May 062017

By Walter Boomsma,
MSG Communications Director

Check out this feature article in the Bangor Daily News Homestead Supplement! Granges featured in the article include Halcyon in Blue Hill, Fairview in Smithfield, and Valley in Guilford. I might be a little biased, but I think it is one of the most positive and well-documented articles we’ve seen recently. How cool is it to see a headline announcing that Maine Granges are making a comeback?

Grangers in the BDN coverage area may want to pick up a copy of the weekend edition, including the Homestead Edition. You can also read the entire article online. Feel free to add a comment to the article, letting folks know what your Grange is doing–several Grangers have already done that! (Make sure to mention the name of your Grange and community!)


May 042017

This year at State Session (October 19-21, 2017) the kitchen will be run by the Maine State Grange. State Pomona Laurie McBurnie will be coordinating this undertaking, but she needs assistance from other Grangers.

On Thursday and Friday, the kitchen will be open for business as usual: early morning (coffee, beverages, a limited choice of breakfast items); lunch time (sandwiches, hot meal, beverages, desserts); breaks (beverages, snacks, etc.). On Saturday the kitchen will be officially open only in the early morning.

People to coordinate the various tasks (such as serving lunch, making sandwiches) have been lined up, but they can’t do it alone. Assistance is needed at the following times: early morning (coffee, set-up, etc., two people), sandwich-making (early morning, three to four people), serving lunch (five to six people), and breaks (one to three people). If you are able to help only one day, that is fine.

Grangers have always been supportive of the kitchen with their food and beverage donations. Cookies and bars for dessert as well as bottled water and soda would be much appreciated. Other items needed have not yet been sorted out, but if you would like to donate something else, please say so.

Please contact Laurie McBurnie and let her know if you are available to help in the kitchen (what you want to do and when you are available) or if you would like to donate items for the kitchen. Knowing ahead of time will help prevent duplication. Please email Laurie, LMCB293atgmaildotcom  (LMCB293atgmaildotcom)  , or call her at 563-5347 (leave a message).

Apr 182017

Heather Retberg,
Ag Ed Committee Director

Click to view larger image.

Even though you haven’t heard much about us yet, I’d thought I’d offer some examples of the kind of programming Granges can offer to promote Agricultural Education. This upcoming event might be of interest to share outside of our home community as an example of what our newly formed committee might be interested in at the state level. This event makes me so happy to host as we aren’t even organizing it, but a few of the local garden clubs reached out to us (I think through one of our member’s “cross-pollinating”) to see if we’d like to be involved.  YES!

We’re also having our last farmer-homesteader potluck of the season on the April 22 and will have a short talk about our newly built CoolBot that we’ve constructed to add another component to our community food security network and augment our shared-use kitchen space with food storage!!

All you need to create a DIY walk-in cooler is a well-insulated room, a CoolBot, and a standard window or mini-split air conditioner with digital controls. The CoolBot works with several major brands of air conditioners. One source of additional information is

Farmer-Homesteader Potluck w/CoolBot Talk at Halcyon Grange

April 22, 2017  Talk at 5:00 p.m.  Supper at 5:30 p.m.

Our last farmer-homesteader potluck of winter is coming up this weekend.  If you raise food for your community, for your family, for friends & neighbors, OR…if you just like to be around people who grow food, you’re invited to join us at Halcyon Grange for a potluck.  Bring a dish to share, a food growing tip, your best farm story, planting tips, or tales of animal husbandry.  We’re breaking bread and nourishing each other before we run headlong into another growing season.  At this month’s potluck, we’ll be showcasing our new CoolBot completed with a grant from Maine Farmland Trust’s Community Food Grant.  We’ll share how we did it, pass along what we learned and head down cellar to have a look at the finished space for food storage.  Family friendly event.  All welcome.  Free.

Halcyon Grange is located at 1157 Pleasant St., North Blue Hill, Maine

Apr 112017

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

Sallie Wilder Master, Somerset Grange #18

Mar 192017

Betsy Huber, National Grange Master

Wednesday, April 5, 2017
Master Betsy will arrive from Massachusetts.

