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!

 

 

 

Aug 142017
 

The installation season has arrived and most of us are getting ready to have our new officers installed and ready for another year. Thanks to the Installation teams that are planning their busy schedules.  Thank you to the Subordinate Granges and Pomonas who are having joint installations due to the small amount of Installation teams. It is always a fun time to meet with our Brothers and Sisters from different Granges who we sometimes do not see or meet with very often. Make the event a celebration of a new year, with new leadership and hope to build your Grange. Set new goals, starting off with short term goals then onto more long-term ones. Get excited. Masters, set up your committees and have planning meetings. Plan events for fundraising, community, etc. Work with non-members and other Granges. Be active.

Select a Committee Chair. Each Committee is expected to give a report at every business meeting. This is where all members know what is happening with your Committee. Each member should be respectful to each other as we all have different opinions and ideas.  Handle disagreements with tact and compromise; DO NOT make hasty judgments without facts. Work together.  So your idea wasn’t considered at this time (don’t sulk, stay away or threaten to quit); work with the current plan and try to make it work for the GOTO. That is our common denominator.

One member happened to ask a visiting State Officer “How come the State Master is not here helping our Grange get members?”  First, I do recruit members for all Granges, not individual ones. Upon meeting the public and non-members, I always talk about the Grange, what area they are from and recommend area Granges. Many inquiries go to the website. They are given names and contacts of area Granges. Second, it is up to you and your Grange members to recruit new members. It is not up to me or State Grange to provide you with members. What would we tell them? We can’t answer many questions about how your Grange operates. Every Grange is different. That is why there is supposed to be a membership committee in each Grange for that very purpose. If I did get you members, how would I know they would stay? Would you obligate them and do degree work? Would you accept them and make them feel welcome? Is the atmosphere at your Grange relaxed and inviting? Certainly, no new members would be recruited or suggested if your Grange is unstable, not active or having tensions within. Third, State Grange does provide resources and offer training on how to get new members.

Many Granges throughout the State of Maine are doing wonderful things. I have read about many on the website and in newspapers. I have attended many fun and eventful gatherings. Thanks to all of you for doing a great job!

We as Grangers need to be aware of our surroundings and changes happening all around. Those changes affect us also. There has been a rise in the amount of young farmers operating in Maine. Some Granges are identifying and working with them. These Granges are growing. Community awareness is important. What is happening in your community? Do you know? Find out how the Grange can be part of the community growth or assist with changes. Establish contacts with community leaders and communicate often. Why do we exist? This is a rhetorical question which we do not stop and think about as often as we should.

Our Northeast region is hosting National Grange in Stowe, Vermont in 2018 and all states within that region have certain duties and obligations in order to make the Session successful. One fundraising item is tee shirts (long and short sleeved) that are for sale. These tee shirts are a bright blue with the logo “Unique as a Snowflake” and come in various sizes. Prices are 10.00 (short sleeve) and 15.00 (long sleeve). They will also be available for sale at State Session. Sales of these items will help contribute to our share of the financial obligation to host.

On Sunday, October 8 beginning at 1 pm, Manchester Grange will be hosting a spectacular 150th Grange birthday party at their Hall with ALL Grange members throughout the State invited.  If there is anyone receiving their 50-year certificate this year, this may be of special interest to you. The highlights of the afternoon include presenting 50-year certificates, Maine humorist Gary Crocker, and a 150th birthday cake. I can envision how spectacular this could be having Masters or representatives of various Granges presenting the certificates to their own members. I have seen Mr. Crocker perform. He is very entertaining. Please mark your calendar. The schedule is as follows: 1-2pm, Lunch; 2 pm, Open to the Public; 2:15 pm, Entertainment – Maine Humorist Gary Crocker; 2:45-3 pm, Ceremony.

For more information or to RSVP, please contact Stephanie Daggett-Nichols at 207-623-3436. She has discussed the plans with me and it appears to be a well-planned event. Your presence will make it even better!!

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 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 132017
 

Secretary CubicleBy Sharon Morton, MSG Secretary

Summertime is upon us and we are busy with gardens, canning, fair exhibits and planning for the upcoming new Grange year.

