by Denise Whitmore, Secretary
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:
- I truly have no idea how long the old system will be maintained and continue to work.
- 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.
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!
By Walter Boomsma
After research and testing, we’re ready to roll out a new way for Grangers and friends to subscribe to the Maine State Grange Website. Here’s the why and how!
The subscription service we’ve been using (Feedburner by Google) has served us well but is not particularly user-friendly. More importantly, we have almost no access to the data—I truly have no idea how many subscribers we have and who they are!
Our new service is available through MailChimp. In addition to being very user-friendly, we gain some flexibility in how posts are sent–for example, you’ll now receive excerpts instead of complete posts. That’ll make your emails shorter and more manageable.
If you are not currently subscribed, this is very simple. Subscribing is a two-step process. First, you click this link (also found at the top center of the Maine State Grange website) to open a form asking for some basic data. When you click “Subscribe” an email will be sent to the email address you entered on the form. You must confirm your subscription by clicking the link in that email. That’s it!
If you are currently subscribed, please subscribe using the new system as described in the previous paragraph. Unless you want to continue to receive two emails, there is one additional step required. You’ll need to “unsubscribe” to the Feedburner service. This is easily accomplished by clicking the unsubscribe link at the bottom of any email you receive listing Google in the footer at the end of the email.
Optional Detailed Instructions
I’ve prepared a one-page document with illustrations that describes these steps in detail. You can access it with this direct link or by visiting the Program Books and Information Page. If you have questions, you can email the webmaster or comment on this post—chances are others will have the same question! (Click the comments button in the upper-right corner.)
Know also that once all the fundamentals are in place, we will continue to adjust and tweak the service. I hope you enjoy it and find it helpful.
Tim Wilson is seeking information and a photo of his great-great-grandfather, James A. Grover (1848-1932) who was for many years a member of Riverview Grange in Lisbon Falls.
Good things come slow… and with thanks to the Lisbon Historical and Mert Ricker, a photo has been found! But Tim is “lost” — the email address for him does not seem to be working. Tim, if you see this, please contact us… and, if anyone knows Tim, please let him know! (Understand that we’re dealing with a fairly common name–there’s a Granger named Tim Wilson in Bangor–this is not him!
Check the “In Search of…” Page to view all searches.
You’ll definitely want to read a comment made on the May Communications Column. (Subscribers do not get these–you’ll have to visit the site.) What an interesting outcome from the recent Bangor Daily News article regarding Granges that are making a comeback! By the way, website visitors should feel free to comment on any post–it’s really quite easy to do. Just look for the word “responses” in the upper right corner of the post (just below the headline) and click on it. Note that comments are moderated and will not appear immediately.
There have been several requests posted to the “In Search of” Page… please take a look and see if you can help these folks.
Also, the MSG Bulletin May 2017 has been uploaded to the site… you don’t have to wait for a printed copy!
Keep those cards and letters coming in!
Spring has arrived on the farm and in our Grange lives. New growth is everywhere from the budding trees to the planted seedlings.
The following Continuous Membership Certificates have been issued and will have been or are already presented to our members. Androscoggin Grange #8: Janice Brewer for 25 years; Joanne Boyington for 25 years; Carol Buzzell for 25 years and Merton Buzzell for 25 years; Danville Junction Grange #65: Beverly Lashua for 75 years; Mildred Brainerd for 70 years; Glenys Ryder for 65 years; Neil Peaco for 60 years; Gleason Sturtevant for 55 years; and Ken Brewer for 40 years; Norway Grange #45: Timothy Pike for 55 years; Willow Grange #366: Hazel Kleinschmidt for 70 years; Farmington Grange #12: Robert Smith for 50 years; Stephen Scharoun for 25 years; Marion Scharoun for 25 years; L. Herbert York for 65 years and Andrew Milliken for 55 years; Pioneer Grange 219: Joel Morse for 60 years; Margaret Morse for 60 years and Bruce Stimpson for 55 years and Jacksonville Grange #358: Nathan Pennell for 25 years.
If you are printing your Continuous Membership Certificate Application from the website you will note the change that National Grange is now charging shipping and handling using the chart below:
*Please use the following Shipping & Handling Chart
- Orders: Up to $10.00 = $4.00
- Orders: $10.0l – $19.99 = $5.00
- Orders: $20.00 – $49.99 = $7.00
- Orders: $50.00 – $74.99 = $9.00
- Orders: $75.00 – $99.99 = $10.00
- Orders: $100.00 – $124.99 = $12.00
- Orders: $125.00 – $249.99 = $15.00
- Orders: $250 and above = $20.00
Example: Three Golden Sheaf Certificates at $10.00 each = $30.00
One 75 Year Diamond Certificate & Folder at $10.00 = $10.00
Sub Total: $40.00
You will then use the chart and find the correct shipping and handling for your $40.00 order which is $7.00. You would then make your check payable to National Grange in the amount of $47.00 and mail your application form to me for processing. If you have the old form please feel free to use them but use the shipping and handling chart above to correctly pay for your certificates being issued from the National Grange. If you would like your certificate by a certain date please note that on the application form. I will advise National of your request.