  • Event: Legislative Luncheon at 12:00 p.m. at Maine State Grange Headquarters. Legislators are invited.
  • Event: Androscoggin Pomona Meeting.  There will be a 6:30 p.m. $5.00 supper with a 7:30 p.m. meeting.  Members of Oxford and Cumberland Pomona have been invited to attend as well.  The meeting will be held at Danville Junction Grange.

Thursday, April 6, 2017
Master Betsy will travel north and be available for media interviews in the Bangor area.

  • Event: Piscataquis Pomona Potluck Supper at 6:00 p.m. and Meeting at 7:00 p.m. Meeting is being hosted by Valley Grange, 172 Guilford Center Road, Guilford. The public is invited. Click for more information about this event.

Friday, April 7, 2017
Master Betsy will be available for media interviews in the Augusta area.

  • Event: Potluck supper will be held at 5:00 p.m. at Maine State Grange Headquarters. A Grange “town hall forum” will be held from 6:00 p.m. until 9:00 p.m. and include questions and answers as well as discussion of ideas and challenges facing the Grange at the national and local levels. The public is invited.

Saturday, April 8, 2017
Master Betsy spends the day at Maine State Grange Headquarters

  • Event: Morning reception from 9:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. at Maine State Grange Headquarters. Officers, Deputies, and Directors are invited.
  • Event: Junior Grange sponsored contests from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.
  • Event: Lincoln Pomona Potluck Supper at 6:30 p.m. and Meeting at 7:30 p.m. Meeting is being hosted by Meenahga Grange, 860 Main Street, Waldoboro. The public is invited.

Maine State Grange Headquarters is located at
146 State Street
Augusta, Maine

Media Inquiries should be directed to

Walter Boomsma  (webmasteratmainestategrangedotorg)  , Maine State Grange Communications Director
207 343-1842

Amanda Leigh Brozana  (communicationsatnationalgrangedotorg)  , National Grange Communications Director
(202) 628-3507 • ext 102

Feb 082017

Communication Bullets are short but important news!

We’ve been asked to announce:

Because of the expected nor’easter, Enterprise Grange #48, 15 Alexander Reed Road, Richmond, ME is postponing our February meeting which is scheduled for 2/9/17. According to our by-laws, if we have to cancel, then we meet the following Thursday, same time. We will meet Feb. 16, 2017, with supper at 6:00 p.m. and meeting at 7:00 p.m. We’ve had a change of officers and will have an Installation of our new officers. Guests are welcome!! FMI – Marilyn Stinson 737-2611 or beedlehill@roadrunner or check us out on Facebook!

Note that we’ve added a new In Search of… regarding Pittston Grange #214… see if you can help

Thanks to Rolf Staples for noticing we had the wrong name for one Grange Hall for sale! It’s fixed!

We’ve also uploaded the VA Wish List for February 2017 to the Community Service Section of the Program Books and Information Page.

Congratulations to Fairview Grange #342–for partnering with local volunteers resulted in raising just about $4,000 on behalf of a deserving young family. That’s what “doers” are all about!

Dec 212016

by Rick Watson, Master, Fairview Grange #342

In this season of giving, I’d like to share some of what our little “Grange that Could” has been up to, starting with a fundraiser dinner on 10/30 for a local Smithfield resident who is fighting cancer. We heard of her plight and decided to see if we could ease some of the burden. Whether or not her family had insurance to help with her illness, there is still the matter of gas for the numerous treatment trips, a lunch for whoever is taking her, maybe a hot meal for the family while she is sidelined and so on. We decided on a donations-accepted dinner on her behalf. To our delight, and to the surprise of her family, we raised over $2500 in a couple hours. Our Grange purchased most of the food and our members rounded out the dinner, bread, dessert and so on. As an aside, we have been looking for some menu alternatives to round out our summer supper selection and took the opportunity to try a lasagna, salad, roll, dessert, beverage dinner. It was a “hit” and will likely become one of our offerings next summer. Easy to serve to a lot of people in short fashion and in line with the food cost for our other dinners. A win-win for all.

