining synergy (the combining of energies) as two plus two equals five. When two Granges get together to collaborate and cooperate, one plus one equals three!

And remember, collaboration and cooperation are not limited to other Granges. Valley Grange is currently working on a spring event that will potentially include Project Linus, quilting clubs, and high schools.

Share your stories! Do not underestimate your successes! Something as simple as how you schedule programs and meetings may trigger an idea that another Grange can use. Take photos of your successful events and send them for sharing.

Collaboration, cooperation, and creativity — another example of “the Grange Way.”

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Jan 272018

Webmaster’s Note: Information provided courtesy of California State Grange.

A note of explanation… this information comes to us courtesy of California State Grange. These are grants available nationally… that might be of interest to Granges interested in Community Service Projects and rural development. Unfortunately, the information has passed through several hands and formats. As a result, the “clickable links” have been lost. I suspect, however, an Internet search wouldn’t be too difficult. Admittedly, most are fairly large scale but I thought any grant information is better than none and might start the wheels of creativity turning.

If you know of any grant sources, send whatever information you have and we’ll share it on the website! Sharing resources is also “the Grange Way.”

Email the Maine State Grange Webmaster

Support for Communities to Prepare for Environmental Challenges

National Fish and Wildlife Foundation: Resilient Communities

The Resilient Communities program, an initiative of the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF) with support from Wells Fargo, is dedicated to helping communities prepare for future impacts associated with sea level rise, water quantity and quality, and forest conservation. The program places special emphasis on helping traditionally underserved, low- and moderate-income communities build capacity for resiliency planning and investments in “greener infrastructure. In 2018, grants will be offered in the following two categories: The Regional Adaptation through Regional Conservation Projects category will support projects that help prepare for fire in the Western Region, floods and droughts in the Central Region, and sea-level rise in the Eastern Region. Grants in this category will range from $200,000 to $500,000. The Community Capacity Building and Demonstration Projects category will support projects that help communities understand, organize, and take action to address risks and opportunities through

improved resilience brought about by enhanced natural features. Grants in this category, ranging from $100,000 to $250,000, can take place anywhere in the U.S., but should address multiple cities and communities. Nonprofit organizations, local governments, and Indian tribes are eligible to apply in both categories. The pre-proposal deadline is February 15, 2018; invited full proposals must be submitted by May 10, 2018. Visit the NFWF website to review the request for proposals.

New Dance Works Funded

National Dance Project: Production Grants

The National Dance Project (NDP), a program of the New England Foundation for the Arts, is widely recognized as one of the country’s major sources of funding for dance. NDP’s signature approach invests in artists to make new work and provides grants to the organizations that present those works on tour in their communities. The program provides a package of support that includes up to $45,000 towards the creation of a new work, approximately $10,000 in general operating support, and up to $35,000 to support a U.S. tour of the work. Grants are highly competitive and are awarded to around 20 dance projects each year. The upcoming inquiry application deadline is March 1, 2018. Visit the New England Foundation for the Arts website to review the funding criteria and access the application forms.

Grants to Develop Rural Community Design Workshops

Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design

The Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design (CIRD) provides rural communities throughout the United States access to the resources they need to convert their own good ideas into reality. CIRD is offering competitive funding to as many as four small towns or rural communities to host an intensive, two-day community workshop to help build their capacity to solve their design challenges. The CIRD 2018 program is focused on helping rural leaders and residents come together to find creative solutions for the following design issues: Multimodal Transportation, Healthy Living by Design, and Main Streets. CIRD’s contribution includes a $10,000 stipend and in-kind technical assistance services. Support is provided for rural communities with a population of 50,000 or under. The application deadline is February 16, 2018. Visit the CIRD website to learn more about the program and to download the Request for Proposals.

Hiking Trail Projects Supported

American Hiking Society: National Trails Fund

The National Trails Fund, sponsored by American Hiking Society (AHS), provides support to grassroots nonprofit organizations throughout the country working toward establishing, protecting, and maintaining foot trails in America. The Fund’s grants, ranging from $500 to $3,000, help local groups build and protect America’s public trails. Grants will be considered for the following: projects that have hikers as the primary constituency; projects that secure trail lands, including acquisition of trails and trail corridors and the costs associated with acquiring conservation easements; projects that will result in visual and substantial ease of access, improved hiker safety, or avoidance of environmental damage; and projects that promote constituency building surrounding specific trail projects, including volunteer recruitment and support. Applying organizations must be AHS Alliance Members. Online applications are due February 16, 2018. Visit the American Hiking Society website for application guidelines, as well as information on becoming an AHS Member.

Funds for Literacy Programs in Company Communities

Dollar General Literacy Foundation

The Dollar General Literacy Foundation supports nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, and libraries that offer literacy programs in communities served by Dollar General in 44 states. The Foundation provides support through the following grant programs: Adult Literacy Grants support nonprofit organizations that provide direct services to adults in need of literacy assistance. Family Literacy Grants support family literacy service providers that combine parent and youth literacy instruction. Summer Reading Grants help nonprofit organizations and libraries with the implementation or expansion of summer reading programs for students who are new readers, below grade level readers, or readers with learning disabilities. Online applications for the three programs described above must be submitted by February 22, 2018. In addition, Youth Literacy Grants support schools, public libraries, and nonprofit organizations that work to help students who are below grade level or experiencing difficulty reading. The application deadline for this program is May 17, 2018. Visit the Foundation’s website to access guidelines for each grant program.