Reminders:

  • 990Ns- Please disregard any notice you may receive from the IRS advising that your 990N has not been filed. I have just finished up filing for this year.
  • Quarterly Reports– I am receiving them daily and will now begin updating the membership records as well as the Roster Information. Please do not forget or neglect to send in the roster information. The only information I will be using this year will be what I receive from you so if you have not received a copy of this form, please contact me here at headquarters and I will see that you receive one.
  • Donations- I am receiving donations for the Kelley Farm and as stated in a previous Bulletin I requested that donations to the Kelley Farm should be mailed directly to: National Grange, 1616 H Street, Washington DC 20006 with checks made payable to the Grange Foundation earmarked “Kelley Farm Fund” and donations to the CWA Committee should be sent to Karen Flagg whose address is 3 Jeanie Drive, Leeds ME. So please make sure your committee chairperson realizes they should be mailing donations to the correct place as indicated in the request letter. Donations for the Junior, Youth, and Agriculture Departments need to be mailed to State Grange Headquarters as they have been in the past.
  • Resolutions– Due at State Grange Headquarters by August 15, 2017. Don’t miss the deadline!

Summer is the time to get ready for State Session in October. The Sessions are open to every Grange member. You can’t vote unless you are a delegate but you can witness the activities that are there.

Until next time have a safe and productive “Grange” summer.

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 Rick Grotton, State Master

Thank you to those Granges who sent the list of their newly elected officers with their June quarterly reports. If you haven’t please include the list of your newly elected members, the phone numbers, addresses and emails of the Master, Lecturer, Secretary and CWA Chair and the PHYSICAL address of your Grange with the June 30 quarterly report. If your meeting dates have changed, please include new date and time.

Remember that the deadline for resolutions is August 15. This gives us enough time to print them out and send them to each Grange for their perusal.

Reminder: There seem to be quite a few members who have email addresses but are not subscribed to the website. Some seem unaware that it exists. Please alert members of your Grange or Pomona how to subscribe (this could be a lecturer’s program) so that they will receive a wealth of information of what is happening in Granges throughout the State. Subscribers will have then received all the information by email which is also the same information in the bulletin. The website information is effective and excellent communication for all members.

It is that time of year as the fair season has started. Many Granges are preparing their exhibits for the Agricultural Fairs. The Ag Fairs are screaming for more Grange exhibits, Good luck to all Granges who exhibit at any Agricultural Fair. It is a great way for all members to contribute their crafts and talents; whether it be painting, canning, baking, knitting, garden goodies, crocheting, etc. It is always a pleasure to check out the various Grange exhibits. They all make me proud. I am thankful to all involved in order to have such wonderful displays that show how proud we are of the Grange and what we stand for. Each exhibit has its own ambiance; it tells a story of its creators. Seriously, you can feel the good energy that radiates from each if you focus and pay attention.  If your Grange does not exhibit and would like more information, please step forward. Yes, it takes effort however, make it fun, make it entertaining, make it with a team effort. Be proud of your Grange, show it off to the public; free publicity, a chance for making money (and a first place ribbon), however, the biggest gain is that we work together for a common cause. When we work together, we can accomplish anything. Any member can contribute to their Grange exhibit. Being busy year-round preparing for the next year’s fair is the norm. Ask those who have been involved in planning, preparing, setting up and tearing down exhibits. The rewards are great!!

If you are looking for an installation team for September, do it now since the three listed teams in the website (Vicki Huff, Christine Hebert, and Rolf Staples) already have busy schedules. The other options are to have all Granges in your Pomona have installations together or to ask another Grange(s) to be installed with them.

State Grange session will be here fast. Make sure you send a delegate from your Grange to attend this important session. This is an election year also, so come and enjoy meeting new friends and reacquainting with others.  Should your Master need a second delegate or if your Master is not attending, please volunteer for this great mission. Speaking from experience, should you have never attended State Grange, it certainly would be different than you would ever expect. You do NOT have to be a Sixth Degree member to attend, either as a delegate or a spectator. I am looking forward to seeing you there!