In planning for our Grange Christmas Party, we decided to bring food and paper goods for our local food cupboard. By the end of the night, we had a mountain (OK, a small mountain, but still a lot) of donations from our Grangers. Truly in the Christmas spirit, we also made goodie bags, 50 of them, for the veterans at the VA in Augusta. One of our members works there and she was the one who brought us the opportunity to make the veterans there feel comforted in the fact that someone cares about them. We brought snacks and sugar-free candy and made a big pile on a table and some sat and stuffed the bags while others in the hall that night sang Christmas carols. Truly a night to be cherished by all in attendance. As Master, I had sent out individual invites to all paid members detailing the plans for the night, with a suggestion to bring a guest, one who might be inspired by our citizenship, (and maybe somewhat selfishly,) as a membership drive. We always need (and TRULY welcome) new faces and ideas. I was delighted with the turnout. Our largest Christmas party in years.

Next for Fairview Grange is an opportunity to help a young family who is expecting baby Emma in February. Emma will need a LOT of medical help going forward. She is being born with a heart defect. There is a lot of positive energy behind this event and we feel confident in our ability to make a difference. A spaghetti supper will be held on January 28 from 4:00  p.m. until  7:00 pm in Smithfield at the Fairview Grange. For more info please contact “Faith” (Hmmn…how fitting is THAT?) at 441-6929 to donate, lend a hand etc. or Mindy at 248-2066. There will be Mary Kay and Tupperware sales and any sales will send a portion of the proceeds to baby Emma and family. YOU CAN HELP! (This event is listed on the MSG Website event calendar and you can download a flyer with details.) Please plan on attending if you can or contact one of the gals to donate if you can’t make it on the 28th.

Thanks for listening. Good luck with YOUR Grange. Brainstorm. Take responsible risks. You will probably be delighted with the results.

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Aug 142016

A mug WBBy Walter Boomsma,
Communications Director

We took an extra vacation this year! Don’t worry, I’m not going to write about that. But in the course of that second trip, we reconnected with an old friend at a dulcimer concert in New York. The concert was held in a perhaps unusual venue—a large church complex.

While waiting for the concert there was plenty of opportunity to explore. Given my interest in communications, I found myself enjoying the many different messages posted and on tables with clipboards. This was clearly an active place with a number of systems in place to both manage the complex and the many programs offered.

One of the messages I found particularly interesting was “What if we rethink Church?” The questions were too many to list here, but let me give you a taste. I’ve taken the liberty of changing “church” to “Grange.”

  • What if we rethink Grange—not in terms of what it is, but what it could be?
  • What if all our Granges were active vibrant places where people wanted to be?
  • What if Grange wasn’t just a place to go, but something we do?
  • What if we could offer the world a new vision that inspires faith, hope, charity and fidelity? (For those who may miss the subtlety, this question is based on the Grange Salutation.)

Those seem like big challenges—at least at first. But if we pay attention to our heritage we know that small seeds can yield large crops.

And it’s not a zero-sum game. Mary French, Director of the Dictionary Project wrote an interesting article in this summer’s Dictionary Project Newsletter, “iPads vs Books.” She makes a very convincing case for not abandoning the traditional paper and pencil and printed text. For us “older folk,” it’s comforting to hear the value of the tools we grew up with is still very real. But that doesn’t mean we have to abandon technology either. Mary’s article points out the importance of critical thinking. “What if” questions are part of that process.

During our road trip we drove by a nameless library in a small town in Vermont. The front lawn included some nice shade trees with Adirondack-style chairs that invited one to sit and read. A restaurant we visited was decorated with artwork done by local school students. They weren’t just taped to the wall, they were matted and framed giving the restaurant an “art gallery” feel. These are simple examples of rethinking. A library is more than a place to store books; a restaurant is more than a place to eat.

Returning to the church, I was particularly struck by an invitation to look at organization from the outside in, from the inside out, and upside down in order to develop “…a new understanding that opening our doors isn’t just about letting people in, but about us going out and making personal connections in the world around us.”

If you visit Janice and I at our home and are observant, you’ll perhaps think our welcome mat is backwards. Unless somebody has “fixed” it, I keep it placed so it says, “Welcome” as one is leaving. It’s a perhaps silly and subtle way of communicating that the world is a pretty cool place to be with lots to offer.