Recording the minutes of your Grange is one of your most important duties. They should be exact, concise, detailed, yet comprehensive history of your records maintained in a permanent record book.
A membership record book of all members should be kept with the complete address, degree affiliations, dates, dues records and any other necessary information which should be kept available and up to date.
Grange Secretaries are constantly required to fill out all kinds of forms. It is imperative that all directions on each form be read and carefully understood before proceeding. Be sure all questions are properly answered in full, that names, addresses, including Zip Codes are correct and complete and all information legible.
“Let us not forget the precepts of our Order. Let us add dignity to labor and in our dealings with our fellow men, be honest, be just and fear not… The record of your Grange will be held as a memento of your labors long after the recording hand has crumbled into dust. Let them be exact that they may redound to your honor an exhibit a faithful history of the work of your Grange to all who come after us.”
Until next month!
Are you ready for some great news? Your Maine State Grange Website hit a new record in May – in terms of visits to the site, the best day ever (since October 2010) was May 6, 2017, when there were 257 site visits! This record day also means that as of this writing, May 2017 is the month with the highest daily average of site visits – 114 per day. Naturally, I could resist a quick look at what might have caused this. (My experience suggests that data often raises more questions than it answers.) So I took a look at which pages/posts were the most popular in the last thirty days. In descending order:
- Program Books and Information Page (forms, books, etc. organized by function)
- Our History (a short history of the Grange)
- 2017 Directory of Granges (a recently published directory/list of active Granges in Maine)
- Update on LD 725 and LD 835 (information provided by the Ag Education Committee regarding bills under consideration)
- Our Officers (a “who’s who” list of state officers)
- Joining the Grange (includes a link to a membership brochure and application)
- Bangor Daily News Article About Exciting Granges (article headline: Maine Granges Are Making a Comeback!)
- About (a general page with links to other pages)
- I’m seeking… (a page where people can post requests for information about Granges and Grangers)
- Conferences (a list of state and regional Grange conferences and meetings)
Since the best day record was set the same day the Bangor Daily News Article was posted, there might be a correlation. The tempting conclusion is that folks are hungry for good news about the Grange. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that other highly visited pages and posts are reference pages with officer, membership, and Grange location information.
How do they find it? Well, the data suggests that most of our “referrals” are coming from search engines. In other words, people are searching for information using Google and other search engines and the Maine State Grange website comes up in the results.
While it’s important to stay focused, one undeniable conclusion we can draw from this is that we attract people to the Maine State Grange Website by making information readily available. This is one of the reasons I’ve started the “Resources for Grangers” posts—obviously, those resources are not just for Grangers. They are also for people who should become Grangers!
I’ve recently become interested in a communication phenomena called the “echo effect.” An echo chamber is “a metaphorical description of a situation in which information, ideas, or beliefs are amplified or reinforced by communication and repetition inside a defined system.” In short, repeated messages sometimes take on a life of their own and get reinforced by nature of the fact they are heard often. Another term we can apply is “tunnel vision.” We become so subconsciously focused on something we are hearing constantly we only see what’s at the end of the tunnel.
That’s one reason I believe we need to stop analyzing and discussing why getting members is hard. I do not deny it is challenging. But I also know that the more we talk about how hard it is, the more firmly we will believe it can’t be done.
On May 6, 2017, at least 257 people were interested in the Grange: our programs, our beliefs, our halls, and our events. Did we give them enough information to at least maintain their interest?
After the Bangor Daily News article, one person emailed me and said that she and her husband plan to join the Grange when they retire. What do you think of that? I know several Grangers I told replied, “How old are they? Will I live long enough to see it?” I wish more people had just said, “Wow! That’s great!”
The vegetable garden is in and doing well, my herb garden looks great (to me, anyways) and the warm weather is finally here. This has been a busy time for all Grangers, especially with elections happening. If you have changed positions please help your successor to learn the duties of the office. New Treasurers and Secretaries need to know the correct procedures to do their duties. New Masters need to know what their duties are and how to run a meeting effectively. New Assistants need to learn the floor work and new Stewards to do the same and the procedures to announce distinguished or invited guests. The Deputy ‘s role is to help answer your questions and to have your Grange go through various floor work rituals. When your Deputy is present, use this time to bring any concerns, questions, or explanations. The Deputy is there to help you. They are the liaisons between the Subordinate Granges and myself. Most Granges run smoothly, however, issues do arise and need to be resolved. If your Grange cannot solve your issue or disagreement, contact your Deputy, who will contact me should the issue still exists. I will then visit or resolve the issue. This “chain of command” has been working well and a big thank you to all (including the Deputies) for making this successful.
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.
Secretaries, 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.
On Sunday, October 8 beginning at 1:00 p.m., 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. For more information, 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!!
Wishing you all a Happy July 4th!