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 132017
 

A big thank you to those Maine Grangers who contributed to the success of the store at the New England Grange Building this year. As a Trustee I want to thank you and so does the Store Manager and Building Managers who run the store for us. Below is this year’s preliminary report:

This year’s fair weather had several variables, the first week was hot and humid, Grange weekend was very sunny & hot which started 95+ degree heat wave for 5 days. On Wednesday evening the cold weather moved in. There were 3 days of rain but 1,525,553 attended the 17 days of the Eastern States Exposition.

Total receipts for the store/crafts were $28,200. In the store cookie cutters were a new item and went very well as did the candy sticks. The new varieties of jams, syrups, pickles, and relishes did extremely well so did the colored popcorn. We had the pleasure of seeing many empty shelves at the end of Fair! The store took in $12,809.

A big thank you to all you crafters that supplied us with crafts: Scrubbies ran out the second Monday. We have only a few hanging towels, baby afghans, and mittens at the end of the fair. People are still asking for adult mittens, slippers, ladies sweaters, aprons, plastic bag holders, new unique Christmas ornaments, children’s stuffed toys, Halloween, fall and Christmas decorations, skillet handle pot holders, and door draft stoppers just to name a few. The craft section was $15,500.00.

Tom Gotauco had to complete the ladies and work on men’s bathroom as the contractor that was hired was not satisfactory. A little more work is needed in the men’s bathroom. Also, all the State Flags were moved from around the sides to the front of the hall over the stage. A new backdoor was installed and the cement steps were repaired. There was a lot of rot found in the process which had to be replaced/repaired. George Thomas and Steve Logan installed the window blinds and Linda says they look great!

On Grange Day, Linda picked up pastries, brewed coffee and Claire poured apple cider for the people that work or volunteer in the Avenue of States buildings for just under $300 saving us $2,300. The Blues Crew family entertainers perform 2-one hour’s sets during the day. We were graced with the presence of the National Lecturer-Chris Hamp and her husband Duane, who came to visit the Big E all the way from the state of Washington. Chris was able to cross off a few items on her bucket list by visiting the Big E and riding an elephant. Chris and Duane also marched with about 40 Grangers in the parade.

The managers want to thank all the volunteers who work the cash register in the Grange store, and the Raffle table where $4,075 is being split between the Veterans Home in Bennington, Vermont and Hurricane Relief.

Overall – A great year!

Oct 062017
 

Bangor Grange presented Lt. Tim Cotton his Community Citizen Award at our meeting Tuesday. The following is his write-up the next day that he posted on Facebook:

“Sliding my thumb up and down the smudged and scratched glass of my Samsung phone allows a glimpse into the thoughts of my Facebook friends.

Most of my “Facebook friends” are actually my friends. Sure, there are one or two I don’t know very well, but for the most part they are my friends and I would not have added them to my motley crew if I didn’t believe we could talk for twenty minutes or so over a cup of coffee.

Today, one of my friends posted a simple statement; a question actually. “Where have all the good people gone?” I think it’s a question we all have, especially in times like these.

When the news-cycle bores it’s way into our lives like a Black and Decker hammer-drill, it is fairly easy to believe that the world has gone mad. I cannot deny that I believe the exact same thing sometimes. I certainly can’t promise you that tomorrow won’t bring us something worse than our country has experienced this week.

I can tell you that the good people are still here. On Tuesday night I met about 15 of them at the Bangor Grange Hall (#372).

Kindly, the group awarded me with a Community Service honor and plaque. I should note that I have done nothing to deserve such an honor from the Grange members. I should have been there sooner-thanking them. I am such a slacker.

Ann Staples (82 years young) organized a fundraiser for a man who was soon to die. He wanted to make sure his wife had a little something after he passed. The spaghetti dinner at their humble Grange raised over $5000 dollars in one evening. The man died on the night of the fundraiser, but he knew of it’s success before he passed.

Ann was not bragging about pulling it all together, she was telling me about it because she and her fellow Grange members were looking to do a project for our police department causes.

We talked over lasagna, homemade biscuits, beef pie, scalloped potatoes and freshly pressed Maine apple cider. Yes, I had seconds, on simple paper plates and mismatched silverware. Ann also organizes their weekly farmers market and helped local disadvantaged kids plant and care for a garden so they could have fresh vegetables. She has done this for years.

Ann was asking me what I needed while stuffing me with food to prepare me to receive MY award. Are you kidding me?

Grange Master Rolf Staples Sr. told me about the Christmas breakfast Grange #372 puts on for local kids. He told me some of the kids find the thought of a homemade breakfast with sausage, eggs, bacon, and pancakes far more appealing than the gifts they receive. He noted that some of the kids know nothing more than a Pop Tart and can of soda for typical morning nourishment. Who makes the breakfast? The ladies and gents of Grange #372, not me.