Let’s make some news, take some photos of it, and share it!”

Jul 102016

A mug WBBy Walter Boomsma,
Communications Director

It’s time for another “potpourri” of communications tips and information! I’m tempted to begin by saying, “The people of Maine are interested in us! Are we available?”

One of the calls I received this month was from a reporter frantically trying to reach a local Grange so he could take photographs for a story he was working on. We actually ended up on the phone for some time as he had many general questions about the Grange and clearly was interested in making some additional contacts.

Another call was from a radio show host. He wanted to record an interview for his show and when I asked “When?” his reply was “Right now!” Fortunately, my schedule permitted it and we had a nice visit. He asked some hard questions—he’d done his research on the Maine State Grange website and conducted a well-prepared interview.

Both of these incidents demonstrate several important truths. The first is that media opportunities are often spontaneous and fleeting. Very often we only get one chance to respond. A local reporter I work with emailed me asking for a “sound bite” regarding some local Grange news. Since I was traveling on vacation, I didn’t answer until late the next day. He thanked me for the reply but said he’d already finished and submitted the story in order to make a deadline. The good news is he’s planning a follow-up story so there will be another chance. The news business is fast-paced. Sometimes it can be hard to keep up!

A second truth is that information must be readily available for media representatives. Most often we are not the victims of “investigative reporting” that includes hard-driving questions. We usually get “softball questions”—questions that are intentionally easy to answer. In the Media Relations Workshop I teach, we brainstorm what sort of questions we might anticipate from a reporter covering a story. When a newsworthy event is planned, it can make sense to have a “press kit” available. (You can find examples in the Communications Handbook—available for downloading from the MSG website.)

But having information available can be even more basic than that. One reason I nag people to include a name and phone number when submitting events is the website often gets scanned by the media. If an event catches a reporter’s eye, he or she will want a straight-forward way to get more information. Make it easy!

If you do receive a media inquiry, please consider referring the reporter to me for additional information, particularly if he or she is interested in general background information or the story is not specific to a local Grange. It is discouraging to get a call from a reporter who is having difficulty getting someone to return his call or she has spent a lot of time trying to figure out who to contact. While I am obviously a volunteer and not working full-time for the Grange, I do try to answer email and return phone calls promptly. More importantly, I can “speak the language of the press” and often make the reporter’s job easier—I believe that’s an important aspect of my role as communications director. Rest assured, if the reporter is interested in your Grange or your Grange event, you will get the referral.

Turning to internal communication, I recently received a question regarding the proper communication to use at “open” meetings. This was actually addressed by National Grange in the 2013 Subordinate Grange Manual. It’s called an “Alternative Guide to Opening and Closing.”  Since most Granges are using the older hardcover manuals and do not have access to it, I’ve developed a short guide to what we’ve come to call “open meetings.” It is available for download from the website on the Program Books and Information Page in the Communications section. Those without computer access may certainly request a copy be snail-mailed. The primary difference is the omission of “taking up the word.”

And, at the risk of blatant self-promotion, it was particularly rewarding to learn recently that at least one lecturer has created a series of programs based on the “Exploring Traditions” column! I enjoy hearing that the information and resources I provide are useful. Keep those cards and letters coming in!


 “Let’s make some news, take some photos of it, and share it!”

Jul 092016

podcasting_400_clr_7261By Walter Boomsma, 
Communications Director

In a fun and interesting series of coincidences that started with a sign in front of a Grange Hall advertising a bean supper, I recently had the opportunity to visit with Richard S. Kazimer of Ronin Media. When he asked about doing an interview, I asked “When?” His answer was “Right now!” It’s a good thing it wasn’t television!  The program aired on Friday on 89.7 WMHB-FM so you probably missed it. But Richard was also gracious and provided an MP3 file for the website (that’s how he was able to contact me), so you can hear it by clicking on this little arrow to the left. Don’t forget to turn up the volume! (Click on the little speaker to the right and make sure your computer’s volume is turned on.

(If you have received this via email as a site subscriber it may be necessary to visit the site to listen.)