Apr 152017
 

A mug WBBy Walter Boomsma,
Communications Director

During National Grange Master Betsy Huber’s visit, it was my distinct honor to facilitate the “town hall” discussion during the Piscataquis Pomona Meeting. There were nearly a dozen Granges represented and over thirty Grangers and guests. The conversations were spirited and encouraging throughout the entire evening starting with our supper. This was a rare opportunity for Grangers at all levels of the Order to communicate: National, State, Pomona, and local.

When the evening ended, one of the comments made was how helpful it was for so many different Granges to talk about their accomplishments and challenges. “We thought we were the only ones who…” While not all challenges were resolved, a sense of reassurance developed, in part because if we all have similar challenges, the odds of overcoming them increases. Chances are, someone solved that problem or challenge you are having. This became obvious as Granges reported their successes. The meeting truly was one of sharing with an eye towards solving problems and growing our Granges.

I later found myself thinking we had perhaps witnessed a meeting the way Pomona meetings are meant to be. While surely Pomona meetings were social events in the early days, I suspect those meetings including a lot of discussion—both formal and informal—on topics ranging from the best time to plant to what is working in your Grange.

While I’m admittedly biased by my position as communication director, I think the purpose of every meeting is communication in some way, shape, or form. A little thought and structure should go into why we are meeting and what we are communicating. Let me share two examples.

The Pomona Meeting includes a roll call of Granges that often means a brief report from those Granges attending. Many times these reports begin, “We are meeting regularly…” which I suppose is an accomplishment. (In some cases, it’s “We are trying to meet regularly…”) Why not make an effort to find at least one exciting thing about your Grange to report? Or, for that matter, why not report on a challenge your Grange is facing and ask your fellow Grangers for help and ideas? One of the points of Pomona Grange is communication and sharing resources. We should structure our meetings to do just that.

My second example is committee reports during meetings. If we see an important purpose of meetings as communication, we should be sad when it’s announced, “Nothing to report.” Yes, the original purpose of committee reports was to share what the committee is doing—but if it’s doing nothing, there still could something to report. A couple of sentences regarding what is happening in the world we live in will at least suggest we aren’t totally disconnected and out of business! Even a brief reminder of something important could qualify as a report.

I’ve attended Grange meetings where it seems like the purpose of the meeting is to get it over as quickly as possible! I’m not suggesting we turn meetings into long, drawn out affairs. I am suggesting that the purpose of every Grange meeting is not simply to have a meeting. When attendance at our meetings is poor, we might allow ourselves to wonder why. If the only reason we’re meeting is because it’s scheduled, that’s not much incentive for people to make the effort.

When I am responsible for leading a meeting, I always create an agenda with time estimates and outcomes. If at all possible, I share it with participants so we share the responsibility for getting “the labors of the day” completed in a timely and effective manner. Why not do the same for a Grange meeting? Let’s communicate with purpose and energy!

Apr 142017
 

Secretary CubicleBy Sharon Morton, MSG Secretary

April is a busy month here at State Headquarters as well as in our Subordinate Granges. My time has been busy with the finishing of the 2016 Journal of Proceedings, which will be published on the website. April is a month to celebrate our grange heritage and what a great way to do so is to have an open house, invite all to enjoy a great meal and program.

I have had the opportunity to issue these Continuous Membership Certificates which have been or will be presented to our members.  Somerset Grange #18, Gwendolyn Knight for 65 years; Farrilyn Chase for 70 years; Bernice Chase for 55 years; Norman Chase for 55 years; Elizabeth Wilder for 25 years; Alice Jones for 70 years; and Marjorie Farrand for 50 years; Manchester Grange #172, Mark L. Johnston 50 years; Brenda L. Lake for 50 years; and Edward Lincoln III for 50 years; Mousam Lake Grange #467, Sylvia Young for 70 years and Clayton Chute for 65 years; Bingham Grange #237, Terry Spencer for 40 years; Bear Mt. Grange #62, Linda Davis for 50 years; Clara Hamlin for 60 years; Prentiss Kimball for 60 years; and Glenn Chute for 60 years; Huntoon Hill #398, Sharon Leeman for 55 and 60 years; Fairview Grange #342, Marilyn Giroux for 75 years; Ellie Zarcone for 40 years and George Merry for 75 years; Hollis Grange #132, Valerie Joy for 50 years; Maple Grove Grange #148, Carol R. Brown for 50 years and Esther L. Kilborn for 80 years; Topsham Grange #37, Julia Wallace for 50 years and Merton Ricker for 70 years; Valley Grange #144, Elizabeth Herring for 70 years; Roderick Lander for 50 years and Harriet Mitchell for 70 years and White Rock Grange #380, Gloria McBee for 55 years.

Quarterly Reports:  Please remember the quarterly reports are due March 31st; June 30th; September 30th and December 31st and are due at headquarters postmarked on or before the 10th of the month following each quarter.

KEEPING MINUTES – As Secretary, your first priority is keeping a record of the meetings of your Grange.  Accuracy should be the goal, for your minutes are your Grange’s permanent record.  Remember that “Robert’s Rules of Order” advises, “They (the minutes) should contain mainly a record of what was done at a meeting, not what was said by the members unless in the form of a motion… Minutes should never reflect the Secretary’s opinion on anything said or done.”

Resolutions and motions should be included in the minutes word for word, as well as the action taken on them.  Detailed accounts of receipts and expenses should be included.  Communications read need not be included word for word, only that they were read and their general subject.  You can refer members to the communication if they wish details.

An exception might be the description of the lecturer’s programs.  If a member says something particularly worthy, or a discussion is important, including it in the minutes should be approved by the Grange.

Next time I will touch on the Secretary’s responsibility on maintaining records.

I will be updating the Roster Information Form that will be sent with your June Quarterly Report. This form will include the name and number of your Grange; physical location of your Grange Hall; contact name and phone number; name, address, phone number, and email address of your elected Master, Lecturer, Secretary and CWA Chairman.

Please contact me immediately with any address changes or any changes to the officers listed above so that our records will be correct and updated.

Happy Spring, and enjoy the nice weather.

Apr 132017
 

by Rick Grotton, State Master

I want to thank all of you that helped in any way to make the visit from our National Master, Betsy Huber, an enjoyable one. It was a pleasure to have her come to Maine to visit. She arrived on April 5 to attend our Legislative Luncheon and that evening we went to Androscoggin Pomona where we had some good laughs and enjoyed a program on Laughter: How it Affects your Health.

Thursday, she visited the State Capitol and was able to see the House and Senate in action with a trip to the Maine State Museum following. We had a wet trip to Piscataquis Pomona that evening where a town hall was held for the program. There were some great questions asked and some great discussions. Participants from area Pomonas and Granges attended.

Friday was a laid back day, however, during the evening, beginning at 5 pm we had a potluck dinner with Betsy addressing us on what is happening at National and by answering pertinent questions by the attendees. Independent media coverage was present for the evening, taping the session and interviewing Betsy. Saturday was the Junior Contests and the obligation ceremony performed on two new Junior members. Thank you, Christine. her Committee, and Sherry for their work.

In the afternoon, three teams participated in the Assistant’s Contest.  Christopher Heath, New Hampshire State Master attended as a judge. Sister Betsy and I served as judges. Thank you, Brother Chris! The winners were Jim Meserve and Laurie McBurnie. Henry and Sharon Morton and Adrian Griffin and Marilyn Stinson were the other participants. That evening we enjoyed a fun visit to Lincoln Pomona witha program on Maine Trivia. She enjoyed visiting with Maine Grangers and I thank all who came out during the week to meet her.  She left early Sunday morning to head back to Pennsylvania.

One thing I do want to share concerns ritual. Since we are no longer considered a “secret society,” it is customary to allow non-members (prospective members) to sit in our Grange meetings and the strictness used in the past concerning ritual has been lessened. The opening and closing ceremonies are to be used, however, in the newer manuals, the alternative ceremonies that are included can be used. It is an option for any Grange to take up the password. This is a big change for us as New England is the only region that strictly adheres to the ritual. If there are any questions, please let me know.

I think we should be organizing some more town hall discussions in various areas. If your area would like one, please let me know and also your Pomona. These discussions will help all to understand in what direction the Grange is heading, will provide you with answers and information vital to all areas of Grange.

There have been some people interested in leadership positions and I will refer them to the appropriate committees. It is exciting to learn how Grange is understood in different areas of our state. Many dwell more on the agricultural side where others are more into the community service side, however, it appears that all areas are being covered no matter which aspect is favored in any area. The trend seems to be that there are younger farmers appearing and a need to learn how to be self-sufficient on growing food whether you live in an urban or rural area. Thus, many Granges are developing programs based on this trend and are encouraged to do so. Ask those where milk and bread come from. Some will answer ‘from a store.” The Grange has ample opportunities to spread this information to communities and also to create resolutions to favor the small farms. An Agricultural Education Committee is being formed for this purpose and to create programs for agricultural education. I will keep all updated on its progress. In the meantime, keep providing resolutions on agricultural needs. I urge all Grangers to put their thoughts on paper, vote on the resolutions at your Subordinate Granges and filter them through your Pomona. GOTO your deputies, your directors and committee members for help if needed. There are many resources on the Internet how to write resolutions and there have been some resolution writing days at some Granges. Keep up on agricultural issues and trends in your newspapers and from television. Anyone can have their thoughts converted to a resolution. Let’s have some good, agricultural resolutions submitted for discussion at State Session in October.

Grange month activities are in full swing throughout the State. There are many community service nights, birthday celebrations and degree days being held. Check the website calendar for various activities in your areas.

I am sure most have heard the National Grange talk about doers? Are you a doer? What happens when the doers are gone? As our members get older, the ones we depend upon to get things done are becoming fewer and fewer. What happens from there?  We need doers, we need active membership, we need new leaders. Who are the doers in your Grange?

Webmaster’s note: There are resolution writing resources available on the Program Books and Information Page.

Mar 272017
 

By Rick Watson, Master of Fairview Grange

Hello, friends of the Fairview Grange. Thanks for keeping an eye on what is going on at your local Grange, #342, in Smithfield Maine.

This week we celebrated 119 years of continuous operation with a great dinner on Thursday evening. We were especially pleased to have Grange members from other Granges join us. They came from at least Abbot, Bingham, Norridgewock, Madison, and we also had visitors from the State Grange level. Former Master of the Maine State Grange, Vicki Huff, Communications Director Walter Boomsma with his lovely wife Janice, and three from The Maine Grange Agricultural Committee (I think Mr. And Mrs. Rance Pooler and Mrs. Barker represented that committee). Also attending to help us celebrate were Terry and Harriet Spencer, local to us in Smithfield, but also involved in various capacities with the State and Pomona. Special thanks to Walter Boomsma for sharing some stories about what he sees and hears successful Granges doing. We thank all of them for helping us celebrate 119 years.

Noteworthy speakers in addition to Walter were Secretary Sharon Wood and Lecturer Kerry Cubas. Sharon read a Grange history her mother had written in 1971 about the early days of the Grange. Kerry has started a “living history, or spoken history” of our local Grange working with Shelby Watson, and gave us a taste of the project by telling us what her first two interviewees had to say. Fittingly for this event, the recollections of Marilyn and David were told. Kerry hopes to interview all our members so we may keep our history alive. Working in a similar vein to document and to preserve our history, Karie Watson has started reframing the pictures in the Grange and is working to get the people, our people from the community through the years, identified and noted.

Making the night extra special was being able to recognize Marilyn Giroux for her 75 years of membership in the Grange. Marilyn is one of our favorite “Grange Gal’s” and we were pleased to celebrate this milestone with her. She was surrounded by several generations of family and friends Thursday and many from the community took a minute to share a story about their interactions with her through the years. David Hartford, another long time member presented her with certificates of appreciation and recognition from the National and State Granges. He also read her a poem he had written, and shared a couple stories from their youth. A nice tribute. Special thanks to David.

We had plenty of great food, great company, and it truly felt like an evening spent with family. The Hall looked great and I would be negligent to not recognize Karie Watson for her efforts putting on the meal and also to her and to Sharon for making the Hall look so fresh, Springlike and inviting for our celebration.

Thanks to all who cooked, cleaned, lugged and tugged, decorated, hauled trash, washed dishes, spoke, made the trip to join us or in any other way helped make it a fitting tribute to 119 years in Smithfield.

Mar 162017
 

A mug WBBy Walter Boomsma,
Communications Director

“I’m bored.” We were lined up waiting for the dismissal announcement when my fifth-grade friend made the announcement. I replied, “I’m happy” and added, “So let’s do some math facts to pass the time.” She did not groan so I quickly asked, “What’s 492 times 33?” She disappeared back into the classroom. (I should probably explain that “math facts” are basic calculations that a student can do almost automatically—one example is what we used to call the “times tables.” My question was actually a math problem, not a math fact.)

I wasn’t too surprised when she returned quickly with a sheet of paper showing the process she used and the answer. She was smiling while I checked her work. It was correct and I could point out that she’d used quite a few math facts to solve the problem.

She’s going to help me demonstrate an important point about communication. What we often think are statements are really questions. When she said that she was bored, I took it to mean she wondered how I felt and, more importantly, whether I could relieve her boredom.

Too often, communication tends away from exchanging information to verbal fencing, particularly if what we’re hearing doesn’t set well or fall in line with our beliefs. We could have done battle if I’d asked her, “How can you be bored?” I’m also reminded of that horrible parent warning, “I’ll give you something to cry about.” The bored version could have been, “Oh yeah? If you think you’re bored now, wait until tomorrow when we study…”

We don’t often think enough about what we hope to accomplish when we communicate.  In conversation, we often tend instead to decide if we agree with what’s being said. Many times, we don’t fully hear what’s being said because we start preparing our response. I’ll confess that when I’m busy I find I more often misunderstand what’s being said simply because I’m mentally hurrying.

Years ago, I taught an “Interpersonal Skills Program” designed by Xerox Learning Systems. One of the concepts taught hard early on was “when your initial reaction is to reject or ignore, clarify and confirm.” The goal of clarifying and confirming to make certain you understand what the other person is saying and why he or she is saying it. In practice, students often found that there was less disagreement than it seemed originally.

I will confess that I took a shortcut with my fifth-grade friend at school. She said “I’m bored,” but I decided she meant “I need something to do.” In an ideal world, I would have asked some questions and clarified what she was saying. Once it became clear that she needed something to do, that’s an easy problem to solve. I can’t fix bored. I can find something for her to do.

Please do not let an important fact escape you—communication is also about focus. I could have sympathized with my bored friend. “Me too, I hate just standing around…” Commiseration can be rewarding because we feel connection and get empathy. But it doesn’t change things.

I’ve had several incidents recently where people have explained at great length how busy they are and apologized for not getting something done. I find it hard not to point out that they could have done it in the time they spent explaining (often more than once) why they hadn’t.

“Let’s do…” does change things. Notice in my example, I didn’t try to change this young lady’s personality or her view of the world. I just found something relatively simple we could do. Think about that the next time you find yourself talking about how nobody comes to Grange anymore and people don’t have time to… Are we really saying (let’s clarify and confirm) we just haven’t found the energy and ideas for some things to do that might change what happens?

 

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

Mar 162017
 

By Kay Khalvati
MSG Membership Director

Spring is on its way!!  That wonderful time of year when everything is renewing itself, and growing with enthusiasm!

We encourage you to extend this spirit of renewal and enthusiasm to our Grange organization. I challenge each of you to make it a personal goal to bring a new member into our Grange family this Spring.

With the same expectation of satisfaction that you have when you prepare soil and plant seedlings, we encourage you to personally promote the Grange and invite friends and acquaintances to come to visit your Grange.  Help them personally to experience the fun and satisfaction that Grange membership provides.

The month of May will bring Memorial Services to many Granges.  Let’s honor our members lost over the winter months with the best memorial of all–a vibrant and energized membership that includes several new members.

Now is the time to start.  Try something innovative this year!  A friend of mine is going to buy (or pick) three of the first daffodils she sees.  She is going to attach a tag to each one that says “from your friends at __________ Grange,” and give one to each of the first three people she talks to about her Grange.

While discussing this idea, we decided that it was a winner all around:

  • everyone likes cheery daffodils
  • everyone likes to be invited to a special occasion
  • everyone will appreciate a friendly invitation accompanied by a daffodil!!

This sounds like a great start to Spring to me!

Happy Spring to you all!

Mar 152017
 

by Rick Grotton, State Master

Grange month is upon us so let’s open those halls, invite the community and honor some recipients. Any Grange should be able to host some kind of community event during this month. Ideas include bring a community member with you to a meeting, have a program or speaker on agricultural education for the community, open houses, community citizen awards, or any other community oriented event. This is our 150th birthday so throw a party!

I attended the Master’s Conference last month and have come back with some ideas we can try. Let’s work on them together for the GOTO.

One idea was on the topic of mentoring. There are many of us that have a passion for Grange, visit others regularly and enjoy filling in where needed. We need some of these people to become mentors to help Granges. The duties of the mentor would be to give ideas, provide support, answer questions, help keep them organized and educate members about Grange traditions and rituals. The Mentor does not interfere in the business of that Grange or take charge of the meetings. They will offer suggestions when asked. The Mentor should meet with the Master at the first visit in order to become familiar with the operations of that Grange.This will not interfere with the duties of the Deputies. The Deputy has precedence over the Mentor when present at a meeting. There were a few of us that did mentoring a couple of years ago to help Grangers who took in a slew of new members, ones that were struggling or needed someone help to guide them in the right direction. I would like to plan a Mentoring workshop in the future for those interested.

Another thought is to form an Agricultural Education Committee separate from the Agriculture Committee designed to educate our communities, our young people and support our farmers. The Committee would include a member(s) from the Agricultural Committee Ag in the Classroom and maybe representatives from the FFA and 4H and other agricultural organizations. The purpose would be for the organizations to work together for a common cause; to promote and design educational agricultural programs.

Massachusetts has a program through the UMass System that has a hands on living classroom and a summer scholars program where students are given stipends for their work.

There is increasing interest in our communities to grow their own food but many need direction. This is where the Grange steps in. Holding agricultural programs on canning, sowing, how to maintain your gardens for successful harvests, soil, seeds and various other topics. People of all ages benefit from these programs. Invite the public and maybe have hands on projects or even start a community garden. Ask someone where their milk or bread comes from; more than one will answer “from a store.” Let’s take the lead as Grangers!! We are Doers.

By now many may think I’m daydreaming or other but why not try?

Mar 052017
 

by Walter Boomsma,
Communications Director

I’ve recently learned (and confirmed with several sources) that federal legislation was passed last December which will increase the cost of a Senior Lifetime National Park Pass from $10 to $80. The current advice is that if you’re 62 or older, buy it now before the price increases. There is no definite date the increase will go into effect, but it appears likely to happen “before the end of 2017.”

Since many of our members are eligible for this senior pass, I thought I’d share the news! According to the NPS website, “A pass is your ticket to more than 2,000 federal recreation sites. Each pass covers entrance fees at national parks and national wildlife refuges as well as standard amenity fees (day use fees) at national forests and grasslands, and at lands managed by the Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. A pass covers entrance, standard amenity fees, and day use fees for a driver and all passengers in a personal vehicle at per vehicle fee areas (or up to four adults at sites that charge per person). Children age 15 or under are admitted free.”

There are several ways to purchase the pass. (We purchased ours in person at Acadia National Park several years ago–it really is a good deal.) The current cost is $10 if you purchase in person, $20 to purchase online or by mail. For more information and instructions, visit the National Parks Website. There is also a detailed explanation of the legislation on the National Parks Traveler Website.

Schedule for Acadia National Park

Feb 142017
 

Secretary CubicleBy Sharon Morton, MSG Secretary

As I sit here and look out at the snow I am pondering what spring will bring. Grange activities will start anew, as well as, new life on the farm.

Yearly Dues

As I write this column I hope that you have sent your first request for your Grange’s yearly dues.  If you need to obtain first dues notices they are available here at the office.  It is now time to send your second notices.  Both notices are available here at headquarters for .25 cents each.

April is Grange Month

The Maine State Grange has memorial flags and grave markers for sale.  This is a great way to honor our deceased members.   We have two styles of memorial flags black emblem ($7) and colored emblem ($8) and grave marker $30.  You can purchase a memorial flag with a grave marker for $35.  I have a limited number of grave markers so if you would like one please get your request in early.

You will also be receiving in a mailing shortly the Grange Month information from National Grange.  It is also available on our website:  mainestategrange.org.  You will be receiving the 2017 Proclamation, Letter from our National Master and a poster to use for inviting the public to a grange meeting.

National Grange Convention 2018 – Unique as a Snowflake

As I have been chosen the Coordinator for the State of Maine I have been given the task of obtaining funds for the convention.  I have short sleeved and long sleeved t-shirts.  I have a variety of sizes in both styles.  The prices are short-sleeved $10 and the long-sleeved $15.

Membership Recognition Form

I will be updating the Membership Recognition Form as National Grange has made a change in the shipping cost0 Effective March 1, 2017.  Golden Sheaf is $10 plus $4.00 for shipping and handling and the 75 Year Diamond Certificates with folder is $10 plus $4.00 for shipping and handling.  I believe that if you forget to add the shipping and handling National Grange will bill you.

Until next month have a safe winter and a great beginning of spring.

Feb 072017
 

By Kay Khalvati
MSG Membership Director

Winter is here!  For many of us, our lives have changed into our winter mode, including less activity at our Grange Halls.  However, this still can be an active time for Grangers…….these winter months can be a great time for planning upcoming activities.

An invitation to a Grange meeting or event received now could add a bright note, especially if it’s accompanied by a brief description of the April and May meeting programs, or better yet by your Grange’s Annual Lecturer’s Program.

If your Grange celebrates Grange Month during its April meeting, now would be a good time to ask for/select recipients for the awards that you may want to present to members of your community.  These recipients come from various sources.

Often local newspapers cover the accomplishments of individuals that have wide benefit in our general community.  In our area, the local newspaper recently acknowledged the work of some women who are interested in preserving an old cemetery.   Interestingly, some of these women have shown an interest in supporting our Grange.  Presenting them with an award of recognition (either from the Subordinate or State Grange) is possible if we start now.  Undoubtedly the recipient(s) would appreciate the recognition of their good work.