 

Jun 302017
 

Have you completed and returned our Sesquicentennial Membership Census?

The census – which should take less than two minutes to complete – helps us understand our membership and your needs, best prepare products and services for members and better represent them in our advocacy.
Please complete this (only once per member). Feel free to gather information from your Grange friends who are not online and complete one for each of them with their details. We would love all members to complete these (even those who don’t often attend meetings or events) as soon as possible, but definitely before the 151st Annual National Grange Convention in November.

Complete the census here: https://form.jotformpro.com/71773113062954


And while you’re filling things out, don’t forget to subscribe to the Maine State Grange Website!

Jun 172017
 

by Denise Whitmore, Secretary

Androscoggin Grange #8 held it’s elections last night, 6/16/17, and it when very well. We also got a lot of business done, but to me, the best thing was to see these four people honored for 25 years of service to the Grange. From left to right we have presenting certificates protemp Assistant Steward Maynard Chapman and Master Byron Boyington. Receiving 25-year certificates are LAS Janice Brewer, Mert Buzzell, newly elected lecturer, Carol Buzzell and Ceres Joanne Boyington. We would like to thank chief deputy Maynard Chapman and Gladys Chapman for coming to our rescue last night and many times before. The meeting may have lasted two hours but it was a very happy and productive meeting. Congratulations to our honored 25-year members and our newly elected officers.

Jun 162017
 

A mug WBBy Walter Boomsma,
Communications Director

When I sit down to write this column every month, I usually scan back over a previous couple of months to review what I’ve written and posted. (Hint: if you go to the website and type “Communications” in the search box in the upper right corner, you can do the same!) This time I was a bit surprised at the number of posts my search produced. There have been a lot of “Communication Bullets” over the past couple of months.

The reason for those is there’s been a lot happening that deserves communicating! For example, in May we set a record for the number of visitors to our website in one day. That’s exciting stuff! There’s also been a lot of “stuff” added to the site and I wanted to make sure you knew about those resources. As information arrives, I also update the Conferences Page with information and, when I have it, conference packages, applications, etc. When we set the visitor record, I was not surprised to discover that the “Program Books and Information” page is the most visited. Grangers are finding and using the information there!

My goal for the communications department of one has always been to serve the Subordinate and Pomona Granges by communicating information that’s interesting and useful. I was going to include “exciting,” but let’s face it—not everything we do is exciting and fun. (We can, however, try to make it so.)

A recent change that IS exciting was a long time coming. We’ve always given you the opportunity to subscribe to the website—you could get an email when posts are made. Unfortunately, we lost control of that subscription service and, while it still works, we don’t know who our subscribers are and can’t control the process. So I have been looking for a process that is “user-friendly,” compliant with email regulations, and allowed us to do more than the old system. Subscriptions to the site are now being handled through a service provided by MailChimp. And, by the way, the service is costing the Grange nothing.

Initial reports are that it’s working great! There has been some confusion regarding the new versus old. One of the steps I’ve taken to help is to prepare a one-page, illustrated “how to” sheet (available on the website, of course!). If you were subscribed to the “old” system you may want to review it, because you’ll want to “unsubscribe” from the old system so you don’t get two emails every day. (One from the old system and one from the new system.) Because I do not have access to the old system, I cannot do this for you nor can I shut it down.

If you are tempted to just stay on the old system, there are at least two reasons you may not want to do that:

  1. I truly have no idea how long the old system will be maintained and continue to work.
  2. The new system is far more manageable and will allow us some future opportunities—including the fact that I will be able to help those having difficulty with their subscription.

Let me reassure you that you still have control of what happens and can unsubscribe at any time. Also, our privacy policy prevents us from sharing, selling, or renting your information.

If you are currently not subscribed, simply go to the website and click the “Sign me up” link. It’s a two-step process—don’t forget the second step! After you’ve filled out the short form and submitted, you’ll receive an email verifying that you want to subscribe. You’ll need to click the link in that email. (This is for your protection—it means someone else can’t sign you up for email you don’t want!)

As with anything related to the website, bulletin, or communications in general, if you have any questions, ideas, or concerns, I want to hear from you!