94-year old Mary Hunter knits tiny caps for premature infants. She also reminded me that she was at my wedding but that she didn’t dance.

She told me that she recalls my son has the same name as her dear departed husband and that she clearly remembers me changing my son’s name on his birth certificate two days after he was born. It’s true, I did. Purely to make his name roll off my tongue more easily. It’s a long story. Mary remembers. She is a member of Grange #372.

For years Mary and her husband visited area nursing homes with homemade crafts, provided gifts for the kids on the parade route at Hampden Children’s Day and did a myriad of other things for community causes.

There were many others. Some who had been members for a long time and one who had held leadership positions at Grange #372 since the early 1960s. He had cut some firewood that day and told me he loved the fall. I think the gentleman could have made quick work of me in an arm wrestling match, but it was his 82nd birthday so I would expect nothing less.

We stood for the Star Spangled Banner, posted Old Glory, and I was escorted to the podium for the reading of a very nice proclamation.

Each step across the sole-smoothed hardwood floor echoed the footsteps of the benevolent members who danced, wedded, and died here since 1904.

I was humbled with their kindness, uplifted by their hardscrabble homestead farm-raised ghosts. I envisioned the men and wives cleaning their nails and washing behind the kid’s ears for the Saturday night supper and dance.

Where have all the good people gone? I think they are still here.

If you have trouble finding them, put down the phone, lay off the rants, turn off the television, and become one of them. If you need to find an example of such goodness, check your local Grange Hall.

Keep your hands to yourself, leave other people’s things alone, and be kind to one another.

We will be here.”

TC


Webmaster Note: “TC” maintains a Facebook Page for the Bangor Maine Police Department with that has “gone viral” and has thousands of followers around the country. You can read TC’s original post on Facebook.

Sep 252017
 

We’re posting this link with thanks to the California State Grange for sharing… it’s a digitized recording from 1907 entitled, “Uncle Josh Joins the Grangers.” Uncle Josh sure has an interesting experience… There’s a good chance this will have you chuckling!

Sep 182017
 

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Sometimes it feels like the planets align. I recently had a most interesting conversation with an adult student regarding school rules. I explained that as a substitute teacher, I of course support school rules, but my emphasis is on values. My bias is that focusing on values is energy efficient and diminishes the need for acting like a policeman and judge, making sure the kids are following all the rules.

Then, when I sat down to write this column, I realized I was truly pressed for time. I considered offering a couple of quotes about traditions and simply encouraging readers to think—really think—about some of our Grange traditions. I thought it would faster. I should have known better. Several of those quotes set my mind to work.

Perhaps because of my conversation less than twenty-four hours prior, this caught my eye:

… traditions and norms aren’t rules…There’s a difference between a tradition and a law.” (Rick Santelli)

I find myself really thinking about that, particularly as it might apply to the Grange. I find myself wondering if we perhaps are often guilty of confusing tradition with law and rules. I have sat through some painful debates over things like the correct way to turn a corner when doing “floorwork.” When we start using words and phrases like “You have to do it this way…” we are likely making traditions into rules. When a new member walks out of a meeting never to return after he is told he must do something relative to our traditions and rituals, we must plead guilty to thinking traditions are laws.

There is much value to tradition and ritual (those, by the way, might be different) but we should own them; they should not own us.

…traditions counter alienation and confusion. They help us define who we are; they provide something steady, reliable and safe in a confusing world.” (Susan Lieberman)

I don’t expect much argument when I suggest that our current state of society has us longing for some things we can depend on. Kids especially like structure and predictability. One of the challenges of every substitute teacher is consistency—the kids will scrutinize everything we do and quickly point out “That’s not the way we do it when Mrs. Regular Teacher is here!” as if I have committed an unpardonable sin. The younger they are, the less tolerant they are of change. They are simply demonstrating the great comfort found in tradition.

But there is simply no way I’ll get it all “right” and, more importantly, I want them to understand that I won’t be wrong—I’ll just be different.  Perhaps some of those differences will be fun and exciting!

I like to think they are learning to balance comfort with challenge. If we don’t develop that skill the world will become a very stressful place to live. Just consider how much the world has changed in your lifetime and how that is impacted your “traditions.” I’ll bet you’ve seen some changes in those traditions. That’s not a bad thing. It’s just different.

We often talk about valuing our tradition and rituals, but sometimes forget that our traditions should reflect our values. Hopefully, we don’t go to Gramma’s house every Thanksgiving just because it’s a tradition or rule. We go to Gramma’s house every Thanksgiving because we value family time together.

While it’s not exactly a straight line, from our values we develop traditions and, perhaps, rules. In my classroom, you will quickly learn that our top value is learning. When we understand and focus on that, the need for rules diminishes as we each become responsible for considering how what we do (and don’t do) supports that value.

So perhaps this month, we do not explore tradition. We instead explore our values individually as an organization. Are the most vibrant and exciting Granges the ones who are focused on guarding tradition—like the kids who yell, “That’s not the way we do it?!” Would you rather sit in a class where everybody is obsessed with not changing anything or a class where everybody is obsessed with learning?

 


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.

Sep 152017
 

A mug WB

Every year at this time, I go through a major cleanup of the website, starting with the Program Books and Information Page. One reason for starting there is that the Program Books and Information Page gets over twice the number of visits as any other page on the website. Our Granges want and need information. I encourage and remind state leaders (especially directors and committee chairs) to make certain the information there is current. As we move into a new Grange Year, it’s my hope that each section will have, at a minimum:

  • 2016-2017 Annual Report (due by September 28, 2017) – a summary of committee activities and accomplishments for the Grange that Grange Year.
  • 2017-2018 Information – obviously this will vary by committee but should include any contest information and resources for Subordinate and Pomona Granges, including a program book if appropriate.

I recently have had some interesting discussions with some colleagues in the field of education. A respected company involved in real estate education completed an “in-depth” study that showed (among many other things) over 60% of real estate educators say “decreasing attention spans” is a significant “challenge” for instructors. One colleague and I have concluded that data may be missing the boat.* (Stay with me because this is about communication.)

Look at that “fact.” It is really saying that there is something wrong with the students. When we dig below the obvious, here’s what my colleague and I think is actually happening. (I have the advantage of experience teaching five-year-olds as well as seniors.) Today’s adult students grew up learning very differently than previous generations. There is nothing “wrong” with them—they are just different. The real problem may be that instructors haven’t figured out how to adapt to their new learning habits and experience.

Well, ditto that when it comes to communication. I used to be a prolific letter writer. I now can count on one hand the number of letters I write every year. I am dealing with companies on the internet for whom I only have a phone number and email address; no readily apparent “snail mail” address.

But beyond that, I’m constantly learning that younger people are used to getting information differently—just like they are used to learning differently. There are a lot of people who no longer read newspapers and, as a result, there are many newspapers struggling to survive. Media moguls are increasingly turning to “sound bites” of information that can be digested in a relatively short period of time. When I coach people to prepare for interviews, I encourage them to think in “bites” that are only two or three sentences. I recently worked with some sixth graders at school who were being interviewed by a reporter. They were nervous, but I couldn’t help but notice when the reporter asked a question, they rarely rambled. The responded directly—sometimes bluntly—and succinctly. They have learned to communicate differently. (For example, a text message can only include 140 letters and spaces.) Conversely, I’ve watched reporters interview older folks for the same story. The reporter stops writing notes and I can tell he or she is thinking, “Will you please get to the point?”

As I work with the media, I find they are far more interested in the “hook” than a few years ago. While I don’t have hard data, it also seems to me that articles are generally shorter and tend to include less detail. The pattern is very parallel to what’s happening in the educational environment. People are learning differently; people are digesting information differently and people are communicating differently.

As I sometimes tell my adult learners when they react negatively to a concept, “You don’t have to like it, but you do have to learn and understand it.” I remember fondly picking up the two pound Sunday edition of the local newspaper and engaging in the ritual of a coffee and a leisurely read, sorting sections while nibbling on toast. I can’t, however, remember the last time I did that. I haven’t given up the coffee and toast, but I’m now reading the news on my iPad and completing the process in a lot less time.

As newspapers, educators and other communicators are learning “resistance is futile.” We need to adapt if we expect to be viable in the world as it exists.


*For those with additional interest, Stop Teaching Me is an article I wrote on the topic of how today’s learners differ and what it means to real estate educators.

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Sep 142017
 

Several months ago, a “little birdie” sent me a news tip and a copy of a poem written by Wes Ryder of Danville Junction Grange along with the explanation I might be able to use it on the website since it was about the Grange’s 150th Birthday. I read it and decided not to use it. (Wait for it!)

Instead I forwarded it to National Grange for further consideration. Now we need a Grange Cheer for Wes. His poem is featured as a full page of the current issue (Fall 2017) of “Good Day,” the magazine of the National Grange. This issue is hitting mailboxes all over the country as we speak.

When your copy arrives, tear open the plastic cover and turn immediately to page 20 to enjoy Wes’s ability to turn a phrase and rhyme a word. Then congratulate him by commenting on this post. As a writer and publisher, I can attest to the fact that getting poetry published in a National publication is not an easy achievement. Many try, few succeed. Congratulations, Wes–you’re part of a very elite group and our poet laureate!


To comment and congratulate Wes, click the link in the upper right corner of the post. If possible, shake his hand in person! And remember, we love contributions from local Grangers and Granges.

Email the Maine State Grange Webmaster

Aug 232017
 

This “spot on” commercial has aired on PBS… great explanation of what the Grange has been and is about!