Aug 162017
 

Highland Lake Grange celebrated the 150th Birthday of National Grange with an open house August 13, 2017. Over 25 neighbors joined current and former Grangers to enjoy an afternoon of food, door prizes, birthday cake, tours of the Grange and a local trivia game “Duck Pond Jeopardy” with host “Monty Grange Hall.” Pennies were collected for House in the Woods and several guests left with membership applications….two applications were turned in!

Read the local media’s coverage of this event!

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Aug 152017
 

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Seth Godin recently wrote that it is not so much science and DNA that determines who or what we become, but culture does. He notes that our DNA is basically the same as a Cro-Magnon’s and, “The reason you don’t act the way they did is completely the result of culture, not genes.” It’s an interesting thought, yes? It becomes even more interesting when we consider the relationship of culture and tradition. It becomes powerful when we realize we may not be able to change our DNA, but we can change our culture.

Our recent vacation to Canada included a significant amount of drive time enabling us to consider what we were seeing and experiencing. One of our goals for the trip was to experience as much Celtic Music as was practical. We accomplished that by attending a number of Ceilidhs—the one Gaelic word we mastered during our stay. It’s pronounced “Kay-lee” and we were truly amazed by what seemed an endless number of possible ones to attend. Wikipedia defines a Ceilidh as “a traditional Scottish or Irish social gathering. In its most basic form, it simply means a social visit. In contemporary usage, it usually involves playing Gaelic folk music and dancing, either at a house party or a larger concert at a social hall or other community gathering place.” We found that the best Ceilidhs including some story telling and jokes.

These Ceilidhs come in all sizes and shapes with enough diversity to keep one’s interest for a long time. They are held in various venues including restaurants, pubs, barns, and even street corners. Nova Scotia is also dotted with Parish Halls that might be best described as usually small “community centers.” But “center” is certainly relative. We were warned that one of the best Ceilidhs in the area is almost impossible to find. The best way for a non-local to go is to attend an earlier Ceilidh at a local restaurant, then follow the crowd when they leave and head towards Glencoe.

We couldn’t help making some comparisons to Grange Halls in the United States—at least the Grange Halls of days past where “social gatherings” included suppers, music, and dancing. Their purposes actually are historically quite similar.

I came to the conclusion our Granges should consider having some events resembling Ceilidhs while attending one at a small restaurant called “The Red Shoe.” I feared it would be a tourist trap. The line outside the door reinforced my fears but in short order I found myself having fun, visiting with other people in line. We could hear the music. We could smell the food. The anticipation was almost over-powering. Inside, it got even better. It might be a stretch to suggest that we were “one big happy family” but we were a community immersed in a culture and tradition.

When the lead musician asked each table to tell where they were from it was apparent we were a global community with more folks coming from far than near. We were sitting at a table with a couple from Montreal, but at the table next to us were some “locals” with a toddler who could barely walk, but when the music played, he did his best to “step dance.”

The words rang true. “we act the way we do as a result of culture.” While I haven’t had a DNA test, I’m reasonably certain there’s not much Irish or Scottish blood in my heritage. But that night it felt like there was! Just about everyone’s toes were tapping—there was much laughter and shouted conversation. (Two of the pub rules are “Don’t ask for the wifi password,” and “Drink lots of beer.”) But it’s not just the music and it’s certainly not just the beer—several of the Ceilidhs we attended served only tea and biscuits. It’s simply hard not to enjoy the Celtic Way of Life when you are sitting at a Ceilidh.

So there might be a question in all this for us. Remember: we can’t change our DNA, but we can change our culture. What is the Grange Way of Life? Why aren’t we dancing (literally and figuratively) more? Shouldn’t we at least be tapping our toes? It should be hard not to enjoy the Grange Way of Life when you’re sitting in a Grange Hall.


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.

Aug 152017
 

A mug WB

I recently encountered two of my little friends from school at the supermarket. They said they were having a great summer but assured me they are ready to return to school. I did not admit I am not so much so… this has been an incredibly short summer! We recently returned from an extended vacation to Canada and I find myself feeling that there is way too much to do before the season’s change. That includes back to school, certainly, but “Grange-wise” we are also in transition with a new Grange year starting soon. That means it’s time to look back at the previous year’s accomplishments and write an annual director’s report. And it means looking ahead to next year and thinking about priorities and objectives for the Communication Department.

The mission doesn’t change—my intention has always been to support Pomona and local Granges with information (communication) that will help you grow your Granges in the ways you deem best. That growth certainly means membership, but it also means programming and the way you “operate” your Grange.

I would dearly love some input from Granges and Grangers—how can I best serve you as Communications Director? What do you like about the website? What would you like see more of…? My current thinking is that I’d like to expand two areas.