Historic Preservation Supported

National Park Service

The Save America’s Treasures program provides preservation or conservation assistance to nationally significant historic properties and collections. The application deadline is February 21, 2018.

Award Honors Young Environmentalists

Environmental Protection Agency

The Presidents Environmental Youth Award honors a wide variety of projects developed by young individuals, school classes, summer camps, public interest groups, and youth organizations to promote environmental awareness. The application deadline is March 1, 2018.

Jan 212018

The revised National Grange of the Order of Patrons of Husbandry Digest of Laws, 2018 Edition, that applies to all Granges of the Order, including Junior, Subordinate, State and Pomona’s, is available for free download on the National Grange website. Click below to save or print the PDF.

You may also order a printed copy of the Digest through the Grange Supply Store for $20 plus shipping.  It includes all 112 pages with cover hole-punched and bound in a three-ring binder that allows you to quickly slip in updated pages as they become available each year.

There were few changes in 2018, mainly regarding language about trusts, now referred to as custodial accounts. Please do take time to familiarize yourself with the Digest.

Download the 2018 National Digest


Jan 212018

Let the nagging begin!

Seriously, this is your first reminder to start planning for Grange Month… National Grange recently announced, “One hundred fifty years—what a milestone! This year’s Grange Month should be filled with celebrations in every Grange, coast to coast! We have a proud history of supporting, educating, advocating, and entertaining rural Americans. Very few organizations last for 150 years so this is our time to celebrate.

Our theme for 2018 Grange Month is “That’s the Grange Way.”  Following up our Doers theme from 2017, it’s the Grange Way to be doers, to volunteer and give and contribute to life where we live.  To be outstanding citizens and be the bridge between two sides who won’t compromise. To teach the world how to get along, what faith, hope, and charity really mean in everyday life.  How to love others even if you don’t like them or don’t agree with them.   We want to tell the world what the Grange Way means, and why they should care, why they should want to join us and help with our efforts to improve lives from the grassroots up.”

And the really good news is the following resources are already available from the National Grange website:

There are a few more items, so you may just want to visit the 2018 Grange Month Page on the National Grange website. (The one thing that’s currently missing on the page is the order form for community service awards–that was available in the January issue of the Patrons Chain, but I’m also working on making it readily available, perhaps on the MSG website. More to come on that!

While it is traditional to think of April as “Grange Month,” when your Grange celebrates it is truly optional. Here in Maine, some Granges choose to wait until May when the weather tends to be more cooperative.

You’ll need to start making decisions soon, though! A good Grange Month Celebration should include advance planning and publicity. Celebrating a “Community Night” that includes honoring a local citizen is one of the more common practices. But this would be a great year to think outside the box! How about planning a special community service project that ties in? Would it make sense to have a special guest speaker or a panel discussion regarding community… or to announce the start of a community garden? 2018 is a great year to put your Grange “on the map” and in the public eye.

Here’s a publicity idea for you. At your next meeting, have someone snap a photo of members sitting in a circle having an intense discussion. Write a short “cutline” (caption) describing how members are planning your Grange Month Celebration, then send both to your local newspapers–and the MSG website. (Email the photo as an attachment–photos cannot easily be sent using the “submitting information” tab.)

If you need some help or have some great ideas to share, let us know! Let’s work together for the most successful Grange Month ever! That’s the Grange Way!

Email the Maine State Grange Webmaster




Jan 152018


Regular followers will remember that last month’s column reflected on the truth, “We get the Christmas we deserve.” As I paged through the manual for inspiration for this month’s, it was perhaps fate that directed me to the Fourth Degree where the secretary addresses the candidates. After reminding them of the importance of punctuality, the secretary points out “there is work for all,” and adds “those reap the most abundant harvest of Grange benefits [are those] who contribute most liberally of their own time and talent.”

We might well wonder if our secretary is suggesting “We get the Grange we deserve.” The challenge is reminiscent of the analogy of sowing and reaping. If we sow our time and talent liberally in our Grange, we shall harvest abundantly. That could be a sobering thought for anyone who is questioning or unhappy with what the or she is “getting out” of membership. That unhappy member may be getting the Grange he or she deserves.

However, in fairness, we should also consider the accuracy of the statement, “There is work for all.” Is there? There’s got to be more going on than just meetings in order for there to be work for all.

Assuming there is work to do, it’s commonly accepted that one good membership retention technique is to get and keep new members involved. I’d like to go one further.

There’s an old joke about the pig and the hen walking down the road together. The topic of breakfast (bacon and eggs) comes up. The pig points out that all that’s required of the hen is involvement. For the pig, commitment is required.

The founders of the Grange recognized the importance of purpose and demonstrated insight into how to build an effective organization. It’s hard to get people involved in purposelessness. It’s impossible to gain commitment without purpose. With clear purpose, it should become equally clear that there is work for everyone. If there is no purpose, then there is no work.  It would be like asking people to show up to weed a garden where nothing has been planted!

Another insight of our founders was building a “grassroots” organization. While the umbrella is important, each Subordinate/Community Grange gets to create their own image–an opportunity that does encourage commitment. Personally, I believe the diversity in our Order is one of our biggest strengths. We can say with confidence, “There is work for all,” because our organization is built to accommodate different passions. We’re not just for farmers. Just look at a committee list and consider the opportunities ranging from community service, healthy living, women’s activities… to children/juniors… legislative matters… and we’re not really limited to those. There are several Granges in Maine that have theatre companies. There can be engaging and rewarding work for all in any Grange.

The Grange Way: in essentials, unity; in non-essentials, freedom; in all things charity.


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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.

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’?”


“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!