Dec 012017
 

National Grange LogoJoin our online silent auction benefiting the Grange Foundation and bid on one or more of the more than 40 items or packages that just might make the perfect holiday gift for someone on your list or for yourself!

Go to: www.32auctions.com/Grange150 and make an account. You can pay online if you win through your credit card or PayPal. A few of the items may not be shipped. Shipping cost for each item is listed.  Items may also be picked up on site at the 150th Gala at Decatur House at 9 PM Monday, Dec. 4 or make arrangements with a gala attendee to transport your winning items to you. We will require verification for transfer of responsibility for auction items won.

The auction closes at 8:30 PM Eastern Time MONDAY, December 4. Don’t miss out!

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Nov 282017
 

Here’s a great story about the St George Grange Christmas Craft Fair. Published in the St George Dragon, you have to love the headline:

It’s Christmas Fair time at a Grange that has become an important community center


The article talks about a lot more than this Grange’s Christmas Fair… you’ll learn about a fund the Grange has created for teachers to purchase school supplies–St George’s way of “giving back” to the community that helped them as they repaired and upgraded the hall. St George Grange also runs an important Window Dressers Program that assists in providing energy-saving window inserts and strives to be a center for community activity. This is a Grange that seems to have boundless energy… after the Christmas Fair, they actually are going to offer a Grange Supper. Check out this story of an exciting Grange with some exciting Grangers.

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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Nov 152017
 

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As part of my work with our school, I recently chaperoned a group of honor music students on a bit of a “field trip.” They took part in a long day that culminated with a truly amazing concert. There were some twenty schools represented—middle school age kids. My job was basically to keep the kids safe and make sure they had a good time. For various reasons, I was in contact with our school principal several times throughout the day, most often by text message.

How does this relate to the Grange Way of Life? The experience demonstrated that as we adopt the “Grange Way” it can, in fact, become a way of life. We follow it and it follows us. I realized it after the concert was over and each student had, as instructed, “checked out” with me by bringing a parent to meet me before leaving. After the last one left, I texted to the principal, “All is secure. Every student has checked out with a parent.” At least I didn’t call her “Worthy Master.”

I think it’s interesting that National Grange has adopted “The Grange Way” as a theme for a theme and I am anxious to see how that theme translates into practice, partly because of the challenges we face as a collection of individuals, trying to live the Grange Way. A strength of the Grange is also a weakness. As a grassroots organization, we take on many different forms and interests. Do we have an identity crisis?

What is the Grange Way? I confess I’m tempted to set up a survey on the website and ask that question. I suspect we’d get some interesting answers!

National Communications Director Amanda Brozana Rios revealed her new tattoo at the Maine State Grange Convention. On the inside of her forearm you ‘ll find the familiar, “In essentials, unity. In non-essentials, freedom, In all things, charity.” I think that bit of ink represents a strong commitment to the Grange Way of life and I congratulate Amanda for quite literally making it part of her.

While it makes sense to adopt new themes, and occasionally change our focus, for an organization such as ours, we do well when we consider what has worked for 150 years.

I think it’s funny that I ended my school assignment with an automatic announcement, “All is secure.” I think it would be great if we found ourselves reciting the Grange slogan more often. When we find ourselves disagreeing regarding a course of action during a Grange Meeting, someone needs to stand up and remind us, “In essentials, unity… in non-essentials, freedom… in all things charity.” Is it necessary (essential) that we agree on everything? Can we allow individuality? How do we demonstrate charity (love) as we go about being Granges and Grangers?

You can bet you’ll be hearing more from me on this topic… but for now, “All is secure.”

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.

Oct 192017
 

With a vigorous rap of the gavel, Master Rick Groton opened the one hundred forty fourth Maine State Grange Convention. Early events included presentation of officers and deputies and a special introduction of Amanda Brozana Rios, National Grange Communications Director. Amanda brought greetings from National Master Betsy Huber and reminded delegates and guests of out Grange Motto by revealing her most recent tattoo!

in essentials, unity.

 In nonessentials, liberty.

In all things, charity.

As the “labors of the day” begin, what a great reminder of the importance of keeping our perspective. In fact, what a great way to begin every day. If we do not desire to have it tattooed on our arms, it should be tattooed on our minds and in our hearts.

Oct 172017
 

Check out WABI – TV 5’s coverage of Valley Grange’s Words for Thirds Dictionary Day!

Check out WVII – Fox News coverage of Valley Grange’s Words for Thirds Dictionary Day!

This was our first dictionary day of the season… we still have more kids coming to the Grange Hall and three schools to visit! We’ve given out over 2,500 dictionaries in the sixteen years we’ve been doing this and it’s still one of the most exciting and fun things we do! Yesterday’s event included eighty kids from SeDoMoCha Elementary School. What fun!

Oct 162017
 

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In a recent column, I wrote about the significance of traditions and ritual being based on values unless they become mechanical and meaningless. The longer traditions are maintained, the more important the “why” becomes.

Just this morning I posted some news about the fires in Northern California and their impact on Grangers and Granges. I was especially moved by the announcement that Redwood Valley Grange is providing support and services in spite of the personal struggles many members are having. They are serving their community in conjunction with the Mendocino Sheriff’s Department and North Coast Opportunities and Animal Control. Among services being provided:

  • The Hall will be open 10-6 every day until not needed and are providing Free Child Care
  • Free Professional Crisis Counseling and referrals are available
  • Lunch at 12:30 every while there is a community need.
  • All day refreshments are available
  • Town Meeting will be at the Grange – date TBD
  • The hall is a place to come, share, play music, and game tables are available.”

While I am especially moved, I am not especially surprised. I do not know the folks in Redwood Valley, but they are Grangers. It should be no surprise to anyone that these folks are finding ways and resources to support their community in what might be considered overwhelming ways. That’s tradition. That’s the Grange Way of Life.

Donate to the CA Fires Support Fund


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.

Oct 162017
 

The California State Grange, utilizing the National Grange 501(c)(3) Foundation has established the “2017 CA Fires Support Fund” to receive tax-deductible charitable donations. This Grange Charitable Fund will be used to provide support to those affected Members & Community/Pomona Granges having needs created by the wildfires. As of yesterday, no Grange Halls have been lost, but several Grange members have lost their homes.

California State Grange Master Ed Kominski describes one Grange, Redwood Valley Grange as having some “Amazing Patrons” and note the hall has been opened to start serving their community in conjunction with the Mendocino Sheriff’s Department and North Coast Opportunities and Animal Control. Among services being provided:

  • The Hall will be open 10-6 every day until not needed and are providing Free Child Care
  • Free Professional Crisis Counseling and referrals are available
  • Lunch at 12:30 every while there is a community need.
  • All day refreshments are available
  • Town Meeting will be at the Grange – date TBD
  • The hall is a place to come, share, play music, and game tables are available.

All this is being done by Grangers who are having their own personal struggles.

Maine Grangers can help by participating in the California State Grange Fundraiser. Kominski notes, “Support and funds are coming in great numbers. We have seen fantastic support but we need to reach more people.”

The California State Grange, utilizing the National Grange 501(c)(3) Foundation has established the “2017 CA Fires Support Fund” to receive tax-deductible charitable donations. This Grange Charitable Fund will be used to provide support to those affected Members & Community/Pomona Granges having needs created by the wildfires. Every donation of $25 or more will receive a t-shirt in appreciation for the generosity – “California Granges – Moving Together”

Donate to the CA Fires Support Fund

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.

Email the Maine State Grange Webmaster

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