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 have actually decided to send representatives to other Granges who are reporting success to see first hand “how they are doing it.” That’s pretty cool and it really makes sense. So 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. As the old saying goes, “Talk is cheap.” And as I have often said, “It really is easier to make news than it is to write press releases.”

A second priority I am considering is expanding the “Resources for Grangers” feature of the website. While we don’t want to “clutter” the site, the goal 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. Share them! 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.)

In a similar way, you can help with “Resources for Grangers.” If you come across something that you think could be helpful, just submit it! I could be something as simple as a website link. Or it could be an article (I’ll handle the copyright issues) you found beneficial. With our diversity as an organization, there are lots of opportunities! Lecturers–if you conducted a particularly good Lecturer’s Program, share it! Community Service Chairs–if you found a particularly good cause or initiative, pass it on. I could go through the entire list. For example, I recently found a simple checking account program that I am testing and will report on soon—treasurers might be interested! Given the number of Granges and Grangers we have, we have lots of potential for helping each other! I’ll do my best to make that happen!

Another project under consideration is a major revision of the “Communications Handbook.” Some changes are required based on changes made to the website, but it may also be time for a major review and overhaul. If you have some ideas regarding what would be helpful in the handbook, please let me know. I’d like to have it ready for distribution at State Session. I also hope to have a “table” at State Session on Thursday and Friday where you can stop by and chat, subscribe to the website, get help with how to use the website, etc. But you don’t have to wait until then! My preferred method of contact is email, but you can also call or write—just remember that I am still working a “day job,” teaching courses and substituting at school so those methods may be a little slower.

We had some great experiences during our Canadian Vacation. I was impressed by the fact that we were not often asked, “May I help you?” Well, I was really impressed by the fact that most of the people we encountered were genuinely interested in us and knew how to communicate that. There was no doubt they wanted to help us. When I had a semi-technical difficulty with tickets to a special event, I decided to simply appear at the location in person (a performance center on a small college campus). As I stumbled about looking dazed, I was asked: “How can I help you!” My explanation brought up a pointed finger with the explanation “There’s our summer student who can help you with just about anything.” During our conversation, he asked a ton of questions about things like: where I was from, how I was enjoying the area, etc. Yes, he solved my problem quickly and efficiently, but he also made it clear that he was interested, genuinely interested in not only getting me my tickets by making sure I was enjoying my visit to the area. I ended up with a great dinner recommendation… when I thanked him before the performance and told him how great the entertainment at the restauranthe’d recommended was, he realized I was talking about his cousin. Small world, isn’t it.

Now there’s a resource for us as Grangers—a clear demonstration that our Grange world needs to be about being genuinely interested—in each other for sure, but also in others. When we are tempted to whine that folks aren’t interested in the Grange, that might be a good time to ask ourselves how interested we are in those people.

How may I help you? Please share your thoughts and ideas for how the Communications Department can serve and help you.

Email the Maine State Grange Webmaster

Subscribe to Maine State Grange Website!

 

 

 

Jul 182017
 

In honor of the Grange’s 150th birthday, the National Grange is starting the Grange Legacy Family Recognition program to honor those families who have five or more generations involved as Grange members.

“We give recognition to individuals who have been a Grange member for 25, 50, 75, 80, and even 90 years, and we want to recognize families and encourage the next generation to keep up with that and keep that legacy going,” said Huber.

Printable applications for recognition are available to be printed and mailed to National Grange, or an online application is also available. Applications should be mailed to the National Grange office. Anyone can nominate a family, including family members themselves, but they must include information as to whom of the family was a member in what Grange with clear five-generation or more lineage.

The first honorees will be recognized at National Convention in Spokane, Washington in November. The family will receive a certificate, and each family member can receive a copy upon request.

Webmaster note: The printable application is also now available on the Maine State Grange Website, Program Books and Information Tab.

Jul 162017
 

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By Walter Boomsma

“…The springing seed teaches us to increase in goodness, and the growing trees to aspire after higher and broader knowledge.” These are words spoken by the Chaplain during the celebration and instruction of the Second Degree.

Later in the degree, the master explains, “There is no object in which, to appearance, life and death border so closely together as in the grains of seed buried in the earth; but when life seems extinct a fuller and richer existence begins anew.” Near the close of this degree, the master reminds us that “The salutation of this degree ‘places faith in God and nurtures Hope.’”

Grange ritual and teachings take great advantage of the lessons of nature and those lessons are many. “The tools used by us in this degree are the hoe and the pruning knife. The hoe, with which we cut up weeds and stir the soil, is emblematic of that cultivation of the mind which destroys error and keeps our thoughts quickened and ready to receive new facts as they appear, thus promoting the growth of knowledge and wisdom.”

“The pruning knife, used to remove useless and injurious growths from our trees, plants and vines, should remind you to prune idle thoughts and sinful suggestions… Bear in mind that moral and metal worth rank before worldly wealth or honors…”

I wish I could remember where I recently read the observation that “in order to become a butterfly, you have to be willing to give up being a caterpillar.” The words are not exactly Grange teaching, but the thought surely is. “When life seems extinct a fuller and richer existence begins anew.”

If you have some remaining seeds from planting your garden (the second degree uses corn) I’d encourage you to find one and hold it in your palm and hear the master’s words, “Behold these inanimate kernels of corn! But the germ has life—the future plant is there…” In a workshop I’ve presented, I point out that all of the life potential and a complete set of instructions to create it are within that small seed. That’s H-O-P-E and a powerful lesson nature teaches.

The lesson is certainly about individual potential, but I think it can apply to our Granges which, after all, are a collection of individuals. If each of us has that much promise and potential, does not our Grange? When we consider our heritage, our principles, and our teachings… do we not have within us the potential for a “fuller and richer existence…” are not all the instructions there that will allow us to grow into something wonderful? Is our order placing faith in God and nurturing hope? Are we collectively increasing in goodness and aspiring after higher and broader knowledge?

I wonder what a caterpillar thinks—or for that matter, if it does. Does it know what its future is going to be? Nature clearly has programmed it to wrap itself up in a mummy-like state without questioning whether or not it’s a good idea. The caterpillar doesn’t have to decide to give up its existence and become a butterfly. That’s a grand plan because if caterpillars were like people, the situation would be a lot different. Many caterpillars would be quite content to remain caterpillars. Some would fear becoming a butterfly and needing to fly. They would be quite content to crawl about munching leaves. But some would look forward to the adventure and the freedom that comes with flying. They would be willing to go through the metamorphosis required. Those who remain caterpillars would cling to their existence and perhaps even complain that there aren’t enough caterpillars left because everyone is too busy being a butterfly.

The Grange way of life, like nature, is meant to be filled with hope, promise, and potential. We just have to decide to give up being caterpillars and commit to becoming a butterfly—to becoming something that is different and beautiful. The challenge we face is accepting that who and what we are may not be who and what we become. But let us let nature remind us that while the butterfly is found in the caterpillar, it is equally true that the caterpillar is found in the butterfly. Nature does not resist change, it depends on it, understanding that a seed is not meant to stay a seed and a caterpillar is not meant to remain a caterpillar. Life is about becoming and when we think things are dying what is really  happening is. “a fuller and richer existence begins anew.”

 


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.

Jul 152017
 


The July Issue of the National Grange Newsletter is now available. This issue is jam-packed with information and articles like:

  • Let Your Voice be the Reason for Change
  • Three More Interns Join National Office in July
  • Fun 150th Birthday T’s Are Here
  • Donate So They Get Pie’d
  • Recognition Program Unveiled for Legacy Grange Families
  • Online Membership Database, A Step Towards Better Communication
  • Promo Kit on Sale for Summer Fairs
  • Great American Quilt & Handicraft Expo
  • Seeking to Promote Your Sesquicentennial Items
  • Lecturer’s Contest Soon to Close
  • Youth: Learning to Serve
  • Junior Ambassador an Asset
  • Healthcare: Where Are We Now?
  • 2017 Four-Minute-Movie-Contest

Read the July Issue of The Patrons Chain

 

Jul 122017
 

A mug WBBy Walter Boomsma,
Communications Director

I hope you didn’t miss a recent post on the website. Rod Hamel, secretary of East Sangerville Grange #177 described the round-robin weeding program they’ve started, referring to participants as “the fightin’ 177th.” Not only is it a great program, I particularly enjoyed the image of “the fightin’ 177th” battling weeds.

While we might not want to advertise and promote our Grange as a fighting Grange (at least without some explanation), I have often wished more Granges would adopt a nickname or slogan that would communicate what their Grange is all about. There are some resources on the Internet that claim to help with this, but why not make it a project (lecturer’s program?) and have some fun with it? It might take some time—don’t rush into a decision. Just remember to keep the slogan simple. Funny is great as long as it doesn’t cause confusion. You’ll want to think about your Grange’s primary purpose or interest. Focus on what makes you different. If possible, make your slogan timeless… businesses that have succeeded with this include Kellogg’s Frosted Flakes (They’re grrrrr-eat!) and Doublemint Gum (Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun). Wendy’s had a good run with “Where’s the beef?” but younger people likely do not remember it. Verizon’s “Can you hear me now?” seems less appropriate as cell phone technology has improved.

Slogans are best kept under nine or ten words. Where possible, a slogan should be part of your “branding” program, letting the world know what to expect from you. If you chew Doublemint Gum, you’ll double your pleasure. What will happen if you attend a meeting or program at “Anytown Grange?”

Some caution is in order before “piggybacking” on an existing slogan. For one thing, it’s a bit lazy. More importantly, we need to sensitive to intellectual property (copyright, trademark, etc.) laws. While it might be tempting, for example, to suggest your Grange Supper’s are “finger lickin’ good,” the folks at Kentucky Fried Chicken may not be pleased.

Brainstorm! Jot down as many ideas and phrases as you can… think about the features and benefits of being part of your Grange. What makes it special? Use a thesaurus or dictionary to explore words and word combinations. Alliterations are wonderful in slogans or mottos. (An alliteration is the same letter or sound at the start of closely connected words—Best Buy, Life Lock are examples of names using alliteration. So is “Communications Column!”) You may have noticed that I’ve been playing with “advocating for agriculture” in one of the banners I developed for the Bulletin and Website.

Companies developing slogans or mottos know the importance of “market testing” their ideas. When you’ve come up with a couple of ideas for your Grange, run them by some folks (Grangers and non-Grangers) for a reaction. (If you come up with several, I can set up a poll for you on the Maine State Grange website to see which people like the best.)

On a different note, I’ve asked Master Rick for a small table space at the Maine State Grange Convention. I’ll try to answer your questions (we’ll call it “semi-technical support”) and you’ll be able to subscribe to the website immediately! I’ll also have some resources for you to take back to your Grange. If you have some ideas for items that would be helpful, let me know and I’ll try to put them together! The Communications Department is here to serve you! (Hey, that sounds like something that could become a slogan… “serving Grangers and Granges…” or how about something like “giving Grangers and Grangers great…gossip? gear?” See how much fun this can be?!)

 

Jul 112017
 

by Amanda Brozana
National Grange Communications Director

National Grange is seeking help with creating a collection of cookbooks, especially those still on sale by state and local Granges, to use when finding recipes for Good Day! magazine.  If your state or local Grange has a copy of a cookbook that is still available for purchase, please contact me to find out if we already have a copy or to find out where to send a copy. We will also provide information on where interested parties can purchase the cookbook and for how much. We would love for Good Day! to help you sell your books, so take stock and let me know!

Contact Amanda  (communicationsatnationalgrangedotorg)  

Jul 102017
 

by Rod Hamel, Secretary
East Sangerville Grange #177

“Fightin’ 177th” working on some scallions in Guilford.

I’d like to provide a little update on what the “Fightin’ 177” has been up to lately.  Our Farmer Committee has banded together to create a round robin weeding party. On Sunday afternoons, a deserving farmer is selected and we descend on them to help catch up on some weeding. Our first stop was at Two Roads Farm in Sangerville where we helped Meg and Kyle get their snap peas in good shape and after about 3 1/2 hours we had a nice little tour to see their other crops, and meet the pigs, cows, ducks, and chickens. Last week had us at Helios Horsepower Farm in Guilford where Lizzie and Andrea set us upon the scallions. “Many hands make light work” proved true and we were through four big rows of scallions in two hours. Before we could move to the next task, we noticed Kyle from Two Roads and Ben from Shaw Road Farm both on their phones with some concerned discussion. It turned out that a Two Roads Farm escapee cow missing in the woods for a few weeks appeared in a Shaw Road Farm pasture a wreaking havoc on their fences and their grass-fed beef operation. We quickly decided to demobilize from Guilford and head to Sangerville for some cattle rustling. Our weeding party of nine people plus Ben’s dad proved a worthy adversary for the cow and after a mere 90 minutes and threats of creating some steak tartar, we had her safely eating some silage in a barn ready for transport home. We finished the evening with some burgers courtesy of Shaw Road Farm and promises to return to Helios Horsepower farm and give them their fair share of weeding. This week we will convene at Marr Pond Farm in Sangerville and see what Ryan and Courtney have in store for us! The program is really just getting started and is not just for small commercial farmers–we’re willing to help out homesteaders and woodlot owners. These weeding experiences have a side benefit because they allow our busy Grangers to get together for a bit of socializing and still get some farm work done!

Scoping out and getting started at Two Roads Farm in Sangerville after some “cattle rustling.”

Jun 172017
 

Webmaster’s note: This was “stolen” from Heather Retberg’s Facebook Page! 

At 10 am on Friday, Governor LePage signed LD 725 An Act to Recognize Local Control Regarding Food Systems.

The State of Maine has officially recognized food sovereignty.

Let us celebrate. This is a good day for our small farms, for our rural communities, for our town meetings, and democracy from the bottom up!

Congratulations to all of you who have worked so hard, so long and so steadfastly to bring this day to light.

Special thanks to Senator Jackson for sponsoring the bill and co-sponsors: Senators Langley and Miramant, and Representatives Dunphy and Martin.

A lion’s roar of thanks to Representative Craig Hickman for his fierce, principled tenacity, for his expert navigation and shepherding of LD 725, and for his unrelenting force that just wouldn’t give up.

Thank